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Why chef’s tables are the new “in” dining trend in Singapore – and where to find them

For an exclusive dining experience, a restaurant’s private dining room is a straightforward, fuss-free option. At Ivan Brehm’s new 42-seater, Nouri, it is no different – a comfortable room for eight is available. But, if appreciating the restaurant’s innovative cuisine is key, there’s no better place to do so than at the sleek marble table smack in the middle of the main dining area.

(RELATED: Chef-owner Ivan Brehm on what to expect from “crossroads cuisine” at the new Nouri.)

It is here that Brehm and his kitchen team do their preparations and add finishing touches to dishes. For diners, the counter doubles as a table for 12 to savour and watch the meticulous construction of each course. The spot is quintessential Nouri as, according to Brehm, the premise of the restaurant is to foster human interaction. “Our menu, staff decisions and design were all carefully thought out to promote meaningful exchanges between guests and staff.”

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When it comes to offering memorable moments, the chef’s table is the front row seat to culinary theatrics. Like the Japanese omakase concept, it involves access to the chefs, who add value to the dining experience. At Restaurant Ards, diners enjoying the 15-course mod- Asian menu have dibs on the table for two in the kitchen.

Chef-owners Ace Tan and David Lee added this option to their four-month-old fine-dining establishment as an “intimate space” for diners. More significantly, they will serve these guests personally. The restaurant seats a total of 40 guests.

“Diners can truly be immersed in the dining experience using all their senses, and a chef’s table offers front row seats to the kitchen, allowing guests and chefs to interact with each other up close and personal,” says Tan.

Casual restaurants are also adding such concepts to their space, creating a platform for their chefs to shine. The new Sofitel Singapore City Centre offers a chef’s table for eight in the massive open-space kitchen at its restaurant Racines, which serves French and Chinese cuisine. Says executive chef Jean-Charles Dubois: “It gives diners an appreciation of the efforts that chefs take in preparing each dish.”

The Racines restaurant.

The concept works for guests, but how do chefs feels about juggling front-of-house and kitchen work? According to Tan, it’s no trouble. “Contrary to disrupting service, it elevates service for diners as they get to join us at every stage of the process.”

It’s a sentiment Brehm shares: “It keeps us focused and aware of what’s the real goal for a chef, which is the satisfaction and enjoyment of our guests.”

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