Meals fit for leaders

Meals fit for leaders
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (second from left) to dinner at My Briyani House at Kallang Wave Mall in 2014.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Visiting foreign dignitaries often get unique hybrid orchids named after them.

They also get treated to some delicious local dishes.

The food can range from Michelin-star creations to humble hawker favourites.

Here are six places that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has taken foreign visitors to on their visits here.

on Facebook

PM Lee Hsien Loong recently hosted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for lunch. Who else has he shared local favourites with? http://str.sg/4dT8

Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, 19 December 2016

THE COCONUT CLUB WITH PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE

During the Philippine President's state visit last week, Mr Lee took him to lunch at The Coconut Club in Ann Siang Hill.

The eatery specialises in just one dish: fragrant nasi lemak made with fresh hand-squeezed coconut milk, with all the trimmings from sambal to fried chicken.

on Facebook

Indulged in durians for the second time this week. :) Hosted Philippine President Rody Duterte and his delegation to a...

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, 16 December 2016

For the occasion, the VIPs were also served kerabu and chendol.

The meal concluded with the king of fruits, durian - Mao Shan Wang and D13.

President Rodrigo Duterte's official visit to Singapore

  • Open gallery

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte poses for selfies with Filipinos living in Singapore after an orchid naming ceremony at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

  • Open gallery

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte arrives for an orchid naming ceremony at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

  • Open gallery

    The Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a hybrid orchid named after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, at an orchid naming ceremony at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

  • Open gallery

    ilippines President Rodrigo Duterte poses with the Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a hybrid orchid named after him, during an orchid naming ceremony at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

  • Open gallery

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte looks at the Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a hybrid orchid named after him.

  • Open gallery

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receiving His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of The Republic Of The Philippines on 16 December 2016.

  • Open gallery

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of The Republic Of The Philippines at lunch hosted by PM Lee on 16 December 2016.

  • Open gallery

    Group photo at lunch hosted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of The Republic Of The Philippines on 16 December 2016.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Bernard Carpio, 40, took time off from work and came here with his wife and two children to show his support for President Duterte.

  • Open gallery

    Event volunteers taking a group picture with a standee of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

  • Open gallery

    Members of the Filipino community arriving at Singapore Expo.

  • Open gallery

    State visit to Singapore by President of the Republic of Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Venue: Istana.

  • Open gallery

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is in Singapore for a two-day visit.

  • Open gallery

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) with Singapore President Tony Tan at the welcome ceremony held for the former at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    State visit to Singapore by President of the Republic of Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Venue: Istana.

  • Open gallery

    State visit to Singapore by President of the Republic of Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Venue: Istana.

  • Open gallery

    State visit to Singapore by President of the Republic of Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Venue: Istana.

  • Open gallery

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) meets with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte at the Istana on 15 December 2016. Mr Duterte is on a two-day state visit to Singapore.

  • Open gallery

    State visit to Singapore by President of the Republic of Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Venue: Istana.

  • Open gallery

    The Philippine President is on a 2-day visit to Singapore.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Duterte's visit to Singapore is his first since he took office in June.

  • Open gallery

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte inspects an honour guard with Singapore's President Tony Tan at the Istana in Singapore on December 15, 2016.

  • Open gallery

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prepares to inspect an honour guard with Singapore's President Tony Tan at the Istana on December 15, 2016.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Duterte inspects an honour guard in a welcome ceremony for him at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    After the welcome ceremony, Dr Tan will host a State Banquet in honour of his Philippine counterpart.

  • Open gallery

    On Dec 16, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will host Mr Duterte to lunch.

  • Open gallery

    During his visit, the Philippine President will also meet Singapore business leaders and have an orchid named in his honour at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

NATIONAL KITCHEN BY VIOLET OON WITH THAI PRINCESS MAHA CHAKRI SIRINDHORN

The Thai princess was in town for the opening ceremony of the Global Young Scientists Summit in January.

Mr Lee did a short tour of the National Gallery Singapore, which showcases Singaporean and South-east Asian art, with Princess Sirindhorn.

on Facebook

Enjoyed catching up with Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn yesterday afternoon. She did a short tour of the...

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, 17 January 2016

They then had lunch at the restaurant there, National Kitchen by Violet Oon, feasting on ngoh hiang, kueh pie tee, satay and chicken rice, which Mr Lee said was the princess' favourite Singaporean dish.

KOMALA VILAS WITH INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI

Indian PM Modi goes for supper at Komala Vilas

  • Open gallery

    "The food was good."

    Mr Rajakumar Gunasekaran, operations director of Indian vegetarian restaurant Komala Vilas, takes pleasure in even the simplest of praises from his customers, but this was no ordinary compliment.

