Nouri is the newly minted Michelin 1 Star, from the Chef and same excellent team that brought you Bacchanalia (also 1 Star). More edgy and experimental, the dinner at Nouri is something electrifying.
Unlisted Collection x Chef Ivan
What do you get when you take a rebel (and brilliant) hotelier and serial restauranteur like Loh Lik Peng and Chef Ivan Brehm? For one, Loh has remained cavalierly buoyant for the last 15 years, with restaurants like Burnt Ends, Pollen, Majestic, Salted & Hung, Meatsmith and Zen all under his Unlisted Collection umbrella. That’s why each of the chefs he works with, like Chef Ivan Brehm using regional ingredients to craft Brazilian plates at Nouri, has a singular perspective on food, occupying a unique niche in the restaurant scene.
The likes of Ivan Brehm of Nouri, whose “crossroads cooking” style – a personal celebration of our shared culinary heritage – has earned him an even larger band of fans, not to mention a Michelin star within the first year of opening and a spot on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best list.
So where would Chef Ivan eats? “Laksa reminds me a lot of the flavours I grew up with in Brazil. Food from the culturally rich Brazilian northeast is rich in coconut, crustaceans, peppers, turmeric, and while the herb that gives laksa its name (persicaria odorata) has no equivalent in South America, dishes like a Brazilian prawn moqueca or vatapa are a few distant cousins.
Sitting down at the bar while waiting for our table, the mixologist offered to make a bespoke cocktail using my favourite poison, the whisky. The main ingredient is a blended scotch called Monkey Shoulder. Monkey Shoulder Scotch is a superb blended malt whisky from William Grant, made with single malts from three famous Speyside distilleries. The result is a smooth, creamy, supple and very malty Scotch which works superbly well neat, over ice, or in whisky cocktails (where it really excels).
The resulting cocktail is delicious, with hint of peppercorn, cloves and a bitter lemon for the tart. My first cocktail after almost 20 years of drinking whisky neat, this still needs a lot of getting use to.
The Dining Room x The Creative Team
The dining room is dominated by a long stone counter that stretches almost the entire length of the dining room. Guests sit at the half nearer the entrance, while the remaining counter space is used by the chef and his assistants to plate the dishes. At the end of that is the stove fitted with a plancha, and right at the back of the restaurant is a tiny kitchen with ovens and a washing area
Unusual perhaps, but the creative team worked away assembling the dishes at the end on the long shared Chef’s Communal table. It was an interesting insight into the crafting of some elegant dishes.
It is a comfortable setting that feels airy and bright, lit by beautiful lamps, and there is space for diners to walk around both the counters in the dining room and the bar – which is how Brehm sees them experiencing Nouri.
Chef’s 7-Course Omakase with Wine Pairing
Nouri comes from the word nourish and the wholesome food here lives up to that promise. What is unique about the 7-course omakase is that it is different for every table. So what we will be eating tonight will be different the next table if they have ordered the same 7-course omakase. Talking about innovation and creativity on the fly!
Bread and Broth
We started with the Bread and Broth, rye sourdough bread served with a silken cheese bowl topped with extra virgin olive oil and 25 years old balsamic sauce. The interesting bit here is also the vegetable broth served, a comforting and interesting pair with bread which is quite oriental in itself. Dip the bread in the tofu balsamic sauce and have the broth intermittently, it’s awesome! I could do with more of the vegetable broth, prepared from seven organic vegetables from various regional farms finished with some parsley oil.
A duo of snacks were presented in succession – a Chinese bitter gourd salad followed by a cold kimchi made from abalone with daikon and nashi pear.
Chinese bitter gourd salad, fermented black bean, mint oil
A very peculiar choice of vegetable, as bitter gourd is not usually featured in the western kitchen as the taste of bitterness is always associated with unhappiness. However, when played correctly, the bitterness can accentuate the other taste profiles, like the saltiness and strong fermented black bean and the sharp mint oil dressing. It is an interesting “salad”, and the bitterness was just present at the beginning of the bite.
Abalone from Victoria, daikon, nashi pear, torch ginger
A very light ginger taste to balance the sliced abalone, mixed with daikon with a very slight dashi and vinegar dressing with granita made from torch ginger. Called “kimchi” because of the cold and tangy taste, I could not conjure up the same feelings as the Korean original inspirations. Nevertheless, the taste is well balanced and a good palate cleanser to the main courses.
