A Taste of Home: Patisserie Chef Natalie Eng on Her Favourite Dining Destinations in Singapore
Singaporean chef Natalie Eng isn’t a new face in the culinary world. Leaving Singapore for Paris at 17, she had trained under award-winning pastry chef Cedric Grolet at Alain Ducasse's three-starred Le Meurice before leading the pastry division of modern fine dining restaurant, Sorrel. She also spent some time at Neighbor Bakehouse in San Francisco, California, where she honed her skills in viennoiseries.
Currently, Eng resides in Hong Kong, bringing her classical French training to Bâtard. Here, she showcases pastries that are “focused on technique and unique flavour profiles of the desserts... working with ingredients that people are not quite familiar with, whilst pairing them with what guests would already know,” she explains.
Her desserts draw inspiration from art and nature, and are reflected in her minimal and elegant approach to her creations. With a passion for recipe development, her desserts are visually pleasing, while maintaining an element of surprise in each dish she produces.
While she is busy whipping up delectable desserts in the kitchen, she can’t help but miss the local flavours of Singapore and its diverse F&B scene. Here, she shares her favourite local dishes that remind her of her time back in Singapore.
When was your last trip to Singapore? How did you spend your holiday here?
Natalie Eng (NE): It was February 2020. I came back for Chinese New Year and spent some quality time with my family.
What do you miss most on the food/drink front when you are away from Singapore or haven’t been back for a while?
NE: I miss the diversity, accessibility and affordability of food at any time of the day.
If you have visitors/guests with you, where do you ensure you always go to give them a real taste of home?
NE: Tiong Bahru market—it is a very interesting area—not only does it have a hawker centre, but it also contains nostalgic eateries and local confectionaries. I also bring guests to Hainanese Delicacy, located in Far East Plaza.
What are your favourite heritage dishes and where are some of the places you go to find them?
NE: Teochew kuehs are one of my favourite heritage dishes. I go to Yong’s Teochew Kueh along Katong to get my fix.
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Where do you like to meet up with old friends for food and drinks?
NE: Simpang Bedok for some late night prata—as it’s where I grew up, it holds a very special place in my heart.
Do you have a favourite bar that you need to visit when you’re in Singapore? What drink do you often order and why?
NE: Manhattan bar. I tend to get its Whiskey Sour, as it is my favourite.
What do you always take back home with you when you leave Singapore?
NE: My pastry books. As they are quite heavy, I can only bring a few over at a time.
Where do you go to find authentic flavours of home in Hong Kong?
NE: I recently visited Bibi & Baba, in Wan Chai, for lunch and really enjoyed a taste of home!
Could you tell me more about your passion for creating desserts?
NE; Nature is a big inspiration for me when creating my desserts. For me, there are certain techniques and ingredients that can be used to mimic a specific texture or form of nature. Linking this together with various flavours creates something really unique on a plate.