With an increasing number of big name chefs flocking to Singapore, the small island nation is fast becoming a culinary destination to rival Paris, London and New York. Fiona Sims reports
Iggy's has been going from strength to strength since it opened nearly seven years ago in the Regent hotel, Singapore. Last September, it moved location to the third floor of the Hilton hotel on Singapore's busy Orchard Road. The space is sleeker, larger and more modern, with an eight-seat dessert bar, and a view from the tables into the kitchen.
While there are still just 10 tables, the kitchen is more than double the size, with all the latest equipment. The brigade is made up of 16 chefs, headed up by Akmal Anuar and Ansari Abdullah on savouries and Andy Lara on desserts.
Iggy's is one of the very few top restaurants not headed up by a big name chef. Its owner Ignatius Chan is a sommelier by training, who started his career at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Singapore, running its formal French restaurant. After winning the hotel's scholarship scheme to work in some of Europe's greatest restaurants and wineries, he was named Singapore's Best Sommelier. He left three years later to co-found Les Amis with chef Justin Quek, selling his share in the successful fine dining restaurant group to open Iggy's in 2004.
The menu is hugely influenced by Japan, now Iggy's main source of produce (Singapore doesn't do agriculture), and is littered with Japanese ingredients, from dashi to koshihikari, a type of rice, although it also gets through 15kg of white truffles from Alba during the season. There is no à la carte, so diners choose between a limited choice tasting menu at lunch at SGD$85 (£41.60) per person and dinner at SGD$250 (£122).
With a lunch dish of mackerel, Chan uses Japanese sourced fish at the peak of the season, cured with Maldon sea salt and pink peppercorns, creating a sauce that is a play on sweet and sour - with grape juice providing the sweetness, and lemon juice added to the creamy guacamole for acidity, and added texture in the form of quinoa fried in olive oil.
For dinner, a squid dish is a cocktail of sashimi sumi ika (golden cuttlefish) from the Japanese prefecture of Chiba, marinated in sudachi lime and salt, the dashi jellified with shiso, served with a dollop of Hokkaido uni (sea urchin roe) and ohba flowers.
Another dinner dish consists of plump Atlantic French Gillardeau oysters, which are cooked sous-vide for 15 minutes at 60e_SDgrC, chilled, then wrapped in a seawater and dashi jelly. They are served with parsley, cress, dill, salicornia, pickled cucumber and fromage blanc with chopped wakame.
"The cooking at Iggy's owes more to Japan than anywhere else, both in terms of produce, and flavours," explains Chan. "But I'm a Singapore boy so of course we draw inspiration from the cuisine here, too."
He cites a dish of ravioli with duck as an example. "The filling is flavoured with star anise, similar to a Singapore dish of braised duck. We don't set out to do that deliberately but if it inspires me, we do it. Basically the cuisine here is an amalgam of my travel and dining experiences - the food that I like to eat," says Chan.
Sample dishes from the menu
Mackerel, guacamole, quinoa, grapes or wagyu carpaccio, rocket, Parmesan, truffle mayonnaise
Tagliatelle, seasonal mushrooms, egg or cappellini, tomato, basil
Loch Duart salmon, potato, leek, yuzu or duck, potato, mesclun
Soursop, cherry tomato, mascarpone or pains d'epices, bourbon, caramelised bananas, nutmeg, toffee or chocolate, cinnamon, mandarin, vanilla
Squid, sea urchin, dashi, ohba flowers
Oysters, sea essence, mascarpone, shiso
Southern bluefin tuna, kintoki carrot, burrata, mullet roe
Him kan buri, pink garlic, baby leeks, peppercorns
Alba black truffle, green lip abalone, koshihikari
Wagyu, olive tapenade, Yukon gold potato
Trifle, gruyere, pear, mandarin, orange
Citrus & tea, rooibos vanilla, orange, matcha, red velvet
Iggy's The Hilton Hotel
581 Orchard Road, Level 3, Singapore 238883
Tel: 0065 6732 2234