255 restaurants, 37 Michelin stars: Meet the American who spent a year eating his way through Singapore

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Singapore (CNN) β€” Nobody needs to be caught abroad all over an international pandemic.

However, via his personal admission, 25-year-old Jon Lu, an American device engineer, selected to stay in Singapore when the sector’s borders started to shutter ultimate yr.

“I arrived in Singapore for the primary time in August 2019, despite the fact that my time was once most commonly spent in a foreign country for paintings,” says the New York local. “I did not get started in point of fact dwelling in Singapore till March 2020.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Generation (MIT) grad says that he had a collection of the place he sought after to be based totally all over his year-long challenge in Asia.

Fluent in each English and Mandarin, Lu — a leisure determine skater who used to take part in intercollegiate competitions — in the end made up our minds on Singapore.

He labored onerous for probably the most phase, working towards determine skating about 4 to 5 occasions every week. However he additionally did what Singaporeans do absolute best — devour.

As of lately, 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 jointly (55 Michelin stars together with repeat visits).

An outstanding feat, making an allowance for the town’s eating places had been closed to in-person eating for greater than two months, to not point out the reality he was once quickly sidelined because of unwell well being.

When the town entered right into a national partial lockdown — often referred to as the Circuit Breaker — from April 7 to June 1, 2020, eateries had been pressured to supply takeout simplest. That did not forestall Lu, who persevered to devour effectively via ordering meals deliveries, no longer as soon as however two times an afternoon, for the primary part of the duration.

However those had been no peculiar foods. He selected to concentrate on the town’s many gastronomic choices, together with Michelin-starred venues that ceaselessly take weeks if no longer months to safe tables in.

“It was once this type of difficult time for the F&B trade — I sought after to do up to I may to assist give a boost to native companies,” Lu says, including that a few of his maximum memorable Circuit Breaker foods had been tasting menus designed for the house, the place he’d have to position completing touches at the dishes himself.

“One such meal was once from Odette at House,” says Lu, who even controlled to acquire a desk material and a small potted plant from team of workers within the resort he’d been staying in for a month to recreate the feted French eating place’s sales space seat inside his room.

β€œIt was such a tough time for the F&B industry — I wanted to do as much as I could to help support local businesses.”

Jon Lu, American device engineer

However in early Would possibly, Lu began having problems together with his imaginative and prescient.

Medical doctors identified him with retinal vein occlusion, brought about via extraordinarily increased LDL levels of cholesterol — possibly a results of the foodie’s eating conduct over the previous seven-month duration of extensive touring and consuming prior to the lockdown.

It did not assist that gyms and ice rinks had been closed.

“I labored with native consultants to regard the imaginative and prescient signs and began operating on a daily basis,” Lu says. “I additionally went on a low ldl cholesterol, heart-healthy nutrition for 2 months all over which I have shyed away from meals average to top in added sugars.”

After two months of weight loss program and operating, Lu’s well being problems had been resolved. In July, only some weeks after eating in was once allowed beneath the town’s 2d reopening segment, he began populating his calendar with reservations once more.

Lu’s best eating choices

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

American device engineer Jon Lu has eaten at Michelin-starred Odette, helmed via chef Julien Royer, 4 occasions.

Jon Lu

Having sampled the cream of Singapore’s best eating places, a feat that even meals critics would take a yr or two to perform, Lu is well-positioned to supply recommendation on the place to seek out the town’s greatest eats.

Becoming a member of his ranks of favourite Michelin-awarded eating places is chef Julien Royer’s 3 Michelin-starred Odette, the place Lu has dined 4 occasions. He extremely charges the recent French eating place for its “extremely delicate and technically effectively done” delicacies, headlined via Royer’s signature Pigeon “Beak to Tail” route, that “tastes wonderful.”

Within the Jap class, Lu singles out the only Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura, which he has visited two times. 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 isn’t to say Kimura’s shari (sushi rice), which is “amazingly company and ethereal” and served on the “best temperature.”

In the case of Singaporean delicacies, it is the Michelin-starred Labyrinth via chef Han Li Guang that attracts at Lu’s heartstrings.

The eating place is famed for showcasing increased variations of native dishes — just like the Signature Chilli Crab — which are unmistakably Singaporean in foundation, with components most commonly in the community sourced. Lu pronounces his November commute to Labyrinth, his 2d, to be certainly one of his favourite post-Circuit Breaker foods.

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

Amongst Lu’s best Jap choices in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.

Jon Lu

Menu standouts come with the Ang Moh Rooster Rice and An Ode to Cairnhill Steakhouse, either one of which pay homage to Han’s grandmother and grandfather respectively.

Michelin-rated eating places apart, Lu additionally makes some extent of trying out new eateries. His favourite new opening, Euphoria, serves “gastro-botanica” delicacies created via Singaporean chef-owner Jason Tan all over his time on the one-starred Nook Area.

“On the coronary heart of Euphoria are 4 botanical essences made purely from greens,” says Lu. “I used to be extraordinarily inspired via how tasty each unmarried dish was once, and specifically via the complexity of taste from the vegetable elements.”

Despite his spectacular protection of reputed eating places, Lu says he does no longer imagine in “celebrity chasing” — i.e. eating at a cafe only at the foundation that it’s been awarded stars via Michelin. There stay 13 starred eating places in Singapore that he has no longer visited.

His most-visited venue in Singapore, the two-year-old avant-garde eating place Preludio, has no stars.

Run via Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, Preludio serves “creator’s delicacies” that revolves round a every year converting theme known as “bankruptcy.” From its debut Monochrome bankruptcy, Lu raves in regards to the Pata Negra route with “astounding” flavors, that includes panko crumb-breaded Iberico red meat shoulder with a “unique” mix of spices — cumin, cayenne and paprika — paired with tomatoes soaked in a two-day marinade.

“As any person who in most cases does not like to copy dishes at fine-dining eating places, the truth that I have already dined at Preludio 9 occasions (in 2020) is a testomony to their inventiveness,” says Lu.

Impressed via “Chef’s Desk”

Lu says that consuming out and exploring meals spots has been a interest since 2015, when he interned in downtown Chicago and was once surrounded via myriad meals choices inside strolling distance of his place of business.

Since then, the avid meals lover says he is visited no less than 300 other eating places once a year, beginning with cafes and informal shops, prior to graduating to finer venues in 2019.

Attributing his passion in positive eating to the Netflix Sequence “Chef’s Desk,” Lu says he was once thinking about how the display depicted meals as a apparently boundless artwork shape, restricted simplest via the chef’s ability and creativeness.

“There have been such a lot of circumstances the place I might watch an episode and right away bookmarked the featured eating place, announcing to myself that I wish to dine there someday,” says Lu, who visited in style international eating places GAA, MUME, Central, Dinner via Heston, NARISAWA and Momofuku Seiobo between September 2019 to March 2020. He is shared lots of his eating studies on his Instagram account.

The American says that Singapore has undoubtedly been the “maximum spectacular” eating town thus far, and that it’s “completely conceivable” to devour out on a daily basis at a top quality venue with out repeating foods for years.

“The number of cuisines in addition to the variability of to be had components (which in point of fact span each nook of the sector) in Singapore is unbelievable,” says Lu.

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