Wine Pairing #1 – NV Torelló Halvarel•lo, Panedès, Spain
The oldest reference to this family property, formerly known as Mas de la Torrevella (currently Can Martí), dates from 1395 even though the Torelló surname did not appear until the 22nd generation took charge of the estate. In the 1950s, Francisco Torelló started the production of bottled wine and cava.
At the beginning of 2019 Torelló left DO Cava along with other sparkling wine producers from Penedès that are members of Corpinnat. The brand Corpinnat was presented in April 2018 as a new EU-registered, private certification that champions terroir in Penedès with stricter quality standards than those set by the DO Cava.
Wines are produced at Can Martí de Dalt and Can Martí de Baix, the two traditional farmhouses in the estate. The latter, built around an open courtyard, is a traditional “vineyard farmhouse” —the ground floor used to house the winery and the livestock, the first floor was the home and the loft was used to store food.
Located in the outskirts of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, the Can Martí estate includes 135Ha planted with white varieties Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada, Chardonnay and Subirat Parent and reds Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Francisco de la Rosa, a member of the generation currently in charge of the winery, describes the property: “In the past the sea reached as far as this point, at the feet of the Montserrat mountain; now our soils prevent the vines from absorbing water; plants really have to strive here.”
The two varieties (Malvasía and Xarel·lo) in this white share a similar growth cycle which allowed harvesting to take place on the same day. They were macerated together for a few hours to extract all their aromatic potential then were gently pressed together. The fermentation took place in stainless steel vats for 20 days at a low temperature to conserve all of the varieties aromas as well as those from the fermentation.
Slightly acidic and dry, very light white wine that has a hint of freshly cut grass in the bouquet. Pairs well with light cheese and the amuse bouche that came first with the omakase.
1/ Tuna and Onion
Chutoro sashimi, oscietra caviar, pickled ginger, chilled onion consomme
The first course was Chutoro sashimi with caviar and chilled onion consomme. It was a nice cut of fatty tuna and paired with very nice vinaigrette. The consommé added another dimension to the sashimi with the sweetness of the caramelised onions, fattiness from the chutoro and the brine from the caviar. A hint of wasabi in the consommé.
Wine Pairing #2 – 2018 The Death of Von Tempsky, Carrick, Bannockburn, Central Otago, NZ
The Death of Von Tempsky ( at Te Ngutu o Te Manu ) is a natural wine made with white grapes grown on the Cairnmuir Vineyard. It’s name comes from a lithograph – the work of New Zealand printmaker Marion McGuire. As for the label, it features the lithograph of Von Tempsky killed in Taranaki during the New Zealand wars, but in this image, his death takes place in ancient Troy. It is an organic wine and preservative free.
The 2018 Death of Von Tempsky is handpicked Riesling, fermented on skins and sealed with maceration for 200 days. This wine reminds me of some of the great amphora wines of Italy – it has a waxy, resinous richness which is juxtaposed against the intense floral aromatics of Central Otago Riesling. To me, this is a wine that has a quality I can only describe as “the unbearable lightness of being”. Because Riesling is a relatively thin-skinned grape the wine is pale gold (rather than amber or orange) but has a brightness, persistence, and beauty that is hard to compare.
Opaque straw-yellow with slight golden hues. The nose is redolent of attractive lime and exotic floral aromas with fragrant citrus fruits and underlying minerals and yeasty lees notes. Dry to taste, the flavours and mouthfeel are taut and tightly bound with fine lime and floral fruit.
2/ Prawn bouillabaisse
The second course was their rendition of prawn bouillabaisse with saffron jelly. They used the reduction from the prawn head to make the thick sauce. The prawn was cooked to the right texture and doneness, retaining a level of rawness yet still warm. The saffron jelly added an dimension to the umami of the prawn head sauce.
Wine Pairing #3 – 2018 Grüner Veltliner little Buteo, Weinviertal, Austria
Organic wine from Austria, 50% of the grapes were whole cluster pressed and the other 50% had a short maceration on the skins for 4–8 hours. After the maceration, the grapes were pressed slowly and gently over 8 hours. Spontaneously fermented in stainless steel tanks with a maximum temperature of 22°C. Aged on the lees without SO2 in steel tanks for 6 months.
