Modern Singaporean Cuisine

Modern Singaporean Cuisine

Featuring Botanico at The Garage, The Marmalade Pantry (ION Orchard), Wild Rocket, Mustard Seed, 田 Magic Square, Labyrinth, Restaurant Ibid, IZY FOOK, Relish by Wild Rocket (Frasers Tower), Morsels
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

Priced at $150 per head, dining at @division_sg is not cheap but according to the young co-founders Aidan and Chef Tariq Helou, it’s because of the premium quality ingredients they order to meet the standard they are looking to deliver.
Shown above is the second course from my most recent meal there and one of my favourites from that evening.
Served chilled, this brilliant take on our local #prawnnoodles soup boasted an elixir of prawn head oil as the “secret weapon”. When my chopsticks hoisted the silky, al dente strands of Somen and chunks of raw, very fresh Botan Ebi up through the surface of the dashi, the vivid orange oil afloat on it, enveloped them with a coat of intense umami-ness. In the mouth, the taste of this dish was shudderingly good.
I cannot overstate the creativity and deliciousness that existed in this bowl. Chef Tariq, can we have it again on my next visit please? 😋😋😋

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Besides the “tau pok” being elevated to an airy-light magic carpet of crispness because they use the Japanese “aburaage” instead, the “hae gor” (fermented shrimp paste) also comes in the form of ice-cream. Its cold, pungent and savoury creaminess adds a fascinating dimension to the dish which comprises of Tiger prawns, fresh pineapples, jicama and mango. The garnish is katsuobushi (dried skipjack tuna) for a little more umami-ness.

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I was under the impression that Roketto Izakaya, Willin Low’s latest concept, was tucked in a corner of his existing establishment Relish, but nope, it is actually what the whole of Relish becomes (yes, with twinkling fairy lights and all) when the sun sets. So basically, Willin has two concepts in his space at Fraser’s Tower. I also just learned there’s a private entrance now as well. So do turn left when you get off the escalator on level two, go through the auto doors and head out the glass door at your ten o’clock. It will take you through a rooftop garden, directly to Relish/Roketto.
The place was quite quiet when my friend Annette and I arrived around 6pm on a Wednesday but was full at 8pm when we left. Once we settled our drinks—there’s a good selection of sakes, draft beers and sours but I had a strawberry milkshake (don’t laugh) and Annette, a Yuzu Soda—the menu-perusing began. Despite being tempted to order many of Willin’s Mod Sin creations, we sensibly shared the following...

From the Individual Bites:

1. Fish Collagen Broth ($5) - I liked this creamy, dairy-free soup a lot. Another bowl would not have gone amiss.
2. Mala Prawn Donut ($6.50/$7.50) - We both adored this! Seconds were required.
3. Black Pepper Crab Donut ($6.50++) - Richer than I expected as it has a creamy filling.
4. Bak Chor Mee Negitoro ($15) - Appetising mix of raw minced tuna and glass noodles.

As for the bigger Sharing Plates, we chose:

1. Aburaage Rojak Salad ($15) - Shiokness! We liked the twist of the “hae go” appearing as an ice-cream. It complemented the Tiger prawns, crisp Japanese “tau pok”, fresh pineapples, jicama and mango really nicely.
2. Har Jeong Tin Gai ($12) - Our server was adamant we order this. Glad we listened to her. The shrimp paste battered and fried frog legs were highly addictive, more so with the young ginger kosho.
3. Krapow Prata Pizza ($13.80) - Every bite of the flaky crust loaded with fragrant, spicy minced chicken, cheese, chilli and Thai basil had us cooing with pleasure.
4. Sarawak Curry Chicken Shepherd’s Pie ($15.80) - This began life as a staff meal but was so tasty Willin decided to add it to Roketto’s menu.

For dessert, we shared the Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheesecake ($9.20), one of Chef @willcookwilleat’s long-time signatures, and the Fresh Pineapple Sorbet ($7.80). I preferred the former personally but the latter with touches of chilli padi and soy sauce salt, would be ideal for those hankering after something more refreshing and exotic.

