Join chef Jereme Leung as he takes you on a culinary journey across China at his newest outpost at Raffles Hotel
With Raffles Hotel all rejuvenated from refurbishment (find out more about its Reopening Festival here), the grand opening of contemporary Chinese restaurant yì by Jereme Leung is highly anticipated to say the least. The 111-seater restaurant opened its doors to public last month, and Leung is ever ready to impress the city’s most rabid foodies with a spectrum of Chinese delights.
As the man instrumental to the restaurant, celebrity chef Jereme Leung takes guests on a journey through different regions of China with his food, each dish a different representation of his Chinese heritage. But even before sliding into a dining chair, you’ll find yourself starstruck by the restaurant’s main entrance. An art installation of 1,000 handcrafted and individually strung floral strands greets you as soon as you step in, cascading across the restaurant’s entryway and eventually leading you to the main dining space. It’s enough to take your breath away – and the main stars of the evening haven’t even taken to the stage yet.
The word ‘yì’ translates to ‘art’, little wonder then the restaurant decides to embody that through its decor. Elegantly put together by Aedas Interiors, the interior design of this restaurant resonates with deep-rooted Chinese traditions – but it cleverly does away with conventional hues of red or gold. Instead, this restaurant has a pale, neutral palette throughout. Inspired by the prominent figure in Chinese creation mythology, Pangu, the restaurant uses earthy tones to represent the aspects of Heaven and Earth respectively.
Start your journey with a glass of wine or champagne at the restaurant’s bar, and we recommend pairing it with Leung’s signature snacks. The Sichuan Spicy Chicken in particular makes for an excellent appetiser, warming up your palette for the smorgasbord of flavours to follow.
Drawing inspiration from the provinces of China, Leung’s classic dish Hundred-Ring Cucumber & Poached Sea Whelk with Soy Sauce Vinaigrette is created by meticulously slicing cucumber into a continuous spiral. Call it a Chinese salad of sorts; the vinaigrette dressing adds a racy kick to the cold slivers of cucumbers, and I equally enjoy the tender morsels of briny-sweet sea whelk that complete the dish.
The chicken dishes prove to be a highlight here, and attesting to this is the Sichuan Style Chicken with Peanut Sesame Chili Dressing. Leung doesn’t hold back with the peppers and chili dressing, but despite this, me and my dining companions find ourselves continuously hankering for seconds throughout the evening. The peanut sauce is flavoursome and addictive, and best indulged together with the soft layers of chicken skin.
The Smoked Honey Soy Mackerel would definitely fare better if the fish is less dry, but the side of pickled cabbage does the job of elevating the dish. It’s a medley of spicy, sweet and salty flavours, making for a stellar vegetable dish on its own to be enjoyed with plain rice.
The evening reaches its peak with Leung’s rendition of the baked cod. Here, the protein is bathed in wild honey and soy sauce reduction, and sits atop salted egg white. The cod is crisp on the outside yet juicy on the inside, and the jelly-like egg white gives the fish that perfect salty finishing touch. At this point, one would be in dire need of a cooling palate cleanser. The Soursop Sorbet with Peach Gum and Lemon Grass Jelly makes for a satisfying, refreshing dessert to mark the end of my culinary journey here.
Chef Leung undoubtedly has big guns to bring out to the dining table, and he does so with most of the dishes that are served for the evening. The chef has thrown in some serious heat to the city’s Chinese cuisine field, and we foresee plenty of competitors playing a game of catch-up really soon. For now, Leung is on fire, and the restaurant wins our vote for a well-deserved return trip.