Muse Amuse at Chinatown by The Carbon Collective serves modern Asian small plates in the front and Asian-inspired cocktails at the bar in the back. To get to the bar, you have to cross a plank of stone over a pool of water. It’s kind of like the traffic police walk-in-a-straight-line alcohol test. If you fall into the pool after drinking, you probably shouldn’t be driving.
On the second floor, there is a retail space for bespoke brands to launch and display their products.
The cocktails are to complement the food, but I find that they are better than the food. The tom yum bloody Mary ($25) combines vodka with homecooked tom yum and is shockingly spicy, giving a rush of endorphins. The teh halia earl grey ($25) comprises ginger cognac, Cointreau chamomile, fresh grapefruit juice and earl grey tea. My favorite, bandung blush ($25), composes of rose syrup-infused gin with cherry brandy, elderflower liqueur, and fresh milk.
There is sincerity and thought behind the food; and it is not terrible, but it lacks finesse, a certain touch that makes it great. For instance, while I appreciate the homemade shells, the uni pie tee ($15, 2 pieces) lacks a unity; the Hokkaido sea urchin overpowers the stewed stuffing.
Similarly, I found the idea of a Korean version of arancini innovative and exciting, but the golden kibun ($15) lacks a certain depth (someone at the table suggested adding cheese).
Likewise, the hand-chopped 200-day grain-fed Wagyu tartaro ($18) is sincere, but it’s overly chewy and the seasoning is off-kilter. The chicken roulade ($15), though sous vide, isn’t tender; and perhaps adding a nice stuffing will elevate it. The pink Japanese somen noodles ($18) is instagramamble, but tastewise, it’s just normal. The USDA Prime beef Angus ribeye ($78) is nice and tender, but is gamy.
Here’s what works: the 6-day baby back pork ribs ($16), the best dish we had, is twice marinated and coated in a sticky homemade BBQ sauce. It tastes almost Moroccan, slightly spicy and sweet; very complex.
Another dish that works, royal ratchaphruek ($12), is a tom yum broth with mostly root vegetables. It’s crunchy and appetizing and quite spicy. The tom yum has been brewed for four hours in a 68-degree water bath. The crunchiness of the vegetables makes it addictive.
Both desserts, sea urchin gula melaka panna cotta ($12) and slow-cooked black glutinous rice ($8), are also good. It’s surprising to add savory urchin to panna cotta, which works well, while the latter has a good balance, not too sweet.
Overall, the food is ok but forgettable. Although both the food and cocktails are innovative, the cocktails work better. It’s a place I’ll return for drinks and perhaps some nibbles.
289 South Bridge Road Singapore 058835
tel: +65 8500 0588
12pm-12am, closed Sun
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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.