Destination Flavour: Singapore (2016)

15 Sep

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MasterChef winner, Adam Liaw takes us on what should be his most promising journey yet visiting his ancestral home of Singapore, unfortunately Destination Flavour: Singapore serves up more misses than hits.

The series starts off perfectly; Adam visits his extended family who happen to be former hawkers of Singapore’s famed Hainanese chicken, for a lesson in how to make the island’s most recognisable dish. The intro elegantly sets up the series’ premise: Adam will make his own take on Singaporean dishes, working his way up to a banquet in the finale; and also sows the seeds for the side story of delving deeper into Liaw’s family tree. Thereafter, what could have been a fantastic series for foodies and travel bugs alike begins to forget that the real star of this show should be the glorious and multifaceted Singapore.

For someone as capable and talented as Liaw, his spin on Singapore’s most cherished dishes feel flat and arbitrary. His Hainanese chicken for example, is “elevated” simply by using a black chicken and accompanying it with an unappetizing dry fried rice, completely dismissing the simplicity and clean flavours that are at the heart of the dish. Liaw’s take on Chilli Crab is equally uninspired, using a chilli infused butter and an unnecessarily fussy cured yolk, you’d be hard pressed to find a Singaporean who’d take that over the real thing.

There are a few bright moments across the nine episodes in the series. When Liaw celebrates Ramadan with a Muslim family, Destination Flavour transcends its aims as a cooking show, and borders on politicisation in its effort to promote understanding and awareness. And throughout the series viewers are given a brief history of the tiny island through its food which is a veritable cultural melting pot.

Sadly, for all its possibility, Destination Flavour: Singapore fails to fully deliver. Even the predictable kitchen mishaps before the final banquet can’t drum up enough drama to make the finale a nail biter, and instead it finishes up as stilted as it limped along.  For a series based on one of the most fascinating island nations in the world, replete with diverse culture, advanced technology, and a rich and varied history, Destination Flavour makes for bland viewing; give it a miss.

 

Ed.

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