Many of my favourite meals this year came from restaurants waving the heritage flag.
I love it because the world evolves so quickly, so it is important to remember our heritage.
When deciding which restaurants to feature, I picked those that thrilled and moved me.
Here are eight great dishes from eight great restaurants for you to check out in the new year.
My favourite restaurant this year is Folklore (Destination Singapore Beach Road, Tel: 9021-9700). Chef Damian D’Silva created a Eurasian-Peranakan menu that excites and comforts.
I recommend every dish but especially the oxtail stew. This bowl of soul is always sold out though.
Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill
Heritage is the driving force behind Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill (Clarke Quay, #01-18, Tel: 9834-9935). After all, Oon is the godmother of the local culinary scene.
As with Folklore, there are many dishes to try, but I recommend you start with her Tripe Satay. Continue with the Nasi Goreng Nyonya Pedas and Buah Keluak Otak, and end with Kueh Beng Kah. That may well be your best meal for the month.
Provisions (7, Dempsey Road, Tel: 6250-7090) calls itself Singapore’s first skewer and claypot cocktail bar. It offers one of the year’s most interesting dishes: Oyster Omelette Rice, which is the base of the charred rice, topped with orh luak (oyster omelette). It cleverly combines two dishes I love.
Holycrab (2, Tan Quee Lan Street, Tel: 8444-2722) gets creative – bordering on gimmicky – with its crab dishes. Balsamic crab, anyone? But its Hooked On Mee is old-fashioned in the best way: It is loaded with umami flavours and deep-fried pork lard. It does not get better than this.
When I say heritage, it does not have to be just Singaporean heritage.
At Five-Ten (237, South Bridge Road, Tel: 6924-7352), it is about Taiwanese street food. The stellar Lu Rou ($10), or braised pork belly, combines an aromatic dark soy sauce with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly.
Firebake – Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant
I was so obsessed with the heirloom tomato salad at Firebake – Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant (237, East Coast Road, Tel: 6440-1228) that I returned a few more times just for it. The main draw is the intoxicating smoked oil.
Also good is the Valley, a sourdough fruit loaf baked in twin wood-fired ovens – a delicious ode to heritage.
Restaurant Gaig (16, Stanley Street, Tel: 6221-2134) started as Taberna d’en Gaig in 1869 in Barcelona.
Chef Carles Gaig is the fourth-generation owner of the Barcelona restaurant, and his daughter Nuria runs the Singapore outlet.
And with a place like this, always ask for the classics, such as the Shrimp All I Pebre. The prawns are fresh, and the sauce is impactful.
Truffle Egg Rice is not a heritage dish, but it is certainly one of the prettiest and tastiest dishes I had this year, so it is on the list. (Yes, I am shallow, but sometimes you need to feed your Instagram too.)
Many dishes from Menya Sakura (69, Boat Quay, Tel: 9469-3366) are good for social media and your taste buds too.
Try the Ajitama Devil Egg or the signature dish, Tonkotsu Tsukemen.
This article was first published on The New Paper.