Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay here to open his Bread Street Kitchen at Marina Bay Sands

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurant, Bread Street Kitchen, Marina Bay Sands on June 23 2015.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurant, Bread Street Kitchen, Marina Bay Sands on June 23 2015.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Although his restaurant empire spans Asia, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the United States, Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay, 48, has his eyes set on China.

He is eyeing Shanghai and Beijing because he says he loves both cities.

"Asia has always been my Sleeping Beauty and I want to have more of a presence here. We need to have a proper team and infrastructure, not just stick your name on the wall. Customers are too smart, too savvy."

He is in town to oversee the opening of his Bread Street Kitchen, a casual restaurant at Marina Bay Sands.

Asked how the restaurant is going to please Singapore foodies, who have well-developed palates and who travel and eat widely, he says he has always been aware of that.

He has known it since his first visit in 1998. At the time, he was one of several guest chefs, including the Pourcel brothers and Alain Ducasse, who were headlining a food and wine event at the Raffles Hotel. Had just won his second Michelin star.

"I've been having this love affair with Singapore since then," he says.

"I was 31, excited, and after prepping all day long in the kitchen, I went down to a hawker's market. We had our chef's meeting at 3.30am, we were back and forth with the most amazing large shrimp and frogs. We were sat there until 5.30am or 6am.

"Culturally we had tapped into a hidden gem. When we got back into the kitchen three hours later, we found out some of the staff had parents who had stalls there."

He adds: "I have never underestimate the the power of Singapore. It's like a tiny quarter of mid-town Manhattan, they get straight to the point. They know good food. This place may seem to have become a hub for tourism, but there are amazing palates who get it immediately."

So he says that Bread Street Kitchen, his two-storey, 149-seat restaurant, will serve Cool Britannia food, a "flirtatious insight" into the hallmarks of British cuisine.

The compact menu includes pea soup, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, slow roasted Dingley Dell pork belly and other comfort food, with some modern twists.

Since he got here over the weekend, he has been tweaking the menu.

"We haven't gone crazy with the spices. The marinade for the fish and chips, in the UK, we season it with curry power. Here we don't need to."