Jalean Wong picks (another) 50 things you absolutely need to put in your mouth—at least once.
Another year’s gone by, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to find an entirely new list of 50 eats that are simply die, die, must try. We’ve taste-tested everything from hawker fare to fine dining grub, deep-fried to oven-roasted dishes, and come up with our top eats for 2011. Here they are, in no particular order. So no excuses, get cracking folks.
1. BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY AT NOVUS
It’s no secret that we have a real weakness for all things porcine, and this offering from chef Stephan Zoisl is stunning. With just the right ratio of fat to meat in our book (1:1), and after being cooked sous-vide for 48 hours, it’s hard not to inhale these thin slices of incredibly succulent American Berkshire pork belly in one go. They sit pretty atop a fragrant and creamy saffron-scented risotto, accompanied by Joselito ibérico, crisp pork crackers, parmesan and char-grilled capsicum which make for a winning combination. $38.
2. TOKUSEI REIMEN AT JAPANESE BBQ YAKINIKU YAZAWA
We aren’t big fans of cold noodles, but for this rendition we’ll make an exception—chewy translucent threads in a chilled chicken broth, topped with half a hardboiled egg, slivers of chicken, sesame seeds and accented with aromatic garlic oil. Yummers. $18.
3. FOIE GRAS DUO AT BISTRO SOORI
You’re going to love us for this one, unless you’re a doctor. Texan chef Ben McBride has our vote with this truly decadent number: Pan-seared foie gras coupled with a pink peppercorn-studded wine-poached pear filled with a very pleasant surprise—rich foie gras mousse. To tie it all together and save it from being overly cloying, a mildly sweet yet tart pink peppercorn gastrique. $21.
4. JIAOZI AT YANG GUI FEI
Unfortunate name choice of this little gem aside, the jiaozi in hot and sour soup here is terrific. The broth is spicy, sour and flavorful, and serves as the ideal complement to these juicy homemade pork-filled dumplings. You almost don’t need any vinegar on the side. $7.
5. ENTRE-NOUS CRÊPE AT ENTRE-NOUS CREPERIE
The signature Entre-nous crêpe makes us weak in the knees. A paper-thin treat crisped to perfection, made with organic wheat flour, is dressed with housemade salted butter caramel. We’ve been known to lick our plates clean. $9.30.
6. NASI AYAM PENYET AT NUR INDAH KITCHEN
The crunchy yet tender chicken is a winner, and pairs superbly with the fluffy rice (cooked with chicken stock). Don’t forget to pile on the sweet and sour chili. $4.50.
7. GRILLED PRAWN PASTA AT NÁZT BISTRO LOUNGE
Lip-smackingly good, yet so simple. A combination of grilled tiger prawns and al dente linguine coated with a spicy prawn-scented butter sauce that you’ll find hard to share. $22.
8. WHOOPIE FRIES AT PIQUE NIQUE
Hella hard to say no these babies, despite the fact that we’re well aware of how bad they are for our waistline. Deep-fried, thick-cut golden fingers of crisp potato, tossed in a blend of seasoning that tastes like a very successful marriage between Cajun spices and curry powder. Enjoy with tons of mayo. $8.
9. BLACK TRUFFLE AND ARTICHOKE SOUP AT GUY SAVOY
All it takes is one mouthful of celeb chef Guy Savoy’s signature black truffle and artichoke soup to convert even the most cynical of critics. $90.
10. SASHIMI POKE AT HEART BISTRO
Hawaiian food doesn’t really exist in Singapore, but it does make a fleeting appearance here in the form of poke: Marinated thin-sliced salmon sashimi with a sprinkling of white and black sesame seeds. $16.
11. SUP TULANG AT AL KADER RESTAURANT
The deep red gravy might be off-putting to some, but we can guarantee that it’s really delicious with a strong tomato flavor and loads of marrow in the bone just waiting to be slurped up. $6-12.
12. JELLY ‘N’ ICE CREAM AT THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Chef and owner Tim Ross-Watson’s unusual interpretation of a childhood favorite (his and ours): Jelly and ice cream. We have fond memories of jice, but it was never quite as fancy as 66% Valrhona chocolate ice cream, raspberry jelly and gel, coconut cream and mouth-tingling pop rocks. $15.
13. CONFIT SAKURA AYAM TUTURAGA AT THE MOLUCCAS ROOM
We adore Indonesian-born chef Alicia Tivey’s confit Sakura ayam tuturaga, a tangy Sakura chicken confit curry with roasted new potatoes that showcases her classical French cooking techniques. $33.
14. APPLE OATMEAL PANCAKES AT BOATHOUSE
Brunch is one of our favorite meals, and the apple oatmeal pancakes here are what we crave most weekends. Light, fluffy, and healthy to boot, apple compote and honeycomb are a particularly nice touch. $18.
