Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Singapore Food Festival 2014: A Walk Down Memory Lane

It's July! This means the Singapore Food Festival will be on (11-20 July), and 2014 marks the 20th year for the festival. Remember when it was the only food festival in Singapore? Nowadays there are so many food-related events, we are so spoilt for choice.

The theme this year is "A Walk Down Memory Lane", so you can expect dining experiences that emphasise Singapore's rich food legacy.

There are some changes this year though. Gone is the under-one-roof pasar malam style food market. You've got dinners, food trucks and events spread out over the island.

Local chef Damian D'Silva will present South East Sliders @ ION Orchard. It's a pop-up concept featuring radical takes on local dishes. "The vision behind South East Sliders is the preservation of our food heritage. At the same time, we need to constantly innovate and find creative ways to make our food more appealing and acceptable to the younger generation," he says.

Damian's taken Beef Rendang and Chicken Debal, and made them into sliders, using flaky puff pastry instead of burger buns. He's also given them fun names - Lim Peh Slider for rendang and Big D Slider for chicken.

He's toned down the spiciness of the rendang, but it's still got a satisfying amount of heat. The Rendang is seriously kick-ass, although someone said it was a tad on the sweet side. Well, it's still a robust explosion of flavours. The Chicken Debal pales in comparison though. And I don't think tomatoes were necessary (I always think they make any dish too watery).

Another well-known local chef, Malcolm Lee of Candlenut fame, is going places on his Nyonya Mobile. Yes, it's a food truck, which I wish were more common here but the cost and regulations are just so prohibitive in Singapore (so much for entrepreneurial. Along with chefs Kenny Chan and Nelson Li, he will have interactive exhibits on Peranakan culture and cooking demonstrations.

Look out for interesting takes on Peranakan dishes, like satay trio, wagyu shortrib with buah keluak gravy, grilled chicken pongteh, sambal udang, and buah keluak ice cream on a bed of salted caramel, chocolate crumble and chili flecks.

Chef Bala, President of the Indian Chefs and Culinary Association (ICCA) tells us about Suvai 2014, a little Indian festival that is happening opposite Serangoon Plaza in Little India from 17-20 July. Chef Bala hopes to capture the diversity of Indian cuisine and the transformation it has undergone from age-old to contemporary.

For example, Chef Sultanul Arfin will prepare the Grilled Roulade Prata, which cleverly uses prata as a wrap for aromatic minced mutton. It's finished on a charcoal grill instead of an oily griddle, so it's a lot less greasy.

Among Suvai's highlights - Dr Chef K Damodaran from India, who is a huge personality (no pun intended) and highly regarded in the Indian cuisine circle. You'll also find local chefs Devagi Sanmugam, and Rajeswary Sinan of Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant.

The Singapore Chinese Dialect Heritage Feast at Chinatown Food Street will feature up to 20 dialect dishes that are not commonly found - including Hokkien Rickshaw Noodles, Hakka Abacus Seeds and Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls.

There's even a beautiful sunset BBQ on Palawan Beach, Sentosa (above) where you'll enjoy Singapore's first ever sand-dining concept. Yes, we heard it takes two days to shape these sand sofas and tables - they are solid enough to take your weight. The BBQ will feature seafood and meats cooked in a traditional Hawaiian underground BBQ pit called the "Imu" - BBQ sambal stingray, baked king prawns, BBQ whole lamb, grilled beef rump, etc.

ION Orchard will also have a Local Food Trail featuring samples and demos of iconic Singapore dishes like Peranakan kueh, chili crab and kaya toast.

This is not just SFF's 20th anniversary. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is also celebrating 50 years of tourism promotion and development. Other dining establishments are also offering their own special promotions to mark both SFF and Tourism50 celebrations. See full details at  www.singaporefoodfestival.com

Once again, a quick recap of the various SFF 2014 events:

South East Sliders
11-20 July 2014
ION Orchard, Basement 3

ION Orchard Food Trail
11-20 July 2014
11am onwards at ION Orchard

Nyonya Mobile
12 July, 6-8pm: Read Bridge, Chef Nelson Li
13 July, 1-3pm: Orchard Area, Chef Kenny Chan
14 July, 6-8pm: Century Square, Chef Kenny Chan
15 July, 6-8pm: AMK Hub, Chef Nelson Li
16 July, 1-3pm: Raffles Place Park, Chef Malcolm Lee
17 July, 6-8pm: VivoCity, Chef Malcolm Lee

Suvai 2014
17-20 July 2014
6-11pm 17 July, 12pm-11pm rest of the days
Little India, opposite Serangoon Plaza

BBQ by the Beach
11, 12, 18 and 19 July
Palawan Beach
Make reservations online here:

Singapore Dialect Heritage Feast
11-20 July 2014
Chinatown Food Street, Smith Street


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