Bib Gourmand – what’s that? Here’s a little background. First, the basics: the Michelin Guides are a series of European restaurant reference books published by the French tyre company, Michelin, which awards ‘stars’ for excellence to selected establishments across the world.
Now that that’s sorted, you can consider the Bib Gourmand guide, which started in 1955, as an extension featuring restaurants that offer exceptional good food at a more affordable price. Why Bib then? Well, Bib is actually short for ‘Bibendum’, the company’s nickname for their corporate logo, the Michelin Man that vaguely reminds us of a ‘Ghostbusters’ dude.
Back home, the Singapore version of the Michelin Guide and Bib Gourmand Guide have been running for the second year now. All priced at $45 and below, this year’s Bib Gourmand Awards sees six new restaurants entering the spotlight, as compared to last year’s list of hawker-heavy fare; out of the 38 eateries, 18 of them are restaurants, with a diversity of cuisine ranging from French to Japanese to Peranakan.
Not sure where to start? We suss out five new award-winning restaurants that are must-tries in our books. Bon appetit!
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant by Teppei
It should come at no surprise that this rustic restaurant by Teppei should appear on this list. Not your regular unagi-centric restaurant by any stretch, Man Man by Teppei houses tanks of live freshwater eels flown in from the Mikawa Isshiki region in Japan. All sliced and gutted up before your eyes, you can be sure that the ingredients are as fresh as they can be.
We recommend zeroing in on the Unatama, which is a bento set that comes with soft and springy rice, two slabs of tamagoyaki and freshly grilled unagi slices. Marinated in tare and skillfully grilled by Chef Nakagawa, the fish is nicely charred on the outside and smooth on the inside. Meanwhile, the tamagoyaki is light and fluffy, which helps to freshen the palate in between savoury bites of the rich unagi.
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant: 1 Keong Saik Road, #01-01, S(089109)
Owning the distinction of being the world’s first-ever Michelin starred ramen eatery, Tsuta in Tokyo opened its first overseas joint in Singapore. Opened by chef-owner Yuki Onishi, the 18-seater Singapore outlet is located within Pacific Plaza and is said to use the same signature soy sauce and high-quality ingredients as the Japanese flagship store, making it a sure-win for the Bib Gourmand 2017.
The dining experience is quite novel for the uninitiated; you order via a vending machine, true Japanese-style. One thing to note: Although this is a ramen eatery, it prefers to refer to the noodles as ‘soba’. We recommend the Shoyu Soba, which comes in a base that’s composed of a special blend of shoyu that Chef Onishi has formulated himself; this includes a custom-brewed shoyu from the Wakayama Prefecture in Japan. Ultra umami in flavour, you can expect a rich and rounded taste with a distinct truffle-like aroma – the perfect accompaniment to the thin and toothsome ramen noodles.
Tsuta: Pacific Plaza, 9 Scotts Road, #01-01, S(228210)
Photo: Gourmet Japan
Shirokane Tori-Tama’s three outlets in Tokyo have all been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand, making this one of the hardest-to-book yakitori joints in town. Known for its extensive menu, our Singapore branch has also been awarded in the Bib Gourmand Awards this year.
We recommend just checking the place out and going with the flow if you’re looking for authentic yakitori grilled over charcoal. If you’re feeling more adventurous on the day of your visit, order a plate of chicken hearts. Beautifully charred but moist within, the chewy morsels of meat are subtly sweet from the marinade, and make for a great bar snack. Sourced daily, the chicken is always fresh and you get to order from over 20 different parts of the bird.
Shirokane Tori-Tama: Robertson Walk, 11 Unity Street, #01-02, S(237995)
The Blue Ginger
Run by a team of passionate Peranakans, the restaurant’s menu is inspired by their journey of rediscovery prompted by fond memories of hearty feasts at their grandmas’. In Peranakan culture, the mark of a well-bred ‘Nyonya’ (or Straits Chinese woman) comes from her ability to cook, with the matriarch of the family being responsible for quite literally gathering the entire family over a tantalising spread of spicy and aromatic dishes.
This iconic 22-year-old establishment located at Tanjong Pagar Road that serves up authentic Peranakan fare has earned itself a well-deserved Bib Gourmand Award this year. We recommend anything with Buah Keluak, but especially the Sotong (squid) Keluak of stir-fried squid rings served with buah keluak gravy – the latter being a thick fermented paste made from a black nut found only in the Southeast Asia region. The subtly sweet flavour makes a great accompaniment for the delightfully chewy rings of squid. Do order a plate of rice to sop up every last dollop of the sauce.
The Blue Ginger: 97 Tanjong Pagar Road, S(088518)
Bar-Roque Grill is a modern rotisserie and bar that celebrates the pleasures of French cuisine. A cheeky play on the word ‘Baroque’, Bar-Roque Grill takes inspiration from the lavish and theatrical banquets amongst the upper class in the flamboyant baroque era. Excessive is the operative word here, with the large rotisserie sharing plates virtually fit for a king’s feast. The price point, however, is so competitive that it’s almost too good to be true.
We recommend trying the Rotisserie Free Range Chicken that comes served with gratin dauphinois and chicken jus. Juicy and tender on the inside, the chicken drumlets are the prime parts of the entire rotisserie. The chicken jus, cooked with onions, lends an aromatic touch to the poultry. In between bites, cleanse your palate with the gratin dauphinois, which is a traditional regional French dish made from layers of potatoes and creme fraiche.
Bar-Roque Grill: 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-00, S(088539)