He was the new kid on the block when he started Candlenut at Neil Street in 2010. Six years down the road, Malcolm Lee and his team have bagged a coveted Michelin star at the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore.

It’s no mean feat for the 32-year-old, who graduated with a degree in Business Management, before he plunged headfirst into the culinary world. At Candlenut, Lee serves up a menu of authentic Peranakan flavours laced with a modern approach. Think chap chye and sayur lodeh alongside buah keluak prepared with Rangers Valley F1 Wagyu beef ribs. Yums, we say!

Here’s what he has to say about winning a Michelin star, the culinary ethos behind Candlenut, the most underrated dish in his restaurant and more.

CANDLENUT is starting to reflect more of who I am. It is a younger, fresher style of Peranakan food, with influences from around the region and using modern and traditional techniques to create very specific results.

WHEN I HEARD I WON A STAR, it was such a bittersweet feeling… To have our restaurant put anywhere near that level is such an honour. Not forgetting that Peranakan cuisine is a local cuisine, we are all the more proud that this is also an achievement for Singapore. It’s really recognition for everyone’s hard work as we have all sacrificed so much. Family, friends, relationships, sleep, exercise—our whole lives are here at Candlenut.

DON’T LEAVE CANDLENUT WITHOUT TRYING our ‘ah-ma-kase’ menu. We use only the freshest seasonal ingredients that we can get at the market and suppliers, and create the best balance of flavours on the table.

THE MOST UNDERRATED DISH at Candlenut is our kuehs. The general misconception is that kuehs are cheap, easily available and eaten in a casual assortment. Those who understand how much work goes into making a perfect kueh will know it can be a truly gastronomic dessert that can stand on its own—just like a perfect slice of cake or French tart.

UP NEXT is our new location at Dempsey, opening in November. It will be a new environment to push our cuisine even further. We hope to create a really unique Candlenut experience for our diners there.


#01-33 Dorsett Residences, 331 New Bridge Road
Tel: 8121 4107


Interviewed by Joyceline Tully
This was first published in Chef du Jour, Wine & Dine October 2016

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