Review: Moonbow at Dempsey, promising dishes in a cosy space

I first came across Moonbow on my Instagram newsfeed; “Moonbow”… what an interesting name, I thought. Then I noticed the restaurant’s decor with pink armchairs; it reminded me of this three Michelin-starred restaurant in London called Sketch (also known as the world’s most ‘grammable tea room). Next came Moonbow’s press release in my inbox — “modern European cuisine with a familiar Asian touch” — is their tagline, and a selling proposition to “fall in love all over again” — I assume with food.

Above: moonbow interior.

At face value, Moonbow is a very pretty restaurant with a decent looking menu, and as expected, the press images for the food are styled and plated to perfection. Chef Heman Tan helms the place and also happens to be an accomplished ceramist, which reflects in the beautiful tableware the dishes are served on.

Above: A table at Moonbow.

Business Times rated the place a 6/10, which falls under “promising”, and is just a step up from “average” that happens to be their lowest rating. While we appreciate an honest food review, we recognise the subjectiveness that comes with the territory (one man’s meat is another man’s poison, right?). We got ourselves a table for two and gave the dishes a try.

Moonbow Oyster Bay, $10/pc (min.2)

Above: Moonbow oyster bay.

Once served at the table, liquid nitrogen is poured on the plate to maintain the freshness of the Oysters, and not so much for the “Instagram shot”, though that works too. We were told that the leaves in the basket taste just like oysters as well; they don’t really add much to the dish other than making it look pretty. The oysters are large, meaty, juicy and fresh. The accompanying yuzu granita is both tangy and sweet, while the cucumber “pearls” add texture and a refreshing burst to the entire mouthful. A must order. 

Octopus “Tentacles de Poulpe”, $29

Above: charcoal grilled octopus.

I threw the chef a curveball and ordered this dish, which was not on the media tasting menu. It sounds delicious in theory; grilled paprika octopus tentacles and clams, with smashed sweet purple potato. Unfortunately the octopus did not look fresh and worse, tasted fishy (octopus should not taste fishy). But the clams were excellent. But for three clams in this dish of grilled octopus, it’s not worth it. Skip.

Silkie Fowl Consommé, $25

Above: The soup is poured into the bowl at the table.

This is a clear soup with forest mushrooms, dried forest fruit (looks like strawberry), hand egg custard (like a tofu) and Silkie Fowl roll (a fancy bird sausage). The soup itself is light and I started out imagining it to be quite bland. But the more I drank the soup, the more I liked it. I particularly loved the dried fruit in the soup, while my companion enjoyed the tofu and roll. Verdict: This soup is amazing!

The Heirloom Tomatoes, $21

Above: Tomatoes in all sorts of textures — including foam.

This wasn’t on the tasting menu. It’s a dish with tomatoes in various textures. Don’t expect those special Japanese tomatoes here; these are your regular Cold Storage variety, but with a fancy tomato “foam” on top. But despite the normal tomatoes, there’s a dried tomato slice that was delicious (they should have more of these), and rocket — my favourite vegetable. Do not order unless you really, really want lots of tomatoes.

Tomahawk de Swine (serves 2), $68

Above: The tomahawk de swine; a vibrant dish.

Above: close-up of the meat.

This dish needs to be shared. It’s meaty and fatty, and  very, very tasty — which makes this dish a bit jelak after a few mouthfuls. There’s an apple sauce with chunks of apple that goes really well with the pork, but again, starts getting jelak after several bites. The burnt bits are the best. Again, order this to share. 

Black Silkie Poulet, $38

Above: the black chicken.

This reminded us of black chicken soup, but roasted over a BBQ grill. It was really delicious and matched well with the tomatoes (more tomatoes!) I found myself eating more and more of this dish. The chicken is lean and the overall dish light and perfect for one. I would come back for this.

Treasure Drawer (serves 2-3), $32

Above: the chocolate souffle.

Above: pouring the chocolate sauce into the centre of the souffle.

Above: adding liquid nitrogen to turn the dish into granita.

For variety, you can’t go wrong with the “Treasure Drawer”. It has everything; mango passion mousse squares, petite apple crumble tartlets, raspberry financiers, chocolate pralines, yuzu star anise pate fruit, truffle cheese macarons, and a choice of pistachio chocolate souffle or cendol. The souffle is excellent; fluffy and light, while the chocolate sauce was mildly bitter and robust. The rest of the desserts were good, but the souffle really is the star.

Final thoughts: Moonbow is a restaurant to impress a date, because it looks nice, is expensive and is new on the block. But this really is an “occasion” place; I wouldn’t recommend casual meals here as it feels a bit extravagant.

Moonbow is located at Blk 10 Dempsey Road, #01-21. Opened Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm / 6pm-10.30pm and Sat-Sun 10am-3pm / 6pm-10.30pm. For reservations, email RESERVATION@MOONBOW.SG or call 90102717.