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Left: Nouri collaborates with Swee Choon for this weekend; Right: Esora's Japanese pork sando; Les Amis's quiche has a buttery shortcrust pastry base.

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Les Amis's quiche has a buttery shortcrust pastry base.
DINING IN

Last-chance takeaway treats

As dining in resumes today, there's only a weekend left to enjoy takeaway favourites before they're discontinued.
Jun 19, 2020 5:50 AM

IF THE sudden green light for dining in caught many restaurants flat-footed on Monday, maybe no one was more stunned than the Covid-generated hermit enjoying the reclusive good life with finger permanently poised above a sea of delivery menus from some of the best eateries in town.

Now, faster than you can say "minimum order", the delivery rug has been pulled out from under you as one by one, fine dining restaurants announce that they're discontinuing the services that nourished you through an entire drama-filled (of the Korean kind) existence.

As you contemplate a new reality of having to actually step out of your house to get food, we'll miss some of these treats that are going to end by this weekend, or while they last.

Nourireopens from dinner today, and intends to continue its delivery options, although it's hard to say to what extent. Meanwhile, its temporary collaboration with heritage dim sum brand Swee Choon is just for this weekend, so quick action is needed to find out whether chef-owner Ivan Brehm can make a living by making har kau.

Yes he can, since he takes Swee Choon's neighbourhood-style pau to a higher level with his S$38 dim sum set that comprises a pair of steamed buns, prawn dumplings and deep-fried noodle sticks respectively. Yes it's pricey, but then this is dim sum as you've never had it before.

Take your memory of liu sha bao or lava salted egg yolk custard buns and apply it to Chef Brehm's charcoal-hued steamed buns. They're fluffy and bouncy in the same bite, releasing a flow of oozing sweet-then-savoury cream of corn - studded with whole kernels, jalapeno chutney for acidity and a trace of minced Manjimup truffles for umami and luxury.

The texture of the bun gives any top dim sum chef a run for his money, while the corn-for-custard switcheroo is pretty inspired. A surprising hit too is the jet-black prawn dumpling - what is it with black dim sum though - filled with crunchy shrimp in a xiao long bao-like burst of mildly spicy, sweet and fragrant pepper crab sauce infused with Tahitian vanilla. It's a weird match but it works - maybe a little too sweet, but the novelty value, the authentic stretchy resilience of the skin and the taste of the pepper sauce prawns are strong individual elements that sit easily in combination.

But genre-bending aside, the extra crunchy mee suah kueh - a riff on Swee Choon's signature creation where soft rice noodles are pressed into thick spears and deep-fried - actually outshines the original with its springy noodles pre-cooked in broth, a perfect contrast to its satisfying double-fried crust. It's good with or without the tangy, fruity chilli cream it comes with. The set is only for Father's Day, after which you could switch to Swee Choon's regular dim sum offerings which are comfortingly familiar, but we'll hold out to see what's next on Nouri's dumpling agenda.

One dream dish that will lapse into the realm of food memories unless Sebastien Lepinoy has a change of heart is the three Michelin-starred Les Amis's traditional French quiche (S$88) that will disappear from its home dining menu as quickly as it appeared. With its reopening on June 22, the restaurant will stop all dine-at-home options. So you only have this weekend to overturn all preconceived notions of what quiche is - namely a cold, dry tart with a firm egg and cheese filling.

This large, 1.8kg pie is maybe about 10cm high, with a tender, buttery shortcrust pastry base filled with a wobbly savoury custard of cheese and bacon with a beautifully charred veneer on top. It arrives still very warm and so wobbly, you're almost tempted to call the restaurant to complain that it's undercooked, but it's not. We've actually been eating the wrong kind of quiche all these years since our first encounter at Delifrance. It's creamy yet not heavy, with a delicate cheesiness and bits of not-salty bacon. Unfortunately, this discovery is short-lived - along with its home churned ice cream to go - but here's to a reboot soon.

At Esora, we barely have a chance to say hello to its newly introduced takeaway sandos (sandwiches) before they disappear in anticipation of the modern kaiseki restaurant's reopening.

Chef Shigeru Koizumi's initial idea was to offer a taster of elegant Japanese sando filled with breaded and deep fried cutlets - aka sandwiches that cost more in a different language. Snapped up as soon as they were launched, the sudden Phase 2 announcement cut that plan short. Simple but well executed, we skip the S$88 premium Omi wagyu version and go for the Black Angus beef (S$38) which is a decent sized piece of meat sandwiched between tender white bread. In true fastidious Japanese style, it's packed into a compact paper box neatly cut into six equal portions that might have required a set square to measure.

The meat is lean and perfectly medium with a shy blush of pink, but a bit of a tug is needed to get a clean bite. The batter is so thin you barely notice it in its bed of lightly dressed cabbage slaw with a fresh herb zing of shredded shiso leaf. The same pattern continues with the other versions, with varying sauces that range from tangy to a little too sweet. There's a thick slab of classic pork katsu (S$28), chunky mashed potato croquette with little bits of wagyu (S$18), and a sturdy, sweetish egg omelette tamagoyaki (S$16) - great for egg lovers. It's sold out until June 28, but there's a chance it might come back. Even if not, it's not a major deal breaker and besides, the real show is about to begin.


TO ORDER:

Nouri: shop.appetitesg.com or sweechoon.oddle.me

Les Amis: lesamis.com.sg or call/WhatsApp 9671-7853

Esora: restaurant-esora.com