10 most-read food stories of 2019

(Clockwise from top left): Food items from A&W, Mrs Violet Kwan of Lana Cake Shop and her son Jason Kwan, ramen from Ichiran Japan and Hao Chi Liu Lian owner Wong Sha Hui with her $5 durians. PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, A&W SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK, ICHIRAN JAPAN

SINGAPORE - The year 2019 closes the curtain on a decade of sea-change, and was itself a year of change.

Singapore's food scene was struck by closures (Hokkaido's Bake Cheese Tart, No Signboard Braised Duck), as well as a host of and launches and revivals (A&W), thanks in part to the newly opened mega-mall Jewel Changi Airport.

There was no shortage of excitement over international F&B players - such as ramen chain Ichiran - making forays into Singapore, but local favourites remained as popular as ever, with $5 durians and hotpot furore also trending among the most well-read headlines.

Here are the top 10 food stories that got readers talking this year:

10. 10 food items to buy at Jewel Changi Airport to eat on the plane or give as gifts

At Jewel, you can buy mini versions of Rich & Good Cake Shop's popular Swiss rolls. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

What are 10 things worth buying to eat on board the plane or to give as gifts?

ST Food Editor Tan Hsueh Yun chooses items you can stash in your carry-on luggage without angst or fear of spilling, and a few you will need to stuff in your suitcase and check in.

Her top choices include kaya swiss roll, made-in-Singapore chocolate and chicken rice cookies.


9. Pay $5 for a Mao Shan Wang durian

Hao Chi Liu Lian owner Wong Sha Hui with her $5 durians. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

With a bumper crop of durians arriving from Pahang and Johor Baru this season, one can now get Mao Shan Wang durians at as low as $5 each from Hao Chi Liu Lian, a durian stall in Hougang.

Business owners say the low prices of durians do not equate to bad quality.


8. Larger 2nd A&W outlet opens in Ang Mo Kio, 3rd outlet slated for 2020

A&W's second outlet at AMK Hub. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Singaporeans love their root beer floats and waffles - and don't mind queueing for them.

American fast-food chain A&W's return to Singapore after a 16-year hiatus stirred excitement among fans who stood in line for its signature items and bestsellers from outlets worldwide.


7. No Signboard Braised Duck closes on Nov 27

No Signboard Braised Duck at Mei Ling Market & Food Centre. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The 60-year-old establishment at Mei Ling Market & Food Centre, known for its braised duck with rice, porridge and noodles, has gained a strong following over the years.

Its owners said they were winding up the business due to old age.


6. Pop-up of famed ramen chain Ichiran at Takashimaya's Japan Food Matsuri

Outside of Japan, Ichiran has outlets in New York, Taiwan and Hong Kong. PHOTO: ICHIRAN JAPAN

Ichiran - which originates from Fukuoka - made its debut pop-up in Singapore from Oct 3 to 20.

Outside of Japan, Ichiran has outlets in New York, Taiwan and Hong Kong.


5. Food critic Chua Lam in hot water over hotpot criticism

Food critic Chua Lam dismissed hotpot as a dish lacking in cultural significance. PHOTO: YOUTUBE/CHINA HUNANTV OFFICIAL CHANNEL

Chua Lam, a famous Hong Kong restaurant critic and TV personality, has poured cold water over hotpot, describing it as a cooking method "totally lacking in cultural significance".

"You just throw some ingredients into a pot. I don't get what's delicious about it. If hotpot fandom continues to grow, you'll see fewer and fewer chefs in the years to come," he said.


4. Son of Lana Cake Shop owner takes over the business, saving it from closure

Former banker Jason Kwan has taken over Lana Cake Shop from his mother Violet Kwan. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

When Mrs Violet Kwan put up the storied Lana Cake Shop for sale in 2016, she was adamant about finding "the right person" to take over the business.

That person has turned out to be her son Jason Kwan who gave up his job as a banker in Tokyo to move back to Singapore.


3. CNN names pandan cake as Singapore's national cake

Pandan cake from local bakery Bengawan Solo. PHOTO: BENGAWAN SOLO

The humble pandan cake made headlines, after being named one of the world's 17 best cakes by the travel website of US news outlet CNN.

Local bakeries Pine Garden and Bengawan Solo also received a mention, with Pine Garden's version of the pandan cake praised as being one of the best.

"The radioactive hue of this cake belies its natural woodsy flavor," said the article.


2. Hokkaido's Bake Cheese Tart closes last remaining Ion Orchard outlet

Bake said the move will not affect its other overseas branches. PHOTO: ST FILE

When Bake first opened here in Ion Orchard in 2016, fans queued for up to two hours to get their hands on the tarts, which have a mousse-like cream cheese filling and crisp pastry.


1. Nasi lemak restaurant The Coconut Club's co-founder Lee Eng Su dies aged 40

Mr Lee Eng Su, who co-founded The Coconut Club, died at home at the age of 40 on Sept 12, 2019. PHOTOS: THE COCONUT CLUB/FACEBOOK, THE COCONUT CLUB

The late Mr Lee Eng Su spoke passionately about how nasi lemak is not just a dish but a "cuisine" in an interview with ST in 2017.

The restaurant shot to fame after Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to a meal there shortly after its opening in 2016. The restaurant in Ann Siang Road also made it to the Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand list in 2018.


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