Bistro November is a pop-up concept that had taken over the space of now-defunct Restaurant Ember (or more recently, The Provision Shop) at Hotel 1929, with the pop-up lasting until November 2017.
A collaboration between Unlisted Collection and the folks behind what was formerly Thirteen Duxton, Bistro November is probably one of the most unique dining spots around the island. Sourcing their produce from the nearby Chinatown Complex Market, Bistro November’s menu is dynamic, serving up dishes with fresh produce that they could obtain from the market daily. Bistro November also believes in “zero-wastage”; this means that one would often find parts of ingredients that are usually deemed “unusable” end up as part of a course here — partly the reason behind the creativity and sometimes adventurous dishes that are being churned out here which forms part of the experience at Bistro November. Apart from the eight-course Chef’s Menu that we went for, Bistro November also offers an ala-carte menu which also changes on a daily basis, with a whole range of fine wines to choose from. One can also opt to go for a wine pairing or even a soda pairing with the Chef’s Menu as well.
(Fermented Red Yeast Rice, Sugarcane, Cod and Margarine)
The first two courses of the eight-course Chef’s Menu are small plates similar to bar bites — these are designed to get patrons settled into the start of the meal. The Fermented Red Yeast Rice, Sugarcane, Cod and Margarine were served in the form of crisps, using sugarcane pulp which is often deemed as “unusable” — the crisps carries an interesting texture; soft yet crisp, a very light texture that was pretty appetising as a course that helps one to settle into the meal especially with the creaminess of the mousse that sits atop each crisp.
(Beetroot, Burdock and Chicken Heart)
Beetroot, Burdock and Chicken Heart is the other small plate that is served alongside the first. This dish quite helped preparing us for what is to arrive subsequently — the use of chicken hearts might not be comfortable to some, but this dish pretty much sets the expectations right with how adventurous the meal would be subsequently. We found this pretty interesting; the texture rather pulpy and almost similar to an orange wedge, though probably just a wee bit firmer. There wasn’t a very stark flavour; more of a savoury taste with a little earthiness when eaten together with the mousse on the side.
(Lamb, Raddichio, Roselle and Hazelnut)
Lamb is not something that is particularly up our alley for the gamey flavours of its meat, so the Lamb, Raddichio, Roselle and Hazelnut was something slightly harder to accept. That being said, looking past the gaminess, this is a brilliantly executed dish with the tender meat; in fact, the roselle, raddichio and hazelnut help to take away some of the gaminess of the lamb, with the hazelnut even adding a little crunch to provide a contrasting texture to the entire dish.
We thought we were going to be more afraid of the Mutton Tartare than the Lamb dish, but the Mutton, Salted Plum, Chamomile and Macadamia was a way more forgiving combination than the former. In fact, there wasn’t much gaminess to speak of, and the tartare was actually pretty delicious with consistent textures; no veiny, fatty parts that were difficult to chew. The chamomile even adds a light hint of floral aroma that made it pretty bright and uplifting in between spoonfuls; quite appetising.
(Pork Belly, Burnt Leek, Fermented Barley & Snake Beans, Sour Cucumber)
Courses five and six are the main course and palate cleanser respectively, meant to be paired with each other. Pork Belly, Burnt Leek, Fermented Barley was probably one of the safest items during the night — one using ingredients that we found more familiar as compared to the other courses. Still wonderfully done, the pork belly was tender without being too fatty nor too lean; the flavour of the fats combined well with the fermented barley risotto that gave a bite and the occasional crunch with the other elements within the risotto itself for a play of texture — a savoury combination of flavours that was not overbearing. The Snake Beans, Sour Cucumber was the palate cleanser; tangy flavours with stretchy mozzarella at the bottom that helps to cut the sourness a little, refreshing the taste buds right before the pre-dessert is served.
(Corn Corn Corn)
Probably our favourite course of all was the Corn Corn Corn — a corn custard shaped in a baby corn shaped mould with dehydrated popcorn and corn silk over the top — the sweetness and smoothness of the custard makes it an item that was easy to love.
(Liquorice Ice-Cream with Fermented Plum)
The eighth course was the dessert; Liquorice Ice-Cream with Fermented Plum garnished with coriander. The liquorice ice cream ended the meal on a sweet note, with a lighter sweetness that was well-contrasted from the fermented plum and a crisp texture from the coriander. This also puts a nice ending to the eight-course Chef’s Menu for the night.
Bistro November is a rather unique bistro into the F&B scene; from using fresh produced sourced from the local market, the “zero-wastage” concept and by offering a dynamic menu that changes on a daily basis, Bistro November is somewhere that would never fail to surprise. Our experience was filled with unexpectedness, and probably one where we had many firsts where we tried things we would otherwise never have done so. The service staff are warm, sincere and knowledgeable about the concept and food here, able to engage in small talk with the patrons. For those who are keen on visiting Bistro November while the pop-up is still ongoing, we would probably advise one to keep an open mind; do not be afraid to try unfamiliar items that may be unnerving for some. Simply leave it to the chef and his team; it’s almost like an omakase where you would just have to trust them on the preparation of the food that is coming to the table. Enjoy the process by marvelling at the cooking methods and techniques employed and let the flavours tickle the taste buds; a meal at Bistro November is definitely more than just the flavours, but also the art of appreciating it. A place to visit for those who are looking for an unconventional gastronomical experience with an element of surprise, especially for those who have some cash to make the splurge.
50 Keong Saik Road
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/november.asia/