Once in awhile, you encounter a restaurant that’s so pretty, it’s literally designed for the Instagram generation. Taking over the space previously occupied by Blue Kouzina on Dempsey Hill, Moonbow is a newly opened restaurant featuring high ceilings and a blush-champagne colour scheme that’s accented with gold. If you fancy the pastel tones at Odette or La Dame de Pic, this photo-worthy restaurant will delight you—sans the extravagant price tag.
Befitting of its whimsical name, which refers to the rare natural phenomena of a lunar rainbow, the restaurant is home to a striking feature wall with a 4.3m-tall tree pieced together from dried branches collected from a private garden and adorned with magnolia flowers. We can already foresee patrons trying to get their #ootd shots against the backdrop. Meanwhile, a small doorway past the bar leads diners to a patio where there’s outdoor seating set against overhanging lanterns and another lush feature wall.
The brainchild of local chef Heman Tan, also known as Iron Man Chef for his active participation in triathlons, the dining establishment prides itself on the seamless merger of Asian ingredients and European cooking techniques. While fusion cuisine is nothing new in Singapore’s vibrant food scene, what struck me the most was the inclusion of traditionally Chinese ingredients that are uncommon in Western-style creation, such as fermented red yeast wine and black silkie chicken. Showcasing his lesser known talent in the ceramic arts, the chef has also designed all of the vibrant tableware used in the restaurant, which contrast beautifully against a faux newspaper cutting on each table.
Lunch started with a round of cocktails and a fluffy cloud of pink cotton candy sprinkled with furikake—a fun mix of sweet and savoury, and a sign of what’s to come. The Italian connexion cocktail was an easy choice for its a citrus-forward combination of Botanist Gin, lemon, honey, orange bitters, and bubbles. Continuing the play between contrasting flavour profiles, a duo of small plates was served. Reminiscent of snails in a garden, the garden of escargots featured escargots served with truffle gelato, lychee pearls, and fresh micro cress from the restaurant’s own selection of freshly grown micro-greens.
Meanwhile, the Moonbow oyster bay came with a side of oyster leaves, which teased our palate with a flavour rather similar to the mollusc. The idea was inspired by the chef’s second daughter who isn’t too fond of eating oysters directly. The delicate salty flavours of the oyster was nicely countered by the refreshing yuzu granita and cucumber pearls.
After which, we were served the cauliflower bloom, which has the vegetable done in four ways: floret, dehydrated, cous cous, and pureed. While the contrast in textures worked, the flavours were bland despite the addition of garlic crumbs and mixed nuts. Thankfully, the mains stole the show. The black silkie poulet put a Western spin on the black silkie chicken, a common ingredient in Chinese herbal soups, by chargrilling it and pairing with garlicky crumb, béarnaise sauce, black garlic puree, wollfberry mash, and ugly heirloom tomatoes. The verdict? The dish was juicy and flavourful to the last bite.
Equally enticing is the black berry four-grain healthy rice with roasted pork jowl “ton toro“, which the chef first created for his diabetic mother. Seared for a pleasant charred fragrance, the dish featuring black berry rice, red rice, barley, pearl Rrice, and lap cheong (Chinese sausage) was moreish and delicious, so much so that the accompanying slices of pork jowl paled in comparison. Another family dish close to chef Heman’s heart is the filet de barramundi cooked in fermented red yeast wine—simple fare that scores for its healthy and hearty flavours.
Be ready to whip your camera out for the treasure drawer, featuring a collection of desserts like praline, macaron, and tartlet in a drawer. Cold orange granita is served table side with liquid nitrogen, which does little except for presentation theatrics. That said, we liked the pistachio chocolate soufflé, which was light and airy with a rich cocoa flavour.
More information here.