Singapore (CNN) — Nobody desires to be caught abroad throughout a world pandemic.
However, by his personal admission, 25-year-old Jon Lu, an American software program engineer, selected to stay in Singapore when the world’s borders started to shutter final 12 months.
“I arrived in Singapore for the primary time in August 2019, though my time was largely spent overseas for work,” says the New York native. “I did not begin actually residing in Singapore till March 2020.”
The Massachusetts Institute of Know-how (MIT) grad says that he had a alternative of the place he needed to be based mostly throughout his year-long undertaking in Asia.
Fluent in each English and Mandarin, Lu — a leisure determine skater who used to take part in intercollegiate competitions — finally selected Singapore.
He labored exhausting for essentially the most half, training determine skating about 4 to 5 occasions every week. However he additionally did what Singaporeans do finest — eat.
As of immediately, the American has visited a complete of 255 meals and beverage institutions together with cafes and hawker stalls, protecting 30 Michelin-rated eating places with 37 Michelin stars collectively (55 Michelin stars together with repeat visits).
A powerful feat, contemplating the town’s eating places have been closed to in-person eating for greater than two months, to not point out the very fact he was quickly sidelined as a result of in poor health well being.
When the town entered right into a nationwide partial lockdown — often known as the Circuit Breaker — from April 7 to June 1, 2020, eateries have been compelled to supply takeout solely. That did not cease Lu, who continued to eat nicely by ordering meals deliveries, not as soon as however twice a day, for the primary half of the interval.
However these have been no strange meals. He selected to give attention to the town’s many gastronomic choices, together with Michelin-starred venues that usually take weeks if not months to safe tables in.
“It was such a tricky time for the F&B trade — I needed to do as a lot as I may to assist help native companies,” Lu says, including that a few of his most memorable Circuit Breaker meals have been tasting menus designed for the house, the place he’d must put ending touches on the dishes himself.
“One such meal was from Odette at House,” says Lu, who even managed to acquire a desk fabric and a small potted plant from employees within the resort he’d been staying in for a month to recreate the feted French restaurant’s sales space seat inside his room.
Jon Lu, American software program engineer
However in early Might, Lu began having points along with his imaginative and prescient.
Medical doctors recognized him with retinal vein occlusion, brought on by extraordinarily elevated LDL levels of cholesterol — presumably a results of the foodie’s eating habits over the previous seven-month interval of intensive touring and consuming earlier than the lockdown.
It did not assist that gyms and ice rinks have been closed.
“I labored with native specialists to deal with the imaginative and prescient signs and began working daily,” Lu says. “I additionally went on a low ldl cholesterol, heart-healthy eating regimen for 2 months throughout which I prevented meals average to excessive in added sugars.”
After two months of weight-reduction plan and working, Lu’s well being points have been resolved. In July, just some weeks after eating in was allowed underneath the town’s second reopening section, he began populating his calendar with reservations once more.
Lu’s prime eating picks
American software program engineer Jon Lu has eaten at Michelin-starred Odette, helmed by chef Julien Royer, 4 occasions.
Having sampled the cream of Singapore’s prime eating places, a feat that even meals critics would take a 12 months or two to perform, Lu is well-positioned to supply recommendation on the place to seek out the town’s most interesting eats.
Becoming a member of his ranks of favourite Michelin-awarded eating places is chef Julien Royer’s three Michelin-starred Odette, the place Lu has dined 4 occasions. He extremely charges the up to date French restaurant for its “extremely refined and technically nicely executed” delicacies, headlined by Royer’s signature Pigeon “Beak to Tail” course, that “tastes superb.”
Within the Japanese class, Lu singles out the one Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura, which he has visited twice. He says that chef-owner Tomo-o Kimura provides “thicker” and “extra unique” cuts of fish — like sujiko (salmon roe sac), oki aji (white-tongue jack fish) and usubu hagi (unicorn leatherjacket fish). That is to not point out Kimura’s shari (sushi rice), which is “amazingly agency and ethereal” and served on the “excellent temperature.”
On the subject of Singaporean delicacies, it is the Michelin-starred Labyrinth by chef Han Li Guang that pulls at Lu’s heartstrings.
The restaurant is famed for showcasing elevated variations of native dishes — just like the Signature Chilli Crab — which can be unmistakably Singaporean in origin, with substances largely domestically sourced. Lu declares his November journey to Labyrinth, his second, to be considered one of his favourite post-Circuit Breaker meals.
Amongst Lu’s prime Japanese picks in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.
Menu standouts embrace the Ang Moh Hen Rice and An Ode to Cairnhill Steakhouse, each of which pay homage to Han’s grandmother and grandfather respectively.
Michelin-rated eating places apart, Lu additionally makes a degree of testing new eateries. His favourite new opening, Euphoria, serves “gastro-botanica” delicacies created by Singaporean chef-owner Jason Tan throughout his time on the one-starred Nook Home.
“On the coronary heart of Euphoria are 4 botanical essences made purely from greens,” says Lu. “I used to be extraordinarily impressed by how tasty each single dish was, and notably by the complexity of taste from the vegetable parts.”
Despite his spectacular protection of reputed eating places, Lu says he doesn’t imagine in “star chasing” — i.e. eating at a restaurant solely on the premise that it has been awarded stars by Michelin. There stay 13 starred eating places in Singapore that he has not visited.
His most-visited venue in Singapore, the two-year-old avant-garde restaurant Preludio, has no stars.
Run by Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, Preludio serves “writer’s delicacies” that revolves round a yearly altering theme referred to as “chapter.” From its debut Monochrome chapter, Lu raves concerning the Pata Negra course with “astounding” flavors, that includes panko crumb-breaded Iberico pork shoulder with a “distinctive” mix of spices — cumin, cayenne and paprika — paired with tomatoes soaked in a two-day marinade.
“As somebody who normally would not prefer to repeat dishes at fine-dining eating places, the truth that I’ve already dined at Preludio 9 occasions (in 2020) is a testomony to their inventiveness,” says Lu.
Impressed by “Chef’s Desk”
Lu says that consuming out and exploring meals spots has been a passion since 2015, when he interned in downtown Chicago and was surrounded by myriad meals choices inside strolling distance of his workplace.
Since then, the avid meals lover says he is visited not less than 300 totally different eating places yearly, beginning with cafes and informal shops, earlier than graduating to finer venues in 2019.
Attributing his curiosity in wonderful eating to the Netflix Collection “Chef’s Desk,” Lu says he was fascinated by how the present depicted meals as a seemingly boundless artwork type, restricted solely by the chef’s talent and creativeness.
The American says that Singapore has definitely been the “most spectacular” eating metropolis up to now, and that it’s “solely attainable” to eat out daily at a top quality venue with out repeating meals for years.
“The number of cuisines in addition to the vary of accessible substances (which actually span each nook of the world) in Singapore is unimaginable,” says Lu.