Graze at Martin No. 38, the latest addition to the Epicure collection, is now open. Located within the stylish Robertson Quay neighborhood, it is a vibrant informal space sure to be a classic hangout spot for all day dining and relaxation. Unearthing Asia talks to the brain behind the venture, young Singaporean entrepreneur Yenn Wong, who also had a hand behind JIA, Hong Kong’s first boutique hotel and the first hospitality venture in Asia by French design guru, Philippe Starck.
Hello there, can you share with us about yourself? What do you do for a living? What is your passion?
I’m Yenn Wong, a Singapore entrepreneur dabbling in hospitality and tourism. I’m the owner of JIA Boutique Hotels, which is currently located in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I also own and operate a few restaurants such as Kha, a casual chic Thai restaurant, the original Graze in Rochester Park, Singapore, as well as 208 Duecento Otto in Hong Kong and Issimo at JIA Shanghai. Food and travel are two of my passions, as can be obviously deduced from my choice of ventures and business dealings.
Tell us more about Graze, your newest restaurant in Robertson Quay
The trend worldwide is to pair up good food with a cool neighborhood atmosphere, and that is exactly what we try to do with Graze. We provide a casual-chic ambiance in a hip neighborhood, not just for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, but for all-day hangout where you can enjoy artisan coffess or freshly cut charcuterie to nibble over a glass of wine.
What makes Graze special? What can customers expect when they dine here?
Graze has a great “urban country” atmosphere. It is a cool neighborhood bistro in a hip residential enclave with a dash of bohemian vibe – it’s the perfect place for dining or just hanging out over drinks. Guests can expect fresh full-flavored cuisine, an excellent wine list and freshly-brewed artisan coffess from all around the world. And you can choose as well where to enjoy this – in the casual chic interiors or at one of the al-fresco tables outside.
Define Graze in 5 words
Casual-chic, fresh, relaxing, delicious, friendly.
Tell us more about Singapore, what dining trends are you seeing in Singapore? What makes it different compared to other countries?
The Integrated Resorts have helped to attract higher level of celebrity chef and restaurant offerings in Singapore, creating greater awareness and profile for the industry. Italian eateries and ethnic foods like Thai cuisines are gaining more popularity, and there is also a number of chefs dabbling in the modern molecular movement.
The dining scene has definitely moved up a couple of notches over the years, with more quality concepts coming up for the customers to choose from. It truly is a Food Paradise now, consisting of various local and international cuisine. Singapore is also quite fortunate in the sense that there are plenty amazing spaces for restaurant venues as compared to other cities.
How do diners expectations in Singapore compare to diners in other cities in the world?
Singaporeans love to be the first to check out new places, they like variety. The dining public are much more interested and more knowledgeable in food safety, country of origin, status and more. There is also a growing awareness and appreciation for eco-movements such as carbon footprint, organic status and other similar movements.
Is has been said before that many young Singapore chefs are preferring to study western cuisines instead in traditional local cuisine. How true do you think this is and is it a problem?
Singapore is a melting pot of ethnic cuisines and global populations. It would be such a shame if more local chefs did not show a greater interest in their local cuisine/heritage. Due to the influx/growth of international tourism, the industry finds itself having to offer a greater range of cuisines/foods to its customer base – and it just so happens, that some western cuisines are in greater demand, not only in Singapore but globally.
That said, this presents a wonderful opportunity at this country’s doorstep to educate, inform, titillate and excite both local residents and inbound visitors, just how wonderful some of the heritage foods and established dishes of Singapore really are.
What do you enjoy most about being in the F&B industry in Singapore?
There is a great diversity of food cultures in Singapore. You can never go hungry and generally it is still very economical to eat out, be it at one of the upmarket restaurants, funky cafes or local hawker stalls. We have fantastic access to some pretty amazing food and materials from all over the world.
What do the best restaurants need to do to stand out or get a solid reputation in Singapore?
A good restaurant need to have a clear identity, a well planned concept and defined product/offering. They need a good team of people to consistently deliver on the key values and key selling points of the establishment. It is pertinent that there is always consistency in the food and the service. And last but not least, they need to offer good value to the customer.
What’s your favorite local food? What do you like about it so much?
I think my favourite would have to be crab bee hoon, soup or fried. It’s so exclusive to Singapore, and the seafood taste works really well with bland noodles like bee hoon. You can really taste the freshness.
Thanks for your time Yenn! Good luck with the new restaurant!
Graze is a casual-chic all-day restaurant featuring fresh, full-flavored cuisine with crisp, clean flavours and seductive taste combination. Located at Martin No 38, Grazy is a vibrant space with an informal and fresh approach. Find out more about the restaurant at www.graze-martin38.sg.
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