March 1, 2021

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All Things Delicious

255 places to eat, 37 Michelin stars: Meet the American who used a 12 months eating his way by Singapore

6 min read

Singapore (CNN) — No one particular wants to be stuck in a international nation in the course of a global pandemic.

But, by his personal admission, 25-yr-aged Jon Lu, an American software program engineer, selected to continue to be in Singapore when the world’s borders commenced to shutter very last year.

“I arrived in Singapore for the first time in August 2019, whilst my time was typically used overseas for function,” suggests the New York indigenous. “I did not commence actually residing in Singapore right up until March 2020.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Engineering (MIT) grad says that he experienced a choice of where by he required to be primarily based throughout his year-extensive undertaking in Asia.

Fluent in each English and Mandarin, Lu — a leisure figure skater who utilised to participate in intercollegiate competitions — in the end made a decision on Singapore.

He worked difficult for the most element, practicing figure skating about 4 to five situations a 7 days. But he also did what Singaporeans do very best — consume.

As of today, the American has visited a total of 255 food stuff and beverage establishments such as cafes and hawker stalls, covering 30 Michelin-rated dining places with 37 Michelin stars collectively (55 Michelin stars like repeat visits).

An amazing feat, considering the city’s eating places had been shut to in-particular person eating for much more than two months, not to point out the point he was briefly sidelined because of to unwell health and fitness.

When the city entered into a nationwide partial lockdown — also regarded as the Circuit Breaker — from April 7 to June 1, 2020, eateries ended up forced to offer takeout only. That didn’t cease Lu, who ongoing to take in well by buying foodstuff deliveries, not once but 2 times a working day, for the initially 50 % of the time period.

But these have been no normal meals. He selected to concentrate on the city’s quite a few gastronomic offerings, which include Michelin-starred venues that typically choose months if not months to secure tables in.

“It was these types of a hard time for the F&B marketplace — I desired to do as a lot as I could to support help nearby companies,” Lu states, incorporating that some of his most unforgettable Circuit Breaker meals ended up tasting menus designed for the household, exactly where he’d have to put finishing touches on the dishes himself.

“One particular this kind of meal was from Odette at House,” claims Lu, who even managed to procure a desk cloth and a modest potted plant from staff in the resort he’d been keeping in for a thirty day period to recreate the feted French restaurant’s booth seat within just his area.

“It was this kind of a difficult time for the F&B industry — I wished to do as a lot as I could to assistance assist area corporations.”

Jon Lu, American program engineer

But in early May well, Lu commenced acquiring problems with his eyesight.

Medical professionals identified him with retinal vein occlusion, prompted by very elevated LDL cholesterol levels — presumably a end result of the foodie’s eating behaviors over the preceding seven-thirty day period time period of intense touring and eating prior to the lockdown.

It did not enable that fitness centers and ice rinks were being closed.

“I worked with regional experts to address the vision indicators and begun operating every single day,” Lu suggests. “I also went on a minimal cholesterol, coronary heart-healthy diet plan for two months in the course of which I prevented foods average to higher in additional sugars.”

Just after two months of dieting and managing, Lu’s health concerns ended up solved. In July, just a several months after dining in was permitted beneath the city’s next reopening stage, he commenced populating his calendar with reservations once again.

Lu’s top eating picks

American software engineer Jon Lu has eaten at Michelin-starred Odette, helmed by chef Julien Royer, 4 instances.

Jon Lu

Obtaining sampled the product of Singapore’s prime restaurants, a feat that even foodstuff critics would choose a 12 months or two to carry out, Lu is effectively-positioned to offer information on wherever to come across the city’s greatest eats.

Becoming a member of his ranks of favored Michelin-awarded places to eat is chef Julien Royer’s a few Michelin-starred Odette, exactly where Lu has dined four moments. He highly costs the modern French restaurant for its “exceptionally refined and technically very well executed” cuisine, headlined by Royer’s signature Pigeon “Beak to Tail” program, that “preferences awesome.”

