1. Air Dempsey
    Photograph: Air
  2. Air
    Photograph: Kris Provoost for Air
  3. Air
    Photograph: Kris Provoost for Air
  4. Air
    Photograph: Air
  5. Air
    Photograph: Air
  6. Air
    Photograph: Air
  7. Air
    Photograph: Air
  • Restaurants | Fusion
  • Tanglin


Adira Chow

Time Out says

Air might occupy a massive 40,000 square feet of land at Dempsey Hill, but the ideals and ambition behind it are arguably larger than the space it takes up. When taken apart, the restaurant’s name stands for “awareness, impact and responsibility”, and it aims to “inspire thought about food”. The brainchild of renowned chefs Matthew Orlando and Will Goldfarb from Noma and Room4Desserts respectively, the restaurant plates up contemporary Southeast Asian and European grub in a casual yet eco-conscious setting. 

But more than that, the massive compound is also home to an expansive lawn area fit for picnics and events, a culinary research and development space on the restaurant’s second floor, and even its own working garden with fresh produce. The research space comes equipped with a temperature-controlled room for fermentation and a dedicated area for holding workshops, while the edible garden sees seasonal produce like roselle flowers and kaffir lime leaves harvested and used in the restaurant’s dishes. 

For the casual diner, such serious, sustainability-focused preaching tends to fall on deaf ears. Which is why Orlando insists that with food, taste and accessibility are key, while sustainability should follow closely after. The idea is that if diners aren’t interested in the restaurant’s sustainability narrative or eco-friendly practices, they can still enjoy tasty Southeast Asian-European fare in a beautifully furnished space with great views. “We’ll never do something just because it’s sustainable. Deliciousness is the most important thing. The process doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t taste good. The easiest way is to feed people something delicious, then start a conversation,” Orlando says.

To Orlando and Goldfarb’s credit, they walk the talk – you can get a five-course Chef’s Choice meal with desserts at a relatively reasonable price of $92 per person. Things are off to a promising start with the fermented cassava flatbread, which is roasted and served with a generous heap of savoury mushroom XO butter to lather over the slices. The eight hour slow roasted mushrooms lend greater depth and savouriness to the spread. Be expectant for the crispy oyster mushrooms too. Inspired by fried chicken, the buttermilk batter used to coat the mushrooms is mixed in with a housemade spice mix and glazed with a sweet and sour Sarawak pepper emulsion.

With the mains, the restaurant’s star dish is the whole coral grouper – a dish that makes use of an entire grouper fish, down to the bones. Fish bones are pressure-cooked, pureed, and mixed with starch to make a lavash dough, while the fish collar and head are steamed and smoked to create a rillette to be paired with the lavash. The grouper itself is then slow-cooked and topped with charred white and green onions. Other highlights are the roselle glazed duck breast, and the barbecued skate wing served with a white wine and galangal hollandaise sauce.

Things get rather divisive once you approach the desserts section, which sees unique creations like faux chocolate and papaya panna cotta that’ll have you either raising an eyebrow or licking the plate clean. The Whole Papaya is a dessert that aims to coax out the flavour of an entire papaya – a papaya panna cotta is topped with cooked papaya jam, frozen papaya skin, dried papaya seeds and marigold leaf oil. And the Re-Incarnated ‘Chocolate’ features cascara – a byproduct of coffee, scraps from cocoa fruits, and banana skin used to reconstruct chocolate. It’s less sweet than the real thing, with an earthier taste from the leftover cocoa bits and banana peel.


25B Dempsey Road
Opening hours:
Wed-Sun 5.30pm-11pm
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