Last Updated: March 12, 2021
‘Small counter-seat restaurant’ it states on Fleurette‘s site. Keep this in mind when you arrive, as this smallness is what makes it intimate and cosy, yet makes your heart swell 10 times larger with adoration and admiration once you leave. Located discreetly along Rangoon Road, the hefty doors receive you to enter a dining bar set up for 12 chairs. The only area set up for an independent table is a cove, situated opposite the bar.
Having opened at the height of a pandemic, it seems befitting for Fleurette to carry a flora moniker, resembling a blooming business ready for the buzz of patrons. Co-owned by Chef Tariq Helou and Aidan Wee, their philosophy hopes to abolish the stuffiness that typically comes with high-end establishments—special thanks to the pop/R&B playlist doing its thang. Instead, its clean and uniform setting allows me to direct full attention to the food, and being seated at the bar makes me privy to the process, much like peeking into the kitchen when mum’s cooking.
With a single menu that adopts contemporary Asian recipes executed with Japanese and French techniques, it evolves every month and set at a uniform price of S$228++ per person.
Typical amuse-bouche are presented in bites, but the somen in hibiscus and long pepper oil deviates from tradition. I stare into the porcelain cup to see a bright red soup, which I instantly relate to a cherry drink. One sip and all my assumptions are thrown out the window with a savoury depth that’s juxtaposing-ly refreshing. The somen retains its bite, all while the peppery pool provides an elegant slurp.
While most of you are familiar with unagi, here’s the saltwater cousin, anago, battered in tempura after being braised and topped with lime zest. It’s an absolutely sublime piece of work that combines crunch, fleshiness, and emollience all in a single parcel. It drips with umami down to its core, mirroring the drool that escaped my mouth as I took a greedy bite. The hint of lime zest worked its magic by lifting the flavour profile with a breath of tang.
Prawns might seem like one of the more humble shellfish, but don’t look down on this Botan ebi, chilli, and vinegar medley. Its sweet nakedness is scantily dressed to showcase the mild briny bite it possesses, and with only chilli and vinegar as supporting actors (or actresses), the Botan ebi slides right down without a fuss.
For someone averse to raw tomatoes—yes, my distaste for this raw fruit is firm and persistent—the Hokkaido tomato soaked in mirin and dashi, topped with vinegar jelly got me singing praises under muttered breath. Take your time to masticate the fragile tomato with plenty of tender love and soft chews. Let it marinate on your palate before swallowing. You’ll thank me.
It seems like the seafood at Fleurette is here to steal the show, and I expect no less from the slow-cooked Obsiblue prawns. If over-cooked, it turns mushy, so its middle is kept slightly raw for just a touch of sweetness. Make no mistake, the Obsiblue prawns are the diva here, but I cannot stop gushing over the Asian green sauce it perches on. Made with pickled green apple and pickled Japanese ginger, I told myself if I were to die on my way home, I’d leave this Earth having consumed the best of the best.
It’s the alluring smokiness that puts me in a trippy choke-hold and leaves me heady, complete with an arousing kick of sour heat that jolts me back to reality.
I’m approached with a giant hexagonal box that opens to reveal 10 knives for me to select for my next two courses. A white one draws my attention, and not before long, a week-aged, pan-fried kampachi is placed before me. I slice a modest piece of kampachi, along with a tiny mound of Chinese black fungus, kumquat, and burdock root puree. There’s very little to berate about a dish that’s honest and humble; I imagine eating this at a friend’s home, whose grandma is a whizz in the kitchen.
The fish remains steadfast in texture while the puree has a savouriness that has just the right amount of sweetness interlaced.
I’m taken aback when an entire cooked Challance duck is brought to my seat; for a hair-splitting second, I’m afraid I have to adjust my pants to accommodate this fascinating fowl. Despite its final presentation looking like abstract art, it is its tedious cooking that adds meat to its story. First, it is aged for a week before being seared on low heat on a binchotan. Its final moments see the temperature being raised before being portioned and served.
Known for its gameyness, minimal interference is key. Only a glaze of peppers and black garlic jus is drizzled before I make a deliberate incision into the flesh. My expectations are met with its robust and sturdy flavours, but I’m pleased to report that its rich earthiness is not one that will frighten anyone away. I can safely say, I’d take this over steak any day.
So, then what happens to scraps? As refined as Fleurette is, one cannot simply dispose of extra trimmings. That’s where duck confit with shimeiji mushrooms and buckwheat, barley, and rice come in. Paired off with ginger flower sambal, this carb finisher is begging to be served in a larger portion. It’s perfectly rounded and balanced, announcing the end of the savoury courses.
Dessert is doled in two parts—citrus and creamy (for the record, I’m unsure if that’s their intention, but it sure felt that way). I’m electrified from the fog of impending food coma by Mandarin sorbet, basil oil, and red pepper, which cleanses my palate thoroughly and resets my tummy in an instant, so I’m ready to take on yet another dish.
Throughout this dinner, I feel like a small part of me died and resurrected in brief moments—an exemplifying testament of how insanely well-executed and synchronised the food is here at Fleurette. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can make me happier than the Hokkaido milk ice cream, Spanish extra virgin olive oil, and Osaka snow salt finisher that I’m graced with.
I understand why this sweet ending has been a staple on the rotating menu since Day 1, because it makes me truly, unequivocally f*cking happy. I’m severing all previous hang-ups with desserts I’ve claimed to be my favourite before.
I realise the privilege that comes with my job, and there’s never a meal that goes unthanked in my line of work. But sitting down alone at Fleurette is an unrivalled experience that I don’t think any other meal can replicate. I barely took time out to check my phone or dally on social media, as I was too engrossed in eating and imbibing every taste, smell, texture, and even the sounds of the dining hall.
I am even gifted with a cookie to remind me of this once-in-a-lifetime gastronomical adventure, to which I gracefully savour with coffee the next day. Negate the price just this once and reward yourself with an evening of divine dining. Tell them Wani sent you, and then pass the word on, so the team at Fleurette gets the praise they so utterly deserve.
Expected damage: S$228++ per pax
Price: $ $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
204 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218451
204 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218451