Singapore food pop-ups offer culinary experiences in Makati

By Brontë H. Lacsamana, Reporter

TO CELEBRATE Singaporean cuisine, the 29th iteration of the Singapore Food Festival is bringing a selection of hit restaurants to the Philippines until Sept. 25.

The restaurant pop-ups at The Grid in Powerplant Mall, Makati, organized by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), will each have their own time in the spotlight.

“What Singapore and the Philippines have in common is communal dining, a family sharing a massive spread of different flavors,” said Paul Liew, owner of the Michelin-Plated restaurant Keng Eng Kee Seafood, which is one of the participating establishments in the festival.

Keng Eng Kee Seafood began as a hawker stall on Old Havelock Road in the 1970s. Its specialty is Zi Char cuisine, which refers to the “cook and fry” style in Singapore inspired by homecooked food.

“We have our own spices, our own culture, but the love for food is almost the same,” he said at the media launch of the month-long festival where he cooked up some of their specialties at the event: soft shell crab with chili sauce, popcorn chicken with salted egg sauce, and coffee pork ribs.

While the Keng Eng Kee Seafood pop-up had a very short run — just from Sept. 2 to 4 — the rest of the festival line-up features both traditional favorites and more modern cuisine, including a “culture-forward” cocktail bar. Filipino foodies can check out the following restaurants:

The Elephant Room (Sept. 2 to 30)

This cocktail bar is inspired by the culture, trade, people, and history of Singapore’s Little India, making it culture-forward. With ingredients sourced in and around the Tekka Market, its goal is to share the richness and color of an underrated culture through spirits.

Its concoctions include Jothi’s Flower Shop (gin, jasmine flowers, lime, honey); Tekka (coconut rum, fermented banana, jaggery); and Chai (rum, tea, fermented pineapple).

Yugnes Susela, founder of The Elephant Room, told BusinessWorld that showcasing unique flavors to the world must also come hand in hand with pushing boundaries.

The Coconut Club (Sept. 9 to 11)

One of Singapore’s best known dishes, Nasi Lemak, is The Coconut Club’s signature. Their version of the dish features organic chicken marinated for 12 hours in a blend of spices, paired with coconut-infused steamed Jasmine rice and aromatic sambal sauce.

Blue Smoke (Sept. 16 to 18)

The smokehouse Blue Smoke serves modern Singapore-style barbecue. As part of the “Mod-Sin” culinary movement, their offerings utilize local flavors. One example is the Rendang Wagyu Brisket, where the barbecue is slow-smoked for 18 hours and charcoal-grilled over lychee wood.

New Ubin Seafood (Sept. 23 to 25)

When it comes to Zi Char, fast dining concept New Ubin Seafood gives a new, hearty spin on the well-loved cuisine. Its signature meals are Heart Attack Fried Rice — fried rice cooked with beef fat and drippings — and Boss Bee Hoon — rice vermicelli noodles cooked with egg and fish cakes.

LOCAL TAKES ON SINGAPOREAN FOODThe establishments from Singapore will be accompanied by this selection of local restaurants that also offer cuisine inspired by the Lion City:

• China Mommy (Sept. 12 to 14)

• BYRD Tubs — Noodles (Sept. 19 to 21)

• Your Local (Sept. 26 to 30)

“From heritage Singaporean cuisine to contemporary and innovative dishes that reimagine Singaporean food, we look forward to this diverse, eclectic mix whetting the appetites of Filipino foodies and enticing them to visit Singapore to experience more,” said Ruby Liu, STB’s Philippines area director, in a statement.

For updates on the Singapore Food Festival and more information on the visiting chefs and partner establishments, go to

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