After a fruitful 17 years in China’s vibrant dining scene, local celebrity chef Jereme Leung has finally launched his first Singapore restaurant at the Raffles Hotel Singapore. Inspired by the expansive Chinese culinary arts, 藝 yì by Jereme Leung presents a medley of China’s best: resurfacing unfamiliar dishes and reinterpreting Chinese classics.
First trained in Cantonese cuisine, Leung has had an ambitious discovery of China’s ancient delicacies. But the chef is not one to back down from a challenge. Having successfully helmed a Shanghainese restaurant at The Bund, Leung displayed his penchant for detail and authenticity.
Now at the height of his career, Leung manages nine restaurants under his name and regular appearances on Chinese television. There’s certainly no better time for Jereme Leung to reintroduce himself to Singapore.
藝 yì by Jereme Leung is set to be a grand masterpiece — there’s nothing quite like it yet — in Leung’s oeuvre. The restaurant pays homage to China’s Eight Great Traditions, classical provincial cuisines highly regarded through the country’s long history.
Each province, from Sichuan to Yunnan, has its own style of cuisine and unique ingredients to boast. In his long career, Leung has made it his mission to embrace as many of these as possible. While the chef is a stickler for authenticity, he embraces modernity at the same time. Communal dining is the very soul of this refined restaurant, bolstered by a contemporary approach to design and service.
So 藝 yì by Jereme Leung is anything but a ‘typical’ Chinese restaurant. The Chinese creation myth of Pangu serves as an inspiration to this whimsical setting. Diners are welcomed through a cascade of snow-white flowers sweeping through the entrance. The foliage gives way to a pastel-hued chamber lined with chinoiserie and scintillating gold wallpaper. Ceramic cloud fixtures add to the dreamy atmosphere, perfect for the comfortable banquette fixtures offering diners a respite for lunch and dinner. The restaurant’s harmonious energy extends to the private dining rooms, each unique and flexible according to each diner’s requests.
Elegant surroundings aside, 藝 yì by Jereme Leung is dedicated to making diners feel at ease. Which is why Leung insists on starting with his Favourite Drinking Snacks, an assortment of easy bites that go with quick drinks. A mix of luncheon meat bits and chicken, stir-fried with Sichuan spices, make an addictive and sinful treat to go with glasses of Billecart-Salmon champagne.
The menu follows through with appetisers, an artful preview to the fine showmanship and rare ingredients in China’s diverse culinary culture. A simple cucumber makes an excellent showcase of the kitchen’s precise knife skills, transformed into a ‘hundred-ring’ coil simple dressed with a soy sauce vinaigrette and poached sea whelk. In another, fragrant termite mushrooms from the wild forests of Yunnan are presented with a medley of highland vegetable and honey-glazed walnuts.
Classic home-style dishes, items not typically found in restaurants, are highlights here. There’s a Sichuan speciality of twice-cooked goose, left tender after cooking in a casserole of fiery dried chillies and spices for hours. Or, for those looking for comfort food, consider a colourful array of cauliflower in a heartwarming tomato-based broth.
Even with homelier dishes, indulgence is still a stunning offering at the restaurant. A classic oven-baked chicken finds a heady assortment of premium ginseng. In another, wok-fried Angus beef cubes are accompanied by five-year preserved turnip and pickled turnips for texture and fragrance.
Attention is paid to the smallest of details. So, at 藝 yì by Jereme Leung, diners are always promised bowls of steaming, hot rice to go with their dishes. The restaurant employs 12 rice cookers, each one ready to be served tableside for absolute freshness.
Dessert is worth waiting till the end for here as well. 藝 yì by Jereme Leung presents a list of traditional sweets and modern interpretations. Satay-spiced ice cream, a twist on a local hawker dish, offers an unexpected yet refreshing treat after dinner. Also worth having is the restaurant’s signature Swan-Shaped Durian Pastries, an Instagram-worthy delight that is truly an indulgent treat that will win over both locals and tourists alike.
藝 yì by Jereme Leung is open for lunch from 11:30am – 1:30pm and dinner from 6:15pm – 9:15pm every day.