In a city-state with no real seasons, high population density and a plethora of high-rise buildings, chef Han Li Guang has created a gate-to-plate restaurant that takes sourcing, the environment and social responsibility seriously. Locality is the principle at the heart of Labyrinth, which celebrates not only Singaporean heritage, but also the impressive work of producers growing high-quality ingredients in the extremely limited spaces on the island.
Opened in 2014, the restaurant serves neo-Singaporean cuisine that reinvents the flavours of hawker street food fused with the chef’s own childhood memories. Taking inspiration from traditional dishes such as Rainbow Yu Sheng – a recipe first created in the 1970s that has become a must-have during Chinese New Year celebrations – Li Guang strives to preserve the essence of Singaporean preparations while using exclusively produce from the island’s farms and fisheries, located in areas such as Lim Chu Kang, Lorong Halus and Chua Chu Kang.
As well as supporting local farmers, Li Guang believes in the importance of moving towards more sustainable farming methods. The restaurant sources its herbs and vegetables only from suppliers who use natural fertilisers from waste compost and avoid spraying pesticides on their crops, and it encourages all its producers to cut down on single-use plastics. The farmers’ work is put front and centre at Labyrinth, with the front-of-house staff trained in highlighting the work of the suppliers and explaining the origin of each element of the dishes.
In response to the coronavirus crisis, in 2020, Labyrinth spearheaded an initiative to provide free meals to frontline workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Singapore. The campaign ran from March to April and saw six other hospitality businesses get involved thanks to Li Guang and his team’s efforts, with each restaurant pledging a portion of its sales towards buying food or cooking meals for frontline staff. The meals and food items were hand-delivered to NCID by Labyrinth’s team, who also encouraged the public to make donations towards the initiative, raising a total of SGD$11,400 (US$8,488).
The disruption caused by the Covid-19 crisis to global food supply chains prompted Labyrinth to strike up a partnership with the Government of Singapore to promote the importance of local produce for food security and health. Their influence will no doubt have a huge impact on knowledge and understanding of local food sourcing, with Labyrinth already proving a just winner of the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2021.
Read the article about five milestone Labyrinth dishes and watch the video:
The Sustainable Restaurant Award is given to the restaurant with the highest environmental and social responsibility rating, as determined by audit partner Food Made Good Global. All restaurants on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list are invited to enter the award via self-nomination and each is assessed across three main pillars: sourcing, society and environment.