For Stefanie Yuen Thio, who’s at the top of her game in co-managing TSMP Law Corporation while serving on the board at various listed companies, dining is both a passion and a professional hazard, as she meets clients over meals daily.
While she acknowledges the growing sophistication of the dining scene here – “I challenge anyone to name another country in which you can get such a wide range of cuisines at consistently high quality” – she has grown nostalgic for the comfort food of her youth.
“While an innovative entrant to the scene may have interesting creations, it doesn’t usually leave a taste that evokes a childhood memory, and I’m unlikely to go back.”
But a trip to Croatia blew her away. “They combine the best fresh catch from the Adriatic with Italian cooking styles. Like Anthony Bourdain said, ‘If you’ve not been to Croatia, you’re an idiot!’”
Stefanie Yuen Thio’s recommendations for:
Courtyard at The Fullerton Hotel. It serves a simple Japanese buffet lunch. It’s a beautiful venue, and provides a great deal of privacy to kick the tyres on a new deal.
Power lunch (1.5 hour or less)
Willin Low’s new Relish at Frasers Tower. The menu encompasses all of Low’s signature dishes and the food is always a hit.
Dim sum at Paradise Teochew in Scott’s Square. Or, if I’m with my three labradors, we terrorise sunseekers and toddlers at Tanjong Beach Club.
I love the vibe at The Other Room at Marriott Tang Plaza.
Shinji by Kanesaka at St Regis, or Yoshi Restaurant at the Forum mall.
New Ubin Seafood.
For bak chor mee, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle in Crawford Lane. For chicken rice, Ah Tai Chicken Rice at Maxwell Hawker Centre.
Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn
I love this throwback. It’s in an atmospheric part of Brooklyn nestled under a bridge connected to Manhattan. The waiters appear to have been transplanted from a time long past, with their baggy white shirts, braces and bow ties, and thick “New Yawk” accents. If you look past the squealing Japanese tourist Instagrammers, you will see men in rat pack period suits and fedoras, cutting into deep fried bacon, at their usual corner table. It’s almost like you’ve stepped into the gangster era.
The Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
One section of this palace is still used as the private residence for the royal family. The restaurant is situated on a marble-tiled verandah overlooking beautifully laid out gardens. The food is exemplary – when I bit into flaky pastry dipped in a mint and yogurt sauce, it was like I was tasting Indian spices and textures for the first time. But the service was even more standout. The waitstaff are knowledgeable and accommodating, sending for dishes from a separate restaurant when I expressed a desire to try them. The comfort of diners is such a priority that there are two dedicated porters standing to attention, holding 7 ft long poles with flags at the end, to chase away pigeons that fly too close to the food.
Restaurant El Passadis del Pep, Barcelona
Hard to find. I literally had to do a Google image search for “main entrance of Restaurant El Passadis del Pep”, then walk around buildings holding my smartphone up to find the matching doorway. (Thank goodness for Japanese oversharing tourists.) The food was divine. Freshest seafood. We sat down and told them to bring us the best dishes of the day. Some – like the clams in aglio olio – were so good we asked them to do an encore. I don’t remember all the dishes, just the post-cuisinal bliss.
Chef to watch:
Shigeru Koizumi from Esora.
This article was first published in The Peak.