Mod-Sin, a term coined by chef Willin Low over 10 years ago to describe modern Singaporean cuisine when he first opened the now defunct Wild Rocket at Emily Hill, has come to stir the imagination of many chefs and opened up a whole new perspective towards local cuisine.
Explore the delightful possibilities of modern Singaporean flavours at these eight great dining spots:
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Besides the beloved classic signatures such as their ever-delicious Kueh Pie Tee and Dry Laksa, the latest Violet Oon Singapore at Jewel Changi Airport has also included some dishes with a modern touch.
The Roti Violet Tuna Wala-Wala ($15, available at Jewel and ION) of crispy fluffy prata topped with spiced tuna flakes, curry leaves, tomatoes and cubes of avocado came across like a local “taco” of sorts. The Crispy Kurobuta Pork Fingerlings with Garlic and Curry leaves ($18, Jewel only) reminds us of hearty zi char flavours condensed into golden-brown bite-sized goodness, perfect with their signature VO Chilli Sauce.
If you love dessert, then the Pandan Gula Melaka Cake ($13, available at Jewel and ION) could make your favourites list. The cake has a light and airy sponge infused with fresh pandan juice and gilded with layers of buttercream frosting and dessicated coconut tossed in a gula melaka syrup.
Violet Oon Singapore’s latest outlet is located at Level 1, #01-205 / #01-206 Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard, Singapore 819666, tel: 9834 9935.
With its stylish, inviting interiors and chic vibe, casual fine dining restaurant CreatureS is the epitome of “chill-lux”. Tucked away along Desker Road, the award-winning dining enclave presents hearty modern Asian comfort fare with a twist and peppered with local influences.
Highlights include the Hainanese Uncle Han & Hatsumomo Katsudon ($24) with strips of tender pork chop pan-fried Hainanese-styled on a bed of Japanese short-grain rice, layered with scallions, topped with an onsen egg, and served with a local Singaporean curry gravy to give it a little kick. Think Japanese pork chop rice meets Hainanese “Scissor’s Cut Rice”.
There is also the unusual dish named Italian Godfather “Yong Tau Foo” & An Ma Noodles ($22) that has chilli, aubergine and okra stuffed with herb feta cheese then drizzled with balsamisco dressing and accompanied by la-mien tossed in fried shallot and light soy. Meatless, playful and strangely tempting.
If you are feeling less adventurous, their signature CreatureS Crayfish Hokkien Mee ($30) will hit the right spot. Wok-fried noodles enriched with a fragrant prawn stock and served with fresh crayfish, tiger prawns, squid, crispy pork lard, Japanese fish roe and home-made sambal belachan. So good.
Note: CreatureS has also opened its second restaurant concept, TEASE by CreatureS, in Beijing, China, so do check them out if you are there and missing food from home.
CreatureS is located at 120 Desker Road, Singapore 209639, tel: 6291 6996.
Housed in the old Joo Chiat Police Station – a designated heritage building steeped in history – Baba Chews now serves a refreshed menu by chef Alvin Leong. Our favourites include the delicious Chicken Rendang Lasagna ($18), which marries rich, cheesy-creamy baked pasta with fragrant, lightly spicy rending, and the Otah Yu Tiao ($12), a crispy starter with homemade mackerel otah paste spiked with kaffir leaves, sandwiched between charcoal yu tiao (dough fritters) served with a light sambal sabayon.
Other dishes that piqued our interest include the Peranakan Pulled Pork Burger ($20) of tender Iberico pork cooked pongteh style (braised in fermented soy bean sauce) with caramelised onions, cucumbers and tomatoes, and Foie Gras Tau Kwa Pau ($22) of foie gras in lor chap (fragrant gravy of spices and soya sauce) with quail egg, bean sprouts and coriander leaf piled onto fried beancurd.
Baba Chews is located at 86 East Coast Road, #01-01 Katong Square, Singpapore 428788, tel: 6723 2025.
Treat yourself to a little supper at Le Binchotan with Chef Jeremmy’s Supper Special 2019. Think “Big Plates” of comforting local favourites with a modern touch such as Uni Congee prepared with premium Akitakomachi rice, house-made scallop broth, century egg, foie gras and generous lobes of uni; or perhaps chef’s signature wok hei-imbued Hokkien Mee served with a wicked sambal.
“Small Plates” such as Kicap Manis Chicken Satay – binchotan-grilled skewers of deboned chicken thigh marinated with kicap manis, lime juice and spices – are also available.
Chef Jeremmy has also invited fellow chefs ArChan Chan of LeVeL33; Sam Chablani; and Damian D’Silva to share their supper favourites on selected weekends over the next couple of months. Chef ArChan’s awesome Stir-fried Clams with homemade XO Sauce kick started the Jeremmy & Friends 2019 series. Don’t miss the superb Steamed Threadfin with homemade tau cheo (fermented soybean sauce), bentong ginger and pork lard by chef D’Silva. And do also try the refreshing Yuzu Beer ($15) specially created by LeVeL33 for this event.
