If there is one memory of my Grandmother that I would tell others when asked about her, it would be her ability to make anything your heart desired. My Grandmother had a knack for cooking, and I suppose that is one of the many things my Grandfather loved about her.
When I saw that the theme for the Singapore Food Festival (SFF) 2015 this year is “A Fresh Taste of Tradition”, I was instantly brought back to the days when home-cooked food was the only type of food I looked forward to eating and I have to admit, I was excited to see what new creations would be brought to the table. This year, SFF promises an array of traditional dishes reinvented and revamped to suit our contemporary taste buds, but not without a pinch of home. Held at various locations from 17 July to 2 August, the festival welcomes foodies to revisit and rediscover a selection of culinary traditions through an exciting line-up of 13 tantalising events.
1. STREAT by the Singapore Tourism Board
24 – 25 Jul: 6 – 10pm
Pop-Up Restaurant: 3 –course menu at $35 nett
Prices vary for individual dishes at various stalls
To celebrate local hawkers and chefs around Singapore, the Singapore Food Festival proudly introduces this year’s running signature event STREAT – a celebration of Singapore’s local food and culinary talents. Each year, STREAT will feature a pop-up restaurant by a local chef, accompanied by the chef’s specially-curated medley of Singaporean food establishments. Kicking off STREAT is Chef Justin Quek of restaurant Sky on 57, where he will be guiding his team of 16 stalls to present a plethora of local dishes with a contemporary twist.
Being a lover of all things fresh and seafood, I naturally gravitated to the most beautifully plated Pacific Oysters by Chef Justin. Dressed with Ginger Flower Dressing (which was certainly a sight for sore eyes) this was no doubt an appetizer that would delight the taste buds of any seafood fanatic. Chef Justin also recommends pairing this with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Bon appetit!
2. Hawker Spotlight: 51 Old Airport Road Food Centre
51 Old Airport Road
17 Jul – 2 Aug: All Day
Prices vary. Cash payment only
How can we forget the unsung heroes of this sunny island that toil night through day to churn out delicious foods for our insatiable hunger? This SFF, the featured hawker centre is none other than 51 Old Airport Road Food Centre. Built in 1973, did you know Old Airport Road FC is one of Singapore’s oldest hawker centres? Any foodie will know the quality of the food at Old Airport Road is perpetually top notch, with lines snaking from stall to stall, patrons eager to order their favourite dishes. Now who ever said good food needed to be fancily plated and costly?
3. Mod-Local Fest at Chinatown Food Street
Chinatown Food Street, Smith Street
17 & 18 Jul: Mod-Local Noir Dinner 7 – 9pm
$50/person (8 courses)
Mod-Local – two words you would rarely hear together, binding both local and modern dishes together to create a medley of foods that would bring together the young and the old. This time, Chinatown Food Street will be reintroducing crowd favourites such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Satay, Kueh Pie Tee with a twist! Ever heard of Chicken Rice Sushi Rolls, Pork Wanton in Bak Kut Teh Bisque and Pulat Hitam Crème Brulee? I’m pretty certain I have piqued your interest, and you can only see these new creations at the Mod-Local Noir Dinner on 17 & 18 July.
17 – 2 Aug: Deliciously Singaporean food exhibition in collaboration with the National Heritage Board 12pm-11pm
24, 25, 31 Jul & 1 Aug: Pop Up Food Container 12pm-11pm
Price vary. dishes start from $2.50 onwards
The pop-up container stall which runs on 24, 25, 31 July & 1 Aug will feature an array of mod-local dishes which would be best for those who love to eat a selection of foods on the go! For those of you that would like to know more, visit www.chinatownfoodstreet.sg/mod-local-fest.
4. Singapore Favourite Food Village (SFFV) 2015 – A Wok Down Memory Lane at Ellenborough Market
Read Bridge, Clark Quay
24 Jul – 2 Aug: 5 – 11pm
Drinks at $2 – $5
Food at $2 – $14/dish
I think the beauty in traditional local cuisines is the simplicity of the food and yet how flavoursome it can be. A Wok Down Memory Lane (as the name suggests), is for patrons to relive the delectable charm of Ellenborough Market in its heydays during the 1800s – 1960s.
