A new Singaporean restaurant and bakery will open at 15 Frith Street in Soho this November, offering a version of laksa new to the city, as well as dishes and an aesthetic derived from Singapore’s hawker dining culture.
Singapulah & Arôme, a collaboration between prolific restaurateur Ellen Chew, master patissier Alix Andre, head chef Lynette Zheng, and famed Singaporean operator Willin Low — of Wild Rocket, which closed in 2018 — will open Singapulah, a 50 cover restaurant, on 6 November. Arôme, the bakery, will officially open on 13 November. Both have already impressed noted London supper club maestro Jason Li, whose Shanghainese dinners are some of the most sought-after in the city.
Andre, whose patisserie background includes both classical French and East Asian training, will produce the likes of laksa tomato coriander rolls; caramelised milk bread toast; and a gula melaka coconut bun, made with the smoky, complex palm sugar for which it is named.
Singapulah is primarily Zheng and Low’s domain, with its flagship dish Roxy laksa — a family recipe, famous in Singapore for trading outside the Roxy Theatre in the 1950s. With the closure of the theatre in 1978, the family behind the cart took it first to East Coast Lagoon Food Centre and then to new “gastropark” Timbre+, when Low bought into the business with third generation owner Mike Lim. The Roxy recipe is a forerunner of Katong laksa, whose noodles are cut small, and whose soup is thickened with ground dried shrimp.
The restaurant will also serve bak chor mee, noodles cooked into a chilli vinegar sauce with minced pork, pork belly, pork liver, and pork balls; chwee kueh rice cakes; and kaya toast at brunch.
This double opening will join Elizabeth Haigh’s upcoming Borough Market stall Mei Mei and hidden central gem Bugis Street Brasserie in self-consciously dedicating itself to Singaporean food, which is more often seen in concert with Malaysian dishes, on menus at restaurants that choose to identify as Malaysian first. Chew, who is also behind Chinatown’s Rasa Sayang — an example of this phenomenon — and Lobos Tapas in London Bridge and Soho, said:
“Singapulah is born out of love for true Singaporean cuisine. Through my years in the UK it has been challenging to find a place to satiate my cravings for authentic hawker food and Singapulah aims to plug that gap, as well as acting as a platform to share our diverse culture with Londoners.”