You've had local history drilled into your brains from social studies classes but this isn't another lesson filled with talk of tumult and hard times. Until August 16, CORNER HOUSE's executive chef Jason Tan turns his eight-course Discovery Menu ($248) into an intimately personal meal that melds his own food memories with his own eating milestones growing up in Singapore.
The dinner menu is designed like a timeline. The period in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s when locals clamoured to be seen eating at Pizza Hut, A&W and McDonalds, is interpreted as luxed up in a foam-based pizza, and Tan's early memories of ‘orh luak’ is deconstructed into a plate of Royale oysters, Kristal de Chine caviar and oyster leaves.
To honour his encounter with Alain Passard at the 2005 World Gourmet Summit that laid the foundations of his brand of Gastro-Botanica cuisine, Tan serves a deeply satisfying stew of Cevennes onion with baked French beetroot. His stints at Julien Bompard's and Justin Quek's restaurants show up on the meal as a lobster bisque – true to Bompard's original recipe – and an aged Shaoxing wine broth that floods a fillet of sterling halibut and squid with comforting flavour.
CORNER HOUSE's menu is pricier than most other SG50 offerings, but its dishes are exceptional. Plus, you get to dine in the Botanic Gardens, triumphant after its UNESCO crowning – what's more celebratory than that?
The Clifford Pier partners again with Nyonya chef Shermay Lee to honour Singapore's nurturing mothers for SG50. Introducing seven limited edition dishes to the kitchen team, Lee mined the cookbooks of three Singaporean culinary foremothers – ex-Methodist Girls School principal Ellice Handy, as well as her grandaunt and grandmother, Leong Yee Soo and Lee Chin Koon – to curate a menu of dishes steeped in Peranakan, Cantonese and Indian heritage. Among the dishes on offer is a rarely served fried rice-like fish kedgeree ($26) referencing Handy's recipe, Leong's chicken curry ($23) thickened with blended cashews and almonds and DIY Peranakan popiah ($26/two), which includes hard-to-come-by egg popiah skins.
Okay, so it looks like we can't quite run from laksa paste after all. Ramen King Keisuke Takeda's franken-bowl of laksa ($15), with a prawn and chicken broth base, deserves special mention. Each fiery red bowl – it's not really spicy – features a thick broth that coats chewy ramen noodles, fried tofu, poached egg and a juicy tsukune patty with legit flavours of rempah and coconut. We wish he'd make it a permanent item on the menu, but only 50 bowls are sold daily till August 31.
Nasi Lemak blend by ETTE Teas
We baulked at the idea of drinking our nasi lemak in a tea ($26), but Victor Koh, founder and blender of ETTE Tea's got the flavour nailed. Using a careful blend of houjicha and genmaicha teas with coconut flakes, dried pandan leaves, osmanthus and – get this – dried chilli, each warming whiff of the brew is evocative of a moreish wake-up call of flavoured rice and ikan bilis. Bonus points for the final lingering kick of spice after each sip and the lovely tins which make it perfect for gifting.
Available at www.naiise.com, HIVE Shop and Robinsons The Heeren.
Creamier x Papa Palheta Kopi-C Ice Cream
Third-wave coffee roaster Papa Palheta (the same people behind coffee-serious cafes Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CSHH) and Loysel's Toy) collaborates with ice cream shop Creamier to make frozen Kopi-C. Papa Palheta roasts Sumatra Tripe Pick and India Thippanahalli Arabica beans to mimic the kopitiam brew, which is churned into ice cream with Carnation evaporated milk by Creamier. Enjoy a scoop served with rainbow bread ($5) for an afternoon treat at CSHH, or, at Creamier, have it served atop their stellar waffles ($9.70, $4.20/scoop).