He might be based in Singapore nowadays, but chef Andre Chiang's perspective is global. Born in Taiwan and raised in Japan, Chiang went France at age 15 to train at Michelin three-star Le Jardin des Sens. Nine years later, he became the restaurant's head chef.
But Chiang felt increasingly pulled back to Asia, so he moved to Singapore and opened Restaurant Andre in 2010. Situated in an intimate townhouse, the restaurant was named number two best restaurant in Asia at Asia's 50 Best Restaurant awards in 2017 and number 14 on the World's Best Restaurant list for 2017. Co-founder Leiti Hsu caught up with Chiang to talk everything from pro-packing tips to his favorite noodle bar in Singapore.
On travel must-haves: "I always have a lot of snacks with me on flights and everywhere I travel…. Everything from chips to beef jerky to pickled guavas."
On packing: "Have every day separated. Every day, I put into a different [small] bag. So you have one day, one outfit, one bag. You have a whole set. That's how you pack easily and so you don't miss anything."
On school lunches growing up: "My mom was a chef so I never had [school lunch], ever. My mom always cooked one hour before lunch and then she would put the meal in a lunchbox, get on her scooter and drive it right to school. She would make one soup, three vegetables, one meat, one fish, one rice. I would tell my mom: 'Mom, I can't finish it!' And she would say, 'I don't want you to finish it, I want you to share with your friends.' At the time I felt uncomfortable because I wanted to have the same lunchbox as everyone else, but now I know how precious it was."
Top Five Bites In Singapore
Burnt Ends - "Every country has a restaurant for chefs. They're not the fanciest restaurants, nor the most expensive, but they appeal to chefs and that’s Burnt Ends. People go there for good food, good wine, good atmosphere."
Hachi - "It's a Japanese restaurant but more casual, very affordable.... It's strange [to] have Japanese food in Singapore but it's one of my favorites. You can see me [there] every Monday for lunch."
Imperial Treasure Shanghai - "[Imperial Treasure] has a lot of restaurants, but only one focused on Shaghainese cuisine. It's the best Chinese I've had in Singapore. I go there two or three times a month. They have about twenty to twenty five small appetizers and every time I have to order at least seven of them. They're small dishes, like tapas."
Bincho - "It's a very fun concept. You have traditional Singapore dry noodles and fish ball soup in the front. And you could have just that—it's also one of the best in the neighborhood. If you walk through the noodle shop and go to the back, you have a twelve-seat yakitori from a Japanese chef. It's like two concepts in one: a really nostalgic-style setting outside and you walk inside and it's neo-bistro. It's a really funky place."
Putien - "[Dining at Putien is] the first time that I went to a Chinese restaurant that follows the seasons. [At most] Chinese restaurants, they don't have seasons. They have 365 days [of] the same menu. [Putien is] very new, they just got their [first] Michelin star. Their cooking is really light, pure and changes seasonally. And I live nearby!"