Salmon tartare with Oscietra caviar
Those who have been to the 21 year-old Les Amis before and after the $1.5million facelift may be puzzled where the money went. The carpets were upholstered and chairs changed, but surely that won’t cost so much. The bulk of the renovation lies behind the scenes–in the kitchen.
Steamed Provence white asparagus with mousseline sauce
The “Porsche of stoves,” as Chef Sebastien Lepinoy explains, the handmade French Charvet island, which takes 5 months to complete, stands proudly at the centre of the kitchen, consolidating the frying, grilling, steaming, and any cooking process that requires heat. As this system congregates all hot food at an exact area, the island provides a safer working environment that allows more efficient teamwork, and is eco-friendly for air conditioning and conservation of power.
Turbot, white asparagus with mousseline sauce
The kitchen also recycles water by putting it through a filtration system; saves water by using more efficient machines; cleans cooking fumes before releasing it to the atmosphere; and has equipments that only hospitals use to sanitize the kitchen. To answer the $1.5million question, the kitchen is safer, cleaner, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.
Baby lamb rack from Luberon with ratatouille
To be honest, the only thing I cared about regarding the kitchen was whether it could produce good food. I was last at Les Amis in 2011, and since then, there was a change of chef in 2013. And Chef Lepinoy has brought Les Amis to greater heights: #13 Best Restaurant in Asia. His focus is knowing the food source and sourcing them responsibly.
He personally knows the French fisherman who sails the coasts of Île d’Yeu to line-catch less than 5 fish a day to supply to 4 restaurants in the world. He sources for the best butter in France, Le Ponclet butter, so exclusive he had to send in his resume–he had worked as Joel Robuchon‘s right hand man for 17 years, so no problem there. He customizes his caviar–less salty–to fit his style.
Tropical fruits in a sugar sphere with coconut sorbet
And his style, I surmise, is classic French. The 5-course tasting menu I had was competent but held no surprises. I also wondered if the dishes could have been more varied. For instance, the seasonal Provence white asparagus, a slight bitterness, was padded with a tart buttery mousseline sauce, giving rise to a nice complexity. But this asparagus with the same sauce was repeated in the next dish with the turbot. (Tip: use sour dough to mop mousseline–very delicious!)
The dessert by pastry chef Cheryl Koh was one of the best I had this year: a sugar ball of coconut sorbet with mango. Nothing too complicated, it was clean and bright, giving an uplifting end to the meal. She also bakes wicked breads freshly for the meal. I was impressed enough to want to visit Chef Koh’s tart shop beside Les Amis–I need to go soon.
Set Lunch Menu
3 courses $55++
4 courses $80++
7 courses $145++
6 courses $165++
7 courses $220++
8 courses $280++
1 Scotts Road, #01-16 Shaw Centre, Singapore 228208
T: +65 6733 2225
Lunch 12pm (Last seating at 2.00pm)
Dinner 7pm (Last seating at 9.30pm)
Service: NA (tasting)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
This is an invited tasting.