The Place CapitaSpring tower is the buzziest building in Raffles Place currently and after Sol & Luna, I checked out the 1-Arden concept on level 51 which comprises Kaarla Restaurant and Bar; Oumi; and the 1-Arden Food Forest. This project is by 1-Group, with Kaarla as the signature restaurant offering Coastal Australian Cuisine, while Oumi focuses on Modern Japanese Kappo Dining.
My first impression of the 1-Arden Food Forest, other than a great garden space providing the garden ingredients on the menu, is the sweeping views of Singapore. You can take a stroll around the garden, which is opened to the public even if you are not dining at the concepts.
On the restaurant space, my first impression is the sense of spaciousness and of course, the splendid city views. Kaarla is closer to the entrance, while Oumi is located towards the back. The dining ambience is relaxed for both concepts due to the way the tables are arranged which exudes a free-flowing layout, and is not as formal as I would imagine for a level 51 restaurant in Singapore. That said, the dress code is still smart casual at the minimum.
The Food Both Kaarla and Oumi share the same dining space in different dining sections, and stick to the ethos of using fresh produce to the fullest (‘nose-to-tail’) via seasonal, responsibly sourced, and ethically raised produce. Most of the ingredients are sourced from Japan, Australia, and local farms.
I had my meal at Oumi, where you get a pretty good view of the city if you managed to sit by the window. You also get a view of the open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. You can go for ala carte dishes, or over an ‘omakase’ multi-course meal curated with the chef.
A refreshing dish to start is the Momotaro Cheese (S$20), which showcases Japanese Fruit Tomato topped with Miso Cheese, Fennel Flower and Nori Rice Puff.
The Kabocha Uni Tofu (S$30) is easily my favourite dish. I really appreciate fresh ingredients with light flavours these days, especially at the start of a meal which helps in pacing my appetite. The house-made Australian pumpkin tofu here is topped with Sea Urchin and Edible Flowers from 1-Arden Food Forest. Have it in one bite, and I wouldn’t mind another serving.
The Nasu Dengaku (S$20) is an eggplant dish, where the Australian eggplant is grilled over binchotan with nori white miso and garnished with deep-fried golden buckwheat, deep-fried sakura ebi, and hojiso (shiso) flowers from the 1-Arden Food Forest. The texture of the eggplant is soft and you get a very flavourful taste here from the grilled technique.
Another of those snacks which I don’t mind multiple servings, the Tempura Crepe (S$25/piece) is a crispy cracker of Scampi Roe, Avocado, Flying Fish Roe, Sakura Ebi, Ao-Togarashi Yoghurt Balsamic-Teriyaki Sauce, Hojiso Flowers from the 1-Arden Food Forest and Chrysanthemum petals. Loads of ingredients packed into one long crispy slab of tempura dish!
For small plates, the Foie Gras Monaka (S$15/piece) is one dish which has been trending in the past year as I have come across similar iterations in other restaurants. You get a Crisp Wafer, Foie Gras Ganache, Salmon Roe, Flying Fish Roe, Pickled Daikon from the 1-Arden Food Forest, Edible Flowers and Leaves from the 1-Arden Food Forest, Chrysanthemum petals. The size is not huge, so you can pop it easily in one bite which is the best way to enjoy the umami flavours.
I love my beef, so the Gyutan Yaki (S$35) pleases my palate. It uses Australian Tajima Tongue grilled over binchotan served along with Shio Negi (Japanese leeks), Fresh Wasabi, Citrus Miso, and Bua Long Long Leaves from the 1-Arden Food Forest.
For mains, I tried the Kohitsuji Yaki (S$70) where the Grilled Australian Lamb is served with Red Garlic Sauce, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Balm, Satsumaimo Japanese sweet potato puree, Calamansi, Edible Flowers and Leaves from the 1-Arden Food Forest. Not that big a lamb person, so this dish did not leave much of an impression on me.
Instead, I have a deeper impression of the Buta Kakuni (S$60) which takes inspiration from Okinawan cuisine. Having been to Okinawa myself, braised pork belly is one of the most common and popular dishes in the Japanese prefecture. The version at Oumi uses Australian pork belly, which is braised skin-on with dried orange peel, shoyu, sake, mirin, Awamori, and Okinawa brown sugar for 4.5 hours. Served with grilled eringii mushrooms, fame flower from the 1-Arden Forest, the pork served is tender and flavourful. It is easy to see pork belly as a sinful dish, so I also appreciate the balanced aspects here from the vegetables and mushrooms.
For a carb dish, there is the Wagyu (S$30/serving) where Braised Kagoshima A5 Wagyu Sirloin is served with Akita Komachi sushi rice, Onsen Egg Yolk, Ao-Togarashi Yoghurt, Japanese Leeks, Lemon Balm and Wasabi. This is essentially an indulgent Wagyu Don.
If you have a group size of 4-5 persons, the Ise Ebi (S$350) is worth considering, especially if you love seafood. This Australian Rock Lobster is a seasonal dish, and it can be prepared in different styles – Sashimi, Donabe, and/or bouillabaisse. This dish also epitomises the Nose-To-Tail culinary approach at Oumi where the whole lobster is utilised including its shell, head and meat.
I first had it sashimi-style, where I get to taste the freshness of the lobster.
I then had it the donabe-style, where the claypot is filled with lobster shell, lobster meat, cod fish, soft tofu, oyster mushrooms, miso and komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach from the1-Arden Food Forest). It is quite a big portion, and a comforting way to enjoy the freshness of the seafood ingredients in a seafood stock.
For desserts, expect the likes of Kyoho Sake Sorbet (S$20) with Sesame Crumble, Warabi Mochi, Black Sesame Praline, Berry Paper Tuile; and the Yoghurt Lychee Sake Sorbet (S$20) with Melon, Osmanthus Warabi Mochi and Shiso Veil.
For beverages, there is a selection of authentic Japanese teas, as well as artisanal sake, shochu and umeshu, as well as spirits, and craft cocktails.
Rants Nothing in particular.
Will I Return Again? It is great to see another new dining concept in Raffles Place and I can imagine that Oumi is potentially a hotspot for business meals, or one to impress your date. Great views of the city, and you can count on the fresh ingredients for a meal which will not go that wrong.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
Kaarla Restaurant and Bar/Oumi
88 Market Street
Tel: +65 8338 3251
Monday to Saturday
Lunch: 12pm to 2:30pm | Kaarla Bar 12pm to 2:30pm
6pm to 10:30pm | Kaarla Bar 6pm to 12am
(last order 11pm)
Ranted by The Ranter