15. PEKING DUCK SKIN, FOIE GRAS AND PRAWN COMBO AT MAJESTIC RESTAURANT
Props to chef-owner Yong Bing Ngen for making Chinese cuisine contemporary with dishes like this stellar combination of Peking duck skin, pan-seared foie gras and crispy prawns with wasabi dressing. $18.
16. SUCKLING PIG AT OTTO RISTORANTE
Proof that not only the Chinese do crispy suckling pig well. This scrumptious rendition is lacquered with black locust tree honey and accented with aged balsamic vinegar. $48.
17. BLACK CARROT CAKE AT LE YI SHI FRIED CARROT CAKE
Chunky cuts of carrot cake that’s fried until slightly caramelized and evenly coated with thick, dark soy sauce. We suggest ordering it with chili. $2-3.
18. TARTE TATIN AT RESTAURANT EMBER
After all this time, still one of the best damn apple tarte tatins in the city. $16.
19. FILET MIGNON AT KEYSTONE RESTAURANT
Chef de cuisine Mark Richards makes several noteworthy creations so it’s hard to pick just one, but our carnivorous predisposition votes for the Rangers Valley filet mignon cooked to your specifications (medium-rare please folks), accompanied by brown butter béarnaise and miso yaki eggplant. $58.
20. XO CHEONG FUN AT YAN TING
Wok-fried cheong fun with XO sauce and eggs might not sound like anything special, but sometimes it’s the simple things that do it for us. This one certainly does. $10.
21. SCALLOPS AT FIFTYTHREE
Instead of the usual pan-seared ones that are de rigueur in most fine dining establishments, this entrée crafted by chef-owner Michael Han is restrained yet it still packs a culinary punch. Start with sashimi-style scallops, add in balls of compressed watermelon, then an Earl Grey and lavender granita, and finally, crisp chicken feet and passion fruit coulis to finish it off. Stunning. $53 upwards for three courses.
22. BEEF RENDANG PIZZA AT WOK & BARREL
Of all the dishes at this modern Singaporean newbie by chef-owner Shen Tan, this is the one we just couldn’t get enough of, with all the goodness of tender and tasty beef rendang surfing on a house-made thin-crust base. $11.90.
23. BAN MIAN AT L.32 SHOU GONG MIAN
These soft and supple homemade noodles have just the right thickness, floating in a light and flavorful soup with fresh prawns and extremely crispy fried anchovies. $3-5.50.
24.PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE AT HUMMERSTONS
We won’t bore you with all the details about what goes into making this baby, although we will tell you it has something to do with slow-roasted pumpkins and a crisp, homemade rosemary-scented base. The result is an incredibly dense and satisfying slice of nirvana (it’s incredibly dense and satisfying). $10.90.
25. HERBAL MUTTON SOUP AT NEW WORLD MUTTON SOUP
A fourth generation family business specializing in mutton soup. The broth is hearty and comforting, and the meat tender. $4-10.
26. CURRY-RUBBED WAGYU AT KHA
This restaurant may have moved, but its food is still as good as we remember. Do try the grilled red curry-rubbed Wagyu beef with papaya salad, yogurt and chili jam. $29.
27. CARBONARA PASTA AT LA STRADA
This is completely different from the usual bastardized white cream sauces you might be used to, in a good way. Our tip: Gently break the coddled egg nestled on the bed of fresh pasta strands and toss lightly, while crisp prosciutto and sharp parmesan provide flavor and texture. $26.
28. MANADO-STYLE KUROBUTA PORK AT TABLE AT 7
Served with fragrant shallot-scented rice, the super tender Manado-style twice-cooked Kurobuta pork is marvelous. $28.
29. LEMON TART AT L’ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON
Michelin star-studded Joël Robuchon is known for all kinds of elaborate creations, but we were blown away by one of the simplest: A slice of lemon tart. A delicate pastry houses the softest set lemon curd that is both tangy and subtly sweet. $25 for 5 slices.
30. HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE AT HAINANESE BONELESS CHICKEN RICE
If you’re a lazy bugger, you’ll be thrilled with this find: Fluffy, fragrant rice with moist and juicy chicken flesh. The soup is also slurpalicious, with a slight herbal taste. $3.
31. MILLE CRÊPE AT CLASSIC CAKES
Pastry chef and owner Charles Quek painstakingly makes and stacks layer upon layer of crêpes, in flavors like chocolate chip, apple and durian. Our pick hands down is the original, filled with a subtle vanilla bean cream that’s a real treat. $7 upwards.
32. BEEF FLAUTAS AT PIEDRA NEGRA
Expect three handsome deep-fried tortilla flutes laid out in a row on a bed of refried beans. Each crunchy brown tortilla roll is filled with meat so well-seasoned, you might be tempted to ignore the beans. Don’t. $11.90.
