By Amy Ma | WSJ.com
Look out — your neighborhood food truck may have come all the way from Singapore.
The city-state is so eager to promote its local food abroad that it has a formal program to do so: the Singapore International Culinary Exchange (“Spice” for short). And one of its big initiatives is to take Singaporean food on the road — literally.
For a year beginning in April, a food truck called Singapore Take Out will travel the world, stopping in nine cities: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Moscow, London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Dubai and Delhi.
“With the spotlight Singapore has been getting from celebrity chefs opening up restaurants in the two new integrated resorts [Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa], it’s high time for Singapore to launch a global initiative,” says Ranita Sandramoorthy, the director of attractions, dining and retail for the Singapore Tourism Board. Spice is funded by the tourism board, International Enterprise Singapore (formerly the trade development board) and Spring Singapore, a government agency dedicated to the city-state’s economic growth.
In spite of its humble venue — the 20-seat mobile restaurant was designed to be quickly dismantled and reassembled with ease — Singapore Take Out won’t dish out just hawker-stall grub. A handful of the city-state’s top chefs and restaurateurs will do the cooking in some spots, including Ignatius Chan of Iggy’s, ranked 28th on the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants Lis, pastry chef Janice Wong, and chefs Ryan Clift and André Chiang. (The truck is easily dismantled and reassembled, but it will spend most of the year in a shipping container traveling from city to city.)
The Singapore Take Out “truck” will be stationed in high-traffic areas in each city. But if you’re thinking about getting in line, plan ahead. The truck will visit each city for just three days before moving on, and on only one day will it be open to regular locals. The other two days will be for demonstrations to members of the media and buyers from supermarkets and department stores — this is a marketing event, after all.
In fact, the Singapore government is trotting out local brands at the same time. Ms. Sandramoorthy says “this will be a chance to showcase some of our local food manufacturers” to potential buyers overseas. Ya Kun’s kaya (an egg-based coconut jam whose signature green color comes from pandan leaves), TWG’s Singapore Breakfast Tea blend, and YEO’s satay sauce are some of the food items the government will push on its round-the-world truck run.
But the chefs will take part in the shilling as they create innovative ways to use these ingredients, which are foreign to most household pantries outside of Singapore. Willin Low, the chef of Wild Rocket restaurant, for instance, created a laksa pesto with Prima-brand laksa paste. Hey, if people like Korean tacos , maybe they’ll like Singaporean laksa pasta.