My much-anticipated second dinner by @division_sg, this time with a bigger group of friends, was at a different “secret location”, still in the central part of Singapore. In accordance with their practice, we were served a different menu.
The opener was a beautiful and exceedingly fresh creation of sweet Kegani (horsehair crab), Bafun uni, Murasaki Ensui uni (the sea urchin stored in salt water), fruit tomato and Chef and co-founder Tariq Helou’s audacious soya sauce vinegar jelly.
Course number two was a genius take on our local prawn noodle and my second favorite of the evening. The vivid orange prawn head oil was the magical component, enveloping strands of Somen and the raw Botan Ebi with a slick of intense umami-ness as they broke the surface to head to my waiting lips. I can’t overemphasise the creativity and deliciousness found here.
Fishes headlined the next two courses. Bearing in mind Chef Tariq isn’t a sushi chef by training, I thought he prepared the Katsuo (skipjack tuna) and Amadai (tilefish) admirably well. Anyway, in my humble opinion, it was what he served the premium fishes with that gave them distinction: Month-long-pickled onions for the seared tuna and shiso salsa verde for the tilefish. Both were unerringly appetising.
However, without a shadow of doubt, the night belonged to the carbs.
And I dare say, it was the aromatic Matsutake mushroom rice paired with jiggly ribbons of A5 Ito Wagyu sirloin and finished with a splash of Nama Kosho sauce that reigned supreme for all of us.
Almost as heavenly was the Megumi Gold sweet corn rice that had French beurre salé (salted butter) and fresh kinome mixed in just before being served.
Dessert was choux puffs filled with a savoury-sweet vanilla and miso pastry cream. Chef wasn’t 100% pleased with it himself but I had no issues making it disappear all the same.
Co-founder Aidan who’s in charge of front-of-house, business development (basically everything but the cooking), presented each creation, kept our glasses filled (it’s BYO here) and ensured the evening ran without a hitch.


Chef Ming Kiat is gifted in unshackling the DNA of traditional flavours and harnessing it, along with the “feeling”, to create shockingly sublime dishes that leave you staring at them in awe as you eat. The current menu (it changes monthly) has some of the most imaginative and delicious tasting Mod Sin (Modern Singaporean) creations that have ever landed on my palate. With each (details listed below), I was astounded, dazzled and ultimately, satisfied to no end. Here is the complete list:

1. Insanely good opener of seared local squid, in a laksa leaf pesto, enlivened with pickled green apple and a kerabu (Asian salad) of wing bean, mint and red onions.

2. Chockfull of Hokkaido scallop and fish maw, the chawanmushi was steamed in a stock of dried seafood and Jinghua ham, and topped with a very umami housemade X.O sauce. Extremely flavourful and a favourite of many.

3. Highly imaginative course of Ebi Katsu (crunchy prawn and fish patty) in a pool of Chef Ming’s tartare sauce which was concocted from fish chowder, turmeric leaf, laksa leaves, coriander and belimbing.

4. The herbal duck and Japanese mushrooms hot pot is a great example of minimal waste done to really tasty results. While the bones were brewed with Chinese medicinal herbs, the thighs were made into meatballs and the body meat, sliced and poached.

5. One of my favourites was the dish derived from Indonesian Soto soup featuring local grouper. Roast chicken stock was reduced to a “bumbu” (spice paste) and enriched with butter to become a velvety-smooth and terrifically aromatic gravy. Served with it, a smoked fish bergedil that was good on its own but better soaked in the gravy.

6. Chef Ming’s version of his mum’s Popiah Porridge is pure comfort food. The taste was sweet and savoury due to the simmering of turnip, carrots, cabbage, “hae bee” (dried shrimp) and Japanese rice in a potent prawn stock.

7. Peranakan meets Italian in the form of fresh egg noodles with buah keluak oxtail ragout. Adding sambal belachan and fresh lime juice brought the rich earthy flavours of the ragout to another level.

8. Nothing is straightforward with this team. For a palate cleanser, Chef Shin Yin made us a sorbet of cold-pressed star fruit juice and served it on Japanese muscat grapes and pomelo from Ipoh.

9. Baked a la minute, the piping hot orange sugee cake came with a scoop of spiced ice-cream that’s made in-house with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. I doubt there could be a more perfect ending to this amazing meal.


As our next booking at @mustardseed_sg approaches in the first week of September, my excitement to have Chef-owner Ming Kiat’s new menu is already building. At the same time though, I can’t help but think of this dessert I had on my last visit with wistfulness.
A tribute to the humble soya bean, the bowl holds its different incarnations in an ice-cream, as a silky yuba (Japanese beancurd skin), crunchy chips of #tempeh (fermented soya beans) and even a housemade kinako sauce, all orchestrated to harmonise beautifully when enjoyed together.
I feel it takes a great deal of sensitivity and creativity in a chef to fathom the potential of the humble bean in order to be able to execute to such sublime results. Obviously, Chef Ming Kiat has both qualities in spades.


