Les Amis, helmed by Chef de cuisine Sebastien Lepinoy, is ranked 13th in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016. Opened since 1994, they are one of the longest standing fine-dining restaurants in Singapore. During my week-long trip to Singapore in January, I managed to secure a lunch reservation at their establishment.
Les Amis offers several dining options with seasonally crafted menus which ranges from 65$+ to $295+. We opted for ‘Le Menu Tasting’ which showcases 6 dishes for $155 per person. It’s comprised of one cold appetizer, two hot appetizers, two main courses and one dessert.
One of the hidden gems found here is their rare artisanal french Le Ponclet Butter – only served in less than 20 restaurants in the world. The butter is made with milk from a near extinct breed of cows and undergoes an intricate handmade process in order to obtain the most amazing texture and flavour. The light and subtle fragrance of this butter is definitely distinct and it blends seamlessly with bread. It was so good that Miss M started to eat the butter just by itself!
Our first course started off with their signature dish. This was the main reason for our visit to Les Amis and is probably the highlight for most guests. The angel hair pasta is wrapped around delicately with a balance combination of kombu stock – the king of seaweed. Topped with a generous portion of caviar, two slices of black truffle, edible gold and edible flowers, this is probably the most exquisite combination of ingredients you can ever find in one dish.
For the second appetizer, we were presented with a beautiful pan seared scallop from Hokkaido. They’ve also included Japanese soy sauce topped with sesame seeds for dipping. With an additional touch of lime, every bite was simply delightful.
On a side note, I have to applaud Les Amis for their keen eye for detail. Miss M eats left handed, meaning that she uses her spoon using her left hand. They’ve noticed this and after every course, the waiter remembers to replace fresh cutleries according to Miss M’s eating style.
The next appetizer is lobster encased within a wrap of baby spinach. It is served on a bed of classic fish bone sauce and is topped with ikura – salmon roe. When this arrived on the table, my immediate reaction was “Gee, it’s so much smaller than I thought!”. It was slightly bigger than the size of a golf ball. Nevertheless, we dug in and this dish was absolutely delicious. The fish bone sauce was just packed with flavours from the ocean.
Our first main course started off with a line-caught sea bass from Saint-Giles-Croix-de-Vie, a fishing harbour off the coast of France. France is a long way from Singapore but Chef Sebastian always go for that extra mile in order to obtain produce of the highest quality. According to him, the fisherman that catches fish for the restaurant uses an ‘individual line’ fishing method that reduces bruising and tension on the fish.
The sea bass was served with a traditional “Américaine” sauce – a recipe from classic French cookery. It was also topped with more caviar! This was not mentioned in the menu and it was such a pleasant surprise. By this point I got too excited I almost forgot to take a photo before digging in.
Following the sea bass, they brought out our last savory course in a classic cloche – a silver food dome (just like in the movies!). Inside the cloche is a dry aged Irish ribeye with a minimum of 35 days of traditional maturation. Absolutely loved the presentation for this one. However I have to admit that the texture and flavour of this dish fell short. The beef itself was a bit too tough for my liking.
Finally, for the grand finalè, I made a special request to change their original Pear Williams dessert to Chestnut Ardèche. I just couldn’t resist trying out their well known sugar sphere dessert! It’s created by their leading pastry chef, Cheryl Koh – a local Singaporean chef known for her exquisite artisanal desserts. The sphere can easily be cracked open with a gentle tap from a spoon and is filled with chestnut ice cream. Everything else on the plate were also chestnut presented in different textures.
At the end of the meal, we had another surprise in store for us. Chef Sebastian himself came into the dining room to greet us. He asked if we enjoyed the meal and handed over a small parting gift – a lotus cake stored in a small metal box with ‘Les Amis’ engraved on it. Not always a head chef would do this as they are usually really busy in the kitchen, so I thought that this was a very kind and humble gesture.
Dining at Les Amis was a lovely experience. It’s clear that the whole team take a lot of pride in their work and I commend them for it. If you’re looking for a straightforward contemporary French fine dining experience with a high level of finesse, Les Amis is the place to be.