Private dining – the concept where guests go to a person’s house to savour a feast – has been around for some time now. While it started off as a rustic affair led by home-based cooks serving up Peranakan food, it is now seeing a complete overhaul as a new generation of cooks, and sometimes chefs have emerged putting up food that could give restaurants a run for the money.
Gone are the days when private dining meant having to eat subpar Peranakan food. These days, even chefs who are trained at some of Singapore’s best restaurants are getting into the act. The result is a truly refined experience that could rival an actual proper restaurant.
If you want in, bear in mind that a reservation is needed months in advance, often via Instagram, as they’re often still one-man shows.
Picture a house turned art gallery and cutting edge kitchen all in one in hues of beige, cream and white. That’s the veneer for Alter Native, a new venture by Chef Desmond Shen who was previously one of the three whizzes at culinary incubator Magic Square. Guests who have managed to experience his brand of magic report that the format is similar to Restaurant Zen where diners are led across a few rooms to experience art and gastronom. The menu revolves but is typically around 12-15 courses and reservations open on the first Sunday of each month.
Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen
If you’re after rustic, but genuine, well-cooked dishes, then Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen will be your answer. The food here is cooked using traditional methods and where salt is used very sparingly so the natural flavour of the produce shines through. Here, charcoal cooking takes centre stage as everything from soups to roasted duck and pork are kissed to perfection by the smoke and fire.
No Burn No Taste
Chef Sam Chablani, the man who spearheaded Fat Lulu has started up No Burn No Taste, a private barbecue operating out on his open air rooftop. He calls himself the firelord. He says: “I grill, smoke and char everything, and I’m all about those intense, punchy, gao flavours that don’t hold back.” The menu changes every now and then but diners have been treated to big meaty dishes like thai style chicken satay, spicy BBQ pork ribs and wagyu skirt steak with burnt butter.
Not content with running thosai masterclasses at her home, former Masterchef Singapore contestant has launched Cutlery Optional the only private dining experience in Singapore that showcases contemporary South Indian food. She serves up a mean 12-course meal highlighting the coastal cuisine of South India, featuring South Indian botanicals with fresh local seafood. The spicy tiger prawns from Ah Hua Kelong served with moringa curry is a highlight as is the grilled seabass in spiced onion jam.
Pun Im Private Dining
There’s no lack of Thai restaurants in Singapore but a truly authentic experience where regional particularities are respected simply don’t exist. This is where Pun Im Private Dining run by hedge fund manager turned private chef has an edge. The 7-course Thai fusion dinner he creates sees all manner of dishes that don’t see the light of day in Singapore. Take for instance a dessert called Makrut Loykaew where the rinds of kaffir limes are cooked in jasmine scented sugar syrup and served simply arranged in a bowl. Elsewhere he displays his penchant for fusion as in the red curry duck confit that was most recently adapted to the collaboration menu at Raffles Hotels’ Courtyard.