A taste of the American South in Singapore
SINGAPORE, July 23 — When you think of food from the southern American states, what comes to mind are dishes like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and fried green tomatoes. Call it comfort food, soul food or anything else, but the underlying theme of this cuisine is wholesome food made from recipes that have been passed down for generations.
A big name in Southern cuisine recently entered the local market — The Bird Southern Table & Bar. It part of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, which hails from Miami and the original outlet was a James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist for ‘Best New Restaurant South’. It has also been praised by the New York Times and recognised as one of Bon Appetit’s ‘50 Best New Restaurants’.
The Bird, located at Marina Bay Sands, is Yardbird’s first venture outside of the United States.
The brand is owned by 50 Eggs Inc, which was founded by renowned restaurateur John Kunkel.
In Singapore for the opening of The Bird, Kunkel explained why our little red dot was chosen as its first international location: “Singapore is one of the most exciting places in Southeast Asia, and we wanted to be part of that and bring something new to the dining scene here.
“The Marina Bay Sands property is best in class with all of the amazing chefs, and at a beautiful location, so we jumped at the chance to be here,” he added.
Showcasing Southern ingredients
The 190-seater two-storey restaurant’s serves its famous 100-year-old recipe Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken, along with other signature dishes such as a fried green tomato BLT, devilled eggs, and shrimp and grits.
Kunkel said: “Many of the recipes are family recipes, so our aim is to showcase amazing Southern ingredients, and highlight them in new and fresh ways.”
The Bird has also included a Singapore-exclusive dish, the Low Country Laksa. It is an inventive spin on the local dish and features a skin-on snapper filet, served with Carolina gold rice pirlau (a heritage rice grain that is indigenous to South Carolina), enhanced with sweet corn and spiced pecans served with a crispy poached farm egg and a caramelised ginger, along with coconut broth. The dish was inspired by Kunkel’s travels to Singapore, combined with traditional southern ingredients and techniques.
Southern cuisine is not new in Singapore though. There are a few restaurants here that either specialise in it or offer a few Southern dishes on their menu. The Beast Southern Kitchen & Bourbon Bar gives diners a taste of the American South, serving items like Freshly Baked Cornbread, Chicken and Waffles, and, of course, Southern Fried Chicken. It also pays homage to the Southern tradition of moonshining, and makes its own Southern Comfort. It also has a barrel-aging programme that showcases a rotating selection of classic cocktails.
Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, the famous New York eatery that opened a branch in Singapore in 2015, serves Southern favourites such as Chicken and Waffles, and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Plate.
Keeping it fresh
So what sets The Bird apart from other restaurants in Singapore that serve this cuisine? Kunkel believes the fact that Yardbird has been recognised by James Beard and Bon Appetit Magazine “as being the best of the best at what we do” is one factor.
“And (we) have put together an amazing menu to transport our guests to being Southerners for a few hours,” he continued. “We’re coming at this as culinarians. We are inspired by classic Southern ingredients and recipes. We elevate them and present amazing takes on southern fare to our guests in a way that’s plated with thought, and prepared with technique.
“We’re highlighting a lot of those classic flavours but doing it in a new, fresh way. For example, we put a twist on classic Devilled Eggs by preparing ours with smoked trout roe that to give a flavourful burst at the end,” he added.
The Bird also boasts a very impressive selection of bourbon, as well as many sought-after spirits from around the globe, including rare favourites such as Pappy Van Winkle, Jefferson’s Aged at Sea and rare expressions of Blanton’s. So expect a range of high-quality, hand-crafted cocktails such as Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade, The Bird’s Old Fashioned with Bacon Infused Bourbon, and the Watermelon Sling.
In a country obsessed with food and with a wide range of cuisines easily available here, Kunkel is confident that The Bird will fit in perfectly.
“We know we have an audience that is familiar with different cuisines and really appreciates food and we’re excited to bring something new and different to the Singapore dining scene,” he said.
“From a culinary stand point, it is one of the most exciting places in the world right now. You have so many different cultures and cuisines that have come together, and most importantly you have an audience that loves food. We’re bringing something to a very diverse dining scene, that isn’t represented.” — TODAY
*The Bird Southern Table & Bar is at B1-07 (Galleria Level) & L1-82 (Bay Level), The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. It opens from 11am to 11pm daily, serving lunch (11am to 4pm) and dinner (4pm to 11pm) daily, as well as a signature weekend brunch (10am to 4pm).