Ex-banker LG Han certainly doesn't come from hawker stock, which explains why he and his team must slog for weeks to come up with a you tiao recipe, or a tinker and tweak with ingredients to perfect roast meat sauce for the menu at his new Esplanade digs.
Spinning a narrative around the many meals and myriad of dishes a Singaporean would have in a day, Han's 'neo-Sin' approach produces mind-bending dishes like an amuse bouche of chwee kueh – nasi lemak cakes topped with umami-rich sambal – or the aforementioned you tiao, which hits all the right notes of a good calibre rojak in one bite.
Elsewhere on his Experience menu, tang yuan dough is shredded to mimic congee in a dessert, yellow noodles in a Hokkien mee course are hand-extruded strands of egg yolk. Oh, we could just go on – the levels of innovation applied to our humble local cuisine here is mind-blowing.
Bjorn Low, Rob Pearce and their Edible Gardens team have been doing the good, but tough, work of pushing urban farming in Singapore. And Spa Esprit grabbing a stake of the business only gave them a huge boost.
Open Farm Community – the public face of this collaboration – is Singapore's first restaurant that can properly lay claim to its farm-to-table cred, with a percentage of the greens grown on its Dempsey plot finding their way onto the plate.
Consulting chef Ryan Clift is also proud about the work the restaurant is doing to source for seafood reared and harvested in our waters. And there's even talk about having OFC's chefs walk their freshly caught fish back from the ponds over at Huber's on Dempsey Road.
Restaurant copycats, copy this. Singapore can certainly stand to benefit from more well-meaning and passionate people expanding this movement in the city.
Given chef Ivan Brehm's Fat Duck pedigree, his place on this list is a given. But the hard work his team puts into ingredient-sourcing and public education since the closure of its Coleman Street restaurant deserves mention.
Chronicled on the Bacchstory blog, posts written by Brehm, sous chef Mark Ebbels, and guest bloggers like The Indiana Supply Co's Perry Ho tell stories about the farm in Cameron Highlands from which they get their vegetables, the fish from the Tiberius Harvest farm off Pulau Ubin, and the unique fleur de sel harvested in South Bali.
Sometimes, in the rush of service, its hard for chefs and waiters to pass on or go in-depth into the details about the hard work they put into the food. So we're highly appreciative that they've taken the time and effort to share this information in such an accessible way.