With the multitude of cuisines in Singapore, you can easily travel the world through your tastebuds – thanks to our creative F&B trailblazers who incorporate their exposure to various cultures into their menus.
The folks at F&B collective The Black Hole Group, share how they bring their travel experiences to the (dining) table.
1. Like Yong Tau Foo, but pasta
The Black Hole Group’s Sufi Hasan, the man helming the kitchen at Tipo Pasta Bar, knows a thing or two about pasta.
While studying in the UK, he also had the chance to spend some time in Italy visiting restaurants and learning from the chefs there.
But Tipo isn’t your regular pasta place. “I learnt a lot in Italy, but even so, Tipo was never a place I envisioned to be traditionally Italian,” shares Sufi.
It’s true – this delish spot is is all about marrying carefully curated artisanal pastas with your curation. Pick from creations like paprika fusilli or garlic parsley fettuccine, and then dress them up with your choice of sauce and toppings, including local ingredients such as king oyster mushrooms.
Tipo, according to Sufi, is an interpretation of pasta – one that can be easily adapted to different palates and preferences.
“In Asian cuisine, we’re very used to picking and mixing. That’s why we have dishes like yong tau foo,” he explains, “that’s also the idea behind building your own pasta here at Tipo.”
Just like other cafes serving dishes like tom yam linguine or mentaiko spaghetti, Tipo’s source of inspiration isn’t limited to just Italian culture. They borrow ideas from places they travel to, and even from local flavours – their seasonal laksa pasta, for one, was a hit.
The pastabilities are endless, to quote the folks at Tipo.
2. Reinterpreting similarities and differences
Serial travellers, if Tipo Pasta Bar’s name sounds familiar to you, you’re probably thinking of Melbourne’s Tipo 00.
Nur Zafirah, who’s a part of the service crew at Tipo Pasta Bar, often gets asked if they’re related.
So when she recently travelled to Melbourne, she also took the chance to visit this very spot she’s heard so much about.
Both Tipos serve some incredible pasta, but to answer these customer’s question: No, they’re not related. In fact, Zafirah would tell you that they’re completely different. “Not just the food, but also the way they pair their food with their drinks, the ambience, and just about everything!”
She enthuses over Tipo 00’s cocktail selection, which also inspired her to suggest non-alcoholic wines and mocktails ideas that could be introduced to Tipo Pasta Bar (as it’s a halal restaurant), so stay tuned!
3. Knowing your customer
As for Melissa Borde, who used to work on the ground at (working title) Burger Bar, another one of The Black Hole Group’s concepts, her experience living and working in several countries also opened her eyes to how customer service differs from country to country.
“The way customers act, and what they expect of customer service, is very different.” She notes. For instance, customers in Western countries tend to be more outspoken about their feedback, whereas Singaporeans tend to keep it to themselves.
With either type of customer, there’s both the good and the bad: When customers are more direct with their feedback, it’s easier to know what we can improve on; but sometimes, this feedback takes the form of a complaint, which could very quickly go south.
But if there’s one constant no matter the country or culture, it’s that customers appreciate good service.
Melissa recalls one particular incident when a foreign customer seemed overly displeased when his dish didn’t turn out exactly as he had expected. “I realised he was Argentinean, and luckily, I spoke Spanish, so I started speaking to him in his language to try to rectify the situation.”
Turns out, he was just having a bad day. “If I didn’t sit down to talk to him, he’d probably continue having a bad day. He even came back to our restaurant a second time, which definitely wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t take his complaint seriously,” she muses.
Reinventing international cuisines
You may find the same cuisines in Europe, Australia or Asia – and everywhere else in the world – and with each F&B establishment, there’s always something to take in and subsequently reinterpret.
So, the next time you dine at any of The Black Hole Group's F&B concepts, you can be sure that you're also reliving their travel experiences, be it through their food, drinks or even service!