No one particular wants to be trapped in a international region during a global pandemic.
But, by his individual admission, 25-calendar year-aged Jon Lu, an American software package engineer, selected to remain in Singapore when the world’s borders started to shutter very last yr.
“I arrived in Singapore for the first time in August 2019, despite the fact that my time was mostly expended abroad for work,” states the New York indigenous. “I failed to commence genuinely residing in Singapore right until March 2020.”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technological innovation (MIT) grad claims that he had a selection of exactly where he required to be based mostly for the duration of his 12 months-long task in Asia.
Fluent in both of those English and Mandarin, Lu — a recreational figure skater who applied to take part in intercollegiate competitions — in the end made a decision on Singapore.
He worked difficult for the most aspect, practicing determine skating about four to five situations a week. But he also did what Singaporeans do best — eat.
As of these days, the American has frequented a whole of 255 foodstuff and beverage establishments together with cafes and hawker stalls, covering 30 Michelin-rated restaurants with 37 Michelin stars collectively (55 Michelin stars including repeat visits).
An extraordinary feat, taking into consideration the city’s dining establishments had been closed to in-particular person dining for extra than two months, not to mention the simple fact he was temporarily sidelined because of to sick well being.
When the metropolis entered into a nationwide partial lockdown — also recognised as the Circuit Breaker — from April 7 to June 1, 2020, eateries have been compelled to offer you takeout only. That did not stop Lu, who continued to take in well by purchasing food items deliveries, not at the time but twice a day, for the very first 50 percent of the time period.
But these ended up no normal meals. He chose to emphasis on the city’s a lot of gastronomic choices, including Michelin-starred venues that often choose weeks if not months to secure tables in.
“It was this kind of a tricky time for the F&B industry — I wished to do as much as I could to assist support local organizations,” Lu says, introducing that some of his most memorable Circuit Breaker foods were being tasting menus developed for the residence, where by he’d have to put ending touches on the dishes himself.
“One this kind of food was from Odette at House,” says Lu, who even managed to procure a table cloth and a smaller potted plant from personnel in the hotel he’d been staying in for a thirty day period to recreate the feted French restaurant’s booth seat within his home.
But in early May well, Lu started possessing troubles with his eyesight.
Medical professionals diagnosed him with retinal vein occlusion, brought about by really elevated LDL cholesterol concentrations — presumably a outcome of the foodie’s eating habits above the previous 7-month interval of intense traveling and feeding on right before the lockdown.
It did not enable that gyms and ice rinks ended up closed.
“I worked with regional specialists to address the vision signs and symptoms and commenced managing every working day,” Lu states. “I also went on a lower cholesterol, heart-balanced food plan for two months through which I avoided food items reasonable to high in additional sugars.”
Immediately after two months of dieting and running, Lu’s well being problems were resolved. In July, just a couple weeks right after eating in was authorized less than the city’s second reopening section, he started off populating his calendar with reservations once again.
Lu’s leading dining picks
Acquiring sampled the cream of Singapore’s prime dining establishments, a feat that even food critics would just take a yr or two to achieve, Lu is well-positioned to provide guidance on exactly where to find the city’s best eats.
Joining his ranks of most loved Michelin-awarded places to eat is chef Julien Royer’s 3 Michelin-starred Odette, in which Lu has dined 4 times. He extremely charges the modern French restaurant for its “very refined and technically nicely executed” delicacies, headlined by Royer’s signature Pigeon “Beak to Tail” class, that “preferences incredible.”
In the Japanese classification, Lu singles out the one particular Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura, which he has visited 2 times. He claims that chef-owner Tomo-o Kimura gives “thicker” and “additional unique” cuts of fish — like sujiko (salmon roe sac), oki aji (white-tongue jack fish) and usubu hagi (unicorn leatherjacket fish). Which is not to point out Kimura’s shari (sushi rice), which is “astonishingly business and ethereal” and served at the “perfect temperature.”
When it will come to Singaporean delicacies, it can be the Michelin-starred Labyrinth by chef Han Li Guang that pulls at Lu’s heartstrings.
The restaurant is famed for showcasing elevated versions of regional dishes — like the Signature Chilli Crab — that are unmistakably Singaporean in origin, with elements primarily locally sourced. Lu declares his November vacation to Labyrinth, his 2nd, to be a single of his favorite post-Circuit Breaker meals.
Menu standouts consist of the Ang Moh Rooster Rice and An Ode to Cairnhill Steakhouse, equally of which fork out homage to Han’s grandmother and grandfather respectively.
Michelin-rated eating places apart, Lu also will make a position of checking out new eateries. His preferred new opening, Euphoria, serves “gastro-botanica” cuisine designed by Singaporean chef-operator Jason Tan during his time at the 1-starred Corner Home.
“At the heart of Euphoria are 4 botanical essences designed purely from veggies,” says Lu. “I was extremely amazed by how tasty every single solitary dish was, and notably by the complexity of taste from the vegetable factors.”
In spite of his amazing coverage of reputed restaurants, Lu claims he does not believe that in “star chasing” — i.e. eating at a cafe entirely on the basis that it has been awarded stars by Michelin. There stay 13 starred dining establishments in Singapore that he has not visited.
His most-frequented venue in Singapore, the two-12 months-previous avant-garde cafe Preludio, has no stars.
Operate by Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, Preludio serves “author’s cuisine” that revolves all around a yearly changing concept referred to as “chapter.” From its debut Monochrome chapter, Lu raves about the Pata Negra system with “astounding” flavors, showcasing panko crumb-breaded Iberico pork shoulder with a “distinct” mix of spices — cumin, cayenne and paprika — paired with tomatoes soaked in a two-working day marinade.
“As someone who ordinarily does not like to repeat dishes at high-quality-eating places to eat, the reality that I’ve by now dined at Preludio nine occasions (in 2020) is a testament to their inventiveness,” suggests Lu.
Impressed by “Chef’s Desk”
Lu claims that feeding on out and checking out food stuff places has been a passion due to the fact 2015, when he interned in downtown Chicago and was surrounded by myriad foodstuff options in walking length of his business office.
Considering that then, the avid foodstuff lover suggests he’s visited at minimum 300 unique dining places every single calendar year, starting up with cafes and everyday shops, right before graduating to finer venues in 2019.
Attributing his fascination in high-quality dining to the Netflix Collection “Chef’s Table,” Lu claims he was fascinated by how the demonstrate depicted foodstuff as a seemingly boundless art sort, confined only by the chef’s skill and creativeness.
“There were being so many scenarios in which I might view an episode and immediately bookmarked the showcased cafe, saying to myself that I require to dine there one day,” claims Lu, who frequented well-liked worldwide places to eat GAA, MUME, Central, Evening meal by Heston, NARISAWA and Momofuku Seiobo among September 2019 to March 2020. He is shared quite a few of his eating activities on his Instagram account.
The American suggests that Singapore has undoubtedly been the “most impressive” dining city so considerably, and that it is “completely attainable” to take in out just about every day at a good quality venue with out repeating meals for many years.
“The assortment of cuisines as well as the variety of readily available ingredients (which certainly span each corner of the entire world) in Singapore is outstanding,” says Lu.