Singapore . Innovative
Date visited: 28.12.2017
Nouri is one of those small, unassuming and unpretentious restaurants that will surprise and delight you through its exciting and innovative flavours from around the globe. Behind its narrow doors in a steep alley, you will be greeted with the warmest welcome from one passionate and talented chef/owner Ivan Brehm, and its equally young and brilliant entourage that you see working seamlessly together in the open kitchen.
I was highly recommended by my friend that this is a restaurant that I MUST visit, and rightly so! This would be one of the best dining experience that I have ever had, not only was the food fantastic, but it was the team that made it what is was- it was like I was sharing a meal with my friends. Even though I had only met Ivan and the team- from the lovely waiter and waitress (Julius and Nicole), to the young and friendliest chefs that evening (MJ and Gen), it was as if we had known each other for much longer than that.
As I had opted for the off- menu tasting course – it meant that what I was served was purely a surprise and decided by the chef on the day. Since I do not have a menu to go by, I can only recall by memory, so please forgive me if any of my recounts below are not 100% accurate.
Ivan believes that food brings people together, and nothing else can better represent the beginning of a meal by breaking bread. Is it fitting, then, that I was served a slice of crusty rye bread made using a natural ferment, delicious on its own, was made even more so when dipped into the shallow dish of silken cheese that resembled silken tofu, garnished with zesty olive oil and a dark rich vinegar. A small cup of vegetable broth made with seven types of vegetables was light yet sweet and flavourful.
Watching the deft hands of MJ as she expertly prepared the “snacks” course, which came on a slice of crisp lettuce, enlivened with a dab of spiced cashew cream, topped with salty pops of trout roe and pickled lemon for freshness.
Like a watercolour painting, the next course was a pickled sardine with silvery glistening skin adorned with black roe sits atop a swirl of colourful flavoured oils. Sardines have a bad reputation of being too fishy, but here it isn’t at all after being picked in a mixture of mirin and Flower Vinegar. The piquant fillet truly whet my appetite for next courses to come!
Drawing on his Brazilian roots, a crunchy fritter (Acarajé) rests upon the star of the show- a prawn and coconut sauce based on the of the Brazilian vatapá (shrimp stew) that was sweet, creamy and richly spiced, and cut through by a green ring of herb oil.
If I had to pick a top dish, the silky, melt-in-the-mouth whiting with caviar and a buttermilk sauce would be the one. So delicious, the photo does not do it justice!
Thinly sliced octopus was tender and sweet, paired nicely with sweet pumpkin puree and pretty pink Lantana flowers.
Another tasty little snack assembled by MJ before the final savoury course- beef tartare with kimchi, sandwiched between paper-thin crispy lavosh, served with the best Romesco sauce. This little bite was not enough!
The last of the savouries was a pork fillet, which I can remember being very tender having been sous-vide and the sauce was very tasty. I was quite full by this stage and having had all the outstanding dishes earlier, I cannot recall anything further (my apologies)!
Ready for dessert now, I watched with interest as Gen (pastry chef) twisted a light-green strip into a small knot. Pillowy-soft with flavours of nasturtium and candied orange, it was an elegant piece of marshmallow indeed!
Sweet peanut soup is not one of my favourite desserts but this version paired with mandarin sorbet and sesame halva has become my exception. The soup was silky smooth with a toasted aroma, and the mandarin sorbet cut through any heaviness. I can have this everyday.
The second dessert brought something I have never seen before- caramalized pinepapple using soy sauce! Definitely playing on the sweet and salty- the soy sauce adds an extra dimension to the caramel.
Last but not least, the finale was a dessert of chocolate petit ecolier (a popular French chocolate biscuit) served with a Mirabelle plum gel, textures of plum and a small up of oolong tea. The chocolate fondant was as soft and silky as ever, with the plum to tame the richness. The real magic happens when you take a sip of the oolong tea and the flavours meld together and performs a dance in your mouth. It is difficult to describe but it is something about the smokey, floral aroma with the dark cocoa that creates a whole new experience. A perfect ending.
I could not thank Ivan, Julius, Nicole, Gen and MJ enough for their kind hospitality and taking the time during the busy service to converse with me and get to know each other. I would not hesitate i a heartbeat to return when I am back in Singapore in the future.
Address: 72 Amoy Street, Singapore 069891