French food guide Michelin lauded Singapore’s street food culture at the unveiling of its annual list of the best restaurants in the city-state on Wednesday (25 July), even as it said it was difficult to find more hawkers that deserved the coveted Michelin stars.
Michelin awarded its 2018 star ratings to 39 Singapore eateries at a ceremony held at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), with five new names joining the list.
Thirty-four Michelin one-star recipients this year were unveiled, including debut entrants Burnt Ends, Jiang-Nan Chun, Ma Cuisine, Nouri and Sushi Kimura (see full list below).
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle retained their one-star ratings. The humble street food stalls caused a stir in 2016 after they became the first hawkers in the world to receive Michelin stars. Since then, no new hawker from Singapore has made the list.
Five restaurants retained their two-star ratings: Les Amis, Odette, Shisen Hanten, Shoukouwa and Waku Ghin.
A notable absence on this year’s Michelin list was recently-closed three-star French restaurant Joel Robuchon, the only establishment in Singapore to get the highest Michelin accolade in the previous two years. No local restaurant was able to earn a three-star rating this year.
Why no new hawker winners?
Speaking to the media after the event, Michael Ellis, chief inspector of the Michelin guides, said, “There’s obviously great fine dining here… but if you look deeper, you find a depth and breadth of great food that you find in the hawker centres and hawker stalls of Singapore.”
When asked about the absence of new local hawkers on the Michelin list, Ellis pointed out that Tai Hwa, Liao Fan, and Jay Fai – a Bangkok-based hawker famous for its crab omelettes – are the only Michelin-starred street food vendors in the world. Michelin has yet to find other hawkers in Singapore that could meet its stringent criteria to earn a star rating, he added.
“We would love to find 50 hawker stalls (if we can) that meet the Michelin criteria,” said Ellis.
Last year, Michelin handed out star ratings to 38 establishments here. In 2016 – the year the Michelin Guide made its debut in Singapore – 29 establishments were awarded the star ratings.
French chef Mathieu Escoffier, who owns Ma Cuisine together with sommelier Anthony Charmetant, spoke about the qualities of the gastro-wine bar that have helped it clinch a one-star rating.
“Our food is very simple – we select quality ingredients and try to make them better. We have a strong wine concept and we try to complement the wines with simple food that I want to eat myself,” said Escoffier.
Recent Michelin-starred restaurant closures
The ceremony comes after Singapore’s culinary scene was rocked by the closure of three highly acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurants this year.
Joel Robuchon served its last meal last month, along with its two-star sister outlet L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Contractual disputes with RWS – where the restaurants were located – were cited as reasons for the closures.
Acclaimed Taiwanese chef Andre Chiang shocked foodies here when he closed his two-starred Restaurant Andre in February to focus his efforts in Taiwan.
Michelin added a new segment this year to recognise local culinary pioneers, whose dishes inspired the food served at the ceremony. The restaurants honoured were Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, Dragon Phoenix Restaurant, Roland Restaurant and Loy Kee Chicken Rice.
Last week, Michelin awarded 50 Singapore eateries the Bib Gourmand, a distinction that recognises quality foods at affordable prices.
The Michelin Guide sends inspectors to select the best restaurants in 30 countries, highlighting new trends and emerging chefs. Its awards are among the most prestigious in the global food scene.
Here’s the full list of Michelin-starred restaurants and hawker stalls in Singapore for 2018:
1. Les Amis
3. Shisen Hanten
5. Waku Ghin
6. Cheek By Jowl
7. Chef Kang’s
8. Corner House
11. Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
13. Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine (Orchard)
16. Lei Garden
17. Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
19. Putien (Kitchener Road)
21. Saint Pierre
22. Shinji (Bras Basah Road)
23. Shinji (Tanglin Road)
24. Summer Palace
25. Summer Pavillion
26. Sushi Ichi
27. The Song of India
29. Crystal Jade Golden Palace
30. Burnt Ends (new)
31. Jiang-Nan Chun (new)
32. Ma Cuisine (new)
33. Nouri (new)
34. Sushi Kimura (new)
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