In the Japanese class, Lu singles out the a single Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura, which he has visited 2 times. He states that chef-operator Tomo-o Kimura provides “thicker” and “a lot more exotic” cuts of fish — like sujiko (salmon roe sac), oki aji (white-tongue jack fish) and usubu hagi (unicorn leatherjacket fish). Which is not to point out Kimura’s shari (sushi rice), which is “astonishingly agency and ethereal” and served at the “great temperature.”

When it comes to Singaporean delicacies, it is really the Michelin-starred Labyrinth by chef Han Li Guang that pulls at Lu’s heartstrings.

The restaurant is famed for showcasing elevated versions of area dishes — like the Signature Chilli Crab — that are unmistakably Singaporean in origin, with components mainly domestically sourced. Lu declares his November vacation to Labyrinth, his next, to be a single of his favored write-up-Circuit Breaker foods.

Among Lu's top Japanese picks in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.

Between Lu’s prime Japanese picks in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.

Jon Lu

Menu standouts consist of the Ang Moh Hen Rice and An Ode to Cairnhill Steakhouse, equally of which pay out homage to Han’s grandmother and grandfather respectively.

Michelin-rated dining establishments apart, Lu also can make a place of checking out new eateries. His favored new opening, Euphoria, serves “gastro-botanica” delicacies established by Singaporean chef-proprietor Jason Tan in the course of his time at the a single-starred Corner Home.

“At the heart of Euphoria are 4 botanical essences created purely from greens,” suggests Lu. “I was incredibly impressed by how delicious just about every solitary dish was, and notably by the complexity of taste from the vegetable parts.”

In spite of his spectacular protection of reputed dining establishments, Lu says he does not imagine in “star chasing” — i.e. eating at a cafe only on the basis that it has been awarded stars by Michelin. There continue to be 13 starred restaurants in Singapore that he has not frequented.

His most-frequented venue in Singapore, the two-year-outdated avant-garde cafe Preludio, has no stars.

Run by Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, Preludio serves “author’s delicacies” that revolves all-around a yearly shifting concept termed “chapter.” From its debut Monochrome chapter, Lu raves about the Pata Negra study course with “astounding” flavors, showcasing panko crumb-breaded Iberico pork shoulder with a “exclusive” mix of spices — cumin, cayenne and paprika — paired with tomatoes soaked in a two-day marinade.

“As another person who normally won’t like to repeat dishes at fine-dining places to eat, the reality that I’ve by now dined at Preludio 9 instances (in 2020) is a testament to their inventiveness,” suggests Lu.

Inspired by “Chef’s Desk”

Lu states that consuming out and discovering foodstuff places has been a hobby considering the fact that 2015, when he interned in downtown Chicago and was surrounded by myriad foods possibilities in just strolling distance of his workplace.

Considering the fact that then, the avid foods lover states he’s frequented at the very least 300 various places to eat each individual yr, commencing with cafes and everyday retailers, before graduating to finer venues in 2019.

Attributing his fascination in fine eating to the Netflix Sequence “Chef’s Desk,” Lu suggests he was fascinated by how the present depicted foodstuff as a seemingly boundless art type, minimal only by the chef’s talent and creativity.

“There had been so many instances in which I’d watch an episode and instantly bookmarked the featured cafe, expressing to myself that I require to dine there one working day,” claims Lu, who frequented common world restaurants GAA, MUME, Central, Evening meal by Heston, NARISAWA and Momofuku Seiobo in between September 2019 to March 2020. He’s shared a lot of of his dining experiences on his Instagram account.

The American suggests that Singapore has absolutely been the “most remarkable” eating city so considerably, and that it is “entirely attainable” to eat out each day at a quality location without having repeating meals for many years.

“The wide range of cuisines as properly as the selection of out there substances (which definitely span each corner of the globe) in Singapore is incredible,” says Lu.

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