‘What is a restaurant?’ – A Nouri review
Famed for its creativity and holding a Michelin star since its opening year in 2017, Nouri is one of Singapore’s highest-rated restaurants.
Food is one of the most important things I look forward to when I travel. It is the perfect insight into the culture and story of a place and many of my favorite travel memories are tied to meals I have had whilst abroad. When I knew I was moving to Singapore for work, I immediately looked up the best restaurants to visit and Nouri repeatedly came up as a top choice.
Located on Amoy St, a hub for great restaurants and bars in Singapore, Nouri was opened in 2017 by chef Ivan Brehm. He calls the food a “crossroads cuisine” which was evident from the varied cross-continental menu. Nouri is a fine-dining restaurant that has held a Michelin star since its opening year.
The name Nouri comes from the word to ‘nourish’ and is an indicator of the restaurant’s ethos. At Nouri, the focus is on food nourishing the mind and body and the bonds between cultures around the world. The card set at each place in the restaurant summed up the thinking behind the restaurant perfectly.
Despite the fine-dining status of the restaurant, it had a casual and welcoming setting. The decor was unfussy and chic and allowed the food to do the talking. I opted for the 7-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, with the fish dish as my main course. The food was prepared in the open kitchen and at one end of the chef’s table where I was seated. The cooks preparing the food also served it and expertly talked you through each dish.
The first course was Nouri’s infamous ‘Bread and Broth’ dish which opens all of their menus. It was a silken cheese and olive oil dip served with fresh bread and a shot of rich vegetable broth made from 7 vegetables. The dish symbolises the breaking of bread and, whilst simple, was incredibly tasty and moreish.
I also ordered a whisky cocktail called An Ode to Celebration, which felt fitting as this was in the wake of a wave of good news in my final week of my time in Singapore. I am not a huge whisky drinker but it was very smooth and balanced.
The next course was a light palate cleanser of a green salad and a cold kimchi-like dish. Since it was just a palate cleanser I didn’t pay too much attention to this but it was refreshing.
Up next, was one of the prettiest dishes I have ever seen. It was a scallop tartare served with pressed coconut milk. The taste was as delicate as the dish looked. The scallops were prepared beautifully and the capers were a wonderful sharp addition to each bite. I almost didn’t want to touch it, it looked so beautiful!
The next dish was a wild rice stem served with a buttermilk gratin. This was not one of my favourite dishes – the gratin had a distinct vinegary taste and another flavour I wasn’t a fan of.
Next up, however, was probably what was my favourite dish from the meal – poached Alaskan king crab with a Tahitian vanilla and black pepper sauce. Upon hearing that it was a vanilla sauce, I was slightly worried that it may be too sweet or overpowering but it was very subtle and complimented the crab perfectly. The sauce was creamy but, magically, without cream…which I was very pleased about, being lactose intolerant and having already had a two courses of dairy! The crab itself was juicy and flavoursome – cooked to perfection. Had I been feeling a little more shameless, I would have perhaps asked for seconds.
The following course was a prawn risotto dish. It was made with aged rice which gave it quite a bite. The Japanese chilli paste that was used had, incredibly, been fermented under snow by way of a traditional Japanese technique (‘kanzuri’). I enjoyed this dish a lot and it was a real example of the fusion of cuisines Ivan Brehm sought to achieve with this menu.
Next was an Afro-Brazilian fritter served with a light coconut curry. This dish flowed very well from the previous course in terms of flavours. The curry was extremely tasty and the fritter wasn’t too oily or heavy.
The next course was considered the main course but ironically it was not one of the stand out dishes for me. It was a black grouper fillet with a saffron gel and fennel. I am not a huge fan of fennel so it was hard to get past this flavour. I also felt the fish could have done with more seasoning, even just a bit more salt.
The pre-dessert was a very cute little marshmallow but packed with citrusy flavour. It was a nice segue into the sweet courses.
The first dessert course was Nouri’s version of an ice cream sandwich. The outside was made with traditional Chinese crackers enclosing a licorice and violet parfait, and the sandwich was stood on a little bed of pickled lemon. It was super light and refreshing.
The final course was a biscuit layered with melted rich dark chocolate and served with oolong tea. I’m not a the biggest lover of chocolate but this was delicious. They recommended sipping the tea in between eating the biscuit to cut through the richness.
At the end of the meal, a waiter presented me with a box, saying the final treat was inside…if I could get to it. After some playing around with the box, a compartment was revealed inside containing some tasty nutmeg candy. I enjoy interactive dishes and it was a fun way to end the meal.
As I finished my tea, I had another read of the card at the table and reflected on the question ‘what is a restaurant?’. Nouri had certainly elevated the dining experience to one beyond just eating and enjoying food to what felt like a learning experience and a celebration of food. I had dined solo but it very much felt like a communal dining experience and a ‘breaking of bread’.
My entire meal at Nouri cost me £131.93 (237.75 SGD). Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the experience overall and had some amazing dishes, I do think it was slightly overpriced. Nouri also offers a 5 course tasting menu with different dishes for a slightly lower price which may be worth considering if you do decide to visit.
I also cannot fault the service. All of the staff were incredibly knowledgeable about the dishes and were very attentive. The time in between each course was spot on.
Are you a fan of fine-dining restaurants? What are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments!