AIR: Sustainable restaurant serves crackers made from fish bones & chocolate ice cream not made from chocolate

AIR is not just a restaurant; it’s a holistic food destination combining a restaurant, circular campus, and cooking club.

AIR 1-exterior

Located in the lush Dempsey Hill, AIR is the brainchild of acclaimed chefs Will Goldfarb and Matthew Orlando, and entrepreneur Ronald Akili. This 40,000-square-foot verdant campus aims to inspire thoughtful engagement with food through its various facets: a restaurant, lawn, cooking school, research space, and garden farm​.

AIR - exterior
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AIR stands for Awareness, Impact, and Responsibility. These principles guide every aspect of the establishment, from culinary practices to environmental stewardship. AIR’s mission is to transform how people think about food, encouraging a deeper connection between diners and the origins, processes, and impact of their meals.

Helmed by Chef Matthew Orlando, known for his work at Amass in Copenhagen, AIR’s restaurant offers a unique dining experience focused on sustainability and maximising the potential of every ingredient. The menu includes a variety of snacks, light bites, mains, and desserts that showcase innovative cooking techniques and flavour combinations.

What I tried at AIR

AIR - mushroom

For starters, we had the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms (S$30) with Sarawak pepper emulsion and pickled chillies. The mushrooms were extremely lightly battered with a concoction of blended and dried-up bits of herbs.

Herbs harvested from AIR’s backyard garden such as mint have bits of stems that are usually thrown away. What the ingenious people at AIR have done is dry and blend up these unwanted bits to form a seasoning and a batter. The result is a slightly herbaceous mushroom tempura paired with pickled chilli which cuts through any little bit of oiliness.

For a starter, this absolutely blew my mind. Had the chef not personally told of such efforts to upcycle these unwanted bits, I would have already thought this was such a great way to start the meal. Now that I know, it is totally mind-blowing how unwanted ingredients can make simple mushrooms taste so gourmet. With that said, the best had yet to come!

AIR - whole grouper

The Whole Coral Grouper for Two (S$64) at AIR exemplifies the restaurant’s dedication to sustainability and culinary creativity. This dish uses every part of the coral grouper to craft a memorable dining experience for two. Speaking to the chef, he did not want to be serving a dish where diners pick out the good parts of the fish and the kitchen throws out the bad ones.

AIR - rilette

The preparation begins with the fish head Rilette, which is made by carefully cooking and seasoning the fish head to extract maximum flavour and create a rich, spreadable mixture. This was almost like a coleslaw mixture.

AIR - fish bone cracker

To dip into the Rilette, AIR uses fish bones to create Lavash, a type of flatbread, ensuring that no part of the fish goes to waste.

AIR - dipping cracker into mixture

I was shocked to see that the usually throw-away part of the fish can be created into a cracker-like biscuit.

Moving onto the more prized and familiar part of the fish – the Fillet.

The fillet is confited, a technique that involves slow-cooking in fat to enhance its tenderness and depth of flavour and is paired with green onion and black garlic vinaigrette.

AIR - whole grouper filet

The Whole Coral Grouper for Two revealed a symphony of flavours and textures. The confited fillet is exceptionally tender and flavourful, with the green onion and black garlic vinaigrette adding a vibrant, tangy counterpoint that elevates the dish. All that flavour was engulfed in a creamy and buttery Beurre Blanc sauce.

Each component of the dish harmonises perfectly, showcasing AIR’s ability to combine sustainability with gourmet dining. This dish not only delights the palate but also underscores the restaurant’s innovative use of ingredients and commitment to responsible dining practices

AIR - reincarnated chocolate

Changing gears and heading for desserts, the Reincarnated Chocolate (S$18) at AIR is the chocolate dessert without any chocolate used!

By transforming typically discarded by-products such as cocoa husks, cascara (dried coffee cherry skins), and coconut flesh into a gourmet dessert, AIR showcases a zero-waste approach in its culinary creations.

AIR 12- kitchen

The process involves fermenting and drying the cocoa husks and cascara to enhance their flavours, then blending them with coconut flesh to achieve a rich, smooth chocolate mixture. This innovative use of ingredients not only reduces food waste but also highlights the potential of overlooked components in creating unique and flavourful dishes.

This dessert offers a complex flavour profile that blends the deep, chocolatey notes of the cocoa husks with the fruity nuances of cascara and the tropical sweetness of coconut. The result is a rich, layered taste that evolves with each bite, providing a memorable and thought-provoking dining experience.

AIR - dessert

For someone looking for a lighter and more refreshing dessert, I would recommend The Whole Papaya (S$18).

The Whole Papaya features papaya swathed in lactic-fermented papaya seed cream and frozen papaya skin granite. Once again, no part of the papaya is wasted and even the seeds and skins were used. The dish was light and refreshing yet creamy with the papaya seed cream. 

Final Thoughts

I could go on and on about how good the food was but the fact is, everything was phenomenal. Not just the food but how AIR has truly embodied its principles in everything that it does. From the food right down to the furniture which uses unwanted pieces of wood and even recycled bottles for its table lamps, no stone was left unturned.

The crowded dining areas should not deter you from giving this place a shot. It blew my mind and it’ll blow yours too!

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

AIR

25B Dempsey Road, Singapore 249918

Price
Our Rating 5/5

AIR

25B Dempsey Road, Singapore 249918

Telephone: +65 8228 1528
Operating Hours: Wed to Fri (5.30pm - 11pm), Sat to Sun (11.30am - 3pm) & 5pm - 11pm, Closed on Mon & Tue
Telephone: +65 8228 1528

Operating Hours: Wed to Fri (5.30pm - 11pm), Sat to Sun (11.30am - 3pm) & 5pm - 11pm, Closed on Mon & Tue
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