While sustainability as a concept has become somewhat overused, this shouldn’t undermine the ethical practices and eco-minded initiatives by our local eateries and restaurants to reduce the overall carbon footprint.
Whether they’ve chosen to use local or regionally close suppliers, opted for sustainable sources of meat and seafood, limited food waste, provided meat-free or organic options, or just weaved in awareness to the overall dining experience, every bit counts.
As consumers care more about how and where their food comes from, it’s encouraging the industry to make a ground-up change that, over time, will make a difference – and that’s something we will all benefit from.
As creative dining concepts go, the Drunken Farmer has nailed it, offering a hip, casual after-hours concept that’s big on sustainability and minimal food wastage.
Once a traveling pop-up experience, Drunken Farmer is now a permanent evening residence at the home of Common Man Stan on Stanley Street. Offering a wine list bursting with a selection of 80 natural wines and a menu centered on slow-fermented ingredients, the main draw is the heavenly sourdough permutations by chef de cuisine Paul Albert, the same man behind Le Vin, Levain.
The rotating selections of pizzas made from a 159-year-old sourdough starter are arguably one of the best in Singapore. Topped with house-made stracciatella, dry-cured Iberico ham over a creamy ricotta base, it’s a carb lover’s idea of heaven.
Other recommended dishes include the Chicken Thighs marinated in the sourdough discard, Blue Prawn Rolls accompanied by a briny prawn dip, and the Squid Ink Crackers with caviar-like soy-marinated sago pearls – all dishes bursting with robust flavours and textures that justify the hype.
11 Stanley Street, Singapore 068730, tel: 6877-4855
You won’t see the word sustainable on Naked Finn’s marketing collaterals – that’s because owner Ken Loon believes in the concept at its core, and not just a way to market his restaurant.
The seafood-centric restaurant hidden away in Gillman Barracks has been the not-so-secret secret spot of the who’s who of the culinary industry since its opening in 2012. While Loon has recently handed over the reins to chef Marcus Leow, the ethos of Naked Finn remains the same: “Less but Better” with a focus on “introducing non-mainstream species to our customers so that those under threat will have a chance of recovery”.
This purist approach shows in the menu where more obscure fish and seafood like Atlantic mackerel, wild-caught white trevally, samegarei from Hokkaido, and Mozambique lobster take a starring role, while species vulnerable to overfishing like tuna never get a spot. Rather than relying on complex sauces and seasonings, Loon who has experimented with over 250 species of seafood, believes in coaxing out the natural flavours accompanied by “modifiers” in the form of house-made dips and sauces.
To sample the culinary mastery of Naked Finn, order the signature Hae Mee Tng (Prawn Noodle Soup). Made with 9 species of prawns where the prawns are fried whole in grapeseed oil and then blended and left to simmer with pork stock for seven hours, the result is a mouthful of umami goodness that’s achieved without the addition of sugar of MSG.
39 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 109442, tel: 6694-0807
Challenging the notion that food waste means ugly food or dishes that lack flavour is Kausmo. The small 16-seater restaurant operates with a clear intent: “to promote thoughtful living by challenging food norms that bring about unnecessary wastage”.
In practice, this means using aesthetically filtered fruits and vegetables (think oddly-shaped, overstocked or over-ripened), native plants, sustainably sourced seafood and secondary cuts of meat.
As the kitchen operates around the availability of produce, there’s no fixed menu. However, the six-course Carte Blanche Menu has a few recurring dishes like the juicy Confit Hojicha Duck served with black plum and local sorrel leaves, and Chef Lisa Tang’s accidental star turn: a Wild Fish Congee using wild-caught golden trevally that’s a nod to her Teochew heritage and Kausmo’s accidental highlight dish.
1 Scotts Rd, #03-07 Shaw Centre, tel: 8126-8538
One of the first in Singapore to push the farm-to-table concept in Singapore and focus on local farming, Open Farm Community offers plenty to do besides eat, as you can also explore the fruit and vegetable orchards or take home a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box of veggie goodies. The focus here is on locally and regionally-sourced ingredients as well as seasonal and innovative dishes, such as the Spiced Beef Brisket using Five Founders carbon neutral beef and sustainably-sourced Tiberias Barramundi, freshly delivered from Pulau Ubin every morning.
