The freshest farm-to-table restaurants in Asia
These restaurants treat farm-to-table as an ethos, not a buzzword. From seafood that's harvested hours before it's served, to a menu that's built almost completely from local ingredients, these restaurants are the real deal.
- November 2018
Food is a reflection of the people who make it. That’s why trying local cuisines are delicious gateways to local culture. Farm-to-table restaurants in particular, are inextricably linked to food origins, and offer diners rich stories of the farmers and producers behind a meal. This list of farm-to-table restaurants will tell you different stories of a city from the less-known artisans of Yangon, to how two young men are reviving the dying trade of traditional fish farming in Singapore. All you need is a curious mind and an empty stomach.
1. Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong, Singapore
Kelongs – wooden offshore platforms used for fish farming – are a rare sight in Singapore but Ah Hua Kelong is not just keeping fish farming traditions alive, one of the owners started a restaurant to educate people on the diversity and quality of local seafood. Scaled serves as a tasting room for the farm’s specialties such as seabass, pearl grouper and golden pomfret, as well as harvested gems like blood cockles and clams the size of your palm.
The freshness is unparalleled. And why wouldn’t it be? All the seafood you have in the evening was harvested in the morning. It’s a rare claim for restaurants in Singapore to make, and the young chefs at Scaled take full advantage of the opportunity to work with such fresh produce by opting for a borderless and rotating menu. One day, roasted black grouper might sit atop a hearty mussel vichyssoise. The next, clams and mussels on charred onion puree and topped with kelp crumbs and savoury meringues.
2. Haoma, Bangkok
Farm-to-table, local sustainability, zero-kilometre cuisine … these aren’t just buzzwords for Haoma— they’re the ethos of Thailand’s first urban farming fine-dining restaurant. In the restaurant, a lush garden backyard, vertical plants, aquaponic towers and raised beds burst with over 20 types of herbs, vegetables and spices that are all used on the menu. And by that, we mean from root to tip; Haoma’s sincere commitment to being anti-waste means they weigh the amount of garbage they have at the end of every service. But don’t write off the food as vegan (or even, for that matter, healthy). Case in point? Thai wagyu cheek with burnt leek and potato puree.
3. Sharky’s, Yangon
The New York Times dubbed Sharky’s as a “one-man empire who brought locavore cuisine to Myanmar.” Nearly every ingredient used in the restaurant is produced in Myanmar by partner farmers who adhere to founder Ye Htut Win’s strict specifications. This is down to the fleur de sel that’s collected by hand using Sharky’s own Ngapali salt pans. Even a simple bowl of pasta is a proud testament to Sharky’s principles – the pasta is hand-made in house using stone-ground flours from heritage grains, the ingredients showcase interesting local produce like caviar, capers and white anchovies.
4. MUME, Taipei
MUME and Michelin-starred chef Andre Chiang’s Raw opened within two weeks of each other. Both are similar in concept – they serve seasonal, local produce-driven haute cuisine in a casual setting. Raw gets a lot more media attention, and reservations are infamously hard to score. But trust us, this underdog has real bite. Even a salad at MUME is a triumphant celebration of Taiwanese ingredients – the breathtakingly pretty dish contains over 20 ingredients that change daily. Some are pickled, others dried, fermented, served fresh – each vegetable’s treatment is meticulously considered and tied together in an umami dressing of salted black beans.