Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards Night

Legle with Special Award winners from ESORA, Zén and JAANSingapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Shisen Hanten’s delectable canapésGilbert Tan, CEO, e2iBest Casual Restaurant - Super Loco Robertson QuayMost Creative Menu - JAANBest New Restaurant - ESORABest New Concept - ZénBest Buffet - ColonyBest Service - WAKANUIBest Ambience - PublicoBaker 4.0 Industry Trailblazer Award winnersChef 4.0 Industry Trailblazer e2i Industry Trailblazer AwardPeking duck delightsMontreux Patisserie and SBCTAW&D and friends from e2i and Disciples Escoffier, SingaporeTeam Super LocoW&D and Classic Fine FoodsKHK and friendsW&D and friendsTeam e2i and friendsTony Tang, School of CoffeeChandeliers, Camera, Action

Our Special Award winners joined us in a night celebrating the best culinary talents and restaurants featured in Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020.

In producing our Singapore’s Top Restaurants guide every year, we, together with a tasting panel of industry experts, F&B insiders, food journalists, chefs and well-travelled gourmands visit and review restaurants incognito, surveying a wide cross-section of the restaurant scene in the process. This year’s 2019/2020 edition features close to 400 restaurants and cuisines spanning across genres such as Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and Latin American. While each restaurant has their unique style and quirks, the passion they pour into their craft is quite universal.

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards night

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards

Co-hosted by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), our intimate ceremony was held at Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro (awarded two stars in our House of Stars) yesterday evening. In attendance were representatives from the seven restaurants who received Special Awards this year:

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards night

Best New Concept – Zén

Chef Tristin Farmer, picking up the Best New Concept Award for Restaurant Zén—who also received three stars in our House of Stars, and the Bronze Wine List Award (251 labels and more)—said, “Any time we win anything, we’re very humbled. It’s nice, more so for the staff, that the whole team’s hard work is recognised. What we wanted to do was bring across the same philosophy and DNA of Frantzén in Stockholm—the biggest part of that being how we are with the guests. We want it to be a fine dining experience but a very social and interactive one. As we are very ingredients-focused, we show every main ingredient we’re going to cook to the guest at the start of the meal. We introduce them to all the chefs in the kitchen and have them dine on different floors in the restaurant. All the food on the second floor is presented and plated by the chefs table-side. We do what we think is a fun way to have dinner.”

He added that accolades aside, it will be business as usual for the restaurant. “We’re working on a new menu this week. Today we tried out a new quail dish and we did a new dessert too. Apart from changing the menu, there’d be no major changes because we try to be better every day. We’re teaching the staff something new every day, challenging them to be better. That’s what we will continue to do.”

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards night

Best New Restaurant – ESORA

Chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi received the Best New Restaurant award on behalf of ESORA, a modern Japanese fine dining kappo-style restaurant. On how he felt about the restaurant garnering this award and entering the House of Stars at two stars, he said he was surprised but honoured. Every day, he and his team strive to do even better, in ways such as improving his standout tea-pairing programme. He said, “The autumn season is coming, I’m thinking of adding some floral notes to the tea, perhaps using osmanthus. I’m also always thinking about ways of presenting unique flavours. For instance in our summer menu, we married roasted tea (hojicha and bancha) smoked with Japanese rice straw (wara) with a main dish of smoked pigeon.”

Chef Ryohei Kenyoshi from WAKANUI Grill Dining Singapore shared that he adds a Japanese touch to the steakhouse by grilling their New Zealand premium meats over binchotan. This gives the steaks a good smokiness and char. Since their special award concerns impeccable service, we asked if he keeps the Japanese hospitality principle of omotenashi—going the extra mile to look after guests—uppermost in his mind. He said, “Yes, the Japanese way is to always take care of the guests. I would say it helps us to be more sensitive to the needs of the guest.”

Team Wakanui’s chef Ryohei

Team WAKANUI’s chef Ryohei

From the Publico team, who snagged the Best Ambience award, executive chef Bettina Arguelles and restaurant and bars curator Marika Nikolaidis felt that taking a holistic approach helped them win the Best Ambience Special Award. Said Arguelles, “For a restaurant that’s just been open under two years, it’s a great feat for us to get the one star last year and maintain it this year. Publico’s greatest strength is its personality. Food is just one part of that. When we try to bring our guests in, it’s all about the overall experience. Giving them that is what makes us different from the rest.”

Added Marika, ”My entire role is based around creating the atmosphere of the restaurant to complement the food and the casual yet elevated style, and to make people feel that they can stay for hours having a drink and a three-course meal. We feel we’ve made it a little different from what you’d find elsewhere in Singapore. It’s a space where attention to detail in music, lighting, seating and comfort all comes together.”

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards night

Best Ambience – Publico

E2i Industry Trailblazer Award

Gilbert Tan, CEO, e2i also took the opportunity to give out the e2i Industry Trailblazer Award, recognising those of their partners who contributed significantly to their Baker 4.0 and Chef 4.0 initiatives geared towards preparing workers in the F&B industry for the new economy. The award recipients were:

Baker 4.0:

Chef 4.0:

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards night

Chef 4.0 Industry Trailblazer e2i Industry Trailblazer Award

Amidst good company and friendly service from our gracious venue hosts, Shisen Hanten, we enjoyed some of the restaurant’s signatures, such as Chen’s original spicy noodle soup, Peking duck, and canapes such as botan ebi in Sichuan style and grilled wagyu beef with spicy garlic.

Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2019/2020 Special Awards night

Baker 4.0 Industry Trailblazer Award winners

The party might be over but if you haven’t already, do pick up a copy of Wine & Dine Sep/Oct 2019 Celebrating Singapore’s Top Restaurants where the discussion goes on about key issues affecting restaurants today, such as building sustainable restaurants, how awards can be double-edged swords, and staying ahead of the game. In the coming weeks and months, look out for #BehindTheScenes videos on our Singapore’s Top Restaurants Facebook and Instagram pages, and find information on all the restaurants featured in our guide on our Singapore’s Top Restaurants website.

Level 35 Orchard Wing, Mandarin Orchard Singapore. 333 Orchard Road. Tel: 6831 6266

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*Photos by Jia Jun

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