It's not every day a global brand establishes a fancy new testbed in Singapore, and certainly not every day for said venture to be a customer experience complete with joyrides and a star-backed restaurant. So when Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS for short) unveiled Na Oh, our keen anticipation is justified.

Add restauranteur Corey Lee, the world's first Korean chef to earn three Michelin Stars and whose casual Korean fare SAN HO WON in San Francisco earned a star in its first year, to the equation and you bet appetites are whet.

The ambience

Every design element is created by Korean artisans.

Amidst the sleek, modern surfaces and machinery of the building's interior, Na Oh distinguishes itself with softer materials like cotton and wood, instantly signaling the domestic ties we attribute to dining.

The 40-seater is pretty well spaced. High ceilings and full glass walls flood the area with natural light... subsequently giving relatively juxtaposing views to the surrounding Jurong West estate. Another contrast comes from the kitchen, where the admittedly sublime corner is quietly adorned with Korean craft and glimpses of staff movement.

But on to the bit you're more excited about.

The food

The seasonal menu presents a hansik four-course, with the option to choose your fighter Jinjitsang; the traditional meal that is your main. The difference is that while served with a variety of sides in classic Korean fashion, the banchan match uniquely to each dish.

All three Jinjitsang deliver. Perhaps the most straightforward of the lineup is the Golden Queen Rice and Butterfish Gamasot, but the quality of the fish shows in its tender texture that nicely complements fragrant charred rice.

The Samgyetang is not foreign to most locals who make repeat pilgrimage to Korea. Here however, it is more of a hassle-free encounter with the chicken already removed from the soup and primed for picking. Even then, not much picking is required when the perfectly prepped meat peels easily from the bone.

The Pyongyang-Style Cold Noodles may be a rarer find in Singapore. The non-chewy buckwheat staple topped with uncharacteristically raw beef loin result in a delicious and unexpected treat for Naengmyeon-lovers.

Whatever your choice, do yourself a favour and order the Cheongju (clarified Makgeolli) to pair.

Special ingredients

Though the mains be doing the most, starters hardly pale in comparison. Take your induction for example. Homemade Tofu with Aged Soy Sauce. As Chef Corey Lee points out, tofu is a dish familiar to all Asians, but it's the aged soy sauce that takes the stage.

"Honestly, how many of us have tried real, naturally-made soy sauce?" Lee raises the question with the fact that it's a highly uncommon product these days. Due to its instability, the versions we consume are often diluted with alcohol, preservatives or alternative components.

Which is why this 100 percent soybean construct is practically an artisanal ingredient; one he brought with him all the way from San Francisco so all diners here to get the chance to taste.

It's literally written at the base of your menu: Na Oh only uses jang fermented using traditional methods and naturally aged. You can actually see them stored in large clay jars at the restaurant's entrance as a set up you would understandably mistake for a cool aesthetic display.

The other two courses source their selection of greens directly from HMGICS' own smart farm. You wouldn't have missed the double-storey vertical garden on your way in, but you would be surprised to know that it has the capacity for 30kg of daily produce. The variety of ice plant, Swiss chard, kale, and more truly possess a crisp that's testifies of their freshness.

Now, the good news is that menu is priced at a worthy SGD78 per pax. The bad news is that you may try your luck getting a spot with dinner fully booked for the month ahead, and only tight slots available for lunch.

Besides Na Oh


Do allocate more time to your trip down to the hub because not only is it an excursion—cue Journey to the West puns—HMGICS also offers an 80-minute CX Discovery Tour that's completely free to the public.

Guests get to attempt harvesting at the smart farm, witness the same robotics and automation technology used to make the cars tend to the garden, as well as taste the crops. Also, take a 3D VR tour of the advanced automated manufacturing operating within HMGICS itself.

Lastly and probably the fan favourite, get a ride on the 618-meter rooftop Skytrack. You'll be seated in a locally produced Hyundai IONIQ 5 with a professional driver (sadly you don't get to be behind the wheel, nor is the robotaxi commissioned for this). Our top tip is to sit behind the driver for the best experience, and stop by the rad, eco-themed gift shop before you leave.

