Singapore’s hardest working chef, Ryan Clift, has moved his ultra-chic bar-cum-fine-diner into 3 shophouses in the heart of Chinatown. With the move, he has also reprogrammed his offers. While the old space offered 42 seats around a “C” shaped counter, the new Tippling Club has separated the drinking area from the dining. The bar, located at the restaurant’s entrance, seats 32 people while the dining room seats just 22. Gone also is the all-counter seat dining configuration for diners. You now have a choice to sit at proper tables or at one of eight bar seats that face the pass (i.e. the area from which food is inspected before being sent out into the dining room) and the main kitchen.
In The Five Obstructions, one of the strangest documentaries I’ve ever seen, the notorious filmmaker Lars von Trier challenges the equally controversial Jorgen Leth to remake his most famous short film, The Perfect Human, five times, each with a set of constraints of von Trier’s choosing. The stipulations – the film must be reshot in Cuba; it must be made into a cartoon; Leth himself must play the leading role – are patently ridiculous, as are the remakes, which manage to be even more avant garde than the original.
Singapore is currently enjoying quite the culinary renaissance. It feels like there are new restaurants and cafes opening weekly. And to be honest, I can’t even keep up with all these new places. Unfortunately, judging from my dining-out experiences over the past year, far too many newbies prize style over substance, i.e. while many of these new eateries look great and attract a growing pride of local hipsters, the reality is that their food is often both mediocre and very expensive. One restaurant that opened this past year, however, whose culinary program has continued to impress me is Bacchanalia, located (oddly enough) in the city’s Masonic Hall.
One of my favourite chefs in Singapore is Malcolm Lee. Not only is he immensely talented, passionate and hard-working, he’s also humble and sincere. I’ve been a fan of his ever since he opened his first restaurant, Candlenut Kitchen, which was located on Neil Road in Singapore. Because of evil landlord issues (which seems to be becoming the norm on our little island-nation), Malcolm had to close Candlenut Kitchen down in 2012. Almost a year and a half later, this driven young chef has re-opened, this time in newer, shinier digs; he’s also dropped the “kitchen” in the restaurant’s name.
Earlier this month, thanks to some amazingly cheap deals on Scoot, I was able to whisk my wife S up to Tokyo for a three day eating trip to celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary. We had only three nights in town, which meant (to me at least) making sure each dinner was truly something special. On the first two nights, we visited familiar favorites (including, of course, Sushi Sho). For the last night in town, I wanted to take S somewhere neither of us had been. And after a bit of research, decided the restaurant I most wanted to try — and that I thought she’d really enjoy — was DEN, in Jimbocho. And boy am I glad I did.
One of the restaurants that people keep asking me if I’ve tried is Jamie’s Italian. Ever since Jamie Oliver opened his eponymous casual Italian eatery here in Singapore, there’s been an almost non-stop buzz surrounding it. The fact that most customers have to wait in line (for often over an hour) — only a tiny fraction of tables are available for reservations (online) and I’ve been told that the next available table is in 3 months — has obviously helped to build the hype. Well, last week (and thanks to a buddy who was able to score me a table), my wife S and I, plus two friends, were finally able to try this much-talked about restaurant.
I am a total ice cream addict. On top of that, since my wife S makes some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted, in the years since she first bought her commercial ice cream machine, I’ve become a rather discerning (or spoiled depending on who you ask) ice cream lover. Which means that any new ice cream has to be pretty damned good if it is going to impress me. Which is exactly what the flavours I tasted from Singapore’s newest ice cream brand, The Inspired Chef, did.
I have a little black book. No, it does not contain any deep, dark secrets. Rather, in this notebook, I have written down recipes that I wanted to try. And one that has been staring at my face for the longest time was a quick bread recipe–Bill Granger’s coconut bread.
I’m a fan of Chef Ryan Clift. And I’m happy to admit it. I admire the very technically refined and often challenging food he cooks at Tippling Club, his flagship fine diner. And I love the food at Open Door Policy, his casual bistro in hipsterville (i.e. Tiong Bahru). And now, with the opening of DING DONG, Ryan’s ode to Southeast Asia, there’s yet another reason to respect this very hard-working chef and restaurateur.
Finally, after months of waiting, IZY is open. This chic, ultra-urban modern izakaya opened its doors (to the public) for the first time last night. Yours truly, along with his always gorgeous and almost always hungry wife, and four friends, were among the first to check out Club Street’s newest (dare I say hottest?) arrival.