10 food and drink trends for 2011
1. Going locavore
Eco-consciousness and sustainability have been buzzwords for the longest time, but these ideas are only just seeping through to the culinary world in Singapore.
It’s not just chefs and big hotel chains that have a corporate social responsibility mission to source for sustainable produce. Personal projects spearheaded by the likes of organic farm and café Bollywood Veggies at Neo Tiew Crescent (100 Neo Tiew Rd, tel +65 6898 5001) and Dapao at Far East Square (3&4 Amoy Street, #01-01 Far East Square, tel +65 65570686), a take-away shop subscribing to cooking with local ingredients from scratch, are also joining this culinary cause.
2. Chef counters
While the open concept kitchen, a la Mezza9 (10 Scotts Road, tel +65 6416 7189) style is now a fixture of most dining institutions, the voyeur in us wants a closer view into the kitchen.
We want counters, and not just sushi counters. For now, dining outlets such as Tippling Club (8D Dempsey Road, tel +65 6475 2217) , Disgruntled Chef (26B Dempsey Road, tel +65 6476 5305) and Bistro Soori (2 Teck Lim Road tel +65 6438 3802) give us more than just a rear view into what's happening in the kitchen.
Can we have more please?
3. Mono dish eateries
Mono dish eateries are not new to Singapore. Other than the usual ramen, kebabs, pizzas, and more recently, tacos, there's a call for more focused, specialized eateries. What's next, pies?
4. The rise of the local chef
Blame the avalanche of food shows -- both international and local -- but what used to be regarded as a second-rate profession in Singapore has suddenly become hip.
In turn, more local faces are helming top positions in restaurants and hotels, such as Douglas Tay (chef de cuisine, Osia -- CNNGo Singapore's Best Eats Best New Restaurant), Daniel Sia (The Disgruntled Chef), Yew Eng Tong (The Cliff) and Michael Han (53).
Not to mention that the Singapore National Culinary Team recently came up tops at the prestigious Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, beating 25 other countries including gastronomic temples such as Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. Majulah Singapura!
5. Pop-up restaurants
Kogi -- the food truck concept from United States -- has started a massive trend for two solid reasons: low rent, small overheads.
It makes the perfect sense for food trucks to take off in Singapore, considering that most restaurants are victims to escalating rates; now it's just a question of overcoming the hula hoops of administrative details.
6. Regional European cuisine
Remember how Italian used to be all about pasta and pizza? Well, add more pronouns to the Italian vocabulary.
The Forlino family started Peidmont-ese cuisine, Pietrasanta (5B Portsdown Road, tel +65 6479 9521) with Tuscan dishes and Cugini (#01-01 87 Club Street, +65 6221 3791) with the seafood-centric Sicily and Sardinia nosh.
The interest for regional cuisine should not stop short at Italian; up next, Spanish and French.
7. Artisanal popsicles
In New York, places such as People’s Pops have created seasonal frozen popsical flavors such as roasted red plum, blackberry black tea and pearl ginger.
And now with the presence of artisan ice-cream spots -- joints such as Daily Scoop (43 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-78 Chip Bee Gardens and 41 Sunset Way, #01-04, Clementi Arcade +65 6475 3128/ +65 6463 3365) and Island Creamery (10 Jalan Serene, tel +65 6468 8312) -- and Singapore's humid weather, it makes perfect sense for this childhood favorite to re-emerge.
8. Bespoke cocktails, molecular elements, celebrity mixologists
While molecular gastronomy is slowly making its exit, molecular elements are just entering the cocktail field.
While Tippling Club has set the bar for molecular drinks, we are seeing an increase in molecular elements -- a spot of espuma here and a bit of gelatin there -- in cocktail menus across the island.
With that, bar hoppers with a taste for cocktails with a difference (and some skill) are making reservations at Bar Stories (55 Haji Lane, tel +65 6298 0838), New Asia Bar (Level 71 Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, tel +65 6837 3322) and Orgo (1 Esplanade Drive, tel +65 9733 6911), where head mixologists are becoming celebrities in their own right.
An industry term referring to young, local chefs who head abroad to gain international experience through working internships at prestigious restaurants.
Janice Wong from 2am dessert bar (39 Lorong Liput, tel +65 6291 9727) has recently staged at Santi Santamaria and Jasper Jek (president of the Singapore Junior Chefs Club) at Martin Berasategui -- we're expecting each to infuse what they know with their experience abroad.
10. Modern Scandinavian cooking
Noma, voted the world’s best restaurant in 2010, has put Scandinavian cooking on the global dining map.
While Scandinavian cuisine -- we are not taking Ikea into account here -- has had a spluttering start on the island, we are holding our breath at the emergence of modern Scandinavian influences.
A clean, pure style of cuisine with an emphasis on slow cooking has started to pop up. Where to go for a taste? 53 (53 Armenian Street, tel +65 6334 5535), where chef-owner Michael Han trained at Noma, and Jaan (Level 70 Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, tel +65 6837 3322) where Swedish chef Ebbe Vollmer uses Scandinavian ingredients such as cloudberries and Norwegian hake and scallops.