Marvellous dim sum lunch at 藝 Yi by Jereme Leung
While dining at Straits Clan’s newly conceived restaurant Kin a couple of weeks back with some of my foodie friends, two of them suddenly started raving about how amazing their dinner was at the Chinese restaurant recently opened in Raffles Hotel. I respected these two’s palette profoundly and decided to check out this restaurant called 藝 Yi by Jereme Leung: if they were going about like that, the chances are that it will be probably quite amazing.
I decided to try their dim sum lunch first because it is cheaper and more approachable. If the dim sum sucks, the dinner dishes are probably not great either.
Who is the Jereme Leung?
I have never heard of this Jereme Leung, so I googled. Here is the write-up about Jereme:
“It has been 17 years since chef Jereme Leung packed his knives to leave Singapore for Shanghai in search of greener pastures. In that time, he has opened nine successful Chinese restaurants across the world, starred as a judge on MasterChef China, and traveled the country in search of rare ingredients with which to put a uniquely authentic spin on his cooking.”
Wow! This guy knows his stuff. But what is his style? I googled again.
What is the style of 藝 Yi by Jereme Leung?
“You won’t find foam or bubbles in my food – there is nothing Chinese about that,” he said… … The dining experience here should be about people sitting around a table sharing food.”
“We get creative by, say, filling our xiao long bao (soup dumplings) with chili crab and topping them with a vinegar pearl that bursts in your mouth. But that’s about as fusion as we are going to get,” he said.
Yi by Jereme Leung, therefore, is a platform upon which to demonstrate how Chinese food can be as great as any other cuisine.
“It is taking the best of all the Chinese regions and blending them in one place.”
Is this part of the Chinese new wave?
In sum, Jereme’s style is a pan-Chinese showcase, well anchored in tradition with a restrained creative impulse to reinvent without going overboard fusion. I like Jereme’s style, and it seems to be like the Chinese equivalent of the French neo-bistronomy that swept Paris 10 years ago. Perhaps this is a Chinese new wave? Or maybe I am so out of touch of what is happening in China, the new wave arrived and passed right through me without me noticing. In any case, I was super curious to try and see how the media write-up matches reality.
Gorgeous modern Chinese decor
The restaurant’s location is pretty remarkable, being on the third floor of Raffles Hotel, Asia’s grandest of grand dames. The entrance is the white flurry of white leaves and flowers. Very light, drawing you into a lovely understated dining room.
Chinese art deco inspired
The furnishing in the dining room has a subtle toned down art deco feel. It feels beautiful modern Chinese, not at all too “bling-bling” but with the right touches of drama. I wonder if there was an Accor effect, given that they are now the new owner of Raffles Hotel. The restaurant is beautifully done up, that is for sure, but it has the same sort of decorative restraint in Hotel Molitor in Paris or Sofitel Legend in Xian. But then again maybe they are are a part of this ongoing trend towards a muted look.
Moving on finally to the food
We ordered one signature dish, one dish from the drinking dish section, and four dim-sums. The signature dish we ordered was “Hundred-ring Cucumber & Poached Sea Whelk with Soy Sauce Vinaigrette.” The cucumber was finely sliced into rings, but I don’t think there were a hundred of them. And they went very well with the slightly chewy whelks in a light, refreshing soy sauce vinaigrette. A big contrast to the usual way I would have eaten whelks: french style with mayonnaise.
Hundred-ring Cucumber & Poached Sea Whelk
We juxtaposed this refreshing signature dish with something hot and fiery from the drinking dish section, “Sichuan Spicy Chicken with Luncheon Meat.” The leaner chicken pieces and fattier luncheon meat worked rather well together with the dried chili peppers. Don’t eat the dried chili peppers; they add a rather unnecessary spicy tinge to the whole mouthfeel.
Sichuan Spicy Chicken
with Luncheon Meat
Next came the dim sums: the traditional siew mai and shrimp dumplings. Both were good, but I particularly liked the shrimp dumplings with the black garlic. The black garlic threw a sweet and meaty dimension. I loved it: it is innovative without going on a fusion tangent. And I sensed a little French neo-bistronomy in a Chinese setting.
Siew Mai dumpling
Shrimp Dumpling with Black Garlic
The best dish
Then came the “chicken feet with black bean sauce.” Gawd, this was so good compared to the zillions that I have tried in Singapore and Hongkong. Finally, a non-overly sugary version of crinkly chicken feet fatty delight with pure umami power from the black bean sauce.
I am re-salivating just writing this about this.
Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce and Taro
So good we ordered one more dish
So good, we decided to order one more dish, “chili crab xiao long bao.” Perhaps a tad radical to replace the traditional pork filling with chili crab, and to add a vinegar gel bubble on top of the dumpling, it was simply delicious. An innovative play that worked ultimately.
Chili Crab Xiao Long Bao
Best refined dim sum in Singapore I had in a while. I can’t wait to try their dinner menu.
Date visited: 13th October 2019