Singapore on show in Tokyo

Singaporean 'Crab' Dessert (left), created by French pastry chef Dominique Ansel and chef Malcolm Lee of Peranakan restaurant Candlenut; and Corner House chef Jason Tan's version of oyster omelette (left below).
Singaporean 'Crab' Dessert (above), created by French pastry chef Dominique Ansel and chef Malcolm Lee of Peranakan restaurant Candlenut.PHOTOS: BRANDON HO, DOMINIQUE ANSEL BAKERY
Singaporean 'Crab' Dessert (left), created by French pastry chef Dominique Ansel and chef Malcolm Lee of Peranakan restaurant Candlenut; and Corner House chef Jason Tan's version of oyster omelette (left below).
Corner House chef Jason Tan's version of oyster omelette.PHOTOS: BRANDON HO, DOMINIQUE ANSEL BAKERY

With its bright orange jagged-edged shell, chunky pincers and beady eyes, it resembles the iconic Singapore dish of chilli crab.

But the shell is made of chocolate and can be cracked open with a wooden hammer. And instead of crab meat, the cracked shell will reveal coconut panna cotta, pandan jelly and mango mousse.

The "crab" also sits on a bed of "roe" - tapioca pearls plump with lime mango puree and black sugar.

The creation, called Singaporean "Crab" Dessert, is the brainchild of acclaimed French pastry chef Dominique Ansel and chef Malcolm Lee of one-Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant Candlenut in Dempsey Road.

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Chef Lee, 33, says the duo took three months to concoct the quirky dessert. "Savoury food, such as ayam buah keluak, are usually in the spotlight for Peranakan restaurants, but it is great to have an opportunity to showcase the pastry side as well."

On their maiden collaboration, chef Ansel, 39, says: "I admire chef Lee and his food as he takes great care to preserve Peranakan heritage and celebrate Singaporean culture with local ingredients."

Chef Ansel, who has outlets of his eponymous bakery in New York, Tokyo and London, is famed for creating cronuts - a croissant and doughnut hybrid. He was named the World's Best Pastry Chef at this year's The World's 50 Best Restaurants awards.

This is one of the many culinary mash-ups that will be featured at the upcoming Singapore: Inside Out event in Tokyo's hip Omotesando district.

The cross-disciplinary showcase of Singapore arts, food and fashion is organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and will run from Aug 25 to 27. It will also travel to Sydney from Nov 3 to 5.

The event was first held in 2015 and attracted close to 67,000 people in Singapore, Beijing, London and New York.

The Tokyo leg of this year's showcase will feature a melting pot of Singapore and Japanese culinary influences.

Singapore chef Jason Tan of one-Michelin-starred gastro-botanica restaurant Corner House will team up with chef Hiroyuki Sakai, owner of French restaurant La Rochelle in Tokyo, and his executive chef Takashi Kawashima to create an exclusive menu. Chef Sakai is famed for starring in the Japanese television cooking show Iron Chef.

Dishes that chef Tan will whip up include an "upgraded" version of oyster omelette, which has French oysters, caviar, burnt leeks and espelette pepper, and an amadai fish with geoduck dish.

The 35-year-old says: "I watched chef Sakai on Iron Chef when I was young and it was interesting to see him beat French chef Alain Passard in a cooking challenge."

Chicken rice restaurant Chatterbox at Mandarin Orchard Singapore will tie up with the Ippudo ramen chain for a ramen-and-rice set that comprises spicy laksa ramen and chicken rice.

Chatterbox's executive sous chef Liew Tian Heong, 55, says: "Chatterbox's chicken rice is popular with Japanese guests, who like the rice's fragrance and tender chicken. We were inspired by the similarities between Japan and Singapore's most iconic dishes to create the ultimate comfort food."

Another chicken rice restaurant, Wee Nam Kee, will partner Japanese restaurant Tendon Tenya in Tokyo to present innovative rice bowls.

Other culinary highlights include home-grown dessert maestro Janice Wong's four-hands dinner with chef Hiroyasu Kawate from one- Michelin-starred French restaurant Florilege in Tokyo. Chef Keisuke Takeda of the popular Ramen Keisuke chain in Singapore will debut his bak kut teh ramen.

Ms Carrie Kwik, STB's executive director of arts, entertainment and tourism concept development, says: "The culinary collaborations of Singapore: Inside Out are uniquely curated for each city's audience. With a more extensive line-up of Singapore culinary talents this year, it can catalyse collaborations for our talents."

Visitors can also look forward to tie-ups between 13 Singaporean and Japanese creatives from disciplines such as design, music, fashion and visual arts.

They include Singapore sound artist Zul Mahmod, who will work with Japanese flower artist Plantica.

The Tokyo event, which is helmed by Ms Clara Yee, creative director of In The Wild studio, will also have a retail showcase collaboration with Japanese department store Parco, featuring designer products such as fashion accessories, home furnishings and souvenirs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore on show in Tokyo'. Print Edition | Subscribe