Wild Rocket to relocate

Wild Rocket to relocate

Wild Rocket, the 60-seat restaurant which pioneered modern Singaporean cuisine, will be closing at Mount Emily.

The last day of operations at the Hangout Hotel, where the 1,500 sq ft restaurant opened in 2005, will be Nov 30. Tuesday was the eatery's eighth anniversary.

Its chef-owner Willin Low, 41, says: "It has been eight years and I think it is time to reinvent ourselves."

He is currently scouting for a new location - about 1,200 to 1,800 sq ft in size - but nothing has been finalised yet. He hopes to reopen his restaurant in March.

In many instances, restaurants relocate due to rising rental or bad blood with landlords, but Low says that rental at the hip budget hotel owned by Cathay Organisation has been reasonable and that the landlord has been good to him.

The closure will give him a much-needed rest though. He says with a laugh, "We are closing partly because, well, I need a break."

The former lawyer, who is not formally trained in the culinary arts, is well known for taking his cue for new food creations from hawker dishes.

Some of his popular dishes over the years include laksa pesto pasta - a pesto made from laksa leaves, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, fresh chilli and olive oil, which he served with prawns; and Chilean seabass with chye poh (preserved radish) garlic confit on a bed of chicken congee.

He has presented his version of Singapore food at culinary events overseas, and The New York Times' food and travel sections has written about the restaurant. Other highlights of his chef career include being named one of the world's top 100 emerging culinary stars in Coco (2009), a prestigious gastronomy book.

Low also owns Wild Oats in Mount Emily and Punggol Park, and Relish, a gourmet burger joint at Cluny Court in Bukit Timah Road, and myVillage at Serangoon Garden. He recently collaborated with artisan coffee roaster Papa Palheta to open pop-up eatery Compl(e)ments Of, a 25-seat cafe in Little India which will close next March; and also went into partnership with three renowned local pastry chefs to open The Inspired Chef, an online ice cream retail shop.

During Wild Rocket's four-month closure, the team which comprises four kitchen staff and three service staff, will either be redeployed to Low's other outlets to "learn other skills", or work at restaurants, both locally and overseas.

One service staff member will learn to be a barista at Compl(e)ments Of or Chye Seng Huat Hardware, while one of the chefs will work at pastry shop Patisserie G. Stints at two restaurants in Europe and Asia, both ranked in the coveted World's 50 Best Restaurants list this year, are also being lined up for two other staff.

Aside from taking a break, Low plans to work on recipes - he already has 100 in his head - and collaborate with chef-friends overseas on pop-up eateries.

Though he does not have a particular theme in mind for the new restaurant, he has already started carting back decorations such as lamps for its interior, from cities including London and Bangkok. He also has plans to pick up some wares from Vietnam.

The restaurant, which currently features contemporary finishings without lending itself to one particular theme, will remain "modern and unpretentious".

He adds: "What we want at Wild Rocket is a major overhaul. For us, and for the customers, we want to create a new space. Regardless, the spirit of it will still be unpretentious."

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