According to, well, just about everyone, Singapore is now the foodie capital of the world. Endless newspaper articles, WhatsApp groups and dinner party conversations are evangelical in their praise for everything from the street to Michelin-starred dining. And they are not wrong – I occasionally find myself daydreaming of spicy crab, and when halfway there in Dubai bolt to the Grand Hyatt to get a fix. So why is there no fine-dining Singaporean restaurant in London?
Ah ha, well now there is. The storied hotel chain, Pan Pacific, opened its first hotel in Europe in late 2021 in a newly built tower just opposite Liverpool Street Station. It is unashamedly, and very sensibly, pitched at the proper end of the five-star market, and its flagship restaurant is Straits Kitchen, where the clue is in the name – a proper high-end Singaporean restaurant.
Straits Kitchen on the first floor, accessed by the lifts or, much better, a beautiful curved wooden staircase leading to a luxuriously furnished restaurant with a bar area to the side. The atmosphere inside is hushed, in contrast to the floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of City life below. However, they have made a surprising design decision to build a waiter station against the windows on the western side, which should in theory offer the best views.
However, we are not here for the view so much as the food, and in that respect, there is no space for complaint. Over a few visits, we tried most of the starters with the standouts being crispy, tangy duck spring rolls and superb piquant crispy tiger prawns in Straits’ black pepper sauce. But these were, as they should be, simply the appetisers.
Of the main courses we tried, the clear standout was Hainanese Chicken Rice, a classic dish of poached chicken with seasoned rice and dipping sauces that has now come to be considered the national dish of Singapore. My god, it was wonderful. Accompanied by an exceptional broth, the chicken was tender and full of flavour, the rice seasoned perfectly and the trio of dips bewitched the tongue. So simple, so perfect, but like a drug as soon as you finish it you start mentally calculating when you can come back, re-order and start again. It simply is that good.
Other dishes were strong enough not to be overshadowed, with particular praise for the punchy rendang sauce in which a jacob’s ladder drowned. Perhaps the beef might have benefitted from a little longer slow cooking, but a small detail. With the Straits chilli crab there was no room even for such a minor quibble – unctuous sauce in which swam juicy sweet soft shell crabs. No more needs to be said. Puddings were also excellent, albeit in a more general five-star hotel way. Which is just fine with me.
Finally, special praise must also go to the sommelier for recommending matching wines at reasonable price points, and first persuading us to try a Chinese wine – a truly superb Kanaan Winery Riesling 2021. This was Riesling at its most elegant, with a pale, translucent colour and excellent length. A reminder that it is the noblest grape of all, and in fine hands under Wang Fang, the Chinese-German proprietor of this esteemed boutique winery at the eastern foothills of Ningxia’s Helan Mountain. This is exactly the sort of interesting, confident recommendation that everyone wants from a high-end restaurant.
In short, we have needed this restaurant in London for some time, but well worth the wait!