33. CHICKEN KIEV AT BUYAN RUSSIAN HAUTE CUISINE & CAVIAR BAR
It’s surprisingly light and tender, despite being breaded then fried to a golden crisp. $18.
34. CHINESE ROJAK AT STALL 11 ECONOMIC BEE HOON – NASI LEMAK – ROJAK
Large chunks of fruit and veg, crunchy you tiao and fragrant tau pok tossed in a zesty rojak sauce that’s most delicious. That and portions are liberal to boot. $3-4.
35. BOEUF BOURGUIGNON AT BRASSERIE WOLF
Traditional? Without a doubt. But that doesn’t make head chef Claudio Sandri’s rendition of boeuf bourguignon any less appealing. Expect mouthwateringly tender chunks of meat (you won’t even need a knife) and gravy so flavorful you’ll be tempted to drink it straight from the dish. $29.
36. JQ XIAO LONG BAO AT SKY ON 57
Who doesn’t love xiao long baos? But local celeb chef Justin Quek’s rendition filled with foie gras elevates the ordinary to the sublime. $25 for 5 pieces.
37. CHAR SIU AT OVERSEA RESTAURANT
Loyal patrons of the original in KL might complain that it’s not quite the same (in all honesty, we reckon it’s not quite as fatty or sweet), but it’s still some very nicely charred roasted pork with a sticky sweet glaze that oozes fatty goodness. $20 upwards.
38. OOZE AT PAVÉ CHOCOLATES & CONFECTIONS
A dark and handsome chocolate bar hiding sea salted-caramel; built for those cocoa cravings. $14.90.
39. PATATAS AIOLI AT SABIO TAPAS BAR & RESTAURANT
Delish wedges of fried potatoes smothered in aioli (garlic-spiked mayonnaise). $8.
40. STUFFED TOFU CRESPELLE AT KRISH
This Indian-inspired dish was a real surprise, since we’re not big on veggies. Tofu crespelle stuffed with garam masala-infused vegetables and mascarpone, finished with pickled lemon tomato sauce. We almost didn’t notice the lack of meat. $16.
41. HOR FUN AT SHI HUI YUAN HOR FUN SPECIALTY
Chicken hor fun done just right. The gravy has just the right amount of salt to be flavorsome yet isn’t too thick, while chicken slices are tender. But what makes this a real winner are the mushrooms—large, sweet and juicy. $3-5.
42. POACHED CHERRIES AT SALT GRILL
Since his recent arrival, executive chef Shannon Binnie has introduced several new items to the menu. We like the poached cherries with yogurt mousse and honeycomb semifreddo—extremely satisfying yet not overly sweet. $16.
43. COQ AU VIN AT DB BISTRO MODERNE
A classic executed brilliantly. Rich and hearty with bacon, wild mushrooms and pearl onions. $34.
44. BACK & BELLY AT LEVEL33
He might be young, but he’s not pulling any punches. Chef Jimi Tegerdine does a mean Back & Belly—char-grilled 200-days-aged Stockyard sirloin and braised blackened brisket that’s a truly satisfying eat. $43.50.
45. SALT-CURED FOIE GRAS AT THE DINING ROOM AT TANJONG BEACH CLUB
The house-made salt-cured foie gras paired with kaya and toasted brioche, conceived by chef Craig Schantz, is outstanding; we love the contrast of savory, rich foie gras against sweet, coconutty kaya jam. $27.
46. EEL “TIÈDE” AT LES AMIS
Lightly-smoked eel “tiède,” with crispy pork croûton, horseradish and Dijon mustard emulsion, and Hungarian goose foie gras ”parfait,” Gewürztraminer jelly, brioche and black Périgord truffles. In a word: Divine. $55.
47. VEGEMITE SOLDIERS AT JIMMY MONKEY
We can’t claim to be crazy about Vegemite; we’ll leave that to the true-blue Aussies, but we are keen on these Vegemite-slathered toast soldiers covered with melted cheese and served with a soft-boiled egg. Wash it down with a nice flat white. $8.
48. TANDOORI FOIE GRAS AT PUNJAB GRILL BY JIGGS KALRA
Not ones to say no to indulgent food, we’ve enjoyed more than our fair share of tandoori foie gras. What makes it especially delectable is the sweet mango chutney that comes with it. $45.
49. UNI TAGLIOLINI AT PAMPLEMOUSSE BISTRO + BAR
A great spot for modern European fare helmed by chef-owner Adran Ling, we simply can’t get enough of their signature uni (sea urchin) tagliolini. The strands of pasta come coated in a rich crustacean cream sauce topped with pork gratons and fresh uni that’s both rich and gratifying. $28.
50. BRITTANY MACARON AT ANTOINETTE
Pastry king and restaurateur Pang Kok Keong crafts these ambrosial fleur de sel-kissed caramel-filled macarons, which are simply sublime. We’re guilty of devouring at least five in one sitting. $2.50.