  • Open gallery

    It was made by visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who caused quite a stir when he dropped in at the no-frills Serangoon Road restaurant with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching on Nov 23.

  • Open gallery

    "In all that excitement, it was all I could remember from my brief conversation with him. But the best thing was that he enjoyed the food," Mr Rajakumar, 29, told The Straits Times on Tuesday of his meeting with Mr Modi.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Rajakumar's grandfather opened Komala Vilas - which has become something of an institution for vegetarian food on the Little India culinary scene with three outlets and a sweet shop - in 1947.

  • Open gallery

    The restaurant was told in advance about the visit.

  • Open gallery

    The VIPs arrived at about 9.15pm, after Mr Modi's Singapore Lecture at the Shangri-la Hotel, and stayed for 45 minutes.

  • Open gallery

    Excited staff served them a vegetarian spread of idli (a rice cake consisting of fermented black lentils), vadai (savoury fritters) and the restaurant's famous thosai (a crepe made from rice batter and lentils).

  • Open gallery

    "Their initial order was only for plain thosai, but Ms Ho later ordered onion and masala thosai for Mr Modi and Mr Lee to try," said Mr Rajakumar.

  • Open gallery

    Their simple meal was accompanied by traditional Indian drinks - sweet yoghurt lassi, mango lassi and lime juice.

  • Open gallery

    The VIPs' appearance was a major surprise for the customers.

  • Open gallery

    Business went on as usual on the restaurant's second floor, but the first floor was occupied only by Mr Modi, Mr Lee and Ms Ho during the meal due to security concerns.

  • Open gallery

    A crowd of gawking onlookers gathered outside the restaurant as word spread of Mr Modi's presence, said cashier Kavitha, 27.

  • Open gallery

    She added that Mr Modi took a photo with all the staff after his meal.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Modi and Mr Lee both posted wefies taken at the restaurant on their Facebook pages not long after dinner.

  • Open gallery

    Describing Mr Modi as a humble man and good customer, Mr Rajakumar said: "He is also now probably the most famous person to dine at our restaurant, besides the Tamil stars who have tried our food. We are very proud."

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Acting Minister for Education Mr Ong Ye Kung posted a photo of the two prime ministers and Madam Ho preparing for a "wefie".

  • Open gallery

    "And here is the selfie. :)" Mr Modi tweeted.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Lee also posted another group photo on his Facebook page, with the caption: "Ho Ching and I took PM Narendra Modi to Little India for supper after his Singapore Lecture. Here is the wefie we took after a delicious vegetarian meal."

  • Open gallery

    Started in Singapore in 1947 by Murugiah Rajoo, who had come to Singapore from India, Komala Vilas has since become a chain with a total of three outlets and a shop selling Indian sweets.

  • Open gallery

    Paper thosai from Komalas Vilas.

In November last year, Mr Modi was here for a two-day visit to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

After Mr Modi delivered the 37th Singapore Lecture, Mr Lee took him to Komala Vilas in Little India for supper.

on Twitter

The meal, which lasted 45 minutes, was a vegetarian spread of idli (a steamed cake made with fermented black lentils and rice batter), vadai (savoury fritters) and the restaurant's famous thosai (a thin crepe made from a batter of rice and lentils).

CORNER HOUSE WITH CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING

The Chinese leader was here on a two-day visit in November last year, which included a historic meeting with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou - the first top-level contact between the two sides since they split 67 years ago.

Mr Lee and his wife Ho Ching took Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan to lunch at the Corner House restaurant in the Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage Site.

on Facebook

After the orchid naming, Ho Ching and I hosted President and Mrs Xi to lunch at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. My thanks to the Corner House for the excellent food and service! (MCI Photo by Terence Tan)

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, 7 November 2015

The restaurant, helmed by local chef Jason Tan, was awarded one Michelin star when the food guide was launched here in July.

SELERA RASA NASI LEMAK WITH INDONESIAN PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO

The Indonesian President, better known as Jokowi, was here in November 2014, to attend his youngest son's graduation from ACS (International).

Mr Lee took him to a modest breakfast of nasi lemak and roti prata.

Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information

The nasi lemak was from Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak in Adam Road, also fancied by the Sultan of Brunei who takes away dozens of packets whenever he is here.

MY BRIYANI HOUSE WITH MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK

The Malaysia leader visited Singapore to jointly open the Agrobazaar Malaysia outlet at Sultan Gate with Mr Lee in August 2014.

The 5,100 sq ft outlet features and promotes fresh fruit and other produce from Malaysia.

That evening, Mr Lee and his wife took Mr Najib and his wife to dinner at My Briyani House at Kallang Wave Mall.