Sharply sour from calamansi lime and fiercely spicy, the “kampung” dressing is what makes this local version of Amberjack Ceviche completely irresistible to me.
It is one of the many dishes at Izy Fook that exemplify the culinary team‘s understanding of what would appeal to many Singaporeans’ palate, and very possibly, their expat friends’ too.


Transitions are tricky. Much more so when your Point A happened to be one of the most coveted private dining experiences in Singapore (snagging a seat required lightning fingers). Naturally, your Point B was bound to attract intense scrutiny.
Chef Ming Kiat (Instagram: @mkthehansum) of The Mustard Seed Pop-up, with the support of his girlfriend Chef Shin Yin (@xshinyinx) and a mutual friend from their Candlenut days, Chef Julian (@juliegohan), has pulled it off successfully, making his move from private dining to a full-fledged restaurant look like a walk in the park. I am sure it is an illusion because a tonne of work must have gone into getting the new space to echo the look and feel of what he had created at the venue of his previous dinners - his parents’ timelessly stylish home.
Located along a charming row of shophouses in the north-east of Singapore, the @mustardseed_sg can now seat more diners. And very comfortably too, around a U-shaped counter (fun fact: it’s built from the wood of a single tree).
I am very pleased to report the food produced by this tight team of three chefs in the new, bigger kitchen is instantly recognisable as Mustard Seed’s. Every course is as uniquely nuanced and eloquent in deliciousness as ever. Even if I was not told, I would have been able to guess straightaway whose food I was having. The presentation and flavours are exactly what we have come to know and love - an amalgamation of Chef Ming Kiat’s memories, taste, training, research, passion and innate talent.
The menu here is suppose to change monthly but I am sure whenever you visit, the meal you partake in will have you dreaming of, for a long while after.


Shown above is the sublime second course from my recent dinner here. It is Chef-owner Ming Kiat’s take on a classic dish - the Vichyssoise, which also happens to be the first recipe of Anthony Bourdain’s he ever attempted. The reason for that is he wanted to cook for his mum on Mother’s Day more then a decade ago.
Naturally, the Vichyssoise he served last week to our group of thirteen diners, was of a much more evolved form. The elegant white-on-white creation featured fresh Hokkaido scallops, sweet lily bulbs and pickled local turnip. For me, it was one of the most outstanding courses of the night as I really enjoyed how the cool and warm, as well as the crunch and smooth, coexisted so deliciously in a bowl.

We were served only one dessert from the new menu at Curious Palette that Chef Desmond Shen (previously of #magicsquaresg and #odetterestaurant) helped to develop, but it hit a home run with everyone around the table. What a revelation the seemingly ordinary “Kaya and Coffee Toast” was.
Sandwiched between the two pieces of bread was a fridge-cold, firm slab of coffee-flavoured butter and housemade kaya. The former was whipped so even though it’s meant to resemble the solid piece of butter you get in a properly done traditional kaya toast, there‘s an ice-cream-like quality. Its delightful coffee fragrance blended with the gula melaka-sweetened kaya in such a heavenly way too. Heightening the coffee element was a unique espresso shoyu sauce that was poured over the half-boiled egg when it was served. This was where we were to dip our kaya toast before chomping into it.
Playful, creative and absolutely scrumptious, I foresee this dessert becoming a hugely popular item here.

I loved this.
The very gently cooked prawn was stretched out and scored down the back. Into that linear space went pearls of ikura followed by a covering of thinly sliced carrots. The head, deepfried till crunchy, was smothered in a prawn brain and ebiko sauce. Both body and head were reassembled on a pool of liquid gold - a luscious concoction of prawn shells, glutinous rice wine, kefir cream and Shaoxing wine.


I must say, I like the food at “Restaurant Ibid” more now. Overall, it is less sweet which suits my pro-savoury palate and there are quite a few gutsy, playful and delicious creations on the new Tasting Menu that I found really impressive.
One of which is the Stuffed Chicken Wing with Foie Gras, an item included only in the bigger 9-course menu.
Fantastically crunchy on the outside and sooooo juicy and richly-flavoured by the foie gras within, the engorged chicken wing is offset brilliantly by the acid and heat of the special sauce concocted from Chinese black vinegar and “Marzo Heat”, a brand of hot sauce by Owner-chef Woo Wai Leong’s friend Jim Marzo, amongst other ingredients.