COLLIN’S® has come a long way from its beginnings as a Western food hawker stall to one that has just launched its first halal-certified modern European restaurant, Elfuego at Jewel Changi Airport.
When you’re craving a good steak, yet can’t bear to break the bank for it, COLLIN’S® is the place to go. Since 2012, the casual restaurant has built a reputation for offering tasty, affordable Western food. Variety is another strength; its wide-ranging menu spans appetisers, charcoal grilled meats, seafood, premium wagyu, oven-baked pasta, handmade pizza and desserts.
The eponymous chef-owner behind the brand is Singaporean chef Collin Ho, who has more than two decades of culinary experience under his belt. Seven years ago, he decided to open a hawker stall in Geylang selling Western food. Since then, he has gone full steam ahead, expanding the business to 23 outlets across Singapore with outposts in Indonesia, Cambodia and China. The brand’s rise has not gone unnoticed by the industry. Last year, it received the Singapore Enterprise 50 Award for being among the top 50 local brands who have contributed to Singapore’s economic development.
It also picked up the Singapore Prestige Brand Award (Established Brands), given out for brand excellence. Despite its success, COLLIN’S® stays anchored to its key tenet of keeping prices affordable for the masses. Case in point, on average, the mains on the menu do not go beyond $25. For example, the Signature Grilled Chicken Chop that is served with generous mounds of aglio olio, corn cob and salad is $13; the Signature Roasted BBQ Pork Ribs ½ slab served with skinny Cajun fries, corn cob and salad is $17; while an Argentine Angus Ribeye Prime Steak served with seasonal mushrooms and mushroom potato au gratin is $24.
Says chef Collin, “We earn less. It is the truth. It is challenging to keep prices low as rising rental rates, as well as cost of goods and labour affect the entire industry. We just have to keep sourcing for affordable and sustainable sources without compromising on our quality and service. It is the quality of the food and value that we offer to our customers that keep them coming back.”
Lighting the Fire
With the same dedication to quality and service, the company recently launched Elfuego™ by COLLIN’S® , a modern European smart casual restaurant at Jewel Changi Airport. The halal-certified 80-seater features an open-concept kitchen with a state-of-the-art Mibrasa oven at its heart—fitting for a restaurant that has a name that means ‘fire’ in Spanish. In tandem, charcoal grilled meats are a key feature on the set lunch (from $19.90 for two courses) and a la carte menu. Think mouthwatering plates such as the Charcoal Grilled Argentine Angus Ribeye ($28) and Australian Wagyu Bavette Steak ($33); or for sharing, hulking platters of the 12 hours slow-cooked Charcoal Grilled Australian Lamb Shoulder ($78) and the juicy, tender Charcoal Grilled Australian Angus Tomahawk Steak ($128).
Fanning the flames of this dynamic kitchen is head chef Koh Han Jie, 26, world champion of the Young Talents Escoffier 2018 competition held in Zurich. Then a chef de partie at Les Amis restaurant, he was the first Singaporean to win the annual competition held in honour of Auguste Escoffier, father of modern French cuisine.
His senior chef de partie, Neo Jun Hao, 24, followed suit, coming in second in the Young Talents Escoffier 2019 competition. Edmund Toh, industry veteran and president of Disciple Escoffier International, Singapore, plays a mentorship role as vice president, Culinary of COLLIN’S®.
For chef Han Jie, coming into his own looks a lot like being adept at harnessing the natural flavours of quality produce. He says, “Take our Charcoal Grilled Australian Lamb Shoulder for example. We marinate and slow-cook the meat to perfection over 12 hours, so that it retains all the amazing natural flavours and is so tender that it melts in your mouth.” His produce-driven approach has him sourcing Irish oysters, Hokkaido scallops and Fremantle octopus for his appetisers, and featuring locally farmed Kühlbarra barramundi in dishes such as Farmed Barramundi En Papillote ($26), along with a full slate of premium meats.
Courtesy of the chefs’ competition experience, intricate plating, especially when it comes to desserts, will be par for the course. Tropical ($12), for instance features a delicate construction of frozen vanilla crème brûlée, coconut tuile and coconut sorbet. For drinks to go along, there are a range of innovative non-alcoholic offerings to try, such as the Cranberry Nojito ($7) mocktail of cranberry juice, sparkling soda and fresh mint; and charcoal oven specialities such as the Charred Pineapple Lime ($7), featuring grilled pineapple, lime juice and pineapple juice, coffees, teas, and juices.
If time is of the essence, zoom in on the high tea set available daily from 3-5pm. A three-tier curate stand will be trotted out, filled to the brim with nibbles such as the Melted Leek Cromesquis with Lemon Mayo (one of chef Han Jie’s winning competition numbers, we might add), a tangy Citrus Tart with Mascarpone Cream, or Buttermilk Scones with Jam and Butter ($10 with a choice of a savoury, sweet or fresh from the oven item and a drink; $25 per set without drink; or $30 per set with two cups of coffee or tea).
#02-216, Jewel Changi Airport, 78 Airport Boulevard. Tel: 6513 0716. Email: email@example.com. Opening hours: 10am to 11pm daily
This post was made in partnership with COLLIN’S®