New Delhi, Feb 21 : Known for being a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures, Singapore offers a wide-ranging food scene that is one of the most vibrant in Southeast Asia.
The culinary offerings in Singapore from Michelin starred fine dining to accessible and award-winning hawker food, makes it a must-go destination for foodies. Singapore's hawker culture was recently inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, reflecting the country's living heritage and multiculturalism.
Bringing the unique food culture of the country to India, a modern Singapore restaurant Mai Bao has been launched in Delhi that offers street food flavours of Singapore.
Avantika Sinha Bahl, founder of Mai Bao, who already owns a Japanese restaurant in the Capital, thought of opening a Singaporean restaurant while on her trip to the country. Almost two years of research has gone into creating this concept and to curate a menu, which could perfectly represent the street food of Singapore in a completely new and fresh manner, she said.
"I continued on a path to discover new concepts and cuisines. On a trip to Singapore (one of my favourite food destinations in the world), I realised my potential. Street foods of Singapore (hawker centres specially) are famous around the world. I wondered why no one had brought this concept to India. I started curating the idea of bringing Singaporean street food in a modern way to India," she told IANSlife.
She added: "I think the cuisine will be very palatable to Indians. It's extremely flavourful, filled with robust flavours and spices. Singapore is a favourite travel destination for Indians. Hence, a lot of people are familiar with a lot of the dishes on our menu." Speaking about the similarities between the street food of Singapore and Indian street food, Bahl points out that both the cuisines have so much depth of flavour and the ingredients that go into each dish are celebrated to the best of their capacity.
"In terms of ingredients, things like ginger, chilli and use of various spices are similar in both." Last year has been both tumultuous for the food industry. While in the beginning many businesses were sceptical about going back to normal, today the scenario seems to be slowly changing.
Bahl reveals that the restaurant was supposed to be open in 2020 but due to the pandemic, it got delayed. "We opened at this time since we could see that customers are starting to step out now and it's our job as restaurateurs to gain customer confidence. With each passing week, things are getting better!" H.E. Simon Wong, High Commissioner of Singapore, who inaugurated the restaurant, said: "Since coming here in August, I have always wanted to have a Singaporean restaurant in Delhi because this segment of food and restaurant business is kept untouched for years. With Mai Bao's launch, this is going to be a start point of many good things to come. Mai Bao is going to be a true leader and I am very happy and grateful to Avantika to make us a part of this ceremony." He stated: "There is a couplet in our language -- Mai Bao and Tai Pao. Mai Bao means my dumpling which you savour at the restaurant and Tai Pao is that you like it so much that you take away. So after you come here to Mai Bao, you have to Tai Pao." Mai Bao has also associated with Singapore Tourism Board as a travel tourism organization to showcase their support for the launch of the outlet.
Commenting about the association, G B Srithar, Regional Director (India, Middle East, South Asia), Singapore Tourism Board said, "Singaporean and Indian consumers share a common passion for food and culinary experiences. The STB has promoted Singapore cuisine in India over the past few years through various initiatives, as part of our efforts to reach to the Foodie passion tribe audience. At a time when Singapore Hawker culture has been added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and Indian travellers are unable to enjoy the variety of dining experiences in our city, the opening of Mai Bao will allow Delhiites to savour Singapore's food delights like Nasi Lemak, Singapore Chilli Crab, Laksa and Satay. When the time is right, we look forward to welcoming Indian visitors to Singapore to experience the diverse culinary offerings." (Puja Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)