Here, one can indulge in authentic dishes such as the Teochew Steamed Fish. It may look like a very simple side dish, but I was greeted by the freshness of the fish and even more amazing for me was how the sauce added a punch of saltiness to the fish which I have to say, was right down my alley. I’m not a huge fan of salt, but I can already imagine eating this on a Saturday evening with my family, with a bowl of porridge and a side of vegetables and meats. Old but gold. You can find out more at www.singaporefavouritefood.sg.
5. Living Culinary Treasures by Violet Oon
881 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 279893
21 & 28 Jul: 9.30am – 1pm
23 – 25 Jul & 30 – 1 Aug: 9.30am – 1pm
$129 nett pre-payment: cash and credit cards accepted
Reservations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 85331122
For those of you that are a fan of Peranakan cuisine, the name Violet Oon will come as no surprise to you. The Queen of Nonya cooking (in my humble opinion), Violet Oon is bringing the taste of home to those looking to learn a variety of traditional cooking techniques and family recipes through 8 workshops in an intimate kitchen setting.
Nonya cooking has always been my weakness, and Violet Oon has recreated several traditional Peranakan dishes that will not disappoint. The Sambal Kimchiam may be small, but do not be fooled! This tiny starter packs a punch, and it was certainly a treat. This little starter comprises lilybuds mixed with sambal and prawn and was finished with slices of starfruit, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover went very well with the spice.
Although Dry Laksa would not differ very much from a normal bowl of laksa apart from the lack of soup, the spices were well infused with the noodles and were extremely flavourful. It is also definitely much neater to eat than carefully slurping your noodles for fear that the gravy would stain your office wear. I am pretty sure if I were given a full bowl of this, I would finish every last bit of it.
6. STORIES by My Private Chef
Siloso Road, Singapore 099981
22 – 25 Jul: 12.15pm – 2.15pm, 6.30 – 9.30pm
$158/pax (with wine pairing) or $138/pax (without)
My Private Chef and Sentosa Leisure Group have collaborated together to present STORIES, a pop-up theatrical dinner series. The first of two chapters, this edition of STORIES will be held at Fort Siloso on Sentosa in conjunction with the Singapore Food Festival 2015.
This dinner will transport diners to another time and place through their stories about Fort Siloso and Sentosa while they feast on a 5-course Singaporean menu developed by leading local chefs.
The Beetroot & Horseradish Cured King Salmon “Yu Sheng” Wasabi is one such starter that may be offered on the menu. I am a huge fan of seafood, and I enjoyed how they added their own interpretation of yu sheng by westernizing it with flavours such as beetroot and horseradish.
7. AKAR Heritage Social Kitchen by Singapore Halal Culinary Federation (SHCF)
735 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198703
24 & 31 Jul, Friday: 6pm – 9.30pm
25 Jul & 1 Aug, Saturday: 12.30pm – 2.30pm, 3pm – 5pm, 6pm – 9.30pm
26 Jul & 2 Aug, Sunday: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 3pm – 5pm, 6pm – 9.30pm
Saturday & Sunday Lunch: $90 nett
Saturday & Sunday Tea/Brunch: $65 nett
Friday, Saturday and Sunday Dinner: $120 nett
If there’s one thing I love about Singapore, it’s how racially diverse we are, be it in people or in food! The Singapore Halal Culinary Federation proudly presents a variety of traditional Malay cuisine by celebrity chefs (whom you can even dine with) who will whip up dishes such as Nasi Jagong (sweet corn rice), Kachang Phool (spiced fava beans) and Gulai Buntut.
