Housed within the historic Jinrikisha Station along Neil Road, a 1903 relic that once sheltered rickshaws, Restaurant Born has breathed new life into this storied space. A profound tribute to the station’s rich history, Born’s theme revolves around the celebration of personal memories and journeys. Here, the ‘Circle of Life’ philosophy intertwines Zor Tan’s cherished childhood memories, his professional culinary journey, and his guiding ideals.
In just a year since its inception, Restaurant Born has achieved remarkable milestones, including getting ranked 36th on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2023 and receiving its first Michelin star. Now, as they unveil their second menu, Tan delves deep into his own gastronomic memories, crafting a nine-course tasting experience that narrates a captivating culinary journey through the prism of familiar flavours, all impeccably presented as an ode to his training in French gastronomy and Chinese heritage roots.
Take, for instance, Chicken Wing/Pig Stomach/Pepper, a dish that deceives the eyes. Tan makes an unexpected twist to the French en vessie culinary technique by artfully stuffing a boneless deep-fried chicken wing, coated with maltose and smoked with applewood, with pig’s stomach slow-cooked with white peppercorn, ginger, leeks, white onions, and chicken stock. This reinterpreted dish is reminiscent of his mother’s home-cooked pig stomach soup with chicken, as well as the traditional Chinese rendition of whole chicken stuffed in pig stomach pepper soup which he had savoured in Macau.
Another delectable offering is the Kanpachi/Watermelon Radish/Green Chilli, which features green chilli-marinated amberjack, mixed with house-pickled chilli overlaid with pear jelly, pear and watermelon radish, and ikura. This dish expertly balances the acidity of the chilli with the sweetness of the fruits, enhancing the clean profile of the amberjack. A side of pear snow, created ingeniously from pear juices mixed with nitrogen, adds a frosty textural dimension.
As the meal ensued, Tan’s unique blend of culinary traditions, seamlessly merging his French training with deep Chinese roots, shone brilliantly. For the Mud Crab/Asparagus/Smoked Hollandaise, a masterfully executed smoked hollandaise foam graced the plate alongside luscious crab meat. The crab, prepared using the timeless Chinese method of steaming whole mud crab, was then artfully embellished with a medley of flavours: olive oil, white wine-infused shallots, fragrant chives, and zesty finger lime.
The “Aged” Cow/ Oyster/ Fried Bao is yet another testament to Chef Zor’s hybrid culinary flair. Beef tartare encounters a bold twist, with Japanese Wagyu beef marinated with Sichuan peppercorns, homemade Sichuan-style chilli oil, and salt. The beef, delicately cushioned atop oyster emulsion, is encased in a golden-brown bao—a mix between a rendition he was served at Restaurant DiverXO in Spain and his mother’s oyster cake.
An ode to the restaurant’s Circle of Life concept, the Pigeon/Grains/Corn dish features pigeon dry-aged for 12 days, confited for two hours with the bone in, and bincho-grilled. The finishing touches of garlic bread crumbs provide a tinge of aroma that dances with the sweet tenderness of the meat. Meanwhile, the accompanying ‘risotto’ comprises barley cooked in chicken stock mixed with pearl corn, sunflower seeds, and shallots cooked in white wine. It is then topped with a layer of pearl corn steamed and sliced nicely, before garnished with Cosmos petals to resemble a sunflower. This dish evokes the natural food web, where pigeons feast on grains in cornfields before becoming a culinary delight at Born.
Concluding the nine-course extravaganza is the Sweet Potato/Oolong/Sea Salt, a dessert inspired by Tan’s childhood fascination with the Japanese manga series, Doraemon. He created this dish to highlight the many textural possibilities of the sweet potato. Steamed Japanese sweet potato blended with cream and milk to form a silky purée, adorned with sweet potato tater tots and oolong Chantilly.
Echoing Marcel Proust’s wisdom, “Remembrance of the past does not always mirror things as they were.” Shaped by the sands of time and Tan’s culinary expertise, these memories are reborn in the dishes, each infused with an exquisite touch of flair and finesse. In this sanctuary of flavours, it becomes evident that tales are not solely conveyed through poetry and songs. Rather, every dish and ingredient serves as a vessel, each containing a bountiful harvest of memories that compose the culinary tapestry that defines his journey.
1 Neil Rd,
Tel: +65 9270 8718