Photo: The Straits Times


This article was first published on December 20, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

Food even PM Lee would queue for

  • Open gallery

    When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted new Indonesian President Joko Widodo to breakfast recently, on the menu was Nasi Lemak from Selara Rasa and Roti Prata from Madras New Woodlands.

    The dishes were so good that PM Lee posted a picture of the party tucking in on his Facebook account.

  • Open gallery

    The roti prata that PM Lee ordered is from a restaurant that has a wealth of history.

  • Open gallery

    Located at Little India, Madras New Woodlands dates back to 1983 and is one of Singapore's most well-known vegetarian restaurants.

  • Open gallery

    It serves hearty Indian cuisine such as poori bhaji, which is deep-fried flour rounds with curried potatoes; chola bhatura, which is fried bread with spicy chickpeas; and snacks such as vadai, which is deep-fried fritters.

  • Open gallery

    The thosai at Madras New Woodlands is apparently so good that you don't have to dip it into chutney or sambar, wrote a former reporter from tabla!

  • Open gallery

    General manager of the restaurant KN Raja said that it's a "priviledge" that PM Lee chose Madras New Woodlands to buy his prata from. He added that nowadays there are customers who come into the restaurant and ask him "where is the Prime Minister's prata."

  • Open gallery

    The SPH Razor team heads down to Madras New Woodlands to find out exactly how good the PM's prata is!

  • Open gallery

    While other prata shops usually serve a variety of pratas (such as egg, mushroom and cheese prata), Madras New Woodlands only serves the very basic kind of prata - kosong prata.

  • Open gallery

    Tasting the prata, the SPH Razor team felt that the prata tasted different from the pratas available at other shops.

  • Open gallery

    Low Yi Qian: It's less oily and has more crunch to it.

  • Open gallery

    The curry selection accompanying the pratas.

  • Open gallery

    Many customers say the store sells good prata at very reasonable prices.

  • Open gallery

    Olivia Chang: I really like the texture of the prata - it's almost pastry like.

  • Open gallery

    Next up is the thali set with an extra bhatura (fluffy deep-fried leavened bread) on top.

  • Open gallery

    Low Yi Qian: It's very light and fluffy.

  • Open gallery

    Tourists have also praised the place for its excellent service on sites like tripadvisor.

  • Open gallery

    Olivia Chang: It's soft but there is still a slight crisp to it.

  • Open gallery

    There are 12 different thali items to accompany the bhatura.

  • Open gallery

    It comes with condiments such as salad, chickpeas, brinjal and also white rice and biryani rice.

  • Open gallery

    Low Yi Qian: I like how the potato is slightly drier than the other dishes.

  • Open gallery

    Olivia Chang: The spice really hits you at the back of your tongue.

  • Open gallery

    Olivia Chang: The korma curry is full of spices. It is a very strong blend of herbs which I really like.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Both agreed that the biryani rice is very fragrant even though there is no meat that flavours the rice. There is a strong smell of herbs and taste of tomato.

  • Open gallery

    Last on the tasting menu is rocket thosai.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Served with the thosai is coconut chutney, chili chutney and lentils.

  • Open gallery

    Low Yi Qian: The thosai is really crispy.

    Olivia Chang: It is literally paper thin. The thosai is so good that you can eat it on its own.

  • Open gallery

    Low Yi Qian: If you eat it on its own, it is slightly savoury. It is a good wrap up to the meal.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Read on for a review on another of PM Lee's favourite food haunts - Yan Fried Bee Hoon's fried chicken.

  • Open gallery

    Yan Fried Bee Hoon
    Redhill Lane Blk 85
    Redhill Food Centre $01-19

  • Open gallery

    A queue starts once the stall opens.

  • Open gallery

    It sells economical beehoon, chicken wings and other items.

  • Open gallery

    It is popular among those who frequent the hawker centre.

  • Open gallery

    The stall made news when PM Lee was spotted queueing up to buy chicken wings.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    The beehoon at 60cents is flavourful despite not having added garnishes such as bean sprouts.

  • Open gallery

    Juice oozing from the fried chicken

  • Open gallery

    Chilli packs a spicy punch, so don't add too much of it

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    PM appeared at a hawker centre in Redhill in mid June and ordered food, sat down and ate with his family.

  • Open gallery

    PM Lee and his family dining at Redhill Food Centre.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Aw Wang Eng and his co-worker.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Aw Wang Eng's popular fried chicken wings.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Aw Wang Eng's stall and the long queue.

  • Open gallery

    The animated Mr Lim Bok Ann, who grooves to Mandarin techno music while serving his desserts to customers.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Lim Bok Ann's dessert stall and the long queue.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Lee also posted on Facebook a photo of the fortune cats that were on display at Mr Lim’s stall and commented that he would do a video of “the dancing uncle and his techno music” on his next visit.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.