8. Suvai 2015 by Indian Chefs & Culinary Association
Tan Quee Lan Street, open field opposite Bugis Junction
30 Jul – 2 Aug: 12pm – 11pm
Admission to the festival is free, dishes will range from $5 – $15, payment via cash or credit card
Savai is back once again but this time, with new concoctions and innovations. The first thing my eyes gravitated to was the Masala Tea Slushies with Coconut Ice Cream. I think anyone would love this on a hot day, especially since temperatures are to remain at a high 34 deg throughout the first half of July (you are welcome for the complimentary weather update service). The chai spice sprinkled on top may be a small addition, but I love how it complements the drink. Think root beer float but Asian style. Had a go at their Potato & Paneer Croquette with Spinach Puree, which I wasn’t a huge fan of probably because I don’t fancy potatoes or croquette. However the croquette was nicely battered and deep-fried and the puree was an interesting touch.
In addition, Suvai 2015 will also attempt to set two Guinness World Records! One for the “Largest Amount of Curry Cooked at a Single Time” and another for the “Largest Cooking Vessel” with a whopping 11-metre curry pot. I really do love how Singaporeans have the kiasu streak in them!
9. Kueh Appreciation Day (KAD) 2015 by Slow Food (Singapore)
896 Dunearn Road, 01-01A Sime Darby Centre
26 Jul, Sunday: 10am – 3pm
Entry to event is free. Cash payment only.
Entry to Kueh making demonstrations are $12 nett.
Ticketing available online via Paypal from 15 June at slowfood.sg/events/event-registration
And have you heard? Kueh Appreciation Day is around the corner! Held on the 26th July, patrons can enjoy a selection of kueh from Singapore’s various ethnic and dialect groups. Taste and experience familiar favourites and rarely seen specialties such as the Eurasian Pang Suzie, Hainanese Larp and the Teochew Sausage Bean Kueh. Sounds exotic already!
If you are keen on learning how to master the art of kueh, one can also attend kueh-making demonstrations by culinary experts who will share their tips and tricks on making the perfect kueh.
I appreciate a good kueh, and the variety of contemporary kuehs served was certainly a treat. I had a chance to sample the Rainbow Kueh Lapis Kueh – which was soft and delightfully light – I think I could have eaten 10 of those if no one was looking… The tiny orbs of kueh rolled in coconut (in the picture before this) had gula melaka oozing out of its core, any sweet tooth would love a good sinful treat.
The mod rendition of Durian Puffs by HarriAnns is a very interesting combination of French pastry filled with your good ole’ Nonya pandan kaya crème. While this may be a little too heavy for those who love to have more than 2 at a time, this refreshing take on puffs is certainly music to my ears.
10. Singapore Hawker Fest 2015
Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza, 391 Orchard Road
18 – 19 Jul: 12pm – 10pm
Average price per dish: $5. Payment by voucher cash system
More information can be found at www.ideology.com.sg
For those of you who feel the other events may be a tad inconvenient to travel to, fret not! Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza (also known as Takashimaya) is host to the ultimate hawker food paradise this year. Situated in the heart of Singapore, they have gathered the most famous hawkers from across the island to let patrons sample old favourites such as popiah, carrot cake and nasi lemak. I almost gave the popiah a miss as I was too stuffed from all the other foods, but I’m thankful I didn’t give this one up.
Good Chance Popiah is presented in a DIY form, where you can order an entire popiah kit from them to have a popiah party at home! The chilli was strong and spicy, definitely to my liking. The skin was soft and thin and the filling not overly salty nor soggy.
I also had a chance to sample the famous Selara Nasi Lemak – need I say more? If you have yet to try theirs, I suggest you head down there this mid July (with a hungry belly, of course).
Other dining establishments such as The Line at Shangri-La and Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts are hopping on the bandwagon of new and creative reinterpretations of local dishes on their menu, such as Stuffed Crab in Spicy Chilli Sauce or Laksa Yong Tau Foo.
Last but not least, I’m sure many of you have families that love to cook and dine at home, and this is your chance to showcase the talents of your grandparents, parents, or yourselves! For the first time, you guys are invited to impart your family recipes and culinary traditions through the “What is Your Family’s Signature Dish” social media initiative, by sharing their unique dishes and other kitchen secrets with the hastags #myfamilysignaturedish and #yoursingaporefood. Selected participants will get to walk away with SFF 2015 event tickets & F&B vouchers as well! For more information on SFF 2015, do visit www.singaporefoodfestival.com.