Mala in French cuisine? This new French-Chinese restaurant offers a menu you’ve not seen before

There are few restaurants in Singapore that serves French-Chinese cuisine. The