The National Museum of Singapore which is the oldest museum in the country, went through a major three-and-a-half-year revamp before reopening its doors back in December 2006. Still in its fresh-looking facade, I check out a fine dining restaurant which serves very good European cuisines right within this historical building.
Welcome to Novus (or extraordinary or new in Latin).
Fine dining, to me in the very least, is a very rare and infrequent affair and most of the time I would only visit such restaurants to celebrate a certain special occasion with my wife. This time round? Our celebration for Christmas Eve together.
Stepping into the restaurant for the first time, I must say that even in the day the restaurant looks absolutely awesome. There are large windows flanked by the sides, allowing natural sunlight to bright up the entire restaurant.
The restaurant is basically seperated into two halves, of which one side is for the bar while the other is the main dining area.
To ensure the food quality is up to standard and provide its diners the perfect ambience, the restaurant is designed to cater up to 48 pax. Service-wise, the waiting staff is warm and attentive throughout, as what I would have expected from a fine dining restaurant.
At the time of my visit, the menu offers either a 2-course ($32++) or 3-course ($40++) Winter Set Lunch. I picked the latter.
So who’s the chef behind all the creations in the menu? Well, meet Executive Chef Stephan Zoisl, an Austrian chef who was trained at famous Three-Michelin-Star restaurant “The Fat Duck” restaurant located in Berkshire, England.
(Credits to tottstore.com)
I kind of like his philosophy towards cooking, which is to “keep it pure and simple, and always use the freshest ingredients and produce“. Simple and straightforward, no?
So what does the $40++ per pax 3-course Winter Set Lunch get you at Novus?
The Set Lunch kicked off with a decent selection of breads and buns, accompanied with olives and fragrant butter to prepare your taste buds for the entrée. Served along with the bread is this really, really delicious Wild Mushroom Soup, contained within a mini cookie-jar-like bottle.
What happened next came to me as a surprise.
The waiting staff carefully placed a card stand on the table before inserting a card that contains some information of what I was about to eat for the entrée and this continued throughout the entire course. Talk about being informed about what’s on your plate.
Here comes the entrée
It’s all about the details on the plate. Raw fish never tastes this good.
Made of raw yellowfin tuna, this Tuna Tartare is accompanied with a hint of wasabi topped with white radish and oyster leaves, all surrounded with soy caviar and yuzu gel. Tartare basically means raw meat or fish which in this case, very delicious raw yellowfin tuna.
Rocket and Manchego
I really really love rocket, so much so that I almost ignored everything else on the entrée menu and went ahead for this salad dish. Made up of rocket leaves, char-grilled artichoke, fresh vine cherry tomatoes and the manchego cheese. This is the perfect combination for the rocket and cheese lovers. The vine cherry tomatoes are surprisingly sweet to taste and artichoke slices are aplenty in here.
It doesn’t take long for me to appreciate the attention to detail and how meticulous each dish is being prepared, and that’s before the main courses arrive at my table. And speaking of the main courses, here they are.
What you have here is very very firm Canadian lobster meat. Cooked together with Carnarolli (a type of medium-grained rice known for its firm texture and rich in starch content) risotto-style in shellfish stock and accompanied with baked cherry tomatoes and aromatic fennel to bring out the flavours. Is it fantastic? You bet.
At first, my stomach was asking for the Black Angus Beef tenderloin (additional $15) but the Christmas mood made me choose otherwise. In the end I went for the Stuffed Turkey instead and I’m glad I made that choice. The entire combination on the plate really goes well with one another. What you have here are three chunky yet firm and tender pieces of turkey meat with chestnut, butternut pumpkin and red veined sorrel. Both the chestnut and butternut pumpkit add a hint of sweetness to this dish.I wish I could have more of these!
Here comes the desserts. When asked about what are the must-try desserts at Novus, the waiting staff recommended the following.
I have never sat in a “test” this happy. This dessert is for the oh-so-chocolatey-in-you. To enjoy the Chocolate Test, one would have to start the tasting sequence starting from the left to the right, which the chocolate-based desserts are arrenged in the increasing order of the cocoa content. Each “test” is really a pleasure for the tastebuds.
So what’s in the test you asked? Well, it’s made up of:
- 33% aerated mousse
- 55% soufflé
- 66% sorbet
- 72% warm custard
- 85% dehydrated chocolate
Need I say more? The waiting staff is absolutely right on that this is a must-try.
Soufflé, soufflé, soufflé. You are simply too irrisistible. For those who are not aware, the word Soufflé means “puff up” in French. Preperation time for this savoury dessert is a long 25 minutes but of course, I need not wait that long because the kitchen watches its time very closely to ensure that this puffed up combination of egg whites and custard is serve promptly after my main course. Warm Blueberry Sauce is promptly poured onto the soufflé upon served and the rest is up to us diners to indulge. Accompanied with a small serving of Buttermilk Ice Cream, it’s easy to see now why this dessert is another must-try.
Before I forget, there’s also a serving of complimentary coffee or tea to help complete the satisfying meal.
Since my last visit to Sky on 57 @ Marina Bay Sands more than 6 months ago I have not been to another fine dining restaurant until now. Novus has helped me to gain further insight to excellent fine dining cuisine. So, am I completely satisfied with the vist? In a word, yes. I know I will be back for more creations by Chef Zoisl.
Oh, and one more thing to add – if you are driving, be sure to obtain the complimentary parking coupon from Novus because parking at the National Museum of Singapore is really, really expensive.
Ratings: 4.5 foodiedoos out of 5.0
From Mondays to Saturdays:
11:30am – 2:30pm
6:30pm – 10:30pm
Closed on Sunday