Modern Singaporean cuisine (local dishes modified to look modern), or mod-sin in short, amalgamates our familiar Singaporean hawker flavours with international dishes of the world. Very much like our Singaporean culture, mod-sin cuisine takes inspiration from various food cultures and adapts it into an experimental new dish that’s both bold and unique in taste.
Let us explore the creativity and culinary concept behind some of these innovative creations that are only made possible thanks to our bustling local culture.
1. Hainanese Chicken Rice + Sushi
Image credit: Lepark
Picture a plate of steamed chicken rice served in bite-sized tapas portions. The Poached Chicken Sushi is unique to Lepark, a rooftop bar that’s situated on the roof of People’s Park Complex. A thin strip of nori sheet wraps around a tender poached chicken and Hainanese chicken sushi rice. Each morsel is topped with some garlic chilli. It ticks all the elements that goes into making a traditional chicken rice dish, but made more portable as side to some beer.
Address: 1 Park Road, People’s Park Complex Level 6
Opening hours: Tue – Thu: 4pm – 11pm; Fri: 4pm – 12am; Sat: 12pm – 12am; Sun: 12pm – 11pm
2. Buah Keluak + Pasta
Image credit: Violet Oon Singapore
The distinctive ingredient used in traditional Nonya cuisine has now found its way into a marriage with Italian spaghetti. Admittedly, the fruit’s nutty and earthy profile makes it an acquired taste, but those who enjoy the rich and slightly bitter profile will appreciate Violet Oon’s take on Buah Keluak Noodle. This aromatic dish is tossed with chilli padi to lend a subtle kick, along with coconut milk and minced prawn.
Violet Oon Singapore
Address: 881 Bukit Timah Road
Opening hours: Tue – Sun: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10:30am
3. Ondeh Ondeh + French Toast
Image credit: Crystalwee
Deconstructing an ondeh ondeh and infusing the sweet flavours into a classic breakfast dish makes the Ondeh Ondeh French Toast at Hyde & Co. a great dish that doubles as both dessert and tea break. The egg-washed brioche slices come loaded with grated pandan coconut and drizzled with gula melaka sauce. Topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for good measure and you have for yourself an oozing cold dessert with all the reminiscent flavours of an ondeh ondeh.
Hyde & Co.
Address: 785 North Bridge Road
Opening hours: Sun – Mon: 11am – 6pm; Wed – Sat: 11am – 10:30pm
4. Chilli Crab + Bun
Image credit: Baomakers
The thought of having a chilli crab bun might sound off putting initially, but they actually make sense if you think about how Singaporeans like to soak up the leftover chilli crab sauce with deep fried mantous. Making this Chilli Crab Bao possible is Bao Makers. They take deep fried crab meat and slather it with chilli sauce and top it off with coriander and fried shallots. Essentially a combination of various Asian flavours, think of it as our version of a slider with a local twist.
Address: 78 Horne Road
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 12pm – 10pm; Sat: 11am – 10pm; Sun: 11am – 6pm
5. Charsiew + Fries
Image credit: Redpan
Give the standard truffle fries a miss the next time you’re hit with a fries craving. At Redpan, they top their Char Siew Chilli Fries with a charsiew ragout and dolloped with sour cream and some jalapeno salsa. The seemingly contrasting ingredients come together nice to form an addictive starter that you’ll polish off in no time.
Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-03/04
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 9am – 10pm; Sat – Sun: 11am – 10pm
6. Roasted Pork Belly + Pasta
Image credit: @cayceemeows
Not for the health-conscious, this Sio Bak Aglio Olio from Froth serves up chunks of roasted pork belly that sits on a bed of aglio olio, topped with a slice of their homemade bak kwa. The salty and crispy pieces of fats serve as a good contrast to the al dente pasta, creating a decadent dish that’ll fill you up with satisfaction.
Address: 2 Finlayson Green
Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 11:30am – 10pm
7. Rendang + Lasagna
Image credit: Makankaki
Replace the tomato sauce in a plain old lasagna with some authentic rendang gravy and what you’ll find yourself with is an explosion of taste comprising of Italian and Malay cuisine. Alternating layers of pasta sheets, beef briskets and bechamel make for the perfect Ren Dang! Lasagna. But top it with a scoop of rendang gravy and you get a savoury spicy kick in this updated dish. Regular lasagna will never cut it for you again.
Address: 22 Lim Tua Tow Road
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 11am – 11pm; Sat: 9am – 11pm; Sun: 9am – 9pm
8. Bandung + Latte
Image credit: Sethlui
Infuse your cuppa with floral accents of rose with Bandung Latte. Getting your caffeine fix just got a whole lot sweeter, with a drink that comes in a pretty pastel shade of pink. The rose floral notes mask the bitterness of the coffee, making this a delicious drink that even non-coffee fans will enjoy.
Working Title – Burger Bar
Address: 48 Arab Street
Opening hours: Mon – Thu: 11am – 10pm; Fri: 11am – 11pm; Sat – Sun: 10am – 11pm
So the next time you’re deciding between local delights or contemporary creations, you’ll be able to get the best of both worlds with these local dishes modified to look modern!
(Header image from Bao Makers, words by writer)
Also read: 9 Of SG’s Best Local Street Snack, How Many Have You Tried?