Head Chef Sun Kim has every reason to boast about his culinary track record – having worked both at Tetsuya’s in Sydney and Waku Ghin in Singapore – but the soft-spoken chef’s talents speak loudest on the plate. Focusing on modern cuisine with undoubtedly Asian flair in places, every course at Meta is a delicate little creation. Ingredients are well matched, plating is vibrant and appetising, and of course, cooking techniques are handled flawlessly.
Nit-pickers could argue that the restaurant lacks a certain level of ambience, as the dark space is illuminated by a single row of lights outside the kitchen and the dark tones of the furniture do little to add to the vibrancy. But eating here, your attention will hardly be on the choice of upholstery.
Those fortunate enough to score counter seats in this 30-seater space will be hypnotised by the flurry of tenacious chefs immaculately preparing each dish whilst hardly making a sound. Like a well-oiled pan, service is slick, warm and steady. All attention is on the staff and most importantly, on the food.
On the menu, there is a seasonal ‘prix fixe’ of six- or eight-courses that – as is customary with budding fine dining restaurants – evolves seasonally. As Meta’s name suggests, the kitchen works on the principle of existing in a constant phase of metamorphosis – dynamic and constantly evolving. Whilst we have not yet had the opportunity to sample what delights have arisen come Spring, if the Winter degustation is any indicator, diners are in excellent hands.
We began our epicurean foray with what was easily the most voluptuous Irish oyster we have had the pleasure of slurping in Singapore. A gamble of a slightly unconventional garnish of lemon, ginger and pomelo yielded very high rewards. Next, a delicately sweet body of Amebi (sweet shrimp) camouflaged amongst a reef of yuzu, apple, and ikura, contrasted with the umami of its perfectly crisp head.
Paying tribute to Chef Sun Kim’s Korean background, the Wagyu Beef Tartare embodied a reconstruction of a traditional Korean ‘bibimbap’, where the beef took shelter beneath a nest of crisp, puffed rice, supported by egg yolk spheres and pear kimchi. As is traditional with its namesake, the ingredients were jumbled together to create an admittedly less attractive but far more flavourful bite. Not to the same calibre as the tartare was the Slow Cooked Grass Fed Beef Short Rib. While masterfully cooked, with each morsel of meat melting on the tongue, its accompanying parsnip puree and pickled oyster mushroom simply lacked the collective impact of other courses.
It is clear that Meta excels when it comes to handling seafood. A deceptively humble-sounding course of Sea Bass, grilled and left floating atop a delicate broth studded with clams and fregola pasta, was simply beautiful and perhaps one of our favourite courses. Proving once again that sometimes simple is best; the quality of each ingredient was left to speak for itself.
As for dessert – each of pastry chef Tammy Mah’s creations are modern and exciting. Her rendition of a ‘Cheesecake,’ presented as a golden-yellow ‘bonbon’, encasing a rich filling, was visually impressive and light on the palate. Whilst playing with liquid nitrogen may be considered a bit passé nowadays and a potentially shallow attempt at a bit of ‘razzle-dazzle’ to some, Mah’s ability to channel plenty of flavour alongside the ‘fun’ is a skill not to be underestimated.
The food aside, easily the most remarkable thing about an experience here is the staff’s attention to detail and nuanced approach to every customer. A simple passing remark of beginning to feel full saw the kitchen prepare a lighter alternative to a potentially heavy dessert. A diner’s dietary restrictions are treated more as an opportunity for the chef to get a little creative than as a dampener on your experience.
To capture Meta in an oyster shell, it is a restaurant that takes pride in executing every little thing as perfectly as possible. While the restaurant may still be finding its feet in terms of its ‘culinary identity’ on this competitive street, we think the tight-knit and young men and women in the kitchen are out to raise a few eyebrows.
9 Keong Saik Road
T : (+65) 6513 0898
Following our focus on Keong Saik (see our main On