The Star’s ever-evolving pop-up window has started a new chapter. Djohann Arneez, the former private chef to the Sultan of Brunei, is serving his pick of Singapore’s best hawker dishes. Replacing Chase Kojima and his ramen pop-up, Arneez will give Sydney a glimpse into the cuisine of Singapore’s street vendors.
You’ll see a tourist map of Singapore on the stall’s counter. Instead of sightseeing landmarks, though, it plots out different dishes. The map shows where in Singapore you can find the best version of each dish that Arneez is cooking. A former hawker-stall owner and chef, these are the places he went to for the best of Singapore’s classics.
The laksa is nyonya-style and comes from a stall in the seaside district of Katong. It’s spicier than usual, thick and fishy without being overly pungent or salty. “We use a seafood stock with prawns and calamari and a mixture of chilli, turmeric, dried prawns, candlenut and lemongrass. We make the paste here,” says Arneez. The massive plate of gluggy hokkein mee with pork belly, crackling, fish cakes, squid and prawns is inspired by Arneez’s favourite Old Air Port Road stall. The chicken rice is based on the best hawker at Redhill. The Singaporean-style chili crab is Arneez’s own; the rich, thick sauce and the accompanying mantou buns (fried bao buns) are his speciality.
If you come in the morning you can try his homemade roti. “I had to do a bit of R&D,” Arneez says. “It's very difficult to make. It took me two years just to perfect the flip.” Just as it’s eaten in Singapore and its northern neighbour, it’s best enjoyed as a dipping tool. In this case with a ragu-like chicken curry.
It’s a lot of rich food, so we recommend ordering one of two refreshing Singapore-style drinks. One is a fairy-princess-pink milk drink with rose cordial and evaporated milk. The other is a translucent purple soda with ginger ale, lemon, orange and grenadine syrup.
The pop-up will finish in early May.
Singapore Hawker Style
Level G, Cafe Court, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Sun & Mon 11.30am–9pm
Tue to Thu 11.30am–10.30pm
Fri & Sat 11.30am–11pm