SINGAPORE - Former Les Amis chef de cuisine Armin Leitgeb may have left Singapore, but fans can still partake in his food at Amuse. A collaboration between Leitgeb and the Esmirada Group, this casual restaurant serves food in small portions, much like a tapas bar, except that the dishes are more European, with many carried over from Leitgeb's menu at Les Amis.
In many ways, this is good news for folks who've always admired Leitgeb's food but couldn't afford to splurge. So if you've heard of his signature egg wrapped in crispy ciabatta or wondered what the fuss over his famous crispy pork crouton is all about, there's never been a better time to find out.
The ciabatta-wrapped egg (S$15) has always been a demonstration of Leitgeb's culinary finesse. It brings together an egg that's been steamed at 71°C so that it sits on the plate all wobbly and inviting, and encased in a crisp sliver of thinly sliced ciabatta lined with Parma ham. At the bottom of the dish is an earthy sauce made of mushrooms and chicken jus. To eat, one breaks the ciabatta and egg and scoops up the sauce so that each mouthful yields both flavours and textures that meld beautifully together.
Similarly, the crispy pork crouton (S$17) is a study in restraint and balanced flavours. Again there is a paper-thin chip of crispy ciabatta spread with a barely-there pork terrine atop pieces of smoked eel. The layers of flavour unveil themselves gently with each bite and there is just enough crunch from the ciabatta and zip from fresh horseradish to keep it all compelling.
His capacity as consultant chef means that Leitgib comes to town about once a month not to cook at the restaurant but to fine-tune the menu and add new recipes.
Praise then goes chef Lee Chee Keong, who has been Armin's trusted right-hand man for the last three years. As head of this kitchen, Lee is clearly in his element, leading his team to turn out dishes that he has long been familiar with even if they have been re-interpreted.
For instance, a dish of char-grilled Australian wagyu cubes cooked in hay (S$39) is just like what they used to serve at Les Amis, but in bite-sized pieces here. The hay imparts a smoky flavour to the meat that stays deliciously in the mouth, its perfume a little like lightly burnt toast.
There are of course some new creations such as a more-ish filo pastry cone filled with ketchup-laced beef tartare (S$15) and an unexpected spicy lamb burger (S$16) that is like an elegant, gourmet interpretation of the doner kebab.
While not exactly cheap, Amuse definitely offers an excellent value for money considering the level of skill that the dishes require and the fact that it is all delivered well on the plates.
Where: #01-29 Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road
Telephone: 6735 3476
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 5pm to 1am, Saturday Noon to 1am and Sunday Noon to 11pm
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