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Local favourites with a premium twist: Restaurants’ take on hawker classics

Take perennial hawker favourites, add fine ingredients and a myriad of influences a la upscale dining, and you just might find something special.

Singapore’s iconic hawker culture and cuisine is a tour de force in the world’s street food scene. It’s such a large part of our marketing that it’d be hard to find a description of Singapore without the usual phrases like ‘melting pot of regional cuisines’ and ‘recipes refined over decades’. Our first major outing on the big screen for Crazy Rich Asians even managed to find time between copious shots of the CBD skyline and Marina Bay Sands to slip in a scene at a hawker centre. All said though, it really is simply great grub. So much so, that many fine restaurants are recreating hawker favourites – substituting in premium ingredients where possible.

All said though, times are changing. CBD joints and upscale establishments are constantly having to reinvent what they do to stay ahead, even if that means breaking the rules a little. That means ditching delicate puff pastries and perfectly plated morsels for some elevated local favourites that can only benefit from the inclusion of premium ingredients and the affordances of a five-star kitchen.

  • Restaurant Labyrinth


    Chef-owner Han Li Guang is a locavore through and through. He sources around 90 per cent of his ingredients from local farms and kelongs, while keeping to the theme of authentic Singaporean cuisine throughout his dishes. Labyrinth is all about the journey through Han’s food memories on our little island, encapsulating everything from nostalgia-tinged recipes by Grandma as well as the passion of local farmers and chefs. The Michelin star he was awarded is just a bonus. Have a gander at his tasting menu: sure, most of it’s named after hawker favourites like orh luak and rojak, but the inverted commas reveals the twists Han’s employs to make the dish his own. For example, his orh luak still uses oyster, sambal and egg - but Han has reimagined the hawker staple as takoyaki. He’s recently launched Miss Vanda, a more-relaxed dining concept that serves the same elevated hawker experience, without the necessity of a multiple course tasting menu.

    #02-23, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. Tel: 6223-4098.



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