Everything about the best thing we ate this week is divine. Cool, slippery noodles – exactly the kind you want to eat in this punishing tropical heat – saturated with the delicious umami of konbu (Japanese kelp broth) and swathed in the earthy creaminess of uni (sea urchin). A whisper of yuzu (a Japanese citrus) anoints it all with bright acidity.
If you’ve ever had angel hair pasta cooked in konbu, chilled and tossed with truffle oil, then you have Belgian chef Gunther Hubrechsen to thank. It is a much-imitated dish he created when he opened his eponymous restaurant along Purvis Street more than a decade ago.
So, it was apt that when he re-opened Gunther’s earlier this year after major renovations, one of the first dishes he recreated to commemorate the occasion was this rich uni and yuzu version he calls “cold angel hair pasta 2.0”.
At S$95, it is a dish for a special occasion. You could also have a much smaller portion as part of the degustation menus (be sure to ask for the dish to be included, though) that cost between S$148 per person for four courses, and S$350 for nine courses. Yes, they are also meals for special occasions.
For more quotidian times, go for the S$38++ set lunch, which will get you an appetiser like scrambled free-range eggs with smoked salmon, a main like roasted beef short ribs, dessert, coffee or tea, and petit fours.
Some unimpeachable stalwarts from the ala carte menu include a deep-fried soft egg which might be served with pumpkin coulis (think a silky pumpkin mash) and a sliver of chorizo and oscietra caviar (S$45), and a simple but ambrosial sweet-briny scallop braised in its shell with garlic and butter (S$35).
Another thoroughly enjoyable dish we had was a plump slice of raw tuna belly flecked with sushi rice, drizzled with a truffle-infused sauce and topped with a dab of uni (served as part of the degustation menu). Miniscule and punishingly more-ish.
Having clocked 11 years in business, Gunther’s is a veritable institution in Singapore’s fickle dining scene. Though it continues to draw a loyal cabal of regulars, it has fallen off the radar of “hot” restaurants to eat at. Perhaps, as a result, it has also escaped the attention of the likes of Michelin’s inspectors.
Hopefully, its new face-lift might bring the spotlight back to what is undoubtedly one of Singapore’s best fine dining establishments.
Gunther’s, 36 Purvis Street. www.gunthers.com.sg