There’s always a lot going on at Nouri: on the plates, in the form of the upcoming calendar of special dinners and, not least, in chef Ivan Brehm’s head. Started by Brehm last year, Nouri is a place where you leave your expectations at the door, and by that we mean that you’ll never be able to guess what Brehm will serve for his omakase menus. Born in Brazil and having worked at many luminous restaurants such as New York’s Per Se, Spain’s Mugaritz, and England’s The Fat Duck, including a stint heading Bacchanalia in Singapore, Brehm is finally cooking the food he wants to cook. Calling it “crossroads cooking”, the fare here revolves around food stories from the world over.
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And in Singapore, where many such stories converge, Nouri feels very much at home. It features a long stone communal table where half is used by Brehm and his team to cook and plate desserts, while the other half is for diners. There are also tables along one side and a private room near the back kitchen. Brehm welcomes diners who want to move freely around and even peer over his shoulder – after all, he’s putting everything on show.
For regulars, the standard beginning of Bread and Broth: Rye sourdough served with a butter that is ever-changing – a parsley for us – and a shot of vegetable broth serve as a chequer flag wave-off for the rest of the five-course lunch omakase to proceed.
The first course of pickled Japanese sardines served with aromatic oils and black lime (a salted and sun-dried spice) whets the appetite for the slightly heavier dish that follows, Brehm’s take on a popular Brazilian fried street snack, here stuffed with a crab mixture and served with a turmeric and coconut sauce. Our highlight arrives next: The comforting and bright orange-hued risotto made using aged carnaroli rice, seasoned with kanzuri, a Japanese chilli and yuzu paste from Niigata prefecture, and topped with tasty carabinero prawn.
Running a close second is the fourth course of succulent beef tenderloin served with a charred spring onion puree. The dessert is the most reminiscent of an Asian one given a booster treatment – the aged mandarin sorbet provides the acidity needed to balance the sweet halwa and the nuttiness of the peanut soup.
The great thing about the wine list is that it is filled with interesting choices from small producers, rather than trophy wines. Service is bubbly and professional in turn, but it’s undeniable that the staff know their stuff .
TEXT ANNE LOH PHOTOGRAPHY VEE CHIN ART DIRECTION DENISE REI LOW