In theory, it’s the ultimate dream partnership – three celebrity chefs joining forces in one gorgeous rooftop restaurant, and the star power is cranked up even higher by the prospect of dining in the company of MediaCorp celebrities. But while the local stars were conspicuously absent during both our visits, the stunning view of Marina Bay wasn’t. Although Me@OUE doesn’t sit at the highest perch in the neighbourhood, there’s a very pleasant outdoor porch (soon to be launched as a lounge for post-dinner drinks), plus floor-to-ceiling windows to ensure a direct view of MBS and their nightly light and water show (though after dark, there’s a bit of a glare from the reflections inside).
Everything is certainly exclusive – you’ll need to take a private elevator straight up to the 19th floor, then traverse an 18m-stretch of open bar before reaching the 90-seat restaurant. The three l’atelier kitchens are each designed according to French, Japanese and Chinese themes, but what’s also mesmerising is the complementing décor by Japanese design firm Super Potato. It mimics the Komorebi effect, which aims to project an image of light shining through a forest canopy. Still, we can’t help recalling the old adage – ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ – and indeed, finding the right balance between all three cuisines is truly an art.
The menu folds out into three pages – one for each chef. Sushi, sashimi and charcoal grill items feature heavily on chef Masayasu Yonemura’s menu, contemporary French classics with Laurent Peugeot and a variety of soups, noodles and traditional Cantonese dishes dominate Justin Hor’s specialties.
You can either stick to a single cuisine or cross-order from the different options available, but the food is all strictly non-fusion. The options are seemingly endless: Does foie gras ($38) go well with a liver sausage in char siew roll ($26)? Which should we have first – the exceedingly fresh sashimi platter ($210/15 slices), a charcuterie platter of jamon, lomo and rosette ($30/small, $55/large) or a double-boiled abalone health soup with kampung chicken and dried scallop ($38)? Should you end the meal with the duck à l’orange ($68) or a noodle dish ($25-$48) from the Chinese menu?
Thankfully, ME@OUE’s professional staff is extremely helpful with recommendations: if you’re planning to try all three cuisines, start with the Japanese and move on to the Chinese and French; a platter of sashimi or the shabu shabu ($88 with a portion of Kagoshima Kurobuta pork, or $138 with Saga wagyu grade A5 beef), followed by appetizers such as Chef Hor’s excellent baked cod fish in whole orange ($24) and Chef Peugeot’s foie grass ‘froid chaud’ (a duo of chicken terrine with seared foie, $38).
Still, it’s all a bit overwhelming, and the bill really starts to mount if you’re not careful with what you order. Watch your portions too – we discovered that the yin yang pomfret ($120), done two ways, is best left to bigger groups, and the side of braised yam balls with century egg ($28) can be a too heavy on the palate. With both sweet and savoury desserts – try ending with Peugeot’s signature hot epoisse cube ($22), a crispy fried filo pastry oozing with cheese and served with apple and prune chutney, despite it also being listed as an appetizer – you don’t want to get full too quickly.
For the CBD crowd, ME@OUE offers a weekly set lunch menu ($48/ two courses, $58/ three courses) – a surprisingly good value-for-money opportunity for mere mortals to partake in the restaurant’s exclusivity without breaking the bank. Here again, there are starter, main and dessert options from each of the three cuisines – such is ME@OUE’s all-encompassing dining experience that you might find yourself tucking into a bowl of fresh water prawn hor fun with deep fried dumplings while your dining companion carves up a roasted lamb loin in herb crust and thyme.
It’s an endearing slice of Singaporean food culture that was previously found only in hawker centres, not amid such luxe surroundings, and the intriguing combinations that you get from cross-ordering is something you won’t get elsewhere. Take, for example, a rich starter of slow cooked egg with parmesan and truffle aroma (French) and the comforting main of prawn hor fun (Chinese), all balanced by a light, almost ethereal creation of soy milk blancmager and brown sugar ice cream (Japanese) at the end.
You’ve probably seen the countless commercials and radio advertisements (courtesy of MediaCorp), and it’s certainly worth a lunch visit to check out the hype. If you’re going for dinner, however, do a bit of homework first – or you’ll likely end up eating (and paying for) three hefty meals.