Note: The Supper Special menu at Le Binchotan is available every Friday and Saturday until 30 June, 9.30pm to 11pm. Chef Jeremmy will be cooking with Damian D’Silva on 6, 7 and 8 June 2019, 9.30pm to midnight. Tickets priced at $35 per person for Jeremmy & Friends 2019 (includes one big plate and one small plate from each chef). For reservations and more information on Jeremmy & Friends events, go here.
Le Binchotan is located at 115 Amoy Street, #01-04, Singapore 069935 (Entrance via Gemmill Lane), tel: 62241045.
At one-Michelin-starred Labyrinth, chef Han Li Guang celebrates local produce and honours our eco-system of farmers, growers and artisans with his “new expression of Singapore Cuisine”. Dishes here draw inspiration from traditional local street food recipes blended with artisanal techniques. In fact, so many components are made from scratch, even their cheong fun is homemade!
Be charmed by wonderful dishes such as Heartland Waffle with pate made using poultry liver from Toh Thye San Farm (inspired by chef’s favourite childhood snack: the soft and moist pandan waffles from Prima Deli) and tantalising Nippon Koi Farm Silver Perch topped with spicy fragrant otah rempah, all-spice leaf and kaffir oil.
Another must-try: Grandma’s special Chicken Rice (psst, chef’s version has no rice) paired with a rich button mushroom sauce. His grandma created it during the colonial era whilst working for a British Family and it is one of our favourite dishes; and the refreshing purple Clam Leaf Snow with peach gum and textures of grape. Lunch menu starts from $75 per person.
Restaurant Labyrinth is located at Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue #02-23, Singapore 039802, tel: 6223 4098.
Head chef James Lin takes a lot of care with his dishes, so plates served here are often imbibed with various textures, flavours and ingredients that are both surprising and delicious. Take the Hainanese Chicken Roulade & Risotto Balls ($19.50) for example. The humble Hainanese Chicken Rice is taken up several notches, with the dish’s fragrant rice made into crispy fried risotto balls instead and the main star, its chicken, served as a poached chicken roll.
We love that the balls are soft and aromatic, while the thigh meat is tender and juicy. But we especially applaud the use of foie gras to replace the usual chicken liver, and the addition of a cool and light Japanese cucumber spaghettoni for a refreshing bite.
Pasta lovers should try its Laksa Seafood pasta ($16) — spaghetti cooked in a spicy piquant laksa broth that is topped with fresh prawns, quail eggs, cockles and shrimp floss.
For a light bite, go for its deconstructed nasi lemak ($8) that is served in the form of three sushi pieces instead — fried silver sillago fish, otah and konbu egg are stacked on top of fragrant coconut rice and served with their house-made sambal chilli and ikan bilis.
Don’t forget to wash down the dishes with its Kopi Chendol ($8.50), an indulgent beverage of espresso, fresh milk and coconut milk topped with red beans, pandan jelly and a house-made coconut sablé. This dessert-in-a-cup will send you on a heady sugar rush.
d’Good Cafe’s latest outlet is at located at Level 1, #01-227 Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard, Singapore 819666, tel: 6243 3188.
For more must-eats at Jewel Changi, go here.
Mod-Sin pioneer Willin Low dishes up beloved local-inspired fare in addition to Asian-inspired creations such as Ma La Papadam Nachos and La Zi Cauliflower (inspired by the Sichuan dish La Zi Ji but done without chicken).
Must-try mod-Sin classics include his signature Laksa Pesto Linguine ($17.80), Hae Bee Hiam Spaghettini ($17.80) and the surprisingly addictive Har Jeong Frog Legs ($10). Think crispy, savoury fried prawn paste chicken just with fresh frog legs instead, good with beer or bubbly.
The latest creation launched in May 2019 will be Willin’s version of sliced fish bee hoon ($17.70) – red snapper fish bone collagen broth served with ramen or inaniwa udon (this is thinner than regular udon). Brewed with red snapper bones and bonito flakes, the soup, which takes hours to prepare, is rich in collagen and naturally milky white without any addition of milk. A most soothing bowl of comfort indeed.
Relish @ Frasers Tower is located at #02-12/13 Oasis of Frasers Tower, 182 Cecil Street, Singapore 069546, tel: 6904 5458.
You may already be familiar with old school zi char eatery Keng Eng Kee Seafood’s lip-smacking signatures such as Moonlight Horfun and Crab with Salted Egg Yolk, but have you tried their quirky Zi char burgers under their new Wok In Burger concept?
Housed within the same coffee shop, the mod-Sin burger stall pulls off the novel combination of zi char and burgers with flair. Chilli Soft Shell Crab Burger served with tangy, spicy, eggy sauce? Check. Crispy Sotong coated with moreish salted egg yolk sauce in a burger? Bold. Their signature toothsome and tender “Pai Gu Wang” (or Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs) in a burger? Genius.
Tempted yet? Go on, try it for yourself. Burgers (from $9.80) come in a set together with fries, salad, and a drink. Oh, and if you love pasta, do consider the Sambal Lala (clams) pasta ($8) with juicy, plump clams and spaghetti tossed in a sweet-spicy sambal sauce.
Wok In Burger is located at 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-136, Singapore 150124.
Photo: Xie Huiqun
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Text: Xie Huiqun and Joy Fang