Has anyone seen black toilet paper? With ink squid penetrating a vast array of food items from bread to pasta to the sauce actually topping the pasts, has it penetrated household items as well?
Luckily I think the answer is, yet, no. Although having just finished my ink squid bread roll, seeing black in the restroom, in the form of toilet paper is, to be honest, a little alarming. This is the toilet of Fifty Three I am talking about, the new restaurant backed by the ever-growing les Amis group and headed by lawyer-turned-Fat Duck-trained chef Michael Han. Mind you, when I see “lawyer-turned”, I am instantly intrigued. Especially so when it has to do with food, and Singapore seems to be supplying me with plenty of these surprises lately (the last one coming from Willin Low of Wild Rocket who churned out such pleasant surprises as a laksa pasta).
The pleasant surprise from Fifty Three came in the form of, firstly, understated chic. Bare white walls, dark wooden floors and tables and chairs in polished soft wood - there was not much else to compliment the surroundings apart from a single tea light burning on each table and the pebble cushion for my bag to sit on, quite unlike something you’d expect from a restaurant with a single prix fixe menu. The second surprise was my first course on the set menu, a tomato and watermelon salsa with mozzarella and shaved ice in a green basil sauce. What was interesting was the fact that one would have automatically assumed the strong wasabi taste to have come from the green sauce, whereas – wait a minute, the green is basil! - it in fact came from the pure white shaved ice. The third came in the form of a grilled shrimp with deep fried duck tongue of a chewy, slightly rubbery texture – and I caught myself asking a few times in amazement – are we talking about the same duck tongue we see in night markets in Taiwan?! Fourthly, and disappointingly, a surprise from the strawberry pre-desert set in a thick cough-syrupy-emulsion which reminded me of a bubbling swamp. “If we’re not at a gourmet restaurant, I would not have eaten this,” was a helpful explanation from my friend J.
Finally, after my black toilet paper surprise, “gin and tonic on the rocks, literally” from the smiling waiter came as a lovely relief. “First, peel the tablet off the rock. We suggest leaving it on your tongue for a few minutes. When the flavour becomes too intense, you can then chew on it and swallow. Enjoy!” A gooey piece of alcoholic gummy bear “on the rocks”, what a perfect way to start the night!
Fifty Three is at 53 Armenian Street, Singapore (tel: +65 63345535)