What’s in store for Singapore’s F&B scene in 2020?
When we look back at last year’s F&B scene, we’ve seen popular fast food establishments like Five Guys and Shake Shack setting up shop, cult bubble tea chains popping up at every corner, new bars and restos with interesting concepts and iconic dining institutions coming up with new menus every so often. If you’ve not caught up to speed, read our 2019 faves here.
Now that we’re in 2020, it’s only natural for us to be curious about what tasty, exciting things we can expect this year. So we spoke to the experts about what’s hot, what are diners looking out for and food trends that should be left behind in 2019.
It’s a resounding no to ‘gram-worthy food that does nothing for our bodies and taste buds
“Food that is Instagrammable has little to no nutritional value. People follow these trends but miss the point of what food should be,” says chef-restaurateur Beppe De Vito of Michelin-starred fame. Yep, he’s talking about unicorn food everything and those monstrous diabetes-inducing drinks. “How and what you feed your body is very important; loading it with these chemically enhanced ingredients is not beneficial.”
The queen of Peranakan cuisine, Violet Oon, suggests a more studied approach to creativity – so for the love of all things good, let’s abandon the Frankenstein creation that is bubble tea mala hotpot. “I hope that what will be left behind is the desperate desire to be creative and to get diners to part with their money, where amazingly bizarre crossovers of food flavours and textures are put together to shock and enthral the taste buds.”
Executive chef Oliver Hyde of Artemis Grill agrees as well. “I’m personally over the ‘Instagram’ chefs, making food appear to be what it isn’t just for the image and likes, thus putting style before substance. Chefs should always cook for the guests first and foremost.”
Sustainability is the new black
2019 was all about experiencing the increasing effects of climate change and this year is all about fighting it. People are becoming more interested in where their food is sourced from, and this is playing a greater part in influencing restaurants’ menus.
Sustainability and minimal food wastage is something Beppe practices at his restaurants. “At Art and Braci, we take the effort to source for localised ingredients [from Italy] such as Torritto almonds, milk from cows that roam freely in the Dolomites and feed on spring water, and [we] utilize olive oil and vincotto produced from my family farm.”
Violet also believes that conscious eating and reducing Singapore’s carbon footprint is the direction we’re moving towards. “Due to many fears regarding how food is grown, processed and ‘doctored’, diners are increasingly looking for fresh and locally grown or farmed produce. Singaporeans trust the ‘grown in Singapore’ label.”
This curiosity extends to the beverage side of things as well. David Nguyen-Luu, bar manager at Manhattan, mentions that mindful drinking will be bigger than ever. “People used to want to know about the provenance and how the produce is procured. The same applies to drinks – how certain infusions are made and the distillation process around it.”
V is for veganism and vegetarian
We saw this one coming from a mile away, what with Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat dominating the F&B scene, one restaurant at a time. Oliver believes that the vegan movement will only continue to grow, and he has created a full-on plant-based menu that features beetroot tartare, quinoa falafel and chickpea fries.
When we visited Art for its five-course lunch tasting menu, we were delighted to see meatless dishes on the table to suit vegetarians. “There will be more of a focus on vegetarianism and veganism. At Art, Amo and Braci, we see more customers opting for vegetarian options and we have received numerous praises for our ability to transform vegetables into delicious plates, so much so that some non-vegetarian diners are opting for vegetarian options,” says Beppe.
Diners are just looking to have a good meal
Oliver believes people generally gravitate to quality food in a setting where they can feel relaxed and have a memorable time with their loved ones. “When I dine out myself, I like to go to places where I know I’m guaranteed to eat a good meal, from the ingredients chosen to the cooking methods and [the] service of the staff.”
On the cocktail side, Jerrold Khoo, bar manager of Jigger and Pony, feels that people today are being exposed to food and drinks from all over the world. There’s a reason why our cosmopolitan city is home to award-winning bars. Discerning drinkers can experience different drinking cultures without leaving the Little Red Dot, from izakayas and craft breweries to whiskey watering holes and gin bars. “Diners also look out for value, great hospitality and the atmosphere in a bar or restaurant. They enjoy exciting concepts that provide authentic experiences which also serve quality food and drinks.”
Never one to rest on his laurels, Beppe is always experimenting with new ways of using ingredients to excite the diner’s palate. “At Art, we use rare Italian ingredients, such as the Chinotto fruit, to incorporate into our sauce for the Challans duck. This Italian fruit adds depth, fragrance and bitterness to elevate the dish.” Oh, we agree! 2020, we’re so ready for you.