The Masses at Bugis: The three founders of The Saveur Group, who made waves a few years ago for their rapid expansion, have split up: one bought over the shares of the group; Joshua Koo started Taste Affair, a hawker Western food stall; and Dylan Ong opened The Masses.
There are two areas that The Masses is different from Saveur: firstly, Saveur dishes out modern French cuisine whereas The Masses focuses on contemporary cuisine that is borderless. Secondly, The Masses uses fresh, seasonal ingredients of better quality and sustainable sources; and the organic vegetables come from a local farm, reducing carbon footprint. The menu changes frequently depending on the ingredients available.
As a result of the sourcing, the pricing is slightly more expensive than Saveur’s but I feel that the quality of the food is also better. The egg ($9), a reinterpretation of chawanmushi, comes hot or cold. It is topped with ikura, tobiko, homemade potato chips, and brown butter. The chawanmushi whose smoothness is broken by the crisp is enhanced with little pops of umami.
It is difficult to name the best dish because they are all great, but the Australian Fremantle octopus ($14.90) may be it. It’s tender and charred beautifully to give a pleasant smokiness, which is lifted by the spicy gochujang aioli.
Another contender for the best dish, burrata ($14), is served broken up, drizzled with a refreshing basil oil. There are also bits on the burrata (crispy rice?) that give a nice crunch to the smoothness.
The pasta ($9 small, $14.90 main), which is very popular and probably the most instagrammed dish, is topped with caviar and crab meat cooked in lobster bisque. It’s served cold, so it’s refreshing. The pasta is done perfectly in al dente. It’s sweet and viscous.
The main, honey garlic miso chicken breast ($13.90), is a dish of contention. Those who dislike sweet mains should probably avoid it, but to me, I find it very good. Chicken breast is usually tasteless but the honey garlic miso gives it a clean tang. I also like the celeriac puree, infused with brown butter.
The weakest link seems to be the dessert section, which doesn’t look very interesting. However, the deep-fried camembert ($8.90) is very good. The pungent cheese isn’t oily, and the sourish yogurt ice cream undercuts the richness. Bits of gula melaka granola adds to the texture.
The food is so delicious because in every dish, there are always contrasting textures and flavors. It’s very smart food design here; there are balance, beauty, and great flavors in each dish.
We paid $112 for two persons, including a glass of wine each, but we over-ordered and were stuffed. Usually, I think one patron would pay about $30-$40. I want to bring my friends back here.
85 Beach Road #01-02 Singapore 189694
tel: +65 6266 0061
M, T, Th, 12pm-9.30pm; W, F, Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-9pm
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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.