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Image 1: Review contributed by DWB. See here for full version.
Unlike majority of the fine dining establishments that currently dominate the culinary scene in Singapore, Les Amis continues to do what they have always been good at and that is serving classic French cuisine using high quality ingredients.
Image 2: I was excited to be back in this restaurant after a 12 years hiatus. Although I had great memories of the restaurant during my younger years, I was far too inexperienced then to appreciate the skills and attention that went into each dish. What’s more, my palate was certainly nowhere near developed as today.
Image 3: As Singapore’s best classic French restaurant, I expected nothing less than top quality bread and butter. After all, excellence in bread making has always been an essential component to a successful French restaurant. On that front, I was first presented with a couple of choices of butter, plain and pommery mustard, with a pinch of Australian rock salt on the side. It came with…
Image 4: … a selection of bread including a mini baguette, walnut bread and sea salt brioche. I opted for the latter as I do love a good buttery bread. The freshly made brioche served warm had the perfect balance of crispness and butteriness. I knew it was wrong to smudge more butter on it but I just had to try the pommery mustard. It was decadent yet delicious.
Image 5: With the orders taken we were finally under way to start this highly anticipated meal kicking off with an amuse bouche of Bonito flan with avruga caviar. The natural saltiness from the caviar complemented the flavour of the bonito stock, but what I particularly liked was the balance between the acidity from the yuzu shaving and the oiliness of the caviar. A very solid start.
Image 6: The first course of the Sautéed Foie gras, smoked eel, figs, almond dragee looked deceptively simple yet made clever use of textures from the meaty fig and crunchy almonds to contrast against the delicately soft foie gras. Despite my initial reservation, the smoked eel added a beautiful and delicate flavour, adding an extra dimension to the dish.
Image 7: My companion on the other hand had the Chilled razor clam with parsnip, honey-mustard and seaweed oil. The dish could not have been more different to mine with the refreshingly chilled razor clams and its light yet lasting aftertaste. The Asian twist of the yuzu dressing added an interesting complexity to complement the clam and in my opinion was a better choice over the tried and tested lemon.
Image 8: The warm egg yolk confit hiding under the generous shavings of truffle added a creamy canvass to magnify its earthiness. The Iberian ham had a good balance of fat and provided the perfect seasoning. The soft potato crown that had soaked up the duck fat completed the trifecta with its texture. A delicate and elegant dish which was simple yet clever.
Image 9: I initially thought it was a fairly courageous move serving frog legs but immediately remembered that they were not foreign to Chinese cuisine. The momotaro tomato sauce had a naturally intricate flavour and harmonious balance between sweet and tangy. No wonder they’re so popular in Japan! They used an aged fermented garlic to mellow out the pungency and replace it with sweetness. I was very impressed to see this calibre of cooking.
Image 10: I’ve found many of these establishments unable to draw out the rich flavours and delicate texture of the Iberico pork. Chef Lim however treated this supreme cut of meat with the respect it deserved. The fat content was neither too high, avoiding that offensive jelly texture, nor too low, which often results in a dried tough piece of pork. The crunchy pear provided that contrasting texture and refreshing yet subtly sweet note.
Image 11: Angel hair pasta with chilli Nduja and crispy shrimp, which has appeared on the menu since 1998 epitomises the restaurant’s open-mindedness and creativity that has allowed it to successfully remain as one the country’s leading restaurant. This dish had transformed throughout the last 15 years under the tenure of the each head chef, allowing the personality of each one to shine.
Image 12: In my case, Chef Lim had incorporated a generous portion of the crispy in-season Sakura ebi. Each bite of the crustaceans released a flood of flavour followed by a warm and comforting sensation from the carefully balanced chilli. An Asian touch to a classic Italian dish. Certainly could see why they kept this dish!
Image 13: I opted for a lighter dessert with the Poached cherries with layers of yoghurt and pistachio biscuit, sour cherry sorbet. The best part about this dish was the quality of the French Burlat cherries, most likely sourced from Vaucluse which supplies over a quarter of its production in France. The sweet dark cherries had been poached in its own juice and married well with the refreshingly sour sorbet.
Image 14: The alternative option was a Dark chocolate “P125″ Soufflé with Tahiti vanilla ice cream. It was a decent soufflé but admittedly I was quite full and not in the mood for one. I personally find soufflés too rich most times and not ideal in hot climates. Whilst I could appreciate the skill that went into this one, I felt that it was a bit too much considering what I had eaten already.
Image 15: I did managed to make some room for the petit fours of a lemon madelaine and lemon cream to finish the meal with my espresso. If it wasn’t clear from my comments above, the meal here was very solid. The level of cooking from the starter to the dessert were consistently delivered to a high standard, offering punchy bold flavours using high quality produce and ingredients.
Image 16: Furthermore, as the menu here was dependent on the seasonality of the produce around the world, the menu evolved constantly allowing regular diners to sample new dishes on each return. Armed with a solid front of house team that offers a friendly smile and a professional service, it’s not difficult to see why Les Amis has become the benchmark for fine dining in Singapore.