Singapore may be a small country but it has a big appetite for good food. As it grows into a bona fide foodie destination, more gourmet awards are coming into the picture in an attempt to sift the great from the good. While the culinary art form is arguably subjective and one man’s meat may be another man’s poison, accolades add shine to a restaurant’s reputation — which matters in Singapore’s crowded dining scene where it takes plenty of sparkle to steal the spotlight.
A quick survey of Clarke Quay, one of Singapore’s most well-loved dining and lifestyle playgrounds, turns up many award-winning eateries. Inside takes you on a jaunt along the river to discover three restaurants, each with a distinct dining concept that has been lauded for culinary excellence.
Szechuan-Cantonese Cuisine at Peony Jade
When the prestigious Michelin Guide landed in Singapore last year, it brought not only its famed star rating system that is typically reserved for fine dining establishments but also the Bib Gourmand. The equally esteemed rating system recognises wallet-friendly establishments — in the Michelin Guide Singapore, this means eateries that serve a good value meal for under S$45.
Peony Jade Restaurant is one of the 34 establishments honoured in the inaugural Bib Gourmand. While it is the Keppel Club outlet that made the list, Peony Jade’s first restaurant has been delighting foodies at Clarke Quay since 2004.
“The menus for both outlets differ slightly,” said a Peony Jade spokesperson. “Our Clarke Quay outlet is Szechuan-Cantonese, while our Keppel Club outlet is predominantly classic Cantonese.”
“At Clarke Quay, I would highly recommend the Camphor Wood Tea Smoked Duck. It has long been a staple on our menu, not to mention a fan favourite. With our chefs’ skillful preparation, the gaminess that is associated with duck is subdued and perfectly blended with a smoky flavour that gives the dish its name.”
The restaurant’s Spicy Szechuan Ma Po Tofu ($20) also comes highly recommended. The dish was recently honoured at the 2016 Singapore River Signatures, an annual celebration of the finest dishes along the Singapore River.
"Perfect,” described Nixon Low, Executive Chef of Portico Restaurants (June 2014 - July 2016) and member of the judging panel. “[It had the] right amount of Szechuan peppercorn — it was tangy, vibrant and amazing. The tofu was fried, so there were two textures, which is something different.”
Authentically Irish at McGettigan’s
Think Irish and a pint of stout is often the first thing to mind. But McGettigan’s, an award-winning international chain of Irish pubs, hopes to bring “the modern Irish experience” to the world through its food as well.
“Ireland has a rich history of hearty, filling foods. It’s the raw products we have on our shores that makes our simple cuisine so good. Irish restaurants pride themselves on serving dishes made from locally grown ingredients and so does McGettigan’s, and so we offer our customers the same traditional staples that have been popular in Ireland for centuries,” said Derek Flynn, Group Executive Chef of Bonnington Hotel & McGettigans Group.
This approach has proven to be a success with McGettigan’s AUH outlet in Abu Dhabi bagging the International Irish Pub Food Award at the 2016 Irish Pubs Global Awards. But diners needn’t travel far to sample authentic Irish cuisine.
As Group Executive Chef, Flynn travels to each new McGettigan’s location to handpick and train his team. “We have a very dedicated team of managers and chefs that are extremely passionate about food. They are constantly working to ensure that standards are kept extremely high. I regularly visit the outlets to ensure consistency of our food.”
At Clarke Quay, Flynn recommends the Wagyu Beef Chilli: “It’s got all the flavours of a traditional beef chilli, made with an exceptional piece of beef and finished with a creamy pungent cheese sauce.”
A French twist at Ramen Keisuke Lobster King
Diners have been waiting in line for as long as two hours for a taste of Ramen Champion Keisuke Takeda’s lobster ramen but here’s the twist — there’s no lobster meat in the dish. Instead, the lobster flavour is in the ramen broth.
"It is too easy and boring to have just lobster meat. Everyone can do that. It's about not having lobster meat, but still being able to enjoy lobster. I believe that you will taste more lobster [this way],” said Chef Takeda in a published media interview.
Each of the estimated 400 bowls that Ramen Keisuke Lobster King sells every day uses two or three lobster heads that are imported from France and simmered for at least six hours.
Speaking to Inside , Chef Takeda added: “My lobster ramen is original and unique because it uses a lot of French culinary techniques and knowledge. Many customers tell us that its deep flavour reminds them of French lobster bisque.”
“I have also adjusted the taste to the Singaporean palate,” said the chef, which explains why prawn wontons make an appearance in his lobster ramen. “That is also another important technique to provide depth and variety of flavour.”
Of the four types of lobster broth ramen available at Ramen Keisuke Lobster King — clear, rich and creamy, miso, and spicy miso — Chef Takeda reveals that the rich and creamy version is the most popular among Singaporeans. Its thick and creamy texture is the result of a further four to six hours of simmering to deepen the flavour of the lobster broth.
Come dine with us:McGettigan’s
Peony Jade Clarke Quay
Clarke Quay #02-02-A