Last Updated: August 16, 2021
You could find the most imaginative kid on the block and ask them to tell you the wackiest story they can think of, but I promise you, it wouldn’t hold a candle to Absurdities. I’m talking about a multisensory omakase dining experience so utterly unexpected that it takes everything you know about dining, and hurls it out the window.
Nestled along one of the bustling streets of Farrer Park, Absurdities is located in the building of Asylum Coffeehouse, a minimalist-chic café by day. Few know that it houses a memorable dining experience like no other—this six-course omakase will have as many plot twists as an Agatha Christie novel, promising that there is more to eating than meets the eye (or stomach).
I promise that after you step into the coffeehouse for your dinner slot, no matter how sky-high your expectations are, you’ll be blown away. The dinner (S$718 for 4 pax, S$368 for 2 pax) starts small and simple with a Garden in a Bowl, a vegetarian starter of roasted vegetables, fresh garden berries, puffed buckwheat, nasturtium, and sorrel. The savoury broth was pleasantly aromatic, which was gently juxtaposed by the sweetness of the berries and complimented by a herb and spice infusion.
It sounds complex, yet simple—a dish that you must close your eyes to savour every bit of, and that’s exactly what I did. Wash it all down with the Garden Sun Wine, aptly named, for the combination of orange peels, raisins, Sarsi, and Oak Barrel-aged rum felt like a springtime stroll in France underneath flowering trees bathed by sunlight. Okay, that was a mouthful.
I finished the first course with my heart beating just a little bit faster. To the untrained eye, the coffeehouse boasts of minimalist panels as décor, but as the name of this omakase experience suggests, entering the room for your second course is more than merely walking from point A to B. One of the six panels acts as a disguised secret door, giving way to the room of the second course through a trippy mirrored walkway bathed in a rainbow of LED lights.
Absurdities’ multisensory experience means that dining is not just limited to the taste of food, but encompasses everything from the paths guests have to take to each course, to the colour of the lighting, and the furniture guests sit and eat on. I’m a self-proclaimed ambience snob when it comes to picking places to dine at, and I have to admit that the set designs were so superb, I couldn’t stop raving about it to my colleague.
Every course comes with a unique ‘location’, and the second course took me straight into the inside of a hollowed tree trunk, complete with dim lighting, wood shavings beneath my shoes, and hanging strings and uneven platforms to mimic the authenticity of being… inside an actual tree.
Named Burger and Ash, this second course took a complete 180-degree turn from the initial starter. Brioche buns were stuffed with fragrant pulled jackfruit and shredded oyster mushroom and served alongside charcoal tapioca fries dusted with olive ash. The prominent flavours of the jackfruit were complimented by the savoury fries, giving way to something that was gastronomically multi-dimensional.
The next course was hidden behind a cleverly concealed door—another one of Absurdities’ specialties, where none of the doors actually look like doors. The effect of stepping into another world was executed flawlessly, with a jarring transition from sitting inside a tree to entering a tent in the middle of a sandy desert.
I felt like the cognitive dissonance made the experience even more novel—especially when the intimate dining room was draped with white cloths, lit by coloured glass hanging lights, and filled with intricately patterned Egyptian-style rugs and cushions. It’s not hard to forget that you’re having dinner in a coffeehouse in Farrer Park and not right by a massive sand dune in the middle of the Sahara.
In flamboyant compliance with the theme and location, the next course was a Smoke Quail Tajine, where a quail was served atop a bed of fragrant smoked tabbouleh salad and falafel, and paired delectably with a dollop of pomegranate ketchup. Cut a piece of the juicy quail, heap the tabbouleh and falafel onto your fork, take a big bite, and then give yourself a couple of minutes to rave about how perfectly these three elements came together. A definite contender of Vera’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’, and that’s on facts.
All guests are urged to wear comfortable clothing and footwear because the ‘journey’ from one room to the next is part of the most unconventional dining experience you’ll ever have. Secure your items, then climb up a short ladder cleverly concealed at one side of the room, before doing a short crawl along a narrow hallway… right into the past.
Yup, you heard me right. The past—1950s, to be precise. Think of old-school electrical appliances, faux brick walls, and bright pastel colours in the stereotypical 1950s kitchen of your vintage dreams. It truly felt like stepping right into the set of Wandavision, down to the oven mitts, stools, and boxy television set acting as décor. Absurdities once again teleported me far away from what I’d expect, and right in front of a bowl full of Mama’s Famous Cereal Chicken Pot Pie.
Don’t be fooled by my photograph of the perennial breakfast staple—the fourth course of the day features bite-sized chunks of fire-roasted chicken, roasted cauliflower purée, and freezer vegetables before it is topped with crispy cereal and drizzled with mushroom milk. Ah, you just had to be there.
At first, it was tough for my brain to connect the taste of a savoury, deconstructed pie with what appeared to be cornflakes in milk, but now, I wish this dish was a staple in cafés everywhere. The chicken was soft, chewy, and contrasted unusually with the crispy crunchiness of the cereal, but somehow, a sip of the warm mushroom milk made this foreign dish feel as comforting and familiar as home. If I’m being totally frank, writing this article makes me wish I had a bowl of it right beside me.
After you’re done, find the secret door that’ll bring you to the next course. Hint: It’s concealed beneath one of the tables the guests eat on. Frog-walk your way to the next course, housed in a room that could have easily been a set straight out of Harry Potter—dimly lit hanging lamps illuminated a space filled with mysterious drawers, books, bottles, and ladders that led to an adventure. Every nook and cranny of this room felt like it had a story of its own to tell, a dark contrast to the vibrant colours of the vintage kitchen merely a few steps (and decades) away.
The next course, Mortar Purple Squid Risotto, was definitely my favourite of the night. I’ve never been the biggest fan of squid, but the one topped with purple carrot, celeriac, uni and parmesan crumble converted me immediately. What truly made this a marvel was the isomalt lime glass topping that resembled real glass shards. It gave the risotto a sugary sweet aftertaste that combined with the savoury chewiness of the squid and uni resulted in a medley of unanticipated flavours. I know I keep repeating that every course and set is unexpected, but in that way, the only thing one can truly expect out of Absurdities’ omakase experience is that everything supersedes your expectations.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Dessert was served in a replica of a first-class cabin of a plane, perfect to quell feelings of wanderlust invoked by the pandemic’s travel restrictions. Nothing hits the sweet spot quite like a First Class Gold Leaf Jelly Telephone for dessert. Shaped like an old school telephone is an unforgettable rendition of lychee jelly, 24-carat gold leaf, French elderflowers, Verjus Rouge and Bombay Sapphire.
It all sits prettily underneath a tropical paper fan reminiscent of warm summertime vacations to the Maldives. The sunshine-coloured jelly telephone is served beside a serving of popping candy disguised as edible sand, and best believe my pun is intended when I tell you that sparks flew between the dessert and me.
Like all your vacations, before you know it, you hear the captain announce that the plane is about to land, and you lament that your vacation went by just a little too quickly. Absurdities captured that old sentiment perfectly, for I left wishing for just a bit more time to enjoy the sets, taste my wacky food, and soak in the experience of a lifetime.
To say that Absurdities is an unusual dining experience is an understatement. I’d say it completely blows the likes of Alice in Wonderland out of the park—whimsical and delightfully confusing. Its hefty price point might give you pause, but take my word for it: it’s hands-down worth every cent, calorie, and compliment. My goodness, I love this job.
Expected damage: S$179.50 – S$184 per pax
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Our Rating: 5 / 5
311 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208970
311 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208970