The Weinviertal is the largest wine growing region in Lower Austria with 13,356 hectares. It runs from the Danube in Vienna to the Czech border in the north and Slovakia in the east. It’s most well-known for Gruner Veltliner and to many people it represents liter-land, table-wine Gruners. There are a number of small growers who are bucking the trend to sell their grapes to co-ops and bottling their wine to find a unique expression of Weinviertal terroir.
Orange peel, apple, cardamon or star anise. Thrilling. Acidity. Rather different and not for everyone but wow, with the chutoro I’m eating it’s the bomb!
3/ Sea bream
Kimedai (sea bream), edamame, spiced sea salt
An odd pairing once again, with a flaky piece of sea bream paired with edamame. The sauce was a green concoction that tasted like chee cheong fun sauce, but a different colour..
Wine Pairing #4 – 2011 Charles Melton Rose of Virginia, Barossa Valley, Australia
Charles Melton Wines is an Australian winery based in Tanunda, within the Barossa Valley wine region of South Australia. About 15,000 cases of wine are produced each vintage. The best known wine produced by Charles Melton is the Nine Popes. It is a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre.
A rosé style wine made from Grenache, and named Rose of Virginia after his wife “is regarded as one of Australia’s best roses” by Sydney Morning Herald.
This vibrant cerise rose is full-bodied yet crisp, with a fragrant bouquet of Turkish Delight, seasoned with pepper and spice. Perfect served as a lightly chilled red, to accompany summer dishes like the black pepper carb that follows.
4/ Black Pepper Crab
Poached Alaskan king crab, wild rice stem, Kampot black pepper sauce
A play on the local flavour, it is further enhanced with a hint of vanilla that brought a different flavour profile to the all-too-familiar black pepper crab. Roasted makomotake stem has a moderate flavor with a subtle sweetness and taste like a cross between as asparagus and bamboo shoot.
Wine Pairing #5 – Bill Downie, Biodynamic Petit Verdot 2015 Riverland, Victoria, Australia
Australia, or more specifically the irrigated inland Riverland region of south-east Australia, seems capable of producing fully ripe, almost lip-smacking examples of this Bordelais variety. And to find this is made from bumptious, biodynamically grown grapes is another bonus.
Put this together with the fact that the winemaker is one of Australia’s most admired new wave young(ish) producers and you have a bit of a winner. Bill Downie runs a small estate – just half a hectare – in Gippsland on the Victorian coast, where he makes seriously ambitious Pinot Noir grown there, in Yarra Valley and on the Mornington Peninsula. Downie followed through on the low tech approach in the winery, fermenting this unfiltered Petit Verdot naturally.
The fruit is less overt and the tannins less polished than other examples of Australian Petit Verdot I’ve encountered, but it retains good varietal character with its deep hue, violet perfume lift and spicy dark, open knit but intense berry fruit. Bitter chocolate and smudgy, fine tannins add savoury interest. Very good.
5/ Wagyu beef mole
Grass-fed wagyu rump cap, fermented jalapeño pepper paste, aromatic oils, panzanella
Chef Ivan refers back to his Brazilian roots with a mole, but with a twist. I wouldn’t blame you if you think this next dish as a chocolate cake with truffle. This dish was actually wagyu rib eye with Mexican’s mole sauce made from the Nyonya ingredient called the “buah keluak“. Buah keluak gave it a dark as chocolate colour and texture, and added the tangy, nutty flavour. Perfect execution of medium rare on this grass fed wagyu rib eye, with the pickled jalapeño provided some bite to the mole.
Wine Pairing #6 – 2013 Polvanera Aleatico Puglia IGT, Italy
Aleatico is an unusual red grape variety grown in small quantities in central Italy. It is used in the production of dry red and rosé wines, but is at its best as a dessert wine made in the passito manner where the grapes are air-dried prior to vinification. These are lusciously sweet with floral aromas and flavors of spice and red fruit, particularly cherries.
