Singapore may only have a land area of 720 square kilometres. However, its GDP per capita stands at a remarkable US$60,000 (S$82,000), making it the sixth highest in the world.
A major financial and shipping hub in Asia-Pacific, Singapore enjoys a reputation as one of the world’s best cities. It is also known for its gastronomic delights and thriving arts scene. Although the country lacks natural resources, it has been said that its people are its most important resource.
As the little red dot marks its 53rd birthday this August, we feature some of the movers and shakers who are making their mark in diverse fields – from art to poetry to food – brought to you by the team at PARKROYAL on Beach Road.
A Noodle Story
Address: Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road #01-39, Singapore 069111
Telephone number: +65 9027 6289
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 11:00am to 2:30pm
Saturdays: 10:30am to 2:30pm
Any article featuring Singapore would not be complete without a mention of its food.
A Noodle Story is exemplary where street food in Singapore is concerned. Founded by Gwern Khoo and Ben Tham, both former chefs of fine dining establishments and self-confessed noodle aficionados, the humble hawker store has been listed on the Michelin Bib Gourmand for three times in a row since 2016.
Touted as the world’s first Singapore-style ramen, the noodles were first inspired by Khoo’s travel experiences and later put together after painstaking effort to perfect the art of sous vide char siew. The result are extraordinary honey-roasted pork slices with a sublime melt-in-your-mouth quality.
Tip: Avoid lunch hour if you prefer to beat the crowds.
Tan Xi Zi, or MessyMsxi, is a recipient of numerous awards including “New Talent of the Year 2010” in the London International Creative Competition. Her whimsical and playful artwork has been showcased at the Singapore Art Museum and The Substation Gallery.
Her intricate work also adorns the walls of Whitegrass, a one Michelin-starred Modern Australian fine dining restaurant. Just last year, the young artist completed two giant canvases for Red House Seafood Restaurant. Inspired by how stories were traditionally drawn on porcelain wares, one piece is painted on an oval canvas, depicting the story of Red House Seafood Restaurant, while the other shows a family tucking into a feast of seafood at the restaurant.
Known for her statement pieces, she has also thoughtfully decorated the inner cabinet doors of PIP’s Playbox, an open and creative play space designed for children. The story teller's cave at PIP’s is filled with animals both familiar and peculiar, depicting the artist’s imaginations of the harmful effects of environmental disasters on flora and fauna.
Tan unveils her guiding philosophy behind her art, “Learning to never forget that earnest spirit which I had since a child and never to give up too easily... to use my hands critically in the works I do, to find beauty daily in the vernacular.”
What do ceramics have to do with supermarket products? Plenty, it seems, at least according to ceramic artist Chloe Tan.
Check out the artist’s recent collaborations with SPRMRKT - a showcase of her ceramic art inspired by ubiquitous made-in-Singapore products found in local supermarkets.
In an interview feature with Weekend Sundries, Tan describes her exploratory years: "The first few years was a period of discovery, learning and understanding for me. As I was trying to understand the different clay body and colour glazes available in the Singapore market, my early works were more varied and experimental. I was also working as a barista in a local coffee shop then and it motivated me to create functional wares such as coffee cups and teapots that I can brew and serve coffee/tea in.”
Tan’s café experience has left an imprint on her work, inspiring a range of custom ceramic cups titled the Drips series for local café Percolate. Each low and wide bowl wears a pastel-coloured rim of glaze, resembling delicious molten candy.
Tan also conducts ceramic wheel throwing workshops. Keen to know what these are? Sign up for them here.
Address: 9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168645
Telephone number: +65 6222 9195
Opening hours: 10:00am to 8:00pm daily
(Closes at 6:00pm on Sundays and Mondays)
A trailblazer in Singapore’s literary arts scene, Joshua Ip has published four poetry collections and bagged the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 2017. He is also the founder of literary non-profit Sing Lit Station, a platform for writers to hone their craft.
Ip’s prize-winning debut collection, sonnets from the singlish, is a collection of 44 poems on love, language and the pursuit of laughter. The poems are loosely translated from Singapore’s own brand of colloquial English, widely known as Singlish. One reviewer describes it as “a clearheaded look at the state of the Singlish…and how it relates to heritage.”
You can purchase his works at the physical and online store of Books Actually, an independent bookstore in Singapore specialising in homegrown fiction and literature.
Chef Koh Han Jie may have been a rebellious child during his adolescent years, but he has overcome his past and emerged the cuisine winner at The Young Talent Escoffier 2018, beating five other competitors from Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy, and the Benelux. The 24-year-old is the first Singaporean to win at the finals of this prestigious competition.
A graduate of the ITE-Institute Paul Bocuse programme, Koh spent two years perfecting his craft at two-Michelin starred Les Amis Singapore, one of the most popular fine dining restaurants in Singapore. He was recently appointed Head Chef of El Fuego, a new dining concept by COLLIN’S Restaurant that will open early 2019 at Jewel at Changi Airport. El Fuego by COLLIN’S will feature contemporary halal European cuisine, and its creations will be headed by Chef Koh himself.
Says Koh about his latest appointment: “The latest concept of El Fuego by COLLIN’S is definitely my biggest inspiration. I will be tasked to design a new menu that will, hopefully, elevate the dining experience of our diners. There will be lots of room to groom and grow with the team and my goal is to satisfy the international and local diners, bringing them a gastronomical journey.”
Get directions to Les Amis Singapore