Melting pot of old and new dishes

Madam Mary Gomes of Mary's Kafe, with kueh which will be available during the Kueh Appreciation Day on July 28.
Madam Mary Gomes of Mary's Kafe, with kueh which will be available during the Kueh Appreciation Day on July 28.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
Ms Eiktha Khemlani, owner and founder of VegThisCity, will helm the Singapore Vegan Food Crawl. She is holding a tray of vegan donuts.
Ms Eiktha Khemlani, owner and founder of VegThisCity, will helm the Singapore Vegan Food Crawl. She is holding a tray of vegan donuts.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG
Mr Woo Wai Leong, chef-owner of Restaurant Ibid, with tasting portions of his dishes.
Mr Woo Wai Leong, chef-owner of Restaurant Ibid, with tasting portions of his dishes.ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

This year's Singapore Food Festival will feature heritage items and modern cuisine

The Singapore Food Festival, dedicated to showcasing the diversity of the Singapore food scene, will take place from July 12 to 28.

The theme of this year's festival, now in its 26th year, is Savour Singapore In Every Bite.

Organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the festival will have 20 event partners offering myriad dining and gastronomic experiences and will feature a range of food - from heritage items to modern cuisine.

Ms Ranita Sundramoorthy, 50, director of retail and dining at STB, said at the media preview on Thursday: "The Singapore Food Festival is a compelling testament to the richness and diversity of our food scene, further cementing our city-state's reputation as a global culinary capital.

"The festival continues to spotlight our vibrant and evolving local food scene that has been anchored by our unsung hawker heroes, home cooks and chefs.

She added that with this year's line-up of events - from private-chef dinners to food tours around the country's heritage districts to theatrical dining experiences - Singaporeans and visitors will be able to taste Singapore's diverse flavours and experience the nation's food obsession first-hand.

  • BOOK IT /SINGAPORE FOOD FESTIVAL

  • WHERE: Various locations

    WHEN: July 12 to 28

    ADMISSION: Some events are ticketed

    INFO: www.singaporefoodfestival.com

The festival's signature event is Streat, a showcase of traditional hawker fare and modern interpretations of local food, which will take place in the evenings on July 12 and 13 at The Promontory @ Marina Bay.

Among the offerings will be duck rice bento from Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap, zi char-inspired burgers from Wok In Burger and chicken rice kueh pie tee from Salted & Hung.

Also available will be a Hong Kong-inspired brown butter beef curry dish and a yuan yang milk tea shaved ice dish from Restaurant Ibid, which opened 15 months ago in North Canal Road.

Its chef-owner, Woo Wai Leong, 31, who won MasterChef Asia in 2015, explained the inspiration for his curry dish: "I am Cantonese, but I cannot speak a word of it, which is one of my greatest regrets. So, I figured that cooking more Cantonese-inspired food is a way for me to get in touch with my personal heritage."

As for the shaved ice dish, he said: "As Streat is held outdoors, it will be hot and humid. We wanted something that would cool down our guests without giving them a brain freeze. So, we temper the ice and shave it finely. We then add a milk tea syrup - which is close to everyone's hearts - as well as coffee jelly, kaya cream and a popular Chinese herbal syrup."

At Streat, diners can also take part in culinary workshops and masterclasses conducted by Singapore's culinary talents, as well as be entertained by popular local music acts such as Charlie Lim and Glen Wee.

Diners can also participate in a Singapore Vegan Food Crawl, which will take place in three precincts - Geylang Serai (July 13), Chinatown (July 20) and Little India (July 27) - to discover the city's booming vegan street food culture.

Ms Eiktha Khemlani, 37, founder and owner of food tour company VegThisCity, who will be taking diners on the crawls, said: "Diners will be able to try banana flower vadai and tofu buah keluak.

"There will also be jackfruit char siew, vegan cashew cheese and vegan doughnuts. Participants will experience that Singapore vegan food is delicious."

On July 28, there will also be a Kueh Appreciation Day, which features more than 10 kueh makers, including some of Singapore's longest-running kueh family businesses. The event is organised by non-profit organisation Slow Food Singapore.

For example, Mary's Kafe, which started about 15 years ago, will be serving snacks such as sugee cake, pulot tekan and pattie curry puffs.

Madam Mary Gomes, 70, who owns Mary's Kafe in Bendemeer Road, uses mainly recipes passed down from her late mother, Madam Josephine Monteiro.

Madam Gomes said: "I make kueh out of passion. I love cooking my heritage cuisine because I am proud of my Eurasian roots and I hope it can be passed down from one generation to the next."

This year, bubble tea brand Liho Tea and Japanese company Glico - which produces the well-loved snack Pocky - will be part of the festival for the first time.

Liho will develop a unique drink, Avocado Kopi, using avocado and coffee, which will be available at selected Liho outlets, while Glico will produce a new flavour of its popular snack.

Look out for the Pocky X Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Kopi O limited-edition set, which will be available for sale at the Streat event and at all Ya Kun outlets in Singapore, while stocks last.

The Singapore Food Festival was created by the STB in 1994 to brand Singapore as a top culinary destination by showcasing the best of its local delicacies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'Melting pot of old and new dishes'. Print Edition | Subscribe