Mirazur at Mandala Club Review: No Menu But Expect a Lot of Surprises
If you landed on this article expecting to find a play-by-play of the dishes served at Mirazur’s exclusive three-month residency at Mandala Club, you've come to the right place. Just keep in mind that it’s probably not what you’ll be eating if you managed to nab a table. Mirazur prefers to keep surprises up their sleeve—there are no menus and no fixed dishes at their first-ever pop-up in Southeast Asia. Instead, they proffer “Lunar Menus” which essentially means the culinary team is guided by ingredients at their prime from which dishes are then conceived.
In Menton, France, where the acclaimed restaurant is based, one can find a nurturing climate ideal for growing produce. “We used to be a restaurant with a garden, now we are a garden with a restaurant,” says Luca Mattioli, head chef of Mirazur’s residency and the leader of research and development who has worked with chef-patron Mauro Colagreco for over five years.
In their venture to the Garden City, they brought that same thinking and used the downtime—the five-week break during Phase 2 Heightened Alert—to further their connections with local suppliers. They work with sustainability pioneer Edible Garden City and family-owned Kok Fah Technology Farm, as well as source hormone-free birds from Toh Thye San and local honey from Singaporean beekeeper and conservationist Xavier Tan of Nutrinest.
There was a time when four-hands and pop-ups were a dime a dozen in Singapore, but the pandemic put a stop to almost every restaurant event (and sadly, restaurants themselves). While I had dined at Mirazur once in 2019, it’s not every day that the top establishment on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List comes to the city you live in.
It was with much anticipation that I entered Mandala Club, a place I know very well as it’s right across the street from Tatler House. I was blown away by the changes they made: the entire ground floor was transformed into a part-galaxy, part-urban garden stage. Black orbs resembling planets are positioned at the entrance, while curved lounges swathed in white fur, a smattering of indoor plants, and multimedia artwork specially chosen by The Artling populate the rest of the space.
The main dining room is artfully clad with foliage by This Humid House who used local eucalyptus and acacia trees common in Singapore and the South of France. The only thing missing is music, which was meant to have been a central part of the experience but is not allowed based on current operating restrictions.
The theme for the dinner was “Leaves” and each dish on the nine-course menu had leaves in one shape or form. The other themes—Roots, Flowers, Fruits—will feature in the coming weeks until the end of the collaboration on September 4.
The servers arrived bearing five snacks of which the Black vegetable ash tart with scallop marinated in white miso, Comte canelé, and Brioche with herbs and vegetables were the highlights. Their signature bread came with butter infused with kombu as well as the restaurant’s own olive oil—both perfect accompaniments to the warm, fluffy bread.
The meal officially began with Japanese crab with Tokyo turnip and sorrel cream. The number one quality I look for in a first course is freshness and an element of surprise, and this dish delivered. It was followed by another cold dish: Stracciatella cheese, dotted with celtuce oil, a crown made of celtuce salad (aka Chinese cabbage), and topped with Osetra Caviar. While it showcased their plating prowess, it was slightly underwhelming, though I did appreciate the generous dollop of caviar.
The next plate is evidence of the team’s commitment to incorporating their local discoveries. The roasted salad heart was sourced from Kok Fah Technology Farm and the lily bulbs were from Tekka Market. Served along with raw and pickled turnips and an amazingly light vermouth sauce, it’s a dish that may look overly simple to some but I found the combination quite appealing.
The fourth course is definitely made for the 'gram—Nasturtium leaf ravioli with red prawns from Sicily and a matsutake mushroom broth. The bowl sits on a bed of fresh nasturtium leaves framing the dish beautifully and offering an interactive element; the staff invited us to pick and taste the leaves before enjoying the dish itself. The unusual take on ravioli and the heavenly, well-balanced broth made this dish a winner in my book. It’s one I would definitely come back for if I could get a seat again (Hint: they just released new tables if you've yet to reserve).
The main dishes had varying levels of success. The Hokkaido scallop cooked in hay butter served with hay Bearnaise sauce and Bafun uni is a showstopper. I was very excited to try it as it has all the ingredients I love—scallops, uni, and butter—but I was a tad disappointed as the scallop was overcooked. To be fair, I requested more doneness due to a current dietary restriction but I didn’t expect it to lose its juiciness.
Following that was another artistic plate inspired by the chef’s journey to Japan: a slice of Turbot fish partly wrapped with a fermented shiso leaf accompanied with sake sauce and shiso gel. I love shiso so this was an easy sell; the fermented leaf was an especially interesting element that added plenty of umami to the dish.
The last main course was pork mille-feuille featuring pork confit layered on different types of leaves served with seaweed mascarpone and pork jus infused with seaweed kombu. The dish is a play on the lamb confit dish they serve in France, but with a clear Singaporean twist. They used a locally-sourced suckling pig and Okinawa spinach, curry leaves, and wolfberry leaves from Edible Garden City.
The leaves were prepared in myriad ways—dried, roasted, fried, fresh—offering a masterful array of texture. While it definitely was a visual feast, it wasn’t the easiest dish to eat elegantly. The pork was well-seasoned but the skin was not as crispy as I hoped for, a detail that won't escape the eyes of local diners.
At this point of the meal, I was already bursting at the seams even though the majority of dishes featured greens (after all the theme was “Leaves”). It crossed my mind that some diners may expect a heavier main course of beef or lamb, but rest assured no one will leave hungry and get a hankering to grab a burger from Shake Shack up the road.
The two dessert courses ended the meal on a high note, so fingers crossed they keep this on rotation. The first one was seaweed ice cream with strawberry compote, yuzu, and milk. It's light, refreshing and has a playful mix of textures—exactly what you want to eat after a long meal filled with decadent ingredients.
The finale featured the chef’s signature dessert, Choco Rosemary, consisting of chocolate ganache crafted from 72 per cent pure cacao from Peru, burnt rosemary ice cream plus a veil of chocolate with burnt rosemary powder. This is a dessert that would convert even those who don’t like chocolate to true believers. It had the right balance of sweetness and bitterness and was a sophisticated end to a meal full of surprises.
How did this meal compare to the one I had at the actual Mirazur? The two are very different because of the season, location, and my mindset. The culinary creativity, superb plating, attentive service, and consistent pacing were similar but the dishes in Singapore were more experimental compared to the ones I enjoyed almost two years ago in France. I was told the team visits the market every day and comes up with dishes on the fly, making spontaneity a key ingredient in this iteration of Mirazur.
While some dishes were more successful than others, what impressed me most is the tenacity of both the Mirazur and Mandala teams in overcoming the massive challenges of mounting this endeavour during a pandemic. Even with novelty factored in—I had not eaten in a restaurant in the last six weeks before dining here—this meal made me feel like I escaped our not-so-great reality if only for three hours. If you find value in that, then it’s worth the price of admission.