Meet the American who spent a year eating his way through Singapore

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Singapore (CNN) β€” Nobody needs to be caught abroad throughout a worldwide pandemic.

However, by his personal admission, 25-year-old Jon Lu, an American software engineer, selected to remain in Singapore when the world's borders began to shutter final yr.

"I arrived in Singapore for the first time in August 2019, although my time was principally spent overseas for work," says the New York native. "I did not begin really dwelling in Singapore until March 2020."

The Massachusetts Institute of Know-how (MIT) grad says that he had a selection of the place he needed to be based mostly throughout his year-long challenge in Asia.

Fluent in both English and Mandarin, Lu -- a leisure figure skater who used to take part in intercollegiate competitions -- finally selected Singapore.

He worked exhausting for probably the most half, training determine skating about 4 to five occasions every week. But he additionally did what Singaporeans do greatest -- eat.

As of at present, the American has visited a complete of 255 food and beverage institutions together with cafes and hawker stalls, masking 30 Michelin-rated restaurants with 37 Michelin stars collectively (55 Michelin stars together with repeat visits).

A powerful feat, considering the town's restaurants have been closed to in-person eating for greater than two months, to not mention the very fact he was briefly sidelined because of ailing health.

When the town entered into a nationwide partial lockdown -- also called the Circuit Breaker -- from April 7 to June 1, 2020, eateries have been pressured to offer takeout only. That didn't stop Lu, who continued to eat properly by ordering food deliveries, not as soon as however twice a day, for the primary half of the period.

However these have been no unusual meals. He selected to give attention to the town's many gastronomic offerings, including Michelin-starred venues that always take weeks if not months to safe tables in.

"It was such a troublesome time for the F&B business -- I needed to do as a lot as I might to assist help native companies," Lu says, adding that some of his most memorable Circuit Breaker meals have been tasting menus designed for the home, where he'd should put ending touches on the dishes himself.

"One such meal was from Odette at Residence," says Lu, who even managed to acquire a table material and a small potted plant from employees in the lodge he'd been staying in for a month to recreate the feted French restaurant's booth seat inside his room.

β€œIt was such a troublesome time for the F&B business -- I needed to do as a lot as I might to help help local businesses.”

Jon Lu, American software engineer

However in early Might, Lu started having issues together with his vision.

Docs recognized him with retinal vein occlusion, brought on by extraordinarily elevated LDL cholesterol levels -- presumably a result of the foodie's dining habits over the previous seven-month period of intensive traveling and consuming earlier than the lockdown.

It didn't help that gyms and ice rinks have been closed.

"I worked with local specialists to deal with the vision signs and started operating every single day," Lu says. "I also went on a low cholesterol, heart-healthy food regimen for two months during which I prevented foods average to high in added sugars."

After two months of weight-reduction plan and operating, Lu's well being issues have been resolved. In July, just some weeks after dining in was allowed underneath the town's second reopening part, he began populating his calendar with reservations again.

Lu's prime dining picks

American software engineer Jon Lu has eaten at Michelin-starred Odette, helmed by chef Julien Royer, four times.

American software engineer Jon Lu has eaten at Michelin-starred Odette, helmed by chef Julien Royer, four occasions.

Jon Lu

Having sampled the cream of Singapore's prime eating places, a feat that even meals critics would take a yr or two to accomplish, Lu is well-positioned to offer recommendation on where to seek out the town's best eats.

Becoming a member of his ranks of favourite Michelin-awarded restaurants is chef Julien Royer's three Michelin-starred Odette, the place Lu has dined four occasions. He extremely charges the modern French restaurant for its "extremely refined and technically nicely executed" cuisine, headlined by Royer's signature Pigeon "Beak to Tail" course, that "tastes superb."

In the Japanese category, Lu singles out the one Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura, which he has visited twice. He says that chef-owner Tomo-o Kimura gives "thicker" and "more unique" cuts of fish -- like sujiko (salmon roe sac), oki aji (white-tongue jack fish) and usubu hagi (unicorn leatherjacket fish). That's not to mention Kimura's shari (sushi rice), which is "amazingly agency and ethereal" and served at the "good temperature."

Relating to Singaporean delicacies, it's the Michelin-starred Labyrinth by chef Han Li Guang that pulls at Lu's heartstrings.

The restaurant is famed for showcasing elevated versions of native dishes -- like the Signature Chilli Crab -- which are unmistakably Singaporean in origin, with components principally regionally sourced. Lu declares his November journey to Labyrinth, his second, to be considered one of his favourite post-Circuit Breaker meals.

Among Lu's top Japanese picks in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.

Amongst Lu's prime Japanese picks in Singapore is Sushi Kimura.

Jon Lu

Menu standouts embrace the Ang Moh Hen Rice and An Ode to Cairnhill Steakhouse, each of which pay homage to Han's grandmother and grandfather respectively.

Michelin-rated restaurants aside, Lu additionally makes some extent of testing new eateries. His favourite new opening, Euphoria, serves "gastro-botanica" cuisine created by Singaporean chef-owner Jason Tan throughout his time at the one-starred Corner House.

"On the heart of Euphoria are four botanical essences made purely from greens," says Lu. "I used to be extremely impressed by how tasty every single dish was, and notably by the complexity of taste from the vegetable elements."

Regardless of his spectacular protection of reputed restaurants, Lu says he doesn't consider in "star chasing" -- i.e. eating at a restaurant solely on the idea that it has been awarded stars by Michelin. There remain 13 starred restaurants in Singapore that he has not visited.

His most-visited venue in Singapore, the two-year-old avant-garde restaurant Preludio, has no stars.

Run by Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, Preludio serves "writer's cuisine" that revolves around a yearly altering theme referred to as "chapter." From its debut Monochrome chapter, Lu raves concerning the Pata Negra course with "astounding" flavors, that includes panko crumb-breaded Iberico pork shoulder with a "distinctive" blend of spices -- cumin, cayenne and paprika -- paired with tomatoes soaked in a two-day marinade.

"As someone who often does not wish to repeat dishes at fine-dining restaurants, the truth that I've already dined at Preludio 9 occasions (in 2020) is a testament to their inventiveness," says Lu.

Inspired by "Chef's Desk"

Lu says that consuming out and exploring meals spots has been a pastime since 2015, when he interned in downtown Chicago and was surrounded by myriad food options within strolling distance of his workplace.

Since then, the avid meals lover says he is visited at the very least 300 totally different eating places yearly, starting with cafes and casual retailers, before graduating to finer venues in 2019.

Attributing his interest in fantastic eating to the Netflix Collection "Chef's Desk," Lu says he was fascinated by how the present depicted meals as a seemingly boundless art type, limited only by the chef's talent and creativeness.

"There have been so many situations where I might watch an episode and instantly bookmarked the featured restaurant, saying to myself that I have to dine there at some point," says Lu, who visited fashionable international restaurants GAA, MUME, Central, Dinner by Heston, NARISAWA and Momofuku Seiobo between September 2019 to March 2020. He's shared lots of his eating experiences on his Instagram account.

The American says that Singapore has definitely been the "most impressive" eating city to date, and that it's "solely attainable" to eat out every single day at a top quality venue with out repeating meals for years.

"The number of cuisines as well as the vary of obtainable components (which really span every corner of the world) in Singapore is unimaginable," says Lu.