The term Mod-Sin is coined from the words "Modern Singaporean", where local dishes like laksa and curry puffs are elevated with gastronomic finesse. It's an avant-garde, new-age representation of local street food. But having said that, what exactly is Mod-Sin cuisine? How does it differ from what one could find at a hawker centre? We speak to chef-owner of Labyrinth, LG Han, to find out more about this uprising venture on our shores.
What is Mod-Sin cuisine? It's about extracting the flavours out, mastering a traditional form of cooking, and then manipulating it into a different form on the plate. As opposed to what many might think, it's not fusion food. Everything about what we do, is 80 percent traditional. You cannot master Mod-Sin cuisine if you don't know how to cook the traditional version of the dish. If I was going to make a modern version of a satay dish for example, I would first have to master the traditional recipe of the satay sauce and marinade. It's only from there, that I can start modernising it, and that's when different techniques will take place — such as altering the texture of the sauce or turning it into sorbet.
Tell us about the techniques you use in these dishes. Most people have the stigma that we only use high-end laboratory equipment but that's not true. For us, we embrace every technique — from old-school ones like grinding our own rice flour with a stone grinder to also trying out things like dehydrators and liquid nitrogen. There's a concept for every dish... I look at it and think, "What is the best way to cook this protein or how to treat this ingredient?"
Do you think there's a place for Mod-Sin cuisine overseas? Oh, definitely. It's hard to define what Singapore food is, to be honest. Food here is just so easily uniquely Singaporean. When I was living overseas, "Singaporean" cuisine was just chicken rice, chilli crab, and Singaporean fried noodles that didn't have the taste of home, so a lot of effort needs to be made to expand Singapore's cuisine overseas. I definitely hope to spread the awareness of Singapore's cuisin — and what it really is — to other parts of the world.
What do you think makes Labyrinth Michelin-worthy? Just like every other restaurant, what we aim for at the end of the day is quality and consistency. No matter how creative your food is, customers just want to eat good food and enjoy good service. So I'd like to think that the star ability of my team is to recreate the same dishes over and over again on a daily basis with the same quality and consistency. Another reason is probably because the menu is unique and conceptualised by me, and it came from a place that I feel represents who I am as a chef. Essentially what I do, and why I do this, is served on a plate.
Up for a unique dining experience? Mitzo Restaurant & Bar has recently launched a "Friends of Mitzo" series featuring a six-course set dinner menu from 25 to 27 July by Mitzo's executive head chef Nicky Ng and Labyrinth's chef LG Han. Make your reservations at 6603 8855.