SINGAPORE - London-based French chef Claude Bosi is a fan of chwee kueh and laksa, UK newspaper The Telegraph revealed in a recent interview with the renowned chef.
Bosi is behind the much-talked about Bibendum restaurant in London's Fulham Road, which will reopen after refurbishment on April 5.
Although busy with Bibendum's renovation works, Bosi found time to visit Singapore for fresh inspiration. He told the Telegraph that he had visited Singapore several times and loves the city: "It's not just a great place for eating out, but also a city of many cultures, each with its own cuisine."
His first trip to Singapore was in 2012, as part of Singapore Tourism Board's Global Chef Exchange, a culinary immersion programme that aimed to introduce chefs to Singapore's food culture. It was then that he first discovered the richness and diversity of the food scene here.
At the time, the chef was running the now-defunct two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus restaurant.
The fan of Peranakan cuisine added: "Singaporean cuisine has a lot of European influences, too, and the French connection goes back a long way.
"There are a lot of French nuances in the food, which is why I like it. It uses spices but it's not too spicy. You could be eating in Europe."
Here are some of his tips on where and what to eat in Singapore. Judging from his recommendations, the chef really has explored the full range of Singapore food offerings.
1. Go to a wet market
Bosi called it one of "great things about Singapore". At a wet market, you can see everything from meat and fish, to fresh, exotic vegetables, herbs and spices. He said: "I was amazed by how clean they (the markets) were - and there was no smell, no flies."
2. Hainanese chicken rice is Singapore's most representative dish
Of the dish, Bosi said admiringly: "The complexity is unbelievable, yet it looks so simple".
3. Try kopi with butter and the Michael Jackson drink
He recommended that tourists kopi gu you, black coffee is served with a spoonful of condensed milk and a generous knob of butter. "It's silky smooth and unexpectedly delicious," he told The Telegraph.
The Michael Jackson is another drink to be had here - a combination of grass jelly and soya bean milk. Too sweet for him, but a novelty nonetheless.
4. Indulge in local delights
Bosi is a big fan of chwee kueh, Chinese-style steamed rice flour cakes served with a salty preserved radish topping and a side of chilli, and putu piring, sweet Malay steamed rice flour cakes with molten palm sugar or gula melaka centres and topped with fresh shredded coconut.
His recommendations: Head to Tiong Bahru Food Centre for oyster omelette and carrot cake, Serangoon North for fried Hokkien mee from Xiao Di Fried Hokkien Mee, and Joo Chiat for coconutty laksa from 328 Katong Laksa. For the more adventurous, he said to go to Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck and Kway Chap, for braised duck and pig's innards.
5. Bars to check out
On his list of watering holes are Ce La Vi at the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, which boasts an expansive view of the city skyline; Manhattan at The Regent Singapore in Cuscaden Road for cocktails; and Raffles Hotel's Long Bar for the Singapore Sling cocktail, which is made with grenadine syrup, pineapple juice, gin and Cointreau, among other things. The Long Bar is currently closed as the hotel undergoes restoration. It will reopen next year (2018).
6. Best fine dining restaurants
In The Telegraph article, Bosi recommended two restaurants- Restaurant Andre in Bukit Pasoh Road and Odette at the National Gallery, both of which have two Michelin stars.
Restaurant Andre is run by chef and co-owner Andre Chiang, a Taiwanese-born chef who trained in top restaurants in France. The restaurant serves his interpretation of nouvelle French cuisine.
Odette, a modern European restaurant with French accents, is headed by French chef and co-owner Julien Royer, who places strong emphases on produce, provenance, textures and flavours.
7. Best places for brunch
Head to Heap Seng Leong, a coffeeshop in North Bridge Road, for kopi gu you and kaya toast (toast spread with coconut jam) and a side of soft-boiled eggs with dark soya sauce and pepper.
Another stall Bosi recommended is Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, which has one Michelin star. The stall serves bak chor mee, or minced meat noodles with a punchy chilli.
For something a little more posh, try the curry buffet at Raffles Hotel's Tiffin Room, which Bosi described as "fantastic". The restaurant will be open until Aug 13 and will close thereafter as the hotel undergoes restoration, reopening in the middle of next year.
8 . Best places for dinner
For dinner, Bosi highlighted Labyrinth at Esplanade Mall, and The Clifford Pier restaurant at The Fullerton Bay Hotel.
Labyrinth is run by Singapore chef Han Liguang, who serves modern interpretations of Singapore fare. Bosi likes chef Han's the curry puff, which he described as being like "a Cornish pasty with curry in it".
The Clifford Pier at The Fullerton Bay Hotel serves Asian and Western cuisine, and a range of local Singapore dishes including chicken rice, laksa and bak kut teh (a herbal pork rib tea).