Before we arrived in Singapore, my cousin emailed me a list. "These are the top restaurants in the city. Let's try as many of them as we can."
Since we only had a few days, we narrowed down our selection to the four most innovative restaurants. All of them wowed us with eye-opening dishes, from molecular foams to burnt marshmallows.
At the end of our trip, we came to the same conclusion: if these creative experiences are any indication, then Singapore lives up to its reputation as a foodie destination.
(Images by Ken Yuen and La Carmina.)
38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore
+65 6475 2217
Located in Chinatown, Tippling Club is considered one of the city's hippest restaurants. The interior is filled with eye candy, and hints at the fun-house menu awaiting you.
The bar is famous for its cheeky cocktails, such as a "Panda's Escape" that is flavored with pandan leaf, and topped with panda cookies. I ordered the "bubble tea" with melon and mangosteen gin, and it came topped with giant bubbles from a fish tank air pump.
We sat at the open counter and watched British-born chef Ryan Clift work his molecular magic. He served us over a dozen amuse bouches, beginning with playful twists on bar snacks, such as a white truffle "Styrofoam" served on the material itself. His Singaporean curry with puffed rice and coconut foam perfectly captured the flavors of the traditional dish.
Chef Clift gets especially whimsical with his desserts. He surprised us with cheesecake pills in a prescription bottle, and a rainbow Fizz Bomb packet that bursts on your tongue. A beetroot and blackberry sorbet sandwich came impaled on a swaying metal rod, which I had to eat without using my hands.
Adrift by David Myers
Marina Bay Sands, Hotel Lobby Tower 2, Singapore
+65 6688 5657
Ever since it opened in 2010, Marina Bay Sands has been recognized as a top dining destination. The hotel houses restaurants by celebrities like Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck, and now David Myers -- who recently debuted Adrift.
Both the menu and interior design are inspired by Chef Myers' travels in Asia. His bar looks like a scene straight out of Ginza, and the cocktails are made with sake and other Asian flavors.
We munched on East-meets-West starters, including caramel popcorn spiced with togarashi, and nori rice crackers with yuzu kosho aioli.
Adrift's lunch menu is made for sharing. I loved the fresh, clean flavors and colorful presentation. Highlights included a signature crab melt with pimento cheese, and basil-infused tuna avocado on papaya-coconut sauce.
The handcrafted desserts were the perfect finish: raspberry sorbet, Guanaja chocolate pot de crème, and lychee.
L2-01, Atrium 2, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
+65 6688 8507
"Waku waku" is the Japanese expression for excitement, and it aptly described my mood as I walked into Waku Ghin. This is the brainchild of legendary Chef Tetsuya Wakuda, and consistently named one of the top restaurants in the world.
After a drink at the bar, we were ushered into one of the three "cocoons," where a chef cooks right in front of you. Waku Ghin only has two seatings a night, serving about 50 diners total.
Chef Cory Soo Thoo showed us with the the carefully-sourced seafood he would be transforming. Watching him cook felt like witnessing a solemn ritual. He took the greatest care with each step, from the preparation to the plating.
He delivered a 10-course Japanese degustation, bursting with rich yet balanced flavors. One of the first courses was sea urchin and oscietra caviar with marinated botan shrimp. He moved on to pan-fried ayu with daikon and fennel, Tasmanian abalone with fregola and tomato, and steamed Alaska king crab.
We moved to the lounge to taste desserts -- fresh strawberry sorbets, mousses, and petit fours -- while enjoying a view of the Bay and Merlion fountain.
20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore
+65 6224 3933
Quite a few friends recommended Burnt Ends, a modern barbeque restaurant created by Australian Chef Dave Pynt. The charred-looking exterior was a hint at what was in store for me.
We sat down at a long counter top that looked right into the open kitchen. Chef Pynt smoked up ingredients in front of us, using custom built ovens and elevation grills.
The menu changes daily and focuses on local, small batch sources. That day, Chef Pynt started us off with a smoked quail egg topped with caviar, a tasty burst.
His specialties are the proteins, such as chicken on the bone and Onglet hangar steak: slow roasted, baked, and coal-grilled to primal perfection. They're a study in balance between charred exteriors and moist interiors.
A deconstructed mint-chocolate bowl, and flamed marshmallow on a stick -- the perfect end to an imaginative tasting tour of Singapore.