Marilyn Lum enjoys seeking out new food spots and constantly dines out around the globe. She feels that discovering a destination’s food culture is an essential part of travel, as local cuisine showcases a place’s depth and history. Whether it’s the latest fine dining hotspot or humble hawker stall, the director of Lum Wen Kay Holdings always has a list of excellent places to recommend to her food-loving friends. Amid her dining sprees, Lum juggles different roles. She manages her own investment company (whose portfolio includes Bacchanalia Restaurant and Daxue Consulting) and is a lecturer and curriculum developer for various hospitality management schools. Lum is also currently pursuing her doctorate in education. She is co-founder of Crib, a social enterprise that seeks to empower women to become successful entrepreneurs, as well as mother of a baby boy. Here, she talks about her memorable dining experiences in Singapore and abroad.
What are some of your favourite foodie destinations overseas and why?
New York, because you can always find an amazing selection of great restaurants and the swankiest cocktail bars. My husband and I always have a great time when we are there; we last visited Buddakan and Momofuku on our last trip. I love Hong Kong’s vibrant culture and the ambience too. I always make it a point to visit my favourite restaurant Island Tang.
Have you had any particular food experience that was truly memorable?
I had the most amazing cheese fondue and raclette at Geneva’s Restaurant Le Gruyerien. In India, we went to Restaurant Bhairo, a rooftop restaurant at Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur. We had great food and a wonderful experience with the breathtaking view of the lake all around us. I also love Shanghai’s Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet for its multisensory dining experience.
What’s on your culinary bucket list?
Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain.
What are some of your fondest food memories from childhood?
Having teppanyaki at Nadaman Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel. And going to Chinatown market on Sundays for pork porridge with extra servings of pig intestine and liver.
Do you have a favourite hawker stall or food centre in Singapore, and why do you like it?
I visit Redhill Food Centre once every two weeks for its braised duck rice and noodles. I enjoy the rich and savoury broth the duck is cooked in, and the meat is soft and tender. I also frequent Hillstreet Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. Before they moved to Crawford Street, I used to visit its outlet at Marina Square on a weekly basis. The stallholder uses the right amount of vinegar for its savoury sauce, and I love the fried sole fish that adds to the robust flavour of the dish.
What’s comfort food for you and why?
Comfort food to me is anything that provides a nostalgic and sentimental value. My mum’s minced pork with salted egg dish always bring back fond memories of my childhood.
What’s the first dish you would eat after returning from your travels?
Chicken rice and sambal kangkong from Boon Tong Kee!
If you were to invite friends from overseas for dinner, where would you take them?
If you were a dish, what would you be?
I’d be chile en nogada, as it is a dish packed with powerful, flavoured ingredients.
Bacchanalia in vibrant Hong Kong Street received its coveted one Michelin star in 2016. The kitchen takes centre stage, and diners get to watch executive head chef Ivan Brehm and his team rustle up meals right in the middle of the restaurant. The modern menu combines classical European culinary techniques with unique flavour combinations alongside a global slant. For his creations, Brehm masterfully weaves in unexpected elements by using the finest sustainable ingredients, including vegetables from Cameron Highlands and premium products from Australia. To keep the dining experience fresh and exciting, Brehm changes the offerings based on seasonality and availability of the ingredients.