Aleatico is planted in several Italian regions, including Lazio (Aleatico di Gradoli), Marche (Pergola) and Puglia (Aleatico di Puglia) in the far south of the Italian peninsula. But its most famous expression is from the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, where it makes Elba Aleatico Passito wines, which are classified as DOCG – a rare honor for a sweet wine.
Puglia IGT is a region-wide appellation for the Puglia region in southern Italy. Since its introduction in November 1995, it has become one of the most widely used of Italy’s 120 or so IGTs (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), and thus one of the country’s most significant wine appellations.
A sweet tasting red with ruby red colour with beautiful intensity, graceful scents of cherry, thyme and musk in the bouquet, alluring taste, smooth, balanced and fresh. Good with dessert
Nasturtium marshmallow with candied orange
A nice little palate cleanser to lead to the desserts. Pop the whole thing in and enjoy the burst of fireworks in your mouth. Caught off guard from the peppery taste by the Nasturtium (a kind of edible flower) combined with the sweetness of the marshmallow. And that citrusy punch from the candied orange made this really impactful and memorable.
Fun fact – The entire above-ground portion of the nasturtium plant is edible, the flower (ranging from yellow to gold and red), the leaves and the seed pods.
6/ Japanese Ichigo
Japanese ichigo, azuki (red) beans, sansho pepper with strawberry sorbet
The first dessert looked quite simple but it was actually pretty sophisticated. The dish was Japanese ichigo (strawberries) with azuki beans, sansho pepper with strawberry sorbet.
The dish was sweet, sour, cold, crunchy… and spicy! Every now and then there was this kick from the sansho pepper that made the dish very lively.
Wine Pairing #7 – 1964 Ximénez-Spínola Sherry, Jerez-Xérès, Spain
Bodegas Ximénez-Spínola is a very discreet bodega to say the least. Although it was founded by Phelipe Antonio Zarzana Spínola in 1729 and has a long tradition, it is not well known due to painfully low quantities (probably the lowest of the whole sherry region) and a philosophy that sets it apart from most other sherry bodegas. As a rule, the bodega doesn’t take part in any wine competitions and they don’t apply for VOS or VORS labels. They are only focusing on the quality and work with a very limited amount of distributors, making their wines very much an insider’s choice.
It is run by José Antonio Zarzana, the ninth generation of this winery, although all important elements (the yearly composition of the blends for instance) are decided unanymously by a family board. The Zarzana Spínolas started as wine exporters, then became almacenistas and finally evolved into a proper shipping bodega.
Ximénez Spínola Old Harvest Medium Dry, a combination of a 1964 solera of dry, oxidatively-aged Pedro Ximénez wine (kind of an Oloroso made from PX grapes) and around 10% sweet wine from the 1918 solera (raisined PX). Around 8.000 – 10.000 bottles / year. We had bottle #261 of 8,993 produced in 2017.
The resulting wine is married in casks for around one year and contains about 45 grams of sugar per liter. The amount of sweet PX that is added varies with each bottling. All of their wines are created by a family tasting panel which decides upon the final composition.
Jammy fruits, dried apricots, cinnamon pastry. Cocoa. Figs. Toasted nuts. Light herbal notes, fading towards some minty / eucalyptus edge. Butter toffee. Hints of tobacco leaves and sweet coffee. Beautiful nose! Very nice balance of chocolate sweetness and a tangy acidity that comes a little later, alongside some nutty, oaky hints. Quinces and bright yellow raisins. Some oxidative notes in the background, with something of toasted oak. Then back to the darker notes of chocolate and Turkish coffee. The dryness takes over in the aftertaste. Fairly long, intense finish.
7/ Chocolate crumble
Chocolate crumble, caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream
A classic dish, very little thought, but because it was so simple, it was so difficult to get it right. The salty caramel went very well with the dark chocolate crumble, a sweet ending to an excellent meal.
With each dish made up of ingredients that often require the server to take half a minute to list out, you can expect explosions of different flavours, textures and sometimes temperatures. Some dishes are delightful, some fascinate because of the unexpected ingredients and some are just too funky for me. What they have in common is that you never know what to expect.
Chef Ivan really deserves the Michelin star. It is not the classical star restaurant but it is the new age of star chefs, uncompromising, cool, extraordinary and manly the food was amazing.
72 Amoy Street S.069891
+65 6221 4148
Date Visited : Aug 2019
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