SINGAPORE - Singapore welcomed a new three-Michelin-starred restaurant on Wednesday (Sept 1) with fine-dining Western restaurant Zen in Bukit Pasoh Road moving up the ranks from two stars in the 2019 Michelin Guide.
This puts Zen among the ranks of Les Amis and Odette, which kept their stars.
This year's list was revealed online via Facebook and YouTube, with the chefs joining in virtually from their restaurants, without any gala dinner ceremony unlike in previous years.
The Singapore guide, which is in its fifth edition, had a hiatus last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zen executive chef Tristin Farmer appeared to be at a loss for words when the restaurant's name was announced but, while holding back tears, managed to say: "It's a dream come true."
At a press conference after the event, he said it was humbling to get the award, especially with the challenges faced by the industry during the pandemic.
He said: "We survived the pandemic, the takeaways, and we're still open as a business regardless of two stars or three stars."
There are 49 eateries with stars this year, compared with 44 in 2019. Five restaurants received two stars, while 40 restaurants and one hawker stall had one star.
Jaan by Kirk Westaway, known for "reinventing British" fine cuisine, was the only restaurant that moved up from one to two stars. Twelve restaurants joined the list of one-star restaurants, including Spanish restaurant Basque Kitchen by Aitor and Lerouy, a modern French restaurant, which have moved to new locations.
Modern European restaurant Sommer at The Sail was an unexpected entry, getting its star after being open for only about half a year. Chef Lewis Barker, 28, is also one of the youngest chefs to helm a Michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore.
He told The Straits Times: "All this is completely new for me, especially considering how young the restaurant is. I am elated, not just for myself but also for the team."
Another new entry in the one-star list was Art. The upmarket Italian restaurant's executive chef Daniele Sperindio said: "The Michelin Guide is one of the most treasured and prestigious accolades in our trade. Alongside the compliments we get from our guests every day, it is a recognition of great efforts and a chef's dedication to his craft."
Art is part of the ilLido Group, which also kept its star for fine-dining restaurant Braci.
Said chef-restaurateur Beppe de Vito, the group's managing director: "To receive a star for both Art and Braci is truly a shining moment - not only for me, but also for my teams, who have been working really hard despite the challenges over these two years. It is like receiving a much-needed boost just as you're about to hit the wall in a long marathon."
Two former one-star eateries were dropped from the guide: Cantonese restaurant Jiang-Nan Chun at Four Seasons Hotel and Chinatown Complex Food Centre's Hawker Chan, known for soya sauce chicken.
That leaves Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, which sells bak chor mee, as the only hawker stall to have a Michelin star.
Three other restaurants that had one star in the 2019 guide - Cheek Bistro, The Song of India and Vianney Massot Restaurant - have closed.
A new Young Chef Award, created this year for a chef under 36 years old "with exceptional talent and great potential" and from a Michelin-starred restaurant, was given to Mr Mark Tai of Cloudstreet. The restaurant marries culinary influences from different parts of the world.
Restaurants with three stars
Restaurants with two stars
Jaan by Kirk Westaway (new)
Restaurants with one star
28 Wilkie (new)
Alma by Juan Amador
Basque Kitchen by Aitor (new)
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine (Orchard)
Putien (Kitchener Road)
Shang Palace (new)
Shinji by Kanesaka (Bras Basah Road)
Shinji by Kanesaka (Tanglin Road)
Terra Tokyo Italian
Young Chef Award
Mark Tai of Cloudstreet