Kevin Cheng’s passion for food and beverage extends beyond his work with hotel investments. The passionate gourmet who moved here from Hong Kong 16 years ago has stakes in restaurants and bars, as well as wine businesses, in Singapore, Hong Kong and most recently Japan.
“I travel to my favourite restaurants in Copenhagen, Spain and Japan several times a year and am always keen to find new and interesting places to eat at – whether it is having a hearty home-style meal at a farmhouse in the countryside, or a fine-dining establishment that lives up to its reputation.”
In Singapore, there are outstanding restaurants that cut across all cuisines, which one can reliably go back to, time and time again, he says, but it is a difficult business. “The labour costs and economics make it difficult for chefs and restaurants to really shine. So many restaurants don’t make it, even when they’ve the potential to do so.”
Kevin Cheng’s recommendations for:
Jaan or Les Amis. Consistent food and service, and the ambience is just right for business lunches.
For shorter lunches, the sushi set at Shinji is fantastic. Otherwise, I like my dim sum (as I’m from Hong Kong), so Jade Palace or Imperial Treasure Teochew at Ion Orchard are my usual places. Quick and delicious.
The Knolls at Capella for Sunday brunch. It’s not your typical brunch as there’s a Mediterranean touch to the fare, but the food is really good. It’s a little out of the way on Sentosa, so you feel like you are having a relaxing meal away from the bustle. Afterwards, a walk around on the Capella grounds helps to ensure that you get a bit of exercise after stuffing your face.
Manhattan at Regent Singapore. The drinks are consistently good. The menu changes from time to time, so you often get to try new inventions. The bites that go with the drinks are great. Best of all, the vibe is perfect. No other cocktail bar really gets it right.
Iggy’s, because the food and wine list are fantastic. It has private rooms that are great for groups of four to six. If you prefer to sit in the main dining hall, the view of the kitchen is a bonus. Another spot is Corner House, because of its nice setting in Botanic Gardens. Or Jaan for its views of the city, precise execution of food and great service.
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A friend’s recommendation a couple of years ago, Sungei Road Laksa hits the spot. Make sure you order three bowls, as you won’t want to queue again. One bowl is definitely not enough.
Shinji. One of the best sushi-yas anywhere. Beats most of the top establishments I’ve visited, even in Tokyo.
I love duck, so Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke in Holland Village – it’s a little different from the norm and the soup has this nice intensity, combined with a bit of kick, which is really comforting. And I’ve been going to Sapporo Ramen Miharu at Millenia Walk for years. I don’t normally like miso-based ramen but, for some reason, the one here really satisfies every time.
There are a few decent spots in the Cuppage area, but Kazu is one that my friends and I have gone back to over the years, even after it was renovated. Good mix of fresh ingredients, yakitori and seasonal dishes.
Binomio at Craig Place. About as good as any eatery you will find anywhere outside of Spain.
Jade Palace at Forum mall or Lei Garden at Chijmes. Both of them remind me a lot of Hong Kong.
Long Ji in Outram or Keng Eng Kee Seafood in Bukit Merah. No frills, not the healthiest (but that’s how zi char places should be), and just really tasty (also how all zi char food should be).
Restaurant in Copenhagen: Geranium
I dined there a couple of years ago, and I’ve been back four or five times since. Each time, I am blown away by how perfect every dish is. How relentlessly precise the service is too, but still friendly and comforting. The staff remember my preferences from my previous visits and some of the signature dishes just take cuisine to the ultimate level. Wine list is also pretty unbeatable.
Restaurant in Spain: Etxebarri
I first visited this restaurant about seven years ago. The simplicity of just grilling everything to highlight the true essence of the top ingredients just blew me away. It’s simple, unpretentious, yet the taste of every dish is just so good. It’s also situated in an old farmhouse in the middle of the Basque countryside, so the view is almost magical.
Most difficult restaurant reservation to secure: Sugalabo, Tokyo
I’m still not sure how to get a reservation here, as I am lucky enough to have friends who are able to do so and invite me along. The chefs really do a great job of showing different interpretations of food. Also showcased are the top ingredients from various regions around Japan, and it was definitely worth the wait when I was able to eat there for the first time.