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Six executives share their favourite dining spots when they need a hit of familiar flavours

The diverse nature of Singapore’s multicultural food scene means that it is possible to find a taste of home – even if home is on the other side of the planet.

Tomotsugu

Tomotsugu Ito
Managing Director, Mikimoto Jewellery (Singapore)

Having been a patron of establishments under the Hibiki Company in Japan even before he arrived in Singapore in September last year, Tomotsugu Ito was naturally delighted to find Yakitori Lounge Hibiki – the Singapore outpost by the group. The 30-seat dining room and bar located off Sixth Avenue is where the Chiba native goes for a simple yet satisfying meal of grilled meats, expertly prepared by the student of legendary yakitori master Bunji Hibiki.

How did you learn of Yakitori Lounge Hibiki?
I knew of the Hibiki restaurant in the Higashi Matsuyama district of Saitama prefecture while I was still in Japan, and have patronised the restaurant for about five years. Since arriving in Singapore in September, I have been visiting Yakitori Lounge Hibiki every month, usually on Friday nights with my Japanese friends.

Tomotsugu-Food

What draws you here in particular?
Compared to other yakitori restaurants, the atmosphere here is more local and inviting. Originally, yakitori establishments in Japan were hawker-type stalls by the roadside, of which there were many. Also, the chef Onodera Sadanori provides very good service.

What is your favourite dish from the establishment?
My favourite dish is yakiton (grilled pork organs on skewers). Normally, yakitori is served with soya sauce or salt, but this is served with a special miso made of dozens of ingredients, which goes very well with the pork. The miso can even be used to flavour vegetables. All the friends I’ve introduced to the restaurant like it.

How do you typically enjoy this dish?
Dark beers, or indeed any ordinary beer, are compatible with it.

Yakitori Lounge Hibiki
#01-06 Royalville, 833 Bukit Timah Road

Philip

Philip Jones
General Manager, Movenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa

While Ireland might be best known for its beers – from stouts to lagers to ales – the food doesn’t play second fiddle either. “I have been able to find Irish food in every country I’ve lived in, even in Vietnam,” proudly reports Philip Jones, who first left Ireland in 1991, and then again in 1998 to embark on a hotelier’s life that took him from Europe to North America, the Middle East and Asia. He shares his favourite nosh from Molly Malone’s Irish Pub in Circular Road – his go-to place when he craves a taste of home.

Who do you usually come here with?
I usually come with visitors like my in-laws from Romania. My wife and I get along very well because Romanian food and Irish food are very similar! I also brought my mother here when she visited Singapore. For my mum’s generation, it is difficult to change your taste preferences after 60 years of food built on fresh, simple home-grown ingredients – you don’t eat it if it didn’t grow in the backyard, or if you didn’t catch or shoot it!

Philip-Food

What draws you to Molly Malone’s Irish Pub?
It’s a pretty eclectic crowd here. There is a good mix of people and it is representative of the population here. But what really brings me here is the food. The Irish stew is a very particular dish traditionally made with lamb (as it is served at Molly’s), even though my mother and grandmother made it with beef. This is a two-day dish – it takes time for the meat to tenderise and for the flavours to sink in, so you make it today for eating tomorrow. Everyone’s mother does the best version, but the one served here is acceptable. As for the fish and chips, I grew up fishing with my father and fish is something that I’ve always loved. I like my fish and chips with lots of lemon – even the tartare sauce is optional.

What can’t you say no to?
My first visit here was very shortly after arriving in Singapore in 2013. I was going to Clarke Quay with a couple of friends and we just wanted to stop by for beer – I grab any chance to have a Kilkenny, unless I have to drive! I would have Guinness or an ale only at a bar where I know they serve a lot of it – it’s about making sure the lines are clean, that the keg hasn’t sat there for a week – it all makes a difference.

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Brasserie
56 Circular Road

Ivan

Ivan Breiter
Director South East Asia, Switzerland Tourism

He might have called tropical Singapore home for almost three years now, but Ivan Breiter – who hails from the alpine city of Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland with a history of more than 4,000 years – has no problem getting his fix of food from home. “I travel back to Switzerland every other month, usually with Swiss International Air Lines, which serves culinary highlights from Switzerland – so I feel like I am back home even before the plane touches the ground.” For other times, there is always Arbenz Restaurant at the Swiss Club in Singapore.

What are the foods from home that you miss most?
I miss most the seasonal variety that’s linked to our customs and traditions. In late summer, everyone looks forward to venison season – and the smell of roasted chestnuts. With the first snow, we look forward to our cheese dishes, such as raclette and fondue and, when daylight hours are longer, we enjoy spring vegetables like young asparagus.

Ivan-Food

How long have you been patronising Arbenz Restaurant?
Since I arrived. The Swiss Club was established in 1871 and is one of the oldest and most historic clubs in Singapore. Located on Bukit Tinggi, it is an elegant and family-friendly retreat surrounded by lush greenery, offering a fabulous setting in the middle of the jungle. The wonderful atmosphere and ambience let me recharge my batteries fast.

Who do you visit the establishment with?
I come regularly with business partners for lunch to develop creative ideas.

What is your favourite dish here?
The Veal Zurich Style with Rosti “Zurcher Geschnetzeltes” is the signature dish of Chef Adrian Vogt. It reminds me of the time when I was studying in Zurich – after each successful semester, I would visit one of the traditional restaurants on the hills surrounding Zurich with my peers. And we would enjoy this dish with the view of the old town, the lake and the awe-inspiring mountains against the afterglow of the evening.

Arbenz Restaurant
36 Swiss Club Road

Jeff

Jeff Mannering
Managing Director, Audi Singapore

Hailing from Sydney where food diversity is great, some of Jeff Mannering’s fondest memories of living in Australia include barbecues at home with the family and enjoying fish and chips on the beach. And his favourite restaurant in Sydney: Lee Gardens, a Chinese restaurant in the southern suburb of Riverwood, where a good chilli crab is served. Incidentally, one of Mannering’s favourite restaurants in Singapore is Jumbo Seafood at Clarke Quay, which he first dined at 18 years ago when in town for an Audi conference – and which he now visits on a monthly basis for his chilli-crab fix. Having called Singapore home for more than two years now, Mannering has expanded his list of dining haunts to include Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at Swissotel The Stamford, which is named after the picturesque Australian bayside town south of Sydney.

How did you learn of Wooloomooloo Steakhouse?
I was introduced to the restaurant by a fellow Australian two years ago and I have been coming back to the place since. I visit Wooloomooloo Steakhouse once every couple of months, usually with business associates, but I also bring my family here.

Jeff-Food

What is your favourite dish from the establishment?
The Aussie steak, of course. It’s just like a barbecue at home, except that somebody else is doing the cooking.

What other aspects of the establishment appeal to you?
The ambience is always good, as is the wine selection.

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse
Swissotel The Stamford

Susy

Susy Santoso
Director, Alfa International

As a co-founder of www.ewineasia.com, an online wine shop, Susy Santoso is passionate about matching wines for authentically Asian dining experiences. Ironically, Indochili, which the Surabaya native visits for the spicy flavours of home, is a halal-certified establishment that does not serve wines. That, however, does not prevent her from visiting the rustic home-style restaurant located in Zion Road.

How often do you visit Indochili?
I have been visiting Indochili for about three years, but I don’t come very often, due to my work schedule and the fact that I am in the business of import/export and distribution of fine wines – I tend to visit my client’s outlets more frequently and Indonesian F&B outlets are normally halal-certified and do not serve wines and spirits. When I do come here, it is often with friends or my children.

Susy-Food

What are your favourite dishes here?
Rawon complit and the mini nasi tumpeng. Rawon is an Indonesian beef soup from East Java and it reminds me of the flavours of my native birth town in Surabaya. Nasi tumpeng is yellow rice accompanied with chicken and shaved coconut, and side dishes of nuts and spicy condiments. This is a dish that is usually made for sharing among a community, especially during a festive season. I particularly like the flavour of the turmeric in the steamed rice – that which makes it yellow. It is a taste that reminds me of Indonesia.

What are other aspects of the establishment that appeal to you?
Indochili also has an array of local Indonesian desserts, and the “Juice Alpokat” done the Indonesian way is a must-try. It is basically avocado juice with chocolate sauce – simple and nice.

Indochili
54 Zion Road

Stephane

Stephane Le Pelletier
Asia Pacific Director, Opera Gallery

As a young Parisian, Stephane Le Pelletier travelled quite a lot in regional Europe – and always had an adventurous taste for new cuisines. However, the food he grew up eating in Paris is still what reminds him of home and, for that, the Frenchman who has been living in Singapore for the past 16 years visits Bar-Roque Grill in Tanjong Pagar Road.

How did you learn of Bar-Roque Grill?
A friend introduced me to the restaurant over a year ago and I got to know the chef-owner Stephane Istel. I visit it with friends, family and colleagues at least once or twice a month, and if and when I feel like having good home-style French cooking. It’s good to share good food with friends.

Stephane-Food

What are your favourite dishes here?
I do not have a favourite dish at Bar-Roque as they are all equally good. Most of the time, I do not look at the menu – I leave it in the good hands of the chef who tailors the meal after talking to his guests (to find out their preferences). He then uses the fresh ingredients of the day to create dishes which he introduces upon serving. He serves a kind of omakase- style menu for me and my guests and it’s like a homecoming meal every time.

What else draws you?
The general atmosphere of the restaurant is very homely. Also, the excellent staff delivers friendly, personalised service. Most important of all is the character and energy of the chef, Stephane!

Bar-Roque Grill
#01-00, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road.