Justin Quek's Sky on 57
Food festivals are a wonderful place for restaurant fanboys and fangirls to mix and mingle with their favorite culinary superstars, but they are no substitute for heading to their restaurants for a firsthand experience of what they can accomplish in their own kitchens with their own staff and arsenal of regional ingredients.
I'd sampled Singapore chef Justin Quek's offerings at the Hawai'i Food & Wine Festival, but it did not leave me with a sense of his full capabilities.
In Singapore, where he presides over Sky on 57, I got a taste of Singaporean cuisine, elevated to match its surroundings on the rooftop of the luxurious Marina Bay Sands. From the rooftop, Quek reminisced about starting his career in nearly the same spot, though 57 stories lower, in a Marina Bay riverboat galley.
He's come a long way, and proves it via his Sky on 57 "Ultimate Dining Experience," a degustation menu of "seasonal bespoke creations." The cost of the meal was SG$250, but with the current exchange rate, it amounted to about $185 per person, which I felt was totally worth the price.
Here's what Quek's meal at Sky on 57 looked like:
How to afford such a meal on a restricted budget? Much of Singapore's specialties are available at hawker stalls for cheap. About USD$3 will get you a huge bowl of laksa or prqwn mee, or lunch plate of fried chicken with rice, fried egg and sambal. About USD $4 will get you a plate of shrimp sauce fried chicken. Even with a splurge dinner, over six days, it's easy to get buy on dining for $40 a day or less.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.