Monday, April 19, 2010


A very, very long anticipated visit to FiftyThree finally came to fruition last Friday afternoon. It was indeed a wonderful repast to celebrate a very special occasion.

Tucked away in a corner shophouse on Armenian Street, FiftyThree is a collaboration between hugely talented (and dishy!) lawyer-turned-chef Michael Han and the Les Amis group. The restaurant is furnished in a very simple, almost bare-bones style with a slightly raw finish, which both E and I liked for the clean and uncluttered feel which allowed the food to shine through.

53 crisps

Service was polished, discreet and professional to a fault, though one would expect no less of a Les Amis establishment. A little "amuse-bouche" of potato and yoghurt crisps was swiftly set before us, beautifully crisp and oh-so-thin. These were gone in a flash!

53 bread

The bread came in a tiny little sack filled with heated pebbles - very cutesy! The bread itself (choice of plain or charcoal) was decent and warm, although not particularly memorable.

53 starter 1

E's starter of lightly blanched sugar snap peas and shaved asparagus with Coconut mousse and foam was a simple but a magical combination of textures and tastes that tasted fantastically good and naturally wholesome. I don't like greens all that much but I scooped up half of his portion of peas, they were that good! Retaining a slight crunch and firmness, slightly savoury and just simply addictive...

53 starter 2

Continuing the theme of simplicity and celebration of the natural beauty of foods was my starter of japanese tomatoes with compressed watermelon columns and horseradish granita. The interplay of jewel reds and maroons was beautifully stunning to behold and even more magical to eat. I have never tasted such stunningly sweet tomatoes in my life! These were perfectly complemented by the slight kick of the horseradish.

53 main 1

E's main of Welsh lamp rump with root vegetables was also a sight for the senses. I didn't manage to taste this dish but just looking at the beautifully pink lamb and the translucently sliced potatoes, beetroots and radishes glistening with the meat sauces was a feast in itself. E didn't really comment on the dish but mopped it up in double-quick time so it must have been very good.

53 main 2

My main of red gunard (a type of fish with a "flavour profile between that of seabass and grouper") with Beluga lentils got a mixed reception from me. I found the fish meat to be on the slightly tough and meaty side - probably a characteristic of the fish type and nothing to do with the cooking. However, I absolutely loved those glistening tiny black Beluga lentils, they were so earthy and flavourful!

53 dessert 1

Desserts were absolutely stunning! This pictorial composition of a little garden complete with "soil", flowers and shoots had as its centrepiece, Amedei-Chuao single-estate dark chocolate, served with caramelised banana and a quenelle of malt ice-cream. I am not a chocolate connoisseur but that luxury chocolate was terribly smooth, unctuous, and maybe I also detected some floral hints! Lovely.

53 dessert 2

Although not as picturesque, this apple "risotto" with rosemary foam was a standout as well - with a single clean but intensely heightened flavour note of apple accentuated by the three different ways of cooking the apple, with varying tastes and textures. The rosemary form added a whimsical twist which helped to cut the sweetness of the apple.

If you have not by now, do go and try FiftyThree. While it does employ some "molecular gastronomy" inspired cooking techniques, these are by no means employed as tawdry gimmicks but with a clear purpose to enhance the taste and experience to the next level. E and I were both unanimous in our preference for FiftyThree over Jaan!

53 Armenian Street

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