The restaurant also does its best to limit single-use plastics, boasts one of the best natural wine lists and actively educates guests on the grow-your-own-food movement.
130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819, tel: 6471-0306
On the second level of The Summerhouse complex (the ground floor houses Wildseed Cafe & Bar) sits The French Dining Room, a farm-to-table concept restaurant located in a unique countryside location. Here, dishes are cooked with harvests from the garden, whether as garnishes or herbs with select produce sourced from local farms like Seafood Culture and Kin Yan Mushroom Farm.
Examples include seafood dishes like the Red Snapper served with Red Charred Artichoke and Kelong Seabass with Grilled Broccolini; also, the Spelt Risotto made with grilled portobellos and summer mushrooms from Kin Yan Mushroom Farm.
The restaurant works closely with a farming collective of growers, producers and kelongs (offshore platforms built with wood), to ensure value-added sustainable practices. What’s more, an interesting element can be seen on its menus with select items that tell you which farm the food comes from, leaving diners with a little food for thought.
Level 2, 3 Park Lane, Seletar Aerospace Park, Singapore 798387, tel: 6262-1063
This modern Chinese restaurant in the gorgeous Duxton Reserve is beautifully-decorated in black, gold and yellow, and with – you guessed it – yellow pots of various sizes and designs too. But décor aside, it is the restaurant’s sustainability efforts that deserve mention.
Yellow Pot works closely with local farmers and producers who are committed to responsible sourcing and sustainable practices, and this can be seen in its dishes.
For example, you can order crisp local greens such as the Locally Farmed Seasonal Greens wok-fried in a garlic and ginger broth. Also, unhealthy additives such as flavour enhancers, gluten and sugar are largely avoided, with fresh natural ingredients chosen, making his Signature Roast Duck and Wok-Fried Tiger Prawns XO more palatable for all dietary preferences.
Duxton Reserve, 83 Duxton Road, Singapore 089540, tel: 6914-1420
This Michelin-starred restaurant, known for its ‘new Singapore’ dining experience, deserves equal accolades for chef-owner LG Han’s sustainable food practices.
A majority of the menu – 90 per cent, to be exact – is from and around Singapore through a close relationship with local farmers, fishermen and fishery ports.
This results in dishes such as “Ang Moh Chicken Rice” with Local Mushroom (a Chicken Rice Dumpling with skin made of home milled rice flour and braised chicken paired with grandma’s chilli sauce) which uses chickens from Toh Thye San farm and mushrooms from Kin Yan agrotech farm, as well as “Tribute to Ah Hua Kelong” a dish of green-lipped mussels and lala clams cooked in a laksa broth and green papaya – all dishes inspired by Han’s childhood food memories of his grandmother.
#02-23 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039802, tel: 6223-4098
Few people realise that the restaurants here – mezza9, 10 Scotts, Pete’s Place, Oasis, StraitsKitchen – serve seafood that’s sustainably sourced, with certifications from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Seafood with the ASC mark comes from a farm that has been independently certified to the ASC’s standard for responsibly-farmed seafood, while seafood with a MSC certification means it comes from a fishery that has been independently certified to the MSC’s standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery.
In practice, they use approximately 200 tonnes of seafood annually, 80 per cent of which comes from sustainable sources. It also has a Nose-to-Tail beef programme importing full carcasses of beef so there’s less wastage. Also, 30 per cent of its herbs such as mint and basil are from the hotel’s organic herb garden, and 80 per cent of greens are sourced from nearby Cameron Highlands.
Beyond that, Grand Hyatt serves a range of plant-based options at mezza9, such as Beyond Burger, Impossible Meats, Omnimeat and Just Egg, making it not only more welcoming to vegans but also less reliant on meat.
