The set lunch is the best thing about Me@OUE - it's decently priced at $58 and you get a three-course meal with the designer stamp of chefs Laurent Peugeot, Masayasu Yonemura and Justin Hor.
50 Collyer Quay
#19-01 OUE Bayfront
Open for lunch and dinner Mon to Fri: 12pm to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 10pm.
Dinner only on Saturday. Closed on Sunday
IT'S a concept that looks great on paper. Three top chefs - two with Michelin credentials - cooking together in a stunning rooftop restaurant with the added thrill of spotting your favourite Mediacorp personality making a cameo appearance. But like the trailer of a Channel 5 TV drama, the reality has trouble keeping up with the hype.
Me@OUE is a collaboration between Mediacorp, OUE and Food Junction. Never mind that it sounds like the result of a contest by the same people who name our tourist attractions, or that the chances of spotting Fann, Zoe or heck, Jack Neo even - are pretty negligible unless you count the odd C-lister popping in for a set lunch as a star sighting.
As it is, you could say the C-lister made a good call because the set lunch is the best thing about Me@OUE.
It's decently priced at $58 and you get a three-course meal with the designer stamp of chefs Laurent Peugeot, Masayasu Yonemura and Justin Hor.
Fittingly, you choose from three separate menus - French, Japanese or Chinese - and there is no a la carte menu at lunch time.
The menu changes every week but the day we were there, the Chinese menu took pole position for its homespun flavours with an upscale tweak.
A deep-fried plump chicken wing stuffed with otah (spicy fish paste) was a satisfying combination of crisp skin and juicy meat wrapped around the mildly spicy fish mixture. The main course of a large fresh river prawn in rich broth with hor fun was a luxurious take on Hokkien mee, but with a more delicate, refined stock.
On the other hand, the chirashisushi that was part of the Japanese set didn't impress with its middling quality of raw fish used, although the cold starter of sliced duck breast with a jellied spring onion and mustard mixture piqued the interest somewhat.
But it was overshadowed by the French starter of slippery soft cooked egg sitting in potato puree and minced truffle - a must-order for egg lovers. The roasted lamb loin was well-executed with a herb crust and attractively plated with vegetables. Apart from a tasteless sago dessert and a so-so creme brulee, the Japanese soymilk blancmange with brown sugar ice cream turned out to be a refreshing treat.
While choices are clear at lunch, dinner is a messy affair with three totally different menus and cuisines sorely testing your ability to order a coherent meal.
The easiest is for each diner to pick one cuisine and follow it throughout. If your buffet mentality kicks in and you try to cross-order, expect chaotic and very expensive results.
With different portion sizes, your table of two may well end up with tiny appetisers and main courses big enough to feed five.
Live Kyushu clams, for example, arrived as a petite threesome sitting on a portable Japanese charcoal barbecue.
At $68, you expect something a little more than three mouthfuls. They were very good though - very fresh and meaty with just grated daikon and ponzu as flavour accents.
The Chinese double-boiled abalone soup with chicken ($26) was your garden variety Chinese restaurant staple, but decent.
The rich baked rice with abalone ($32) was one of the cheapest main courses we could find, and it was an acceptable, rich, broth-infused rice served in the abalone shell with two slices of shellfish on top. Adding the yam balls braised with century and salted egg ($28) was a mistake as it was a large portion of stodgy balls in a super-salty broth crowded with spinach and the two kinds of preserved eggs. We would have preferred a fish but we didn't want to blow $120 on a yin yang pomfret or $98 for a sizzling star garoupa.
But being more desensitised to the high prices of Japanese food, we picked the grilled thorny head fish ($138), somehow thinking it was a fish head but it turned out to be the entire fish - not a fresh one but the air-dried salted variety which was simply grilled and served with grated daikon. Decent, but hardly challenging for a Michelin-starred Japanese chef.
It's the same with Laurent Peugeot's French menu. While noted for his modern French-Asian cuisine at LP+Tetsu, his menu here is old school with the likes of duck a l'orange ($68), caviar ($320 to $785), cote de boeuf ($345 for two). The duck was portioned for one, meaty with a crisp skin and candied orange zest but nothing outstanding. You do wonder about the rationale behind putting three reputable chefs together to cook food that any decent French, Japanese or Chinese chef can do, in shiny but impersonal hotel restaurant-like surroundings.
It works perfectly as a serviceable business lunch, dinner-with-a-view place with food that passes muster. But if you want anything close to star quality, that's about as elusive as any celebrity you hope to glimpse in this joint.
By Jaime Ee
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good