Na Oh opens Wednesday to Sunday and is located at Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS), 2 Bulim Link Singapore 649674. Reservations for Na Oh and the Discovery Tour are to be made separately.

Mondrian Singapore Duxton has been knocking it out the park with its dining array. First there was Italian superstar Bottega di Carna, then Omakase delight Suzuki. Of the latest to join the expanding lineup is Modern Asian grill restaurant Tribal.



The first thing to note is how good it smells the moment you step in. Most culinary establishments specialising in fire-focused fare tend to waft smokey scents—which is personally nice too—, but here, the savoury fragrance of seasoned food is what effuses.

Seating is cave-y (sure, I could afford better adjective choices, but why not the most effective?), with earthy tones and intimate lighting. Wood for warmth, bricks for texture, and intentional Asian touches like the handwoven rattan by weaving atelier BYO Living are the elements you'll notice thanks to Indonesian architect and firm Andra Matin.

Besides the open kitchen counter centering the space, there's a connecting path to bar counterpart Slate. Together with tribal, it is among the three concepts stemmed from Ebb & Flow Group's online grocer Modern Provision. In other words, keep your eyes peeled.



Under Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese and Thai influences, the communal-style dishes carry elements of these cuisines rather than directly lift and fuse preparation methods.

To get a sense of what Tribal has to offer, start with the classic Flatbread, a hearth-fired slab served with house-whipped bone marrow butter. One to open up the palate would be the Yellowtail Umai, cured slices in chickpea water dressing and kaffir lime, chilli and garlic accented oil, with sliced preserved tangerines and tomatoes. Think Ceviche, but Sarawakian.

The Fried Duck Neck come dusted in house spice blend, deep fried yet with no hint of grease, complementing perfectly with the dips. That, and the three variants of Indonesian-Malaysian Claypot Rice and Japanese Donabe hybrids which sport the same charred flair.

The menu is overall conscious, primarily organic or sourcing ethically from smaller scale farms. Sadly, we did not get to sample the beef, so let me know how that was when you do because that's purportedly the strength of the restaurant.

Of course beer would be the choice of beverage here but a cocktail that matches the vibe would be Yuz Want More. Essentially a High Ball crossed with a Bloody Mary, the spot of yuzu soy, togarashi and pickled tomato is lightly savoury.

How we feel about it in a gif

Make your reservations here.

There is this pervading sense that once you’ve had one omakase, you kinda had them all. I don’t speak for native Japanese, or self-proclaimed connoisseurs (ace a blind taste test and I’ll be convinced). It’s a sentiment observed and shared with the ground, and not necessarily a bad one.

After all, it is the epitome of premium Japanese produce expressed in time-honed tradition. Apart from seasonal offerings and rare creative deviance, the over thousand-year-old culinary craft is not liable to accommodate great change. As a consumer, neither would you want it to.

The gleeful anticipation of getting to sit down for one though, never fades. In bid to experience it all afresh once again, I invited my mother, frequent patron of sushi chains but rookie partaker of the higher art form, to join me on this adventure.



It’s no spoiler to reveal that the courses were served in pretty standard sequence. Your zensai, onmono, -insert number here- kinds of nigiri, etc. As expected, you can’t fault the cuts that come your way. It was almost déjà vu seeing a newcomer’s reaction to seared kinmedai exactly mirror mine years ago—sheer delight.

If anything, you’ll discover that each omakase takes its distinct style after the chef whom the restaurant bears its name. At risk of sounding like a painfully obvious statement, supplement it with this. Not only do chefs display skill taught by the particular regions they understudied at, all those years of influences both inside and outside the kitchen forms the type of menu they envision best to share with their guests.

Or as my life-giver so profoundly articulates, “It’s not like the sushi sushi.”


It’s always fun to be reintroduced to familiar dishes prepared in a different way. While not squeamish, my first acquaintance with shirako i.e. fish semen was less than impressive. Here at Suzuki, lightly scorched and bedded with spinach sauce, its texture was able to shine with the flavours.

Another unique dish was Chef Suzuki’s signature palate cleanser. Perhaps stemming from common childhood indoctrination to “eat your greens” or a personal penchant for a healthy diet, the unconventional maki of shiso and wasabi leaves with white radish wrapped in nori was simple and brilliant.