The hotel on the whole is big on sustainable practices, being the first hotel in Singapore to install (in 2016) a waste-management plant that converts all food waste into pathogen-free organic fertilisers within 24 hours. The fertilisers are then used at all green spaces in the hotel, including the rooftop herb garden.
It also offers JUST water at its event spaces, which contains 100 per cent spring water sourced from Australia in a plant-based packaging and promotes the use of biodegradable sugarcane straws and stainless steel stirrers over single use plastics.
10 Scotts Road, Singapore 228211, tel: 6738-1234
Looking at the name of this restaurant, it’s no surprise that the ‘origin’ of the dishes is the main focus here, so what you’ll get is fresh, farm-to-table ingredients with an emphasis on responsible sourcing and sustainability wherever possible.
This includes a bespoke beef selection that is sustainably-sourced, with grass- and grain-fed, pure-, cross- and full-blooded Angus and wagyu beef from Australia and Ireland, as well as snow-aged wagyu beef from Niigata, Japan. Seafood-wise, menu selections include line-caught sustainable seafood from marine-certified coasts (a certification given by the Marine Stewardship Council) in Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zealand.
Notable new additions to the menu include a Olive Craft Wagyu from Hata Farm in Kagawa, Japan where the cattle are fed an olive diet and a gluten-free thyme-smoked Canadian Cod Chowder served with delicately poached crustaceans.
Tower Wing, Lobby Level, Shangri-La Hotel, 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350, tel: 6213-4595
That Norway’s answer to McDonalds is a fish-based fast food concept should not come as too big a surprise – after all, the country is the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon.
Pink Fish’s first outlet outside of Norway at Jewel Changi serves up everything from poke bowls to salmon burgers laced with a punchy satay sauce and hot stews, all in biodegradable packaging.
Unlike most fast food chains, Pink Fish has a sustainable focus. According to head chef Geir Skeir, farmed salmon is the most sustainable source of protein – the carbon footprint per kilo for farmed salmon is much lower than other meat – and he chooses suppliers with the same ethos, all with transparent and traceable production.
Sustainability, affordable prices and a healthier option to red meat – it’s a hard combination to turn down.
#B1-261 Jewel Changi, 78 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819666, tel: 6909-9771
Local ingredients = less carbon footprint. Chef-owner Drew Nocente of this award-winning contemporary Australian restaurant, champions local produce as much as possible in his minimal waste philosophy, making creative use of “forgotten parts, from skin to bone, protein to innards” via a range of cooking methods such as smoking, curing and pickling.
Inspired by his childhood on his family farm near Brisbane, Australia, his innovative approach sees him using clever ways to create the restaurant’s signature dishes.
For the Aged Turbot, the bones are aged, smoked and dried for two weeks to make its robust broth, while the liver is cooked with a vin jaune to make the sauce. Leftover trimmings from homemade sourdough is left to brew for two weeks, and eventually used to season abalone before it’s grilled and also used as a glaze for its house bread. Even the cutlery rests are made from recycled abalone shells that have been scrubbed, sterilised and mixed with an eco-resin.
As the saying goes, one man’s waste is another man’s treasure – and at Salted and Hung, nothing goes to waste.
12 Purvis St, Singapore 188591, tel: 6358-3130
Arguably Singapore’s first farm-to-table concept, Poison Ivy Bistro set up by Ivy Singh-Lim in 2004 was well ahead of the current sustainable dining trend.
Set on a lush 10-acre site in Kranji, the rustic eatery continues to keep things simple: good, wholesome comfort food made without chemical fertilisers, pesticides and growth hormones.
Its Warrior’s Chicken Curry uses hormone- and antibiotic-free chooks in a lemak curry sauce, and the famed Nasi Lemak Platter with blue pea rice remains a favourite of many who return regularly for a laid-back meal in a no-fuss, no-frills setting.
Beyond the bistro, there’s a food museum, farm tours and a Bollywood Bhanchha (kitchen) where culinary classes and events are hosted using ingredients directly foraged from its on-site farm.
100 Neo Tiew Rd, Singapore 719026, tel: 6898-5001
Text: Balvinder Sandhu & Charlene Fang/HerWorld