- Business Insider/ Joey Lee
Food and I have a great relationship. I’m a big eater, and not particularly picky, which is why I’m always hitting my $1 gym sessions to help shed the pounds.
So when the opportunity presented itself for my gluttonous self to indulge, I went all the way, and that meant indulging in food at 42 of the 61 media-participating exhibits at the most ambitious food festival to hit our shores.
Since I’ve sacrificed my stomach (and waistline) already, here are the dishes that made me smile or frown, and my honest opinion of them.
But before you dive right in, I’d like to add a caveat.
My taste-buds are run-of-the-mill (reads: average) and I’m more accustomed to dining at a Kopitiam than a Michelin-starred restaurant so some of the fancier dishes were just not to my taste.
Now it’s time to dig in (metaphorically) and enjoy:
Running from Sept 21 to 24, The Great Food Festival (TGFF) is every foodie’s dream come true.
The entire event is spread over an area roughly the size of the Padang. It is the brainchild of a collaboration between Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) and Savour and showcases over 100 signature dishes and 300 desserts from Michelin-starred restaurants and trendy hipster cafes you’re probably familiar with on Instagram.
I attended three of the five culinary segments (Star Chef Arena, Heritage Lane, Rollin’ Sweet Times) that was spread over different levels of RWS.
Access to Star Chef Arena and Rollin’ Sweet Times are limited to ticket-holders and only the Heritage Lane is free for the public to visit.
But be prepared – tickets don’t come cheap and only the TGFF Experience Pack ($78) will give you access to all three areas where you’ll still have to spend a pretty penny if you want to eat your heart out.
Heads-up: None of the exhibitors accept cash, so it’s cards and coupons only. Coupons can be bought at various ticketing booths located throughout the event.
I started with a bang, at the Star Chef Arena, where food items prepared by over 20 celebrated award-winning chefs – that range from $10 to $20 each – were up for grabs.
These are all kinds of dishes you’ll find at a fine-dining restaurant. Think: Caviar, wagyu beef, scallops, lobsters etc.
First on my list of must-trys was Creamy Barley by Chef Kristen Kish, winner of Top Chef’s Season 10.
Don’t be fooled by its plain appearance. Consisting of barley topped with braised onions and prosciutto ham, this was the bomb dot com for me. The creaminess was not overwhelming and the salty ham provided a nice kick.
Another winning dish was the crispy fried langoustine with basil pistou and bitter greens from L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
The tiny crustacean was crispy without having an oily aftertaste and the pesto dip was a nice complement to the sweet meat.
The third dish with a thumbs-up from me, was the potato gnocco filled with cheese fondue, butter and sage emulsion topped with truffle shavings from Fratelli.
This one is definitely worth the calorie bomb and one bite fills your mouth with delectable cheese oozing from its potato casing.
One dish you can pass on is the 12-hour-cooked boneless wagyu short rib from Tangerine.
Although tender, the accompanying sauce was just too rich in flavour (in my honest opinion) and overshadowed the natural juiciness of the meat.
Another dish you can skip, is the courgette flower stuffed with smoked tomato and fresh goat cheese from The Lanesborough.
Don’t be fooled by the fancy name like I was. This is just zucchini stuffed with cheese carrying a pungent aroma that lets you know it came from a goat.
Moving on the Heritage Lane, dishes there range from $6 to $12 and you’ll definitely be able to pronounce their names too.
It’s the only segment in TGFF that’s free for everyone to visit, and it’s located right smack in the middle of the RWS convention centre.
One dish you should try, is the char-grilled Madura Chicken Satay from Table@7 by chef Eugenia Ong.
Unlike the regular satay found at hawker centres which are usually dry on the inside, the meat in this dish was substantially chunkier, allowing the inside to remain tender and moist.
Another dish I enjoyed, was the modern age prawn from Tin Hill Social, a creation by Chef Michael Lewis.
If you’re curious, the sauce consists of yoghurt, mint and other spices, which nicely complemented the taste of the prawn, and provided a refresher for my palate.
However, the kangaroo burger, which was also on the menu from Tin Hill Social, made me pause.
In all honesty though, the shrimp dish (above) was offered to me after I frowned at the burger, and it was impressive enough for me to eventually include it on the list of dishes you should try.
Although substantial in size (and one of the dishes which you get more bang for your buck IMO), the meat was tough to chew on despite how it’s supposed to be “medium rare”.
Another dish you should skip if you’re not a fan of dishes with a strong fishy taste, is the salmon and pumpkin confit by Chef Stephan Zoisl of Chef’s Table.
With an appearance that threw my appetite off, the dish was wet, mushy and overwhelming with a strong vegetable taste that I was just not a fan of.
Moving on to Rollin’ Sweet Times, each dessert sold there starts from $4 and there are more than 300 types to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The first thing you’ll notice is a huge adult-sized bouncy ball pit (more on that later) and a mysterious “gloroom”.
What’s its purpose? For the ‘gram of course.
Glow-in-the-dark treats were the highlight this festival, and there were several you could bring into the room with you to glam up your social media pages.
Here’s the yuzu sorbet from Min Chai of N2 Extreme Gelato.
Involving science and nitrogen gas, the production process is, by itself, worthy of your #instastory.
Presenting the Glownut – a luminescent doughnut hailing from Chris Thé of Black Star Pastry.
This was a stall that consistently commanded long snaking queues throughout the seven hours we were at TGFF and the doughnuts were the only items left by the time the queue dissipated enough for me to check out the stall.
The Strawberry Watermelon cake, which was sold out quickly, was the hot commodity you’ll probably want to get.
Oh well, maybe next time?
Another dessert that captured the attention of huge crowds, is the Amazing Frozen by Chef Kenny Kong of Sessions.
Complete with candy floss, dry-ice, rainbow meringues and a rainbow light-stick, this dish was literally made for Instagram.
Taste-wise, the frozen yoghurt was pretty solid, as far as froyos go.
If pastel is not your thing, you could check out the chilli crab ice-cream Chef Kong had going on, complete with curry leaf-infused chocolate. Yum?
At $6 for a stick of 3 marshmallows, I was ready to dismiss Wicked Mallows as another overpriced, hipster trap.
But wait till you check this out.
Torched on the spot, not only does it make for good video material to impress your friends with, each marshmallow was gooey and distinctly flavourful without being too sweet.
If, like me, you were horrified by the amount of calories you manage to spoil your diet with, end the day by burning some on the giant inflatable playground that doubled as a ball-pit for the forever-young.
Trust me, it’ll help get rid of that sugar high.