First things first, just exactly what is ‘Mod Sin’? To put it simply, it means Modern Singaporean fare, which is a play up of our local hawker fare, expressed and prepared differently. Mod Sin has no boundaries, chefs get creative with their dishes, taking inspirations from their daily lives, their childhood, countries they visited and many more. So really, your tastebuds are in for a ride.
We’ve curated a list of five Mod Sin restaurants in Singapore to try. So grab an adventurous bunch of friends and head on down for an intriguing dining experience.
Helmed by chef Willin Low, Wild Rocket takes on Mod Sin cuisine with a hint of nostalgia. After working as a lawyer for eight years, he left and pursued his dream of opening up Wild Rocket. He quickly caught the attention of many, including New York Times naming him as one of the three chefs in Singapore who were “reinventing the city’s traditional food culture”. He draws inspiration from the various countries he has visited, be it the meals or their culture. Then, he brings all of it home with him and experiment with local fare that he grew up with. “I love to take apart traditional dishes, reassemble them and turn them on their head. The form may change, the presentation may change, even some of the ingredients may be replaced but the spirit of the fish never changes.”
Housed at Mount Emily Park, Wild Rocket provides a respite from the bustling city with its tranquil interiors and settings on a hill. Modelled after a traditional Japanese chashitu, or teahouse for the unacquainted, it is complete with a rock garden path.
A cheeky take on the mysterious Singapore noodles dish that’s commonly found overseas but never in Singapore, this is chef Willin Low’s Singapore Noodles found within the omakase meal ($120 to $160). Tossed in lobster oil and prawn fats, the umami pasta delivers a spicy kick that is utterly enjoyable. Finished with a king prawn that is fresh and succulent, this pasta is definitely the kind of Singapore Noodles we were searching for.
Wild Rocket @ Mt Emily
10A Upper Wilkie Rd, Singapore 228119
Tel: 6339 9448
Phat Cat Laundry
Nestled along the busy and eclectic Jiak Chuan Street, Phat Cat Laundry fits in well and good with their fluorescent lighting and all things maneki-neko (fortune cat). Modelled after a typical Chinese-owned laundries, Phat Cat Laundry provides a chic and trendy setting for the enjoyment of their food.
And no, you can’t really wash your laundry here but you sure can have a taste of their Asian-inspired dishes that will probably take your breathe away.
Are you of Hakka descent? Then you’ll be thrilled to know that Phat Cat Laundry has taken the classic crispy noodles and reinvented it with a splash of hoisin decadence. The Hoisin Hakka Crispy noodles sautes the mixed vegetables before tossing it with coffee-soy gravy and chili oil. It’s a foolproof dish, we can never go wrong with delicious crispy noodles.
Besides, you get to pair off all of that with nifty original cocktails and classic Asian-inspired cocktails like the Forget Love Water. A sorrowful blue cocktail made from dried butterfly pea flowers, ugni blanc gin, and laced with sea salt that represents tears, it pays homage to the critically popular chinese pop song Andy Lau sang and stole our hearts a good 20 odd years ago. Cheers to the passing of years.
Not only that, you get to groove in style at their monthly full moon parties. Phat Cat Laundry hosts a full moon party on, well, every full moon of the month. Guest DJs take over the decks while party cats own the night. So keep a lookout for their full moon parties if you’re into awesome drinks and music.
Phat Cat Laundry
4 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089261
Tel: 6221 8286
Xiao Ya Tou
A common recurring theme is their saucy chinese names and we are absolutely loving it! Next up on the list is Xiao Ya Tou, a common nickname of a young and innocent little girl, back in the days. Often cheeky, this modern Asian joint serves up just the right amount of naughtiness in their dishes.
Joining all the other big boys on Duxton Hill, Xiao Ya Tou is known for their creative Asian takes on Western cafe brunch staples and other traditional dishes in ways you cannot imagine.
Walking in, you’ll be greeted with neon lights and a ‘self-portrait’ of Xiao Ya Tou as she refers to the chefs as ‘my little husband’ on her instagram. We love the interpersonal touch and especially the Lao Fu Zi motif on the wall.
If you’re not there for the weekend, you can have a go at their Local Market Fish, which resembles our common sliced fish soup, mmmhm. What Xiao Ya Tou’s little husband has done is to introduce a more premium fish, shaking up the complexity of the flavours with superior soy glaze, young ginger and scallions. Order a bowl of white rice to go with it.
Xiao Ya Tou
6 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089592
Tel: 6266 1965
Moving along from Ann Siang Hill to Amoy Street, Ding Dong’s new space is that much more electrifying and eclectic. Very oriental inspired, the walls are covered in vintage movie posters that features Mr. Bruce Lee and a bunch of other iconic motifs we are well acquainted with. Neon lights with suggestive phrases like, ‘a little ding to your dong’ carefully adorns the restaurant and you know you’re about to have some good fun in there.
Taking the command in their kitchen is their new chef Miller Mai, who focuses on refreshing the local favourites with contemporary techniques, adding in 14 new dishes to their fun-loving menu. Carefully curated and integrating familiar yet modern textures, the dishes are bound to tug at your heartstrings, like the Yam Ring sharing plate.
Homemade and crisply battered, the yam ring is topped with asparagus and a beautifully poached egg. We love the yam, it’s creamy and rich without being too cloying. Cut the poached egg apart and let the yolk coat the whole of the yam ring, you’ll never regret that decision --- adds an extra layer of flavour to the crunchy asparagus.
End your meal on a sweet note with chef Miller Mai’s rendition of the traditional chendol. Filled with textures, it is a medley of meringue, coconut snow, pandan jelly noodles, gula melaka ice cream, red bean mash and quality atap chee seed. A quality atap chee seed is hard to come by and for those who claim to hate atap chee because of the ill-prepared ones out there, this just might change all of that for you.
The meringue provides for a light and airy base to all the other heavier contents, balancing out the sweetness, giving an all-rounded dessert. And need we say more, it’s gula melaka ice cream.
01-02, 115 Amoy Street, 069935
Tel: 6557 0189
Labyrinth is born out of chef Han Li Guang’s dream when, he was done with the financial world. Quitting his job in Citibank, he quickly set up Labyrinth. He knew he wanted to change up the scene and the way Singaporeans think of the local fare. He ensured that the integrity of the local spirit is still present, but presented in innovative molecular gastronomy manners.
“When you freeze something, its taste changes -- spice and salt levels go up, sweetness comes down”, he explains how he taught himself to manipulate the different spices and their flavour profiles. Focused on the five basic sensation: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, the dishes served at Labyrinth provides a gastronomical adventure unlike any other.
Isn’t this just lovely looking? Much more than just a dish, this is a theatrical experience with visually stunning presentation. A deconstructed rendition of our very popular chilli crab, this dish brings out the best of both worlds by contrasting hot with cold. We first have a crisply fried soft shell crab, then a dollop of chilli crab ice cream and finally a sandy mantou (bun) beach. All of which comes together in such an intriguing and complex manner. Something you’ll never conceive of. And we recommend you head on down for a try now.
Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
8 Raffles Ave #02-03, Singapore 039802
Tel: 6223 4398