by Esther Au Yong
THE stars have been awarded and the queues – both physical and on reservation systems – have descended. Everyone has something to say about the 29 establishments that have been honoured in Singapore’s inaugural Michelin guide.
Here are five things you should know about the divisive awards:
1. Conflict of interest?
While Michelin has partnered, or worked closely, with tourism authorities before, such as in Hong Kong where it launched a guide in 2008, its collaboration with Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) – a “title partner” of the Singapore guide – has raised some eyebrows. A Bangkok-based restaurateur said, in a CNN report: “The Michelin Guide is the most respected and revered foodie guide in the world. I hope that it doesn’t get tainted by having sponsors’ dealings for the first time, at least publicly, in Singapore.” Four restaurants located at RWS – Forest, Osia, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Joel Robuchon Restaurant – were awarded stars last evening.
2. Cheapest meal… ever
Singapore has the distinction of being the host of the cheapest Michelin-star meal in the world. The cheapest offering at Soya Sauce Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle costs $2. That will get you a serving of “soya sauce chicken rice” – well, if you’re willing to queue, that is. The day after 51-year-old hawker Chan Hon Meng’s one-star award was announced, local media reported that there were already 21 people in the queue at 10.30am! The other hawker stall to garner a one-star rating is Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane.
3. Stepping stone elsewhere
It’s interesting to note that young one-star winner 32-year-old Malcolm Lee got a big boost in the early days of his career from another guide, the now-defunct Miele Guide, which ranked and showcased the top 20 restaurants in Asia. Mr Lee was the first recipient of the Miele Guide Culinary Scholarship, with which he attended At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. He opened Candlenut Kitchen upon graduation. However, landlord issues and rental struggles forced him to close. He later reopened at Dorsett Residences, on New Bridge Road, and dropped the word “Kitchen” from the restaurant’s name. What should you eat at Candlenut? Definitely Yeye’s Kari, made using a recipe that has been passed down from Mr Lee’s great-grandfather.
4. Who has the most Michelin stars?
The world’s most decorated Michelin-star chef is Joel Robuchon. The French chef, who already had 25 stars in total, won five more last night, when three – the maximum – were awarded to Restaurant Joel Robuchon, and two to L’Atelier Robuchon. Both establishments are located at RWS.
Mr Robuchon celebrated his wins last night at the house of wine connoisseur and long-time friend Dr N K Yong. According to Icon Singapore, Mrs Yong, well known for being a great cook, made Mr Robuchon’s favourite mee goreng. He reportedly said, after finishing three plates of the noodles: “This to me is a three-star dish!”
5. Where are they?
Much lauded Modern European restaurant Iggy’s did not feature at all in this year’s list and many are wondering why. In the Miele Guide in 2008, it was No. 1 in the list of Asia’s Top 20 restaurants, with the two Michelin starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong named as the runner up. Iggy’s is No. 18 in this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List, which it had topped in 2012. Another award-winning restaurant which did not get a star was Burnt Ends, which debuted this year on The World’s Best 50 Restaurants List at No. 70.
Click here to get the list of newly-minted Michelin-star establishments, ranked by their average prices.
Featured image a screenshot from Michelin’s 2016 Singapore Guide press release.
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