255 places to eat, 37 Michelin stars: Meet up with the American who expended a calendar year feeding on his way as a result of Singapore

Penni Schewe

Singapore (CNN) — No 1 would like to be stuck in a foreign nation during a international pandemic.

But, by his own admission, 25-yr-previous Jon Lu, an American software package engineer, chose to stay in Singapore when the world’s borders began to shutter previous 12 months.

“I arrived in Singapore for the first time in August 2019, whilst my time was mainly expended abroad for function,” claims the New York indigenous. “I didn’t begin certainly residing in Singapore until March 2020.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technological know-how (MIT) grad states that he experienced a selection of in which he desired to be based mostly in the course of his 12 months-long undertaking in Asia.

Fluent in both English and Mandarin, Lu — a recreational determine skater who utilized to participate in intercollegiate competitions — ultimately decided on Singapore.

He labored really hard for the most part, working towards figure skating about 4 to five instances a week. But he also did what Singaporeans do ideal — try to eat.

As of currently, the American has visited a whole of 255 foodstuff and beverage establishments including cafes and hawker stalls, covering 30 Michelin-rated restaurants with 37 Michelin stars collectively (55 Michelin stars like repeat visits).

An impressive feat, thinking of the city’s restaurants had been closed to in-particular person eating for a lot more than two months, not to point out the actuality he was quickly sidelined due to ill health.

When the town entered into a nationwide partial lockdown — also acknowledged as the Circuit Breaker — from April 7 to June 1, 2020, eateries have been compelled to provide takeout only. That didn’t cease Lu, who continued to try to eat nicely by purchasing food stuff deliveries, not when but 2 times a working day, for the to start with fifty percent of the period of time.

But these had been no everyday foods. He selected to concentration on the city’s many gastronomic choices, together with Michelin-starred venues that frequently take weeks if not months to secure tables in.

“It was these types of a tricky time for the F&B business — I needed to do as a lot as I could to assistance guidance community companies,” Lu suggests, incorporating that some of his most unforgettable Circuit Breaker foods ended up tasting menus built for the home, where he’d have to set finishing touches on the dishes himself.

“One these meal was from Odette at Property,” states Lu, who even managed to procure a desk fabric and a little potted plant from workers in the lodge he’d been staying in for a thirty day period to recreate the feted French restaurant’s booth seat inside his area.

“It was these a challenging time for the F&B sector — I preferred to do as much as I could to aid assist area businesses.”

Jon Lu, American software program engineer

But in early May, Lu started out obtaining troubles with his eyesight.

Medical professionals identified him with retinal vein occlusion, brought on by particularly elevated LDL cholesterol levels — presumably a consequence of the foodie’s eating behavior about the previous 7-thirty day period time period of intense traveling and eating right before the lockdown.

It did not enable that fitness centers and ice rinks ended up closed.

“I labored with area experts to address the eyesight signs and symptoms and commenced jogging each individual working day,” Lu says. “I also went on a minimal cholesterol, heart-wholesome diet program for two months during which I averted food items moderate to significant in included sugars.”

Immediately after two months of dieting and managing, Lu’s wellness challenges were solved. In July, just a couple weeks after eating in was authorized under the city’s second reopening period, he started out populating his calendar with reservations yet again.

Lu’s top rated dining picks

American application engineer Jon Lu has eaten at Michelin-starred Odette, helmed by chef Julien Royer, four times.

Jon Lu

Possessing sampled the cream of Singapore’s top rated places to eat, a feat that even food items critics would just take a year or two to carry out, Lu is perfectly-positioned to supply suggestions on wherever to come across the city’s best eats.

Joining his ranks of favorite Michelin-awarded restaurants is chef Julien Royer’s 3 Michelin-starred Odette, exactly where Lu has dined 4 occasions. He remarkably rates the modern French cafe for its “incredibly refined and technically properly executed” cuisine, headlined by Royer’s signature Pigeon “Beak to Tail” training course, that “preferences awesome.”

In the Japanese class, Lu singles out the just one Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura, which he has frequented 2 times. He states that chef-owner Tomo-o Kimura delivers “thicker” and “more exotic” cuts of fish — like sujiko (salmon roe sac), oki aji (white-tongue jack fish) and usubu hagi (unicorn leatherjacket fish). That is not to mention Kimura’s shari (sushi rice), which is “astonishingly agency and airy” and served at the “ideal temperature.”

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

The cafe is famed for showcasing elevated versions of nearby dishes — like the Signature Chilli Crab — that are unmistakably Singaporean in origin, with substances mainly locally sourced. Lu declares his November vacation to Labyrinth, his next, to be a person of his favourite publish-Circuit Breaker foods.

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

Among the Lu’s top rated Japanese picks in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.

Jon Lu

Menu standouts include things like the Ang Moh Hen Rice and An Ode to Cairnhill Steakhouse, both of those of which pay back homage to Han’s grandmother and grandfather respectively.

Michelin-rated eating places apart, Lu also would make a point of checking out new eateries. His favored new opening, Euphoria, serves “gastro-botanica” delicacies made by Singaporean chef-owner Jason Tan in the course of his time at the one particular-starred Corner Dwelling.

“At the coronary heart of Euphoria are four botanical essences built purely from greens,” claims Lu. “I was extremely impressed by how delicious each solitary dish was, and particularly by the complexity of taste from the vegetable factors.”

In spite of his impressive protection of reputed eating places, Lu claims he does not imagine in “star chasing” — i.e. eating at a restaurant only on the basis that it has been awarded stars by Michelin. There stay 13 starred places to eat in Singapore that he has not visited.

His most-visited location in Singapore, the two-yr-old avant-garde restaurant Preludio, has no stars.

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

“As anyone who ordinarily would not like to repeat dishes at great-dining dining places, the reality that I’ve now dined at Preludio 9 instances (in 2020) is a testament to their inventiveness,” says Lu.

Impressed by “Chef’s Table”

Lu states that consuming out and discovering food places has been a hobby since 2015, when he interned in downtown Chicago and was surrounded by myriad food items selections within going for walks distance of his office.

Since then, the avid food items lover says he’s frequented at the very least 300 distinctive places to eat each individual yr, setting up with cafes and everyday stores, in advance of graduating to finer venues in 2019.

Attributing his fascination in wonderful dining to the Netflix Collection “Chef’s Table,” Lu says he was fascinated by how the display depicted foodstuff as a seemingly boundless artwork kind, limited only by the chef’s talent and creativity.

“There were being so lots of scenarios where I might enjoy an episode and immediately bookmarked the featured restaurant, saying to myself that I need to dine there 1 working day,” states Lu, who visited popular global restaurants GAA, MUME, Central, Evening meal by Heston, NARISAWA and Momofuku Seiobo between September 2019 to March 2020. He is shared numerous of his dining encounters on his Instagram account.

The American suggests that Singapore has absolutely been the “most amazing” dining city so far, and that it is “fully probable” to try to eat out each and every working day at a good quality venue without repeating meals for several years.

“The range of cuisines as well as the assortment of offered components (which actually span each individual corner of the entire world) in Singapore is incredible,” states Lu.

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