If there’s one thing that Benjamin Yong knows for a fact, it’s that great food can truly connect people. The founder of the BIG Group started his first café, Delicious in 1993 (which he has since sold off), and went on to establish over 20 restaurants and a major grocery chain.

In keeping with the BIG Group’s mantra, ‘building relationships through food’, Benjamin Yong embarked on an inspiring tour of Singapore’s cuisine. He met, mingled, and ate with fellow foodies in the Lion City, an experience that ignited the food aficionado’s passion, taste-buds, and appetite for culinary discovery.

Here’s a sample of the dishes he tasted, and the passion for food he encountered.

Benjamin Yong

Peranakan Delights: Violet Oon Satay Grill and Bar
Benjamin Yong with chef Violet Oon of Violet Oon Singapore

A much-loved establishment of the local food scene, Violet Oon Satay Grill and Bar marked Benjamin’s first pit-stop. Named after its chef-founder, Violet Oon’s restaurants revolve around the spirit of preserving and elevating the rich traditions of Peranakan food.

“Violet Oon is a national treasure when it comes to Singapore’s Peranakan food,” Benjamin Yong remarks, upon visiting Violet Oon Satay Grill and Bar.

Violet Oon Satay Grill and Bar. 3B River Valley Road #01-18, Clarke Quay, Singapore 179021. +65 9834 9935.
Mon-Sun 6pm -12am.

A Taste of Modern Singapore: Wild Rocket
Benjamin Yong with chef Willin Low of Wild Rocket

“Friends in Malaysia have told me a lot about chef Will, and how he’s been tweaking the boundaries of Mod Sin Cuisine,” Benjamin tells us during his visit to Wild Rocket at Mount Emily.

The ‘chef Will’ to whom Benjamin refers to is chef Willin Low: the visionary founder of Wild Rocket at Mount Emily. Since leaving the law industry in 2005 to pursue his culinary passions, chef Willin has been dubbed Singapore’s finest chef by the New York Times, and made a name for himself with the culinary movement he names Mod Sin, a style that innovates the familiar tastes of well-loved Singaporean dishes.

Wild Rocket at Mount Emily. 10A Upper Wilkie Road, Singapore 228119. +65 6339 9448.
Mon-Fri 12-2.30pm, 6.30-10.30pm; Sat 12-4pm, 6.30-10.30pm.

Delectable Barbeque at Burnt Ends
Benjamin Yong with chef Dave Pynt of Burnt Ends

Originally hailing from Perth, Western Australia, chef Dave Pynt set up Burnt Ends here in 2013. The Australian barbeque restaurant’s gamut of charred dishes – from smoked quail eggs to its signature Sanger burger – are now an integral part of Singapore’s food scene, and was one of the many pit stops on Benjamin’s visit.

“Eating at Burnt Ends - and experiencing food cooked with love, simplicity and the best flavours - is truly a joy,” Benjamin enthuses after dining at the establishment.

Burnt Ends. 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391. +65 6244 3933.
Tue-Thu 6pm-12am; Fri-Sat 11.45am-2pm, 6pm-12am.

Addictive Nibbles at Irvin’s Salted Egg
Benjamin Yong tasting Irvin’s Salted Egg snacks

Salted egg may be a ubiquitous regional flavour, but Benjamin first tasted the joys of Irvin’s Salted Egg snacks in Italy, off the coast of Naples.

“We were traveling in Capri a while ago [and] a friend brought these delicious Salted Egg Fish Skins,” Benjamin reminisces. “It was there that I discovered Irvin’s dangerously addictive snacks.”

The BIG group’s Chief Eating Officer made it a point to drop by Irvin’s Salted Egg at Plaza Singapura, meet up with founder, Keshia Gunawan, and sample the brand’s delectable salted egg yolk flavoured potato chips and fish skins.

Irvin’s Salted Egg, Plaza Singapura. 28 Pagoda Street #06-K1, Singapore 059188.
Daily 10am-9pm.

Fresh Inspiration at Fishball Story
Benjamin Yong with hawkerpreneur Douglas Ng of Fishball Story

From humble beginnings at a single hawker stall in Golden Mile Complex, hawkerpreneur Douglas Ng’s Fishball Story has gone on to win the 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmand and an enthusiastic thumbs-up from beloved local food consultant KF Seetoh. The inspiration behind Douglas’s success lies in the childhood memories of his grandmother’s handmade fishballs.

Like Douglas, Benjamin has a soft spot in his heart reserved for this simple comfort food. “I’m on a constant quest to find the perfect fishball,” he mentions, upon visiting Fishball Story. “There’s something deeply satisfying about a simple dish done so well.”

Fishball Story. 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, Singapore 139957. +65 9800 5036.
Mon-Fri 8am-6pm.