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The winners of the character awards in The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao Best Asian Restaurants Awards had been introduced on April three. There are 4 character awards – two are new – on this second version of the annual awards to honour one of the best in Asian eating in Singapore.

The new titles are Special Recognition and Manager of the Year. The Best Asian Restaurants Awards rank eating places in bronze, silver and gold classes.

The judges are The Straits Times’ Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun, deputy Life editor Wong Ah Yoke and meals correspondent Eunice Quek, in addition to Lianhe Zaobao meals correspondents Marcus Yeo, Ng Chin Chin and Ng Yimin.

Twenty-nine eating places bagged bronze. The silver and gold winners can be introduced at an invitation-only gala reception on the Grand Hyatt Singapore tomorrow.

The annual awards are a part of a year-long connoisseur competition, Asian Masters, which is organised by Sphere Exhibits, a completely owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, and meals and beverage consultancy Poulose Associates.

The Sunday Times speaks to this 12 months’s title holders.

• For extra data, go to www.asianmasters.com.sg

• For extra tales on Asian Masters, go to http://str.sg/4skX


Special Recognition Award: The better of Chinese delicacies

Red Star Restaurant’s founders and grasp cooks, Sin Leong, 90, and Hooi Kok Wai, 79, who collectively received the Special Recognition award, have no plans to retire and are nonetheless actively concerned in managing the restaurant they opened in 1974.

They began the restaurant along with two different cooks, the late Tham Yui Kai and the late Lau Yoke Pui. Dubbed the Four Heavenly Kings of Singapore’s culinary scene within the 1960s and 1970s, they had been recognized for concocting a extra elaborate festive model of yusheng in 1964.

The 4 males had been apprentices at Cathay Restaurant underneath grasp chef Luo Chen, whom Sin and Hooi credit score for giving them a stable basis in Chinese cooking.

Hooi says in Mandarin: “Not every master chef was willing to teach everything he knew to his disciples, but our master was different.”

After Luo died, Sin and Hooi left Cathay Restaurant.

Sin says: “It was our master’s wish for us to have our own restaurants.”

In 1962, Sin opened the Sin Leong Chinese Cooking Institute in Aljunied Road. He additionally opened Sin Leong Restaurant in MacPherson, which later moved to Marine Parade. One of his signature dishes is roast USA Duck.

Hooi opened his first Dragon Phoenix restaurant in Tanjong Pagar in 1963 and made his title with a signature dish of yam ring basket, amongst others.

In 1972, he requested Sin, Tham and Lau to affix him to start out the Red Ruby Restaurant, after which the Red Star Restaurant in 1974.

Red Star, which might seat about 900 folks, has not undergone any main renovations because it opened and appears largely the identical.

Hooi says: “Our customers asked us not to change the ambience of the place because it allows them to relive happy memories or enjoy the old-school feel.”

Its facade might not have modified a lot, however the restaurant has saved up with the instances, modernising the kitchen and utilizing much less oil, salt and sugar in its recipes.

Sin says: “We want to preserve the heritage of Chinese cuisine, but this does not mean we carry on doing things the same way. We have to strike a balance between upholding tradition and evolving to stay relevant in the F&B industry.”


Lifetime Achievement Award: Quest to uplift native meals


Lifetime Achievement Award: Chef-restaurateur Violet Oon. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Chef-restaurateur Violet Oon has had a number of roles together with as critic, writer, writer, speaker, instructor, tv presenter and advisor.

Her efforts to curate, protect and elevate Singapore delicacies had been recognised together with her win of two Lifetime Achievement awards in per week.

On April three, she was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award within the Best Asian Restaurants Awards.

The identical day, she attended the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence the place she picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award underneath the Highest Honours class.

“I cannot believe I got two lifetime awards in one week. Maybe it is because I am older and have been around for so long. I am grateful for the acknowledgement of my quest and passion,” she says.

“I am going to be 69 next month, but the awards inspire and spur me on to delve deeper into Singapore’s rich food heritage.”

Ms Oon credit her awards to her two kids, Tay Su-Lyn and Tay Yiming, who partnered her to open Violet Oon’s Kitchen in Bukit Timah in 2012, and business accomplice Manoj Murjani, chairman of Group MMM, which does investments and acquisitions.

Mr Manoj turned a accomplice after eating at Violet Oon’s Kitchen, which was subsequently relaunched as Violet Oon Singapore.

Despite struggling a stroke in 2014, she opened National Kitchen by Violet Oon on the National Gallery Singapore in November 2015 and Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill in Clarke Quay final 12 months.

Her profession in meals took off in 1974 when she was a journalist and tasked by an editor to start out a meals column in The New Nation. She later wrote three prepare dinner books.

