3 Michelin starred French dining in Singapore
Les Amis was promoted to three Michelin stars in 2019 under its culinary head, Sébastien Lepinoy (previously of Cepage and 3 Micheiln starred L’Atelier Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong). Its roots and menus are firmly French cuisine with some impressive private dining rooms in the restaurant. Ingredient sourcing is strong and mainly from the best areas of France. The 3-course lunch (that turned out to be essentially 7 courses if you count the ice cream pre-desserts and coffee and petit fours) came to £218. Obviously not cheap for a lunch with no wine admittedly but I thought the overall return merited this and it could obviously be a lot worse if you opted for the $495 (Singaporean dollars) Degustation menu with champagne to start and full wines. Should you wish to enjoy this, I would say you would need to comfortably set aside £1000 for a meal for two. But, if that was done and you forgot about that, you would have a very pleasurable experience here in good hands.
A quick word on the restaurant itself: the staff were clearly all well drilled and knowedgable and this is a classy set up. The hospitality was genuine and the staff were extremely attentive to requests. Water was topped up at just the right moments (only when needed) and the intimate chef’s dining table overlooking the kitchen seemed a wonderful option to have amongst at least three other, larger private dining rooms scattered in the upper levels of the restaurnat. The cellar was equally impressive with pebbles from France having been flown in especially to adorn the floor of the cellar to prevent breakages of bottles should they fall – a rather lovely touch!
The home made sourdough was wheeled to the table to be sliced fresh from the oven and was worthy of the ceremony as very good sour dough and even more wonderful butter from the Loire Valley. The ‘normal’ breads that were offered as part of a selection included bacon & mustard (gorgeous), fig and rum, raisin and Comte cheese buckwheat baguettes. This was followed by the first of three amuse bouches which started with their signature cold, thin spaghetti with caviar, crystal flower & sisho. Next a confit tomato from the Loire Valley was served on a crispy puff pastry with olive oil and parsley. The absolute star of this was the delectably warm and thin pastry, whilst the succulent tomato was slightly subdued in flavour in comparison. The third and final amuse bouche was a magnificent lobster jelly with crystal Kaluga caviar, cream of cauliflower, parsley purée. This was very good.
My starter was a Parisian style egg Mimosa with caviar & savoury coulis. In essence, a French Maren egg sourced from West France had its yolk removed and filled with caviar, and the yolk turned into a mimosa emulsion on top. The dish was served with French dressing, parsley purée, mussel jus and red wine vinegar. It was all perfectly seasoned and a lovely dish, rich and all working very well together.
The main I opted for was the duck. A roasted Challans duck breast from Vendée (North Bordeaux) was accompanied by balsamic vinegar glazed turnips and served with Burlap cherries from Lyon. The duck was utterly tender and melted in the mouth and the reduction jus was served with the fat from the duck, gained via the same canard a la press method was indulgent and complimentary to the duck (sous vide and then pan-fried). The huge Burlat cherries had much more texture and were a brilliant choice as are far less acidic than normal cherries or any cherry one might find anywhere in the UK and a pleasant change from orange to go with duck.
Pre-desserts of ice cream were proudly showcased (and rightly so as it turned out) and of the options, I chose pineapple sorbet (beautifully refreshing and exotic), pistachio ice cream (wonderfully creamy and nutty) and coffee ice creams that had very strong coffee flavour. These were not your average icecreams and were at the highest of tiers one can go for a simple ice cream.
Of the dessert options on the a la carte choices, it was clearly the Rum Baba all the way to go for. There are several places that do this dessert particularly well, most notably Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, but I did like the way this came with a choice of rums to select for the important ‘dousing’. The Baba itself was infused in aged rum, Agricole & citrus, accompanied by a lightly whipped crème Fleurette which was frankly sensational. The glaze on the baba was a triumph in itself and the additional flavours were superb, with these latter factors being why I think this is fractionally superior than that from Ducasse, meaning therefore until I find another that pips this one (unlikely), this is the best Rum Baba in the world.
Petit fours came in several flavours: raspberry tart, canalle, hazelnut chocolate truffle and served with Nespresso coffee which was surprising for a 3 Michelin starred restaurant to be using such a bog standard coffee. I understand the logic of consistency for service, but if it is to be a household coffee, I would say the bill would merit a superior kind of coffee to offer.
That’s a minor dent in the proceedings though. The whole meal was expertly executed and a pleasure to have. I thought the staff were extremely good and I would recommend this restaurant to anyone for a romantic or special occasion accordingly.
Food Grade: 90%