The Shizuoka-born chef, who moved to Kyoto at the age of 18 to train at three Michelin-starred Kikunoi, inherited a respect for simplicity from its owner and head chef. Lessons on focusing on the original character of ingredients and keeping seasonings to a minimum are principles he carried through his career up till the most recent stint as head chef at Ishi, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay.


Reflecting this regard for purity are the interiors. As you may be familiar, most of these esteemed establishments come in an intimate setting. It’s no different at Suzuki, save the thoughtful designs by renowned Tokyo-based architect Kengo Kuma, whose work here marks his debut in a commercial project in Singapore.


Daylight filtered through Kyoto bamboo weaved along the full-height glass allow for a relaxed seating than an otherwise dark and intimidating environment. This is matched with a petite courtyard garden centering the restaurant, complete with faux skylight overhead, which was a surprise to learn given how natural it looked.

The fountain within is made from a solid piece of Nagano stone, and the pebbles surrounding the kakehi water feature are collected from Gifu, allegedly millions of years old. The largest however, would be the 600kg ancient plinth from the same region that serves as the reception desk you see at the entrance. Statement piece indeed.

Of the private rooms encountered thus far, the one here is certainly a choice. As the chef’s backdrop from where guests face, bottom panelled glass discloses an odd, below-the-knee peek at diners inside. Hello, foot fetish. Still, the half scrim is made of washi paper, and every single piece of furnishing in the restaurant is either bespoke or handmade.

Cloth napkins embroidered in hiragana by celebrated Kyoto-based calligrapher Tomoko Kawao. Antique soup bowls and classic modern birch chairs Kuma first created for Tokyo’s Nezu Museum café. All these curated touchpoints together with quality Japanese cuisine make a nice rendezvous that any beginner can appreciate.

Suzuki is located at 83 Neil Road, #01-09 Mondrian Hotel Singapore.

With the way things are going, years down the line, our culinary scene might be transformed out of necessity. Known for its innovation, Johnnie Walker Blue Label collaborated with several forward-thinking chefs about the future of dining. To kick things off, the label got chefs Andrew Walsh (CURE), Mickael Viljanen (Chapter One) and Mark Moriarty (Diageo)to create a menu centred around the theme: "Air. Land. Sea." Here's how it went:

Taking place at CURE, the six-course dinner utilised AI-inspired digital artwork and 2D and 3D animations throughout the evening. Served on a table with projections exploring "sky, ocean and land", the entire endeavour reminds us of Le Petit Chef but this time, it is a more sombre affair.

Diners were proffered the question: what will the future be like in an era of global warming, overfishing and overfarming? What will the dining experience be like when certain ingredients are scarce? With this in mind, alternative elements were used for the dishes served. (Steak was replaced with red-earth cabbage!)

Wild strawberry souffle, violet chartreuse
Cured mackerel, charcoal cream, heirloom tomato and seaweed gelee, buckwheat caviar
Velvet Cloud Yoghurt 2223 with Johnnie Walker Blue Label neat
Quenelles of Pike with its own roe, urchin, wild sorrel, sabayon of smoked eel
Red earth-cabbage, beetroot, chicken fat butter
Celeriac baked in barley, yellow wine butter, hazelnut, manjimup black truffle

The Future in Food

As diners contemplate the import of heirloom ingredients in a shifting industry and environment, the dishes were paired with exclusive Johnnie Walker Blue Label cocktails. While the menu was created solely for the evening's experience, the dessert, Velvet Cloud Yoghurt 2223, along with a Johnnie Walker Blue Label pairing, were made available to the public at CURE… albeit for a limited time.

In a world that's ravaged by corporations' greed, it's a sobering look at how we will eat. Especially, around the time of CURE's 8th anniversary. But it is Chef Andrew Walsh's hope that this menu would cultivate conversation. And that conversation would lead to acts, which would lead to positive change. It is a perfect alignment with Johnnie Walker Blue Label's commitment to sustainability and innovation. One that will be the stepping stone to a better culinary and spirited future.