Dessert queen Janice Wong to open first full-fledged restaurant in Singapore
SINGAPORE, June 22 — A trailblazer when it comes to redefining the dessert experience, Janice Wong is undoubtedly pushing the boundaries between the sweet and savoury, integrating disciplines in her drive to create “edible art”. So it’s almost no surprise that the two-time San Pellegrino Asia’s Best Pastry Chef (2013 and 2014) winner will be opening her flagship Janice Wong Singapore restaurant and sweets boutique at the National Museum of Singapore’s new dedicated digital media space. In fact, it makes perfect sense when you consider her vested interest in marrying food and art. “As a widely successful brand that has done Singapore proud both locally and abroad, Janice Wong Singapore is an ideal partner for us in providing a complementary and unique experience for our visitors at the National Museum of Singapore,” said the museum’s director Angelita Teo.
The restaurant’s soft opening is slated for August 17, the same day as the launch of the museum’s digital space, Wong said. Taking over the space previously occupied by Chef Chan’s Restaurant, her 1,500 sq ft restaurant will, in fact, be linked to the new immersive exhibition space. “There’s a door linking the two spaces,” she told TODAY. “What I like about this project is really the synergy between what I’ve been doing all this time — (fusing) art and food elements and making it really experiential.
“So this will be like a playground for me, where I can showcase all the savoury dishes, the sweets and the desserts. And what’s really special about this is … you can, for example, enjoy the visuals while eating an ice cream; it’s quite unheard of (to allow consumption of) food and drinks in a museum.”
Just as surprising to some is this growing focus on savoury dishes. This is Wong’s first “full-fledge” restaurant in Singapore, following the opening of COBO HOUSE by 2am: dessert bar in Hong Kong — a two-storey, 3,000 sqf restaurant in the heart of Shek Tong Tsui she opened in March.
Her Singapore flagship restaurant will also be championing her progressive approach to creating dining experiences. But unlike its cousin in Hong Kong, which boasts over 30 savoury dishes, the menu here will focus on small bites. “This for me is very new. However, I have been cooking for eight years, and doing (savoury dishes) in Singapore is not new to me,” she said, citing her 2013 cookbook Dim Sum: A Flour-forward Approach To Traditional Favorites And Contemporary Creations that she co-authored with dim sum chef Ma Jian Jun. “So I’ve always had a very curious mind when it comes to (savouries) like dim sum; but I’m not going to call it dim sum because it is really (about) mod-Chinese cuisine.”
For example, Wong explained that her dim sum creations are focused on the flour used to make the different dishes. “You have high, medium and low gluten flour to make the different textures of the skin. You have also the glutinous rice powders, the mochi type of powder as well, so I want to introduce all that in my cuisine, which is going to be very different from the menu in Hong Kong,” she said, affirming that while the philosophy remains the same, she has always been an advocate of changing perceptions.
Redefining mod-Chinese fare in Singapore is a challenge she welcomes, as she prefers to go out of her comfort zone. “There a few dim sum restaurants here that have done mod-Chinese, but putting, for example, Portobello mushrooms in a mantou is not mod-Chinese,” she posited.
One of the signatures dishes at Janice Wong Singapore will be the platter of five white dumplings, which will incorporate five types of flours. Whether the fillings continue to change doesn’t matter as much, Wong said, as she is not always concerned about the flavour of the fillings. “It could be chilli crab, it could be laksa; it really doesn’t matter.”
There will also be more substantial noodle dishes, such as her duo-coloured red and black noodles. “It’s quite an extensive menu,” she continued. “It’s going to have xiao long baos as well, but, of course, we are going to call them liquid dumplings.” This, she explained, is because the focus is on the dumplings’ stretchable skin.
Similarly, her plans for her latest Singapore venture involve some deceivingly modest ambitions. The goal for the next 10 years, she said, is very clear: To change what people understand as mod-Chinese dishes. Fans of her sweets will also be glad to know that Janice Wong Singapore will be home to her line of creative confections (more than 70 types), such as chocolate bon bons, her signature chocolate paint and mochi, previously sold at pop-up stores at Marina Bay Sands and Ion Orchard. — TODAY