Diner’s Diary

Michelin Guide Singapore: there’s more to Lion City dining than the red book, says tourism board after three-star failure

While a leading chef said missing out on three Michelin stars would dent Singapore tourism, the city state’s tourism board – a Michelin Guide sponsor – says its accolades are just one factor among many that draw diners to Lion City

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 August, 2018, 12:35pm

A leading Singapore chef said last week the Michelin Guide’s failure to award three stars to any Lion City restaurant would deter gourmet tourists from visiting – but the Singapore Tourism Board professes not to be worried.

The city state’s “diverse and richly textured dining scene” comprised more than Michelin-starred restaurants, its director for retail and dining, Ranita Sundramoorthy, said in a statement to the Post. Straying into hyperbole, the statement pointed to “myriad dining events” as part of the attraction for gourmets. Myriad? Hm – that means “a countless or extremely great number … of things”, according to the Oxford Dictionaries online.

The decision of the Michelin Guide – whose sponsors include the Singapore Tourism Board – not to give its highest accolade to a Singapore restaurant was a shock, and Sebastien Lepinoy, the executive chef of Les Amis, which local media had expected would earn a third Michelin star, didn’t hide his disappointment for the Lion City.

“This is sad for Singapore because many tourists come to Singapore to dine in restaurants. Twenty-five per cent of our guests are tourists and when they find out there are no three-star restaurants here, they would rather go to Hong Kong, where there are six restaurants with three stars,” he said after the 2018 guide’s unveiling at Resorts World Sentosa, another of the guide’s sponsors.

Julien Royer, chef-owner of Odette – which, like Les Amis and three other restaurants, retained its two Michelin stars – also said he was sad for Singapore, and that he would try harder next year.

Star wars: Hong Kong beats Singapore in contest for Michelin ratings

The only restaurant awarded three stars in the 2017 Michelin Guide to Singapore, Joel Robuchon Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa, closed at the end of June, as did its sister restaurant L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, which had two Michelin stars. The latter may reopen on Orchard Road, however.

Asked about the lack of three-Michelin-star restaurants in Singapore, Sundramoorthy, in her statement, said: “For many visitors, our diverse and richly textured dining scene is a key highlight.

“It comprises not just Michelin-starred restaurants, but also celebrity chef restaurants, fine-dining establishments, our internationally renowned hawker and street food, as well as an array of fresh casual dining concepts.

“In addition, Singapore’s dining scene and reputation as a food paradise is continually bolstered by the myriad dining events we have, such as our signature Singapore Food Festival, Art at Curate, World Gourmet Summit, and Gastromonth, all of which continue to be strong draws for visitors.”

While Sundramoorthy is saying Singapore’s attractiveness to tourists is not dependent on the Michelin Guide, the fact that none of the city state’s two-Michelin-star restaurants was able to earn a third star had local media abuzz.

For the record, five restaurants awarded two stars last year retained their ranking in the 2018 guide: Les Amis, Odette, Shisen Hanten, Shoukouwa and Waku Ghin. And five restaurants received their first Michelin star: Burnt Ends, Jiang-Nan Chun, Ma Cuisine, Nouri and Sushi Kimura.