na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore

na oh restaurants opens at HMGICS

 

Na Oh, the culinary venture at the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICS), is more than just a restaurant – it is an experience that blends tradition, innovation, and sustainability. Helmed by three-Michelin-star Chef Corey Lee, this unique dining establishment offers a seed-to-table journey that explores the future of food. Located in Singapore, a city renowned for its fusion of nature and technology, Na Oh shares the spirit of innovation with landmarks like Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, and other architecture in Singapore. By harvesting a state-of-the-art smart farm within HMGICS, Na Oh not only showcases culinary excellence but also supports Singapore’s vision of sustainable food production.

 

Cooking is probably still the slowest artisanal business out there. Singaporeans are very international and it is an innovation-centered country; it’s really a hub in SouthEast Asia as well as for the rest of the world. This intervention explores how we can innovate in a still very craft-based business,‘ introduces Chef Corey Lee in an interview with designboom at Na Oh.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
Na Oh translates as ‘moving from inside out’ in Korean

all images coutesy of Hyundai Motor Group

 

 

seed-to-table dining experience

 

Na Oh takes the concept of seed-to-table to new heights – 28m high if counting the skytrack – by sourcing many of its ingredients directly from HMGICS’s vertical smart farm. This two-story, fully automated farm employs ABB-partnered robots to cultivate a variety of crops with seeding, growing, and harvesting areas. 568 growing towers on a conveyor belt, together with a tray-stack system, supplies water, light, and humidity to the plants. The smart farm can produce over 30kg of produce daily – including ice plant, red coral lettuce, and swiss chard – to ensure the freshest makes it to your plate in the restaurant.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
Na Oh sources many of its ingredients directly from HMGICS’s vertical smart farm

 

 

Singapore faces significant challenges in food production. Only 1% of its land available for agriculture and importing 90% of its food from 183 countries in 2022, for reference. The HMGICS smart farm supports the country’s ‘30 by 30’ goal, which aims to increase self-sufficiency rates by 30% by 2030. By producing fresh, locally grown crops, the Center plays a vital role in this national effort, directly connecting guests to a sustainable ecosystem.

 

Hyundai’s smart farm program was really attractive to me,‘ continues Chef Corey Lee. ‘Singapore does not produce a lot of agriculture. This is something I have noticed on my previous visits to the country, which is famous for its food though. Using vertical farming, this proximity between produce and restaurant is unique for Singaporeans.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
water, light, and humidity help produce over 30kg of fresh produce daily

 

 

korean culinary and craft

 

Chef Lee’s menu is designed to highlight these fresh ingredients through seasonal changes and new dishes that, in turn, introduces seasonal variety to Singapore’s culinary scene. This approach not only ensures that diners experience the freshest flavors but also supports sustainable agricultural practices. The inaugural summer menu showcases a modern twist on traditional Korean dishes, reimagined with a brand-new casual dining concept that promotes community.

 

For our first round, we chose crops that we knew we would utilize in our inaugural menu. We are then going to grow more Korean vegetables in our second phase early in 2025. Right now, we are also trying new things like strawberries, grapes, and tomatoes. I am excited to see what happens.‘ The Chef clarifies, ‘We needed to figure out timings and output with our first crops though.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
the design of Na Oh was inspired by traditional Korean architecture like hanok homes

 

 

The essence of Na Oh lies in its ability to merge traditional Korean culture with modern culinary techniques. Chef Lee emphasizes the importance of local produce and traditional Korean fermentation methods, reinventing historic preparation techniques in a contemporary context. This fusion is evident in details beyond the food too, from the four-course prix fixe menu to the artisanal cutlery, tableware, and furnishings custom-designed for the restaurant. Diverse collaborations with the country’s artisans included bespoke pots and pans from Anseong Casting, wall art by Yunjin Kim, and chairs by Sangmin Lee.

 

I think that it is important to celebrate tradition,‘ adds Corey Lee. ‘I have collaborated with many of these artisans before, but each piece is made bespoke for Na Oh. The designs needed to fit our concept, its cultural setting, and the scale of our service in the restaurant. This has been one of the most rewarding parts of this project to see traditional work being used in contemporary ways.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
cutlery, tableware, and furnishings are custom-designed for the restaurant, such as wall art by Yunjin Kim

 

 

The interior of the restaurant was inspired by Korean architecture. At the start of this project, we only knew where the smart farm would be located. It was set right in the middle of the factory,‘ mentions the Chef. ‘I felt that this was like the layout of a house, where there is a courtyard in the center; the smart farm is the nature at the heart. The restaurant is unusual in a factory, as people typically don’t associate good food with this. I wanted to embrace this environment, connecting diners with the program and offering seed-to-table.

 

The design of Na Oh, inspired by traditional Korean architecture like hanoks, creates a unique dining environment within the factory setting of HMGICS. The collaboration between the Chef and the design team, who selected materials for their cultural significance, results in a space that feels both authentic and innovative. The use of traditional craftsmanship combined with modern design elements highlights the restaurant’s commitment to preserving cultural heritage while embracing the future.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
the restaurant highlights its commitment to preserving cultural heritage while embracing the future

 

 

hyundai’s skytrack ride and VR factory tour

 

As well as Na Oh, the HMGICS – opened in November 2023 – offers more than just a dining experience. It is a Center for everything innovation, as its name suggests. Visitors can explore the smart farm, witnessing the forward-thinking processes that bring their food from seed to table. The experiences extend to a variety of other programs and attractions, including a 618-meter rooftop skytrack. Guests can ride in a locally-produced Hyundai IONIQ 5, revealing a unique yet quick view of Singapore’s skyline from 28 meters above ground.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
immersive 3D virtual reality tours of the factory shows how the IONIQ 5 is manufactured

 

 

Additionally, the customer experience space at HMGICS invites guests on immersive 3D virtual reality tours of the highly automated manufacturing processes. This includes the 129 robots that contribute to the factory’s efficiency with cell production method. They can see how the IONIQ 5 is created in these stations rather than on the traditional conveyor system. This integration of advanced technology and visitor engagement highlights Hyundai’s vision of a future as innovative as it is sustainable.

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
guests can then ride the cars on the 618-meter rooftop skytrack

 

 

Na Oh at HMGICS is a pairing of tradition and technology. Chef Corey Lee’s vision, combined with Hyundai’s innovative prowess, creates a unique dining experience that celebrates the best of Korean cuisine, artisanal craftsmanship, and modern sustainable practices. Whether a foodie or creatively curious like designboom, Na Oh serves an innovative journey from seed-to-table.

 

Na Oh is not a traditional restaurant with a modern feel. It is a showcase of artisans in culinary, design, and craft. An Innovation Center keeps traditions alive; it allows different crafts to interact in very different contexts, far beyond Korea in this instance. This synergy – between myself and Hyundai, and between traditions and innovation – has been very effective,‘ concludes Chef Corey Lee in an interview with designboom at Na Oh.

na-oh-restaurant-hyundai-smart-farm-singapore-designboom09

skytrack reveals a unique yet quick view of Singapore’s skyline from 28 meters above ground

na oh restaurant fuses tradition, innovation and sustainability at hyundai’s smart farm in singapore
ABB-partnered robots cultivate a variety of crops with seeding, growing, and harvesting areas

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this two-story, fully automated farm holds 568 growing towers on a conveyor belt and a tray-stack system

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