Saveur restaurant group sold, co-founders branch out with new businesses

Chefs Joshua Khoo (left) and Dylan Ong are co-founders of the popular Saveur group of restaurants.
Chefs Joshua Khoo (left) and Dylan Ong are co-founders of the popular Saveur group of restaurants.PHOTO: ST FILE

Chefs Dylan Ong and Joshua Khoo, co-founders of the popular Saveur group of restaurants, have sold the business to their silent partner Eric Chiam - a general practitioner - for an undisclosed sum.

The two Shatec-trained chefs made their mark in the food scene here by offering French food such as duck confit at low prices. They opened Saveur as a hawker stall in Joo Chiat in 2011. A year later, they opened the first Saveur restaurant in Purvis Street, and it drew long queues.

They continued to open more restaurants, including Saveur at Far East Plaza, Italian restaurant Concetto (recently renamed Saveur) at The Cathay and Saveur Art at Ion Orchard.

On why they sold their shares in the business in December last year, both Ong and Khoo would say only that they have "different visions".

They say they remain good friends and have returned to their passion for cooking, starting their own businesses. And they are sticking to their mission of serving food at affordable prices.

Khoo, 33, now runs a two-month-old hawker stall called Taste Affair at Amoy Street Food Centre. Ong, 30, is opening a casual 45-seat restaurant called The Masses at 80 Beach Road next month.

Noting that diners have become more health-conscious, Ong's $100,000 venture features a "contemporary, happy menu" that uses seasonal produce and housemade ingredients such as pickled lotus root.

Menu offerings include chicken collagen veloute ($8); duck leg confit ($12.90); and US Black Angus striploin with potato millefeuille and organic watercress salad ($22.90).

Classic cocktails such as whisky sours and cosmopolitans are priced between $12 and $15.

On the Beach Road location, Ong says: "There are not many Western options as eateries along Liang Seah Street mostly serve Chinese food. Younger diners also frequent the area. As the name suggests, we want to cater to the masses."

Khoo's Taste Affair offers a smaller and simpler menu which is built around "flavoured rice" and angel hair pasta.

Each dish comes with either angel hair pasta or paella-style rice flavoured with saffron, as well as a poached egg and sauteed vegetables. Pick from ingredients such as sake butter clams ($6.50); poached chicken leg ($5); and diced prawn and chorizo sausage ($7).

Khoo says: "Saveur will always be our baby and we have learnt a lot from the experience. But we were constantly under pressure and it's time to take a step back."

Ong adds: "At the end of the day, we have to focus on what would make us happy. Leaving Saveur may be sad, but it's okay."