The rise of Mod-Sin cuisine and what makes it Michelin-worthy

The rise of Mod-Sin cuisine and what makes it Michelin-worthy

Modern interpretation

Text: Janice Sim

Image: John Heng

For starters, don't call it fusion cuisine

It's no big secret that the culinary world is constantly evolving. With food trends emerging at a rapid rate, and new-gen cuisines springing up ever so often, it can be hard to suss out the fads from the game-changers. But one thing's for sure — Mod-Sin cuisine is one that has duly passed the experimental phase, and is here to stay, especially with the recent Michelin-star recognition of Singapore's own Labyrinth.

Mod-Sin Labyrinth cuisine

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.

Mod-Sin food chicken rice Michelin

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.

Mod Sin Chef LG Han

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.