In 1993, she opened her first Peranakan restaurant in Bukit Pasoh Road, after which she ran a number of cafes and a take-out outlet at Takashimaya. Her F&B shops closed by the late 1990s and he or she went into meals consultancy.

“There were tough times, but I had supportive friends who helped me. I don’t dwell on the past. I look at the problem, find ways to solve it and move forward,” she says.

Retirement isn’t a consideration as she intends to put in writing a ebook about her life experiences and extra on meals. There are additionally plans to develop the business abroad.

“A lifetime achievement award doesn’t mean it is time to stop. There is a responsibility to live up to the award and I have to achieve more.”


Manager Of The Year Award: Service with sincerity


Manager Of The Year Award: Ms Irene Yue. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

When she left Malacca and got here to Singapore to search for a job, Ms Irene Yue, then 16, already knew she needed a job within the meals and beverage business.

Now 62, she is the supervisor at Hua Ting Restaurant.

Her first job was as a waitress at a Cantonese restaurant and he or she labored her approach as much as turn out to be a supervisor at 28.

She joined Hua Ting in 2002 and her excellence in service and restaurant operations received her the Manager of the Year Award given out for the primary time within the Best Asian Restaurant Awards.

Ms Yue says: “I am very honoured and excited about the award. I could not have won it without the strong teamwork of my colleagues and the support of our customers and management.”

Her predecessors at Hua Ting had been Peach Garden founders and present common managers Veronica Tan and Angela Ho.

“They were both on the pioneering team and had set the bar high. I needed to keep the service standard high as well as take it to the next level,” she says.

With the expertise she had collected by then, she set about to develop the pool of present prospects and appeal to extra regulars.

Personalised service is vital.

“It is in the little details, such as remembering whether someone likes his tea hot or cool and, if he drinks, whether he like his whisky on the rocks and how many cubes of ice he wants,” Ms Yue says.

With Hua Ting’s multimillion-dollar makeover final 12 months, Ms Yue additionally labored together with her crew to boost service ranges.

After over 4 a long time of business expertise, she says you will need to maintain an open thoughts and continue to learn on the job.

“Consumers are growing more sophisticated in taste. When they tell me about interesting ingredients or dishes they have eaten elsewhere, I pay attention,” she says.

She views this as one approach to know the altering tastes of her prospects whereas gathering concepts for brand spanking new dishes.

She additionally shares such data with the cooks and gives them prospects’ suggestions to assist them plan new dishes. “Teamwork is essential to present prospects one of the best eating expertise our prospects.

“The satisfaction for me is to see the contented smiles on our customers’ faces and know that they enjoyed themselves,” she says.


Chef of the Year Award: For the love of sushi


Chef of the Year Award: Master chef Koichiro Oshino. PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

The title of Chef of the Year is a well timed win to mark the 30th 12 months of this sushi grasp’s profession.

Master chef Koichiro Oshino, 48, of Shinji by Kanesaka at Carlton Hotel, was solely 10 when he was impressed by his good friend’s father, a sushi chef.

Chef Oshino says: “I was impressed at how he moved with elegance as he prepared the sushi.”

After leaving highschool at 18, chef Oshino instructed his father about his plan to be a sushi chef.

His supportive mother and father even accompanied him to Tokyo for an interview at famend sushi restaurant Kyubey.

He was employed as an apprentice and labored his approach up.

In the early 1990s, he was despatched to work in a Japanese sushi restaurant in Amsterdam. He labored there for 3 years and loved his abroad expertise tremendously.

“I acquired to study European meals and native components. I needed to discover ways to put together sushi utilizing fish obtainable there.

“Having to adapt to the environment and types of fish I was not familiar with made me think on my feet,” he says.

To be a sushi chef, he believes one should really love sushi.

In 2009, chef Shinji Kanesaka supplied him the grasp chef place for his first abroad restaurant. The two males had met after they labored at Kyubey.

Chef Oshino arrived in Singapore in June 2010 to be grasp chef at Shinji by Kanesaka, which opened at Raffles Hotel.

The restaurant relocated to its current location at Carlton Hotel final March.

Apart from ardour and culinary expertise, he says a sushi chef should have interaction with prospects, verbally or in any other case.

“Even if customers don’t say it, you can tell from their facial expressions whether they like an item. By engaging the customers, I can find out their preferences.”

For regulars, he used to maintain written notes on their preferences, however since 2013, he has challenged himself to memorise them.

He additionally enjoys the chance to coach prospects, corresponding to not consuming ginger slices with their sushi. They are supposed to be eaten as a palate cleanser between totally different sushi.

Ms Joni Ong, 57, managing director of Shinji by Kanesaka at Carlton Hotel and likewise of the one at St Regis Singapore, says: “Master chef Oshino is deserving of this award as he has proven himself a true shokunin – a sushi artisan who has a drive for perfection balanced with passion and diligence.”




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