Tucked in the corner of Armenian Street is one of the latest Les Amis restaurants under their stable in celebration of me turning another year older. We didn’t know what to expect at Fi5fty Three for we didn’t do sufficient research, and really, the reason why we even went there in the first place was because someone I knew frequented the restaurant rather often. So I thought why not try somewhere new on this special occasion.
We were ushered to the second level of the refurbished shophouse and warm lights filled the room unveiling an understated and minimalist decor. The minimalist approach extended to the menu as well. Only one menu is available for dinner and if patrons have any dietary restrictions, the chef will gladly whip another dish for you. As I went through the seven-course tasting menu, I wondered just how strange the strawberry dish will taste with green and red peppercorns. What a strange combination but our server Zack affirmed us that both flavours compliment one another. Well, an adventure awaits our palette then,it could go very right or really wrong. While I was studying the menu intently, B was impressed with the wine offerings and the wine menu that extended to over 23 pages. He was clearly bowled over with the extensive wines that they could offer from the Burgundy region. Eventually, he settled for the Armand Rousseau Gevrey- Chambertin 2001 bottle of wine.
Helmed by Chef Michael Han who worked with renowned chefs at the Fat Duck in England, Noma in Denmark and Mugaritz in Spain, the establishment was set to dazzle and up the dining scene in Singapore. Unfortunately, it opened during the financial crisis and thus, suffered a little with some of the patrons cutting back on fine dining. Nevertheless, I would recommend a visit to Fif53ty Three sooner rather than later, you never know when they would decide to increase the prices when the economy picks up.
Our feast started with 3 miniature rounds of starters. First up was a platter of crisps which comprised of a thinly sliced chicken skin served with whiskey salt and the other crisp we had was a potato chip served with yogurt salt. The chips were best enjoyed with the oyster emulsion. I especially enjoyed the chicken skin as the chef managed to capture the robust flavour of the roast chicken sans any ounce of fattiness in that thin slice of skin. Unbelievable! Still reeling in the scientific wonders of our first starter, our server appeared with yet another fascinating item. As he set the bowl down, we eyed our dish with caution. Are they nuts? Are they serving us a beetroot that they freshly plucked and uprooted in the miniature vege garden in the kitchen? Server then reassured us and explained that the beetroot is served with malt butter and cocoa grains. Everything that was presented to us was apparently edible. We felt like rabbits unearthing a fresh beetroot as we bit into the crunchy root to satisfy our hunger pangs. In terms of presentation, this would clearly score a 9 over 10. But taste-wise, hmmm… something we could pass up. Last was the Iberian ham sandwiched between two slivers of toasted parmesan crisps. Like a fragile mini burger, we had to take this dish using our bare hands and pop it immediately into our mouths. That’s why I didn’t manage to grab a pic of the dish. Also complimentary is the warm bread-rolls disguised as muffins and served in a little warm sack with heated beads. How innovative to serve the bread in this manner.
Following our pre-starters, our dinner course started proper with our first dish which was the Buratini Cheese and cherry tomatoes. Under the silky cream cheese, the chef added a scoop of horseradish snow over the basil sauce, the horseradish gave the entire dish that added ‘kick’ as I put the cheese with the baby tomatoes and watermelon. Dishes 2 and 3 remain fuzzy in my memory. All I can recall was the Maine lobster tail with apple chips and a soupy dish with baby melons. Sigh… memory failing. In preparation of dish number 4, our server brought over a huge black rock that was adorned with glitter. On top of this rock, garlic and parmesan chips dressed our Sharpe baby potatoes. The parmesan chips melted slightly over the warm potatoes making this really enjoyable for me. At this juncture, we were both amazed with the strong visual presentation of each dish. There was not a dull moment as every dish seemed to surpass its predecessor in terms of styling.
The highlight of our meal was the Japanese Wagyu Beef with a marble score of Grade 8. The wagyu was glaced with its own natural marbled fatness and the fatness sealed in the natural sweetness of the beef. The mini onion buds did not over-power the beef but instead complimented it further. A dish that clearly brought out the sinful goodness of the wagyu more than anything else. I was feeling a little stuffed by now so I gladly gave up some of my meat over to the B meat monster who devoured it down with happiness.
Dessert was anything but sweet. In fact, it was odd with a mixture of sweet, spice and a tinge of bitterness all rolled into one. It’s like Willy Wonka was working in the kitchen infusing the different flavours into one magical dish. Our first of the two desserts was a strawberry dessert served with red peppers and a berry sorbet topped with an edible floral bloom. The other was a chocolate mousse with crisps, mangosteens and mango sorbet. Definitely one of the more unusual desserts that we have tried and tested.
Overall, the feast at Fifty Three scored more points for its visual presentation and its use of ingredients. A definite must-try to stimulate your senses and to affirm how talent exists here in our little island.