Turning tables

Where Chefs Eat: Hidden Omakase In Orchard And Peranakan Private Dining

Jun Xiang, head chef of Koal – a new fusion grill house by the Les Amis Group – shares his pick of exceptional under-the-radar dining experiences.

Where Chefs Eat: Hidden Omakase In Orchard And Peranakan Private Dining
Jun Xiang, head chef of Koal

For omakase with a side of conviviality: Bistro Du Le Pin

Chef Shigeru of Bistro Du Le Pin
Chef Shigeru of Bistro Du Le Pinhungry-spot.blogspot.com

“This hole-in-the-wall eatery on the ground floor of Orchard Plaza offers fantastic omakase as part of an ever-changing menu that varies according to chef Shigeru’s finds. While the mall is quiet in the evenings, the restaurant is usually crowded and lively. The chef dishes up delicious courses — from Hiroshima oysters to asparagus with salmon and ikura — while his staff keep the alcohol flowing. The place offers a one-of-a-kind omakase experience and everyone is friends by the end of the meal, thanks to its energetic soundtrack and friendly chef.”

#01-34 Orchard Plaza

For Teochew comfort food: Sin Chao Gardens

Sin Chao Gardens
Sin Chao GardensSin Chao Gardens

“A husband-wife team with decades of experience runs Sin Chao Gardens, which serves traditional Teochew porridge and fare. Though there’s nothing overtly fancy about this restaurant, I love that many of their dishes are extremely tasty and comforting, as well as affordable. One of my must-order items is their cai po kway teow, a preserved radish dish that’s perfectly fried, with added crunch from the cai po and kailan (Chinese broccoli). I also love their braised duck, cooked in a flavourful sauce that is a great accompaniment to porridge.”

297 River Valley Road

For unexpected Korean fare: The GoGiJip

The GogiJip
The GogiJipThe GogiJip

“This barbecue joint serves some of the most authentic Korean cuisine I’ve tried in Singapore and offers a wide variety of dishes usually not found anywhere else, including raw marinated crab, as well as high-quality cuts of meat. Koreans make up much of the evening crowd, which says a lot about the place’s food and ambience.”

72 Tanjong Pagar Road

For heritage Straits Chinese fare your grandmother would approve of: NonyaBong the Peranakan

NonyaBong The Peranakan
NonyaBong The PeranakanJanita Kumar

NonyaBong is a humble Peranakan private dining experience by the well-mannered Jeffrey Chia, who previously ran a stall in a coffeeshop. He adapts the dishes from his grandparents’ recipes, which explains their homely taste. These include the hati babi bungkus (marinated fried liver balls wrapped in pig’s caul) and sambal prawns with petai. I appreciate Jeffrey’s sense of humour and admire his huge passion for food, which is reflected in the effort he puts into preparing everything — down to his kueh pie tee cups — from scratch.”

663 Choa Chu Kang Crescent

About the chef:

From cutting his teeth at the 1-Michelin-starred Alma by Juan Amador and private members’ club 1880, to leading Peranakan restaurant Indigo Blue Kitchen, chef Jun Xiang’s culinary repertoire is decidedly eclectic – which is writ large on his go-to list of restaurants.

Koal
Koal

At Koal, he marries Asian and Western flavours and grilling techniques, firing up succulent cuts of iberico collar and grass-fed ribeye, as well as seafood creations like pan-fried salmon served with smooth kimchi butter sauce.

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