How quickly a year has come and gone. I happened to be back in Singapore during the launch of the 2nd edition of the Michelin Guide Singapore and was thankfully able to score an invite to the event as a chef friend’s plus one – yes, this meant I got to hang out backstage pre-event with all the nervous chefs. And for a change, I didn’t have to work this year!
1. Really disappointed that Terra has fallen off the list and Hashida once again did not make the cut. Both represent, to me, the perfect balance of Japanese refinement and creativity at its very best.
2. Michelin seems to be trying to get it ‘right’ this year with the politically correct inclusion of stalwarts (Saint Pierre, Garibaldi, Iggy’s, and restaurateur Beppe de Vito – albeit with Braci not Il Lido) offset by young chefs doing modern takes (Labyrinth, Meta, Cheek by Jowl, Whitegrass) but you almost feel like they’re pandering to public grouses for diversity from last year. I’d rather have a more provocative guide than an acquiescent one. Also, longevity is no guarantor of quality – some of the old-timers are either trying too hard or plain boring.
3. Two pluses worth celebrating for patriots: homegrown global chain Imperial Treasure is finally recognized on home ground (their first star was earned in Shanghai) and the relatively young Mod Sin cuisine gets the Michelin nod for the first time via Labyrinth!
4. Chef Kang’s is an accurate inclusion as a spot underrated by most media and blogs (he doesn’t even have a Facebook page!) but loved by the most legitimate Singapore foodies and which you wouldn’t otherwise discover as a visitor. This is what good food guides should be about.
5. Glad for Tetsuya/Waku Ghin’s promotion to 2 stars. That’s what it should have been from the start.
6. Also glad that rumours about the Singapore Tourism Board’s influence over Michelin to include more starred hawkers proved unfounded. With all due respect to Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken’s Chan Hon Meng and his dedication to his craft, hawker food and restaurants don’t belong in the same category.
7. Will Andre Chiang ever be happy with anything less than full marks? He looked like he lost his stars last night – the same look he gives at every Asia’s 50 Best when he realises he’s not first. But I recognise that obsession with perfection: he reminds me of all the overachievers I went to school with who would cry whenever we got A-.