Essence of Asia 2021: 6 culinary gems in Singapore debut in new list by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants


Connecting communities through food
Delivering islandwide • Botanico at The GarageJin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway ChapKeng Eng Kee Restaurant Kin
Dine-in only (for now) • Naked FinnMr. and Mrs. Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata

In the first-ever Essence of Asia Collection List 2021, 6 homegrown establishments in Singapore received honourable mentions, ahead of the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

“Essence of Asia features the sort of places that honour culinary traditions, revive indigenous cuisines or rediscover centuries-old recipes, as well as many that play a key role supporting and connecting their communities.”

50 Best Editorial at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

If you’re thinking of fine-dining restaurants serving up full course-meals amidst dim lighting, I’d say: refresh your expectations. This list is hot off the press, featuring ‘street vendors to champions of sustainability, from time-honoured institutions to pioneering newcomers’. One which considers the impact of food on people who love it. One showcasing unsung heroes across Asia, standing tall as pillars of support despite the challenges faced from the pandemic.

We’re incredibly proud of Singapore’s F&B industry. With 6 local establishments making the list, read on (in no particular order) to find out more about their origins and the food they humbly serve.


Botanico at The Garage

Essence of Asia 2021: New list by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants features Botanico at The Garage
Create memories in this stunning venue, over a meal unlike any other.

If you’re a lover of cosy restaurants surrounded by lush greenery, Botanico at The Garage is probably no stranger to you. The exemplary venue is a popular space to host special occasions, notably solemnisations and wedding ceremonies. They sure take ‘capturing hearts’ quite literally.

Head chef of Botanico Sujatha Asokan, has been the hot topic of conversation since her win as Rising Chef of the Year in 2019. The 29-year old serves up a modern European menu with a renewed focus on her Chinese-Indian roots. Spectacular dishes range from 65° Kurobuta Pork Belly ($30), DIY Corn Pani Puri ($12) and “Assam Pedas” Snapper ($30). Your journey to gastronomic flavours starts right here.

Botanico at The Garage delivers islandwide on Oddle Eats at just $10. Order here.

Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap

Essence of Asia 2021: New list by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants features Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap
Mr Melvin Chew, second-generation owner of Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap.

Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap (金记潮州卤鸭) opened its shutters in 1983. Now, it is owned by Melvin Chew, who picked up the baton of his parents’ business as a second-generation hawker.  The 38-year old serves up traditional Kway Chap ($5) and Braised Duck Set ($7.80), as well as trendier versions such as The Quack Ramen ($8.50) and The Quack Donburi ($8.50). Yes, we’re talking Japan-meets-Singapore plates of goodness.

The Hawker’s United Founder was also featured on Humans Of F&B earlier in February. He humbly expressed his motivations behind safeguarding Singapore’s spirit of hawker culture and shared about his experience turning to digital platforms to combat Singapore’s lockdown in April 2020.

Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap delivers islandwide on Oddle Eats at just $5. Order here.

Keng Eng Kee

Essence of Asia 2021: New list by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants features Keng Eng Kee
Sibling trio Paul Liew, Wayne Liew & Liew Jia Min (from left to right) of Keng Eng Kee

The ‘kampong spirit’ is no myth here. Nestled within Bukit Merah Central is Keng Eng Kee Seafood, a local Zichar eatery that has been wok-king out fiery dishes for 3 generations. The Liew sibling trio Paul, Wayne, and Jiamin, now helm the business as third-generation owners.

In the 1970s, their grandmother started Keng Eng Kee as a small hawker stall at Old Havelock Road. Now, 51 years later, the eatery has grown immensely.

With this maxim, Paul’s words aptly capture the core of Keng Eng Kee’s valuesa commitment to keeping the ‘kampong spirit’ well and alive. While their bestsellers range from Chilli Crab 辣椒蟹 ($86.40) to Signature Moonlight Horfun 月光河粉 (from $9), I’d like to think their warm welcomes and superb hospitality contributed the most, which earned them a spot on the list. To find out more about their story, check out their Humans Of F&B feature here.

Keng Eng Kee Seafood delivers islandwide on Oddle Eats at just $5. Order here.

Restaurant Kin

Essence of Asia 2021: New list by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants features Restaurant Kin
The best of local Peranakan and Eurasian flavours, all in one menu.

Helmed by Chef Damien D’Silva, Restaurant Kin at Straits Clan strives to take a retrospective look into the origins of Singapore’s culinary history through the preservation and exploration of heritage cuisine. The Peranakan-Eurasian menu proudly features modern interpretations of dishes like Chi Pow Kai ($20), Buah Keluak Fried Rice ($30), Babi Pongteh ($42) and more. Tip: the Kin Dessert Platter ($26) is an absolute delight. Be with Kin, order in?

Restaurant Kin delivers islandwide on Oddle Eats at just $10. Order here.

Mr. and Mrs. Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata

 
 
 
 
 
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A clandestine shop to many, Mr & Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata has garnered a name for itself with just one dish. Since 2006, the husband-and-wife duo tag team in serving up really crispy pratas (Indian flatbreads) along Joo Chiat Road. Be warned, the couple enforces a queue-number system WHICH hides the reality of the waiting time before you get to dig in. Take my advice and get there from as early as 7 am, to avoid a long (but worthwhile) wait.

Naked Finn

A prime date night choice in the heart of Gillman Barracks (Photo by Alex Ang)

Seafood lovers, hop on over. The folks over at Naked Finn is the final of 6 to rank on the Essence of Asia list, and I’d say it most certainly is well-deserved. The team sources wild-caught seafood and prides the restaurant’s mission around sustainability and discovery.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Naked Finn (@nakedfinn)

At The Naked Finn, the fish is always the star. Seafood remains their pride and joy and never fails to be shared passionately with customers. Owner Tan Ken Loon keeps his mission close to his heart as he focuses on educating customers to venture out and try non-mainstream species, with the long-term health of the oceans in mind. With much finesse and ardor in connecting communities through seafood, it’s no surprise the dignified team earned a spot on the Essence of Asia Collection list.

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