European restaurant Corner House at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Japanese restaurant Syun at Resorts World Sentosa received Best New Restaurant honours at high-society magazine The Peak's annual G Restaurant Awards last night.
The list of winners included eight new entries to the list, the highest in the award's six-year history.
They include Xperience Restaurant and Bar at Sofitel So Singapore in Robinson Road and Japanese restaurant Shinzo in Carpenter Street.
A total of 43 awards were presented at the ceremony at The Fullerton Hotel. More than 250 guests, including chefs, restaurateurs, critics, advertisers and readers attended the event.
The G Restaurant Awards, which recognise restaurants that deliver superb dining experiences, are put together by quarterly magazine, The Peak Selections: Gourmet & Travel. This spin-off title of The Peak magazine targets high net worth gourmands.
On Corner House's win, chef-owner Jason Tan, 32, says that having a "gastro-botanica" concept, which centres on the use of vegetables in dishes, has helped the 10-month old restaurant stand out from the sea of new restaurants.
He says: "We make humble ingredients such as tomatoes, beetroot and onions the heroes on the plate, instead of the usual foie gras and truffles. Winning such a prestigious award will give me more confidence to create more gastro-botanica dishes."
Japanese chef Hal Yamashita, 46, says that opening Syun, the five-month-old restaurant that is his first overseas outlet, has paid off.
He says: "Singapore is such an important hub in Asia. Winning this award will really help to also establish our restaurant's presence, not only locally but regionally. The increasingly sophisticated dining culture in Singapore is also very encouraging for our business."
Dr Chng Chai Kiat, 40, head of the dental service department at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, who has been a judge for the past three years, says: "Syun has a unique take on Japanese food, with interesting dishes such as sea urchin rolled in wagyu beef with caviar and its prices are reasonable for a high-end Japanese restaurant."
He adds that Corner House stood out for its adventurous and innovative dishes. "It is unusual for a restaurant to make salads the main dishes. The unusual vegetables used in the dishes are aesthetically pleasing and taste good too."
Eight-year-old Restaurant Andre in Bukit Pasoh Road was named Restaurant Of The Year for the third consecutive year.
Chef Andre Chiang, 39, says: "Winning such a local award is more important than the regional and international awards, as it shows that the people in Singapore are not bored with me, and appreciate the effort and surprises that my team bring to the table. I feel a greater responsibility to showcase Singapore's fine-dining scene on an international scale."
Casual dining restaurants made a strong showing on this year's list, says Mr Sylvester Ng, 36, editor of The Peak Selections: Gourmet & Travel. These include Spanish restaurant La Taperia at Shaw Centre in Scotts Road and Asian-Fusion restaurant Labyrinth in Neil Road.
He says: "This is a reflection of the competitive dining landscape in Singapore, as more new chefs inject life into the scene with new concepts. There are more casual restaurants entering the scene, but they serve top quality gourmet fare."
He adds that the growing number of casual restaurants here acts as a bridge to take diners to the world of fine-dining eventually.
Awards of excellence were also presented to ALBA 1836 and Saha Signature Indian Restaurant & Terrace Bar, both in Duxton Hill.
Winners were selected from more than 100 restaurants shortlisted by food critics, including The Straits Times' Wong Ah Yoke, The Business Times' Jaime Ee and Lianhe Zaobao's Ng King Kang.
A panel of 14 judges, including ambassadors, head honchos and directors of companies who are food and wine connoisseurs, dined at these restaurants incognito over a nine-month period that started in September last year, to decide the winners. The selection criteria included quality of food, service, wine list and overall dining experience.
The Peak Selections: Gourmet & Travel costs $12 and is available at major bookstores including Kinokuniya, Times, Times Newslink and MPH.
This article was first published on May 26, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.