American barbecue, Louisiana-style seafood and Singaporean zichar may be from diverse cultures but they have one thing in common — bringing the joy of sharing plates to the table.
08 April 2019
The simple act of eating together is one of the most universal human rituals that cuts across cultures, space and time. The time spent at the table is the time spent building bonds and marking milestones.
Though the cuisines at Dancing Crab, New Ubin Seafood and Meat Smith couldn’t be more different, they share one thing in common: the celebration of communal dining. “When you sit down and everybody eats together, you’re sharing a meal, you’re sharing a space and that’s what food is — It’s a connection between cultures,” says Alasdair McKenna, group chef of Burnt Ends and Meat Smith.
Each day, the crowds converge on Meat Smith at Telok Ayer where two Southern Pride smokers turn out traditional American barbecue staples of steaks, briskets and ribs. Accompanied by a rock ‘n’ roll playlist and beers by the pint, the atmosphere is boisterous and unpretentious. “We want you to let loose,” says McKenna. “We want to see a carnivore’s delight and a banquet-style of eating. Being able to make people feel like they’re in a hospitable environment enjoying themselves gives you that sense of accomplishment as a chef.”
Similarly at Dancing Crab, president and CEO of the TungLok Group Andrew Tjioe also believes in creating an atmosphere for diners to be themselves. “When diners come into our restaurant, I want them to feel that this is their place and they can enjoy some freedom here,” he says. Doing away with plates and cutlery, the restaurant’s Louisiana-style seafood is generously poured on the table and diners are encouraged to get messy and eat with their hands. “This is best enjoyed with friends.”
Zichar is a quintessentially Singaporean way of eating and a table full of dishes is best savoured in big groups. Second-generation chef and CEO Alexander Pang has elevated the art of zichar at New Ubin Seafood with dishes that reflect the melting pot of Singapore’s food culture. “Zichar by nature is communal. It’s best enjoyed — it’s only enjoyed — in a collective environment where everyone is sharing,” he says. “But we don’t just do zichar, we serve modern European cuisine, Indian cuisine, American cuisine. There’s something for everyone on our menu.”
Watch this video and be inspired to explore Singapore’s vibrant F&B scene with your friends and family with Chope, one meal at a time.
The MICHELIN Guide Dining Out Series: The Joy Of The Table
Rachel Tan is Digital Associate Editor at the Michelin Guide Singapore. A former food magazine writer, she has a degree in communications for journalism but is a graduate of the school of hard knocks in the kitchen. When not at the keyboard, she might be found devouring food fiction or slaving over the stove with a kid on her hip. In the words of Anais Nin, she writes to taste life twice.
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