There Now Is A Malaysian-Owned 1 Michelin Star Restaurant In Singapore


August 7, 2017 | BY Tien Chew

Whitegrass restaurant just received its first Michelin Star. Director Datin Karen H'ng opens up on the team's amazing accomplishment.

Whitegrass-interior-(night).jpg (original size)Whitegrass' interior at night | Photo: Courtesy of Whitegrass

Located in Chijmes, Singapore, Whitegrass is a fine dining restaurant that serves modern Australian cuisine.

In just a year and a half of operation (the restaurant opened in Jan 2016), the restaurant received a one Michelin star in this year's Singaporean guide, an accomplishment by chef-owner Sam Aisbett and his team, as well as Malaysian directors Dato' Sean H'ng and Datin Karen H'ng.

We speak to Datin Karen on this recent achievement, Whitegrass' cooking principles and the future of the restaurant.

Datin-Karen-&-Chef.jpg (original size)Datin Karen H'ng and Chef-Owner Sam Aisbett | Photo: Courtesy of Whitegrass

Congratulations on Whitegrass receiving its first Michelin star! How does it feel?
We are very pleased to say the least. There is no better way to recognise the efforts of the team.

How do you explain Whitegrass’ cuisine to a first timer?
Whitegrass is a fine dining, modern Australian restaurant. Since its opening, Sam Aisbett has been surprising palates with a menu that is not confined by trends or geographical boundaries. He is part of a new generation of chefs transforming the notions of Australian cuisine, through a showcase of cross-cultural flavours and global ingredients.

In other Michelin news: Bangkok gets its first guide at the end of 2017

What is the culinary philosophy behind Whitegrass’ food?
Respect for produce. While the team enjoys experimenting with new dishes, the fundamentals of creating textures and marrying flavours that allow the produce to shine remains at the core of what we do.

Black-Angus-beef.jpg (original size)Australian pasture fed Black Angus beef with buah keluak puree, fried pumpernickel and monk's beard | Photo: Courtesy of Whitegrass

What makes Whitegrass stand out?
It is the team’s ability to source the most interesting and obscure ingredients, and marrying them flawlessly on the plate. Every meal at Whitegrass is a globe-trotting experience on the palate.

After earning a Michelin Star, what’s next?
The team is consistently focused on ensuring our guests receive the best dining experience, from food to service and ambience. This will always be the case. We will also continue to advocate a cuisine that truly brings people and cultures together; one that breaks geographical norms.

What do you anticipate to happen after earning this Michelin star?
More people will pay attention to Sam’s unique culinary style. I believe Sam can inspire more young Australian chefs to follow in his footsteps – exploring the unexplored and creating a culinary style that is uniquely their own.

Fremantle-octopus.jpg (original size)Fremantle octopus | Photo: Courtesy of Whitegrass

How does the Singaporean food scene differ to the Malaysian food scene?
In terms of the restaurant dining scene, Singapore definitely has a lot more to offer. When it comes to street food however, Malaysia still retains a strong foothold.

Could you share with us the secret to Whitegrass’ success? Any tips for budding restaurateurs?
It is really no secret. You need to ensure you have a strong team that shares the same commitment and passion for delivering an exceptional dining experience. Operating a restaurant is a tough business, but if it is build on a strong foundation (people with the same shared vision), you are in for an exciting ride.  

See also: Two Michelin star Japanese chefs on trend vs tradition