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Out and About in Singapore


Elsa van der Nest took our taste-buds on a tour of Singapore, the city she now calls home. Married to high-profile barrister, Yo-Hann Tan, and mom to captivating 18-month old twin sons, Elsa not only knows where to eat, but what to order once you’re there.
Sweeping into Chef Chan, she air-kisses manager Madame Wong and requests “The beef, calamari, some vegetables – and don’t forget the chicken!” Chef Chan’s Famous Crispy Roast Chicken, a dish lesser cooks are unable to replicate, had us week-kneed with joy. Small wonder Chan is considered the most famous Cantonese cooking wizard in Asia.
Elsa’s South African career spanned 20 frenetic years; she owned a culinary academy and a couple of high-profile restaurants. When matters of the heart lured her to Singapore four years ago, she headed the Raffles Culinary Academy before writing two books in the “Feast of Flavours” series for Marshall Cavendish publishers and launching an international consultancy to the hospitality industry.
Fresh from a stint at the Cape Grace setting up menus with Executive Chef Craig Paterson, she masterminded our week of gastronomic bliss that ranged from hoity-toity places to cheap and seedy street cafés you wouldn’t find on any tourist map.
Top spot? Rarified Raffles Grill (after the obligatory Singapore Sling in the Long Bar) where Chef Jean-Charles Dubois weaves the likes of Belgua caviare, Maine lobster and Wagyu beef into classical and contemporary French delicacies.
In a league all its own is Les Amis, where Chef Gunther Hubrechsen wowed us with a chef’s table in a private dining-room as we eye-balled the bustling kitchen. This cuisinier has an eye on the international fine dining ball and a blissful freestyle, non-formulaic approach to his craft.
Other highlights? Min Jiang (‘Chinese fine dining and dim sum high tea’), Au Jardin, peacefully positioned in the botanical gardens, and dim sum at Teahouse at China Square surrounded by the cacophony of chopstick-clicking locals at lunch.
Chilli crab is a must-have speciality, and we headed to a street café in the red light district of Geylang for our fix, mopping up the sauce with soft buns and quaffing coffee in condensed milk cans with holders fashioned from string. Perfect!
Chef Chan. 33 North Bridge Road, Odean Towers, Singapore. www.chefchanrestaurant.com
Raffles Grill. 1 Beach Road, Singapore. www.raffleshotel.com
Les Amis. 1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre, Singapore. www.lesamis.com.sg
Au Jardin. EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Cluny Road, Singapore. www.aujardin.com.sg
Min Jiang. 5 Rochester Park, Singapore. www.goodwoodparkhotel.com
Teahouse at China Square. China Square Food Centre, 51 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore.

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Click the image for a view of: Elsa shopping in the Singapore market
Elsa shopping in the Singapore market
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