I know we are only in January but I don’t see how any restaurant could possibly match up with Meta at Keong Saik Road. Chef Sun Kim, formerly from Waku Ghin, serves French-inspired cuisine with an Asian twist, while Pastry Chef Tammy Mah is in charge of very innovative desserts. The team of chefs is very young, but very dynamic.
A cold amuse bouche (beetroot, cheese, shisuo leaf); warm amuse bouche (charred cabbage); cocktail Rise of Kim; wine
Started with a cocktail, The Rise of Kim ($25++), by a very talented bartender (yikes, didn’t get his name). It puns on kimchi, a key ingredient of the cocktail, and the head chef’s name, Sun Kim, as in the rising sun of Kim (or whatever part of him that can rise). The vodka-based drink is spicy from homemade
Sun Kimchi juice, creamy from egg whites, and sweet from pear. It takes someone who knows Korean cuisine to pair pear with kimchi (Koreans use lots of pear in their cuisine). If you’re not a recovering alcoholic, this is definitely a must order.
Japanese sweet shrimp with edible head, dashi jelly, ikura, pickled apple, finger lime
The set dinner goes for $88++ for 5 courses and $138++ for 8. Two problems I hate about fine-dining are (1) chefs gei-kiang and do funny things to the ingredients until the integrity of ingredients is destroyed beyond recognition, and (2) the food may be innovative but it’s not as satisfying as a good bowl of wanton mee or fishhead curry. But the two problems are resolved here.
To be honest, I came here because the head chef is very cute; I didn’t expect to be satisfied, I didn’t expect Meta to resolve the two problems with fine-dining here. The ingredients are clear, bright, and distinct, but never pulverized. Each plate consists of many ingredients but they all combine well together. For instance, the wagyu beef tartare (above) complements the egg jelly, pear kimchi, and crispy rice excellently. I beat myself up for not recognizing the dish before my first bite. It tastes like… bimbimbap! But a very satisfying, complex version with layering tastes and textures.
Hokkaido scallop, endive, miso teriyaki dressing, squid ink crisp, shaved bottarga
The second problem of fine-dining not being satisfying is settled too. The dishes satisfy because they are flavorful and delicious. Besides the courses are an education, using rare ingredients, such as finger lime, which tastes like tomyum roe. Kid you not.
But at the end of the 5 courses, I was only about 70% full. Good for the Atkins people, but I wish they provided some form of carbs—bread, or pasta, or risotto—to fill up the stomach. I also thought the 30-hour slow cooked short rib (above) could benefit from some fast grilling, so that the surface is charred to provide a contrast with the tenderness. Instead, it is only evenly textured, which comes across as monotonous.
I have always believed that pastry chef Cheryl Koh of Les Amis is nonpareil, but Tammy Mah at Meta would give Koh a run for her money. The golden ball of cheese cake (above) splits open to drip a bleeding heart of blood orange coulis. The cheese cake itself is soft as a dream. This dessert will most likely go into Best Desserts of 2016.
Besides being delicious, Mah also creates a nitrogen dessert (above) which will give you fumes.
I don’t always post a video of myself, but when I do, I am a dragon! RAWR.
Handsome chef who satisfies; pastry chef who rivals the best in Singapore; and one last thing, the immaculate service. When I was waiting for The Ex to arrive, Carolina the hostess and the talented bartender chatted with me to make sure I was fine. I hate intrusive service, servers who chat incessantly and don’t know when to stop. But Caroline is friendly, genuine, and warm without being encroaching. Throughout dinner, she chatted with us, but she instinctively knew when to withdraw, to leave us alone when we had h2ht. I love her to bits!
This is Michelin-worthy service, this is Michelin-worthy food, this is Michelin-worthy restaurant with a fun, relaxed vibe. We paid $276 for two persons, including alcohol. Please let me strike the $12 million toto angpow draw so that I can dine here everyday.
Meta Restaurant Singapore
9 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089117
T: +65 6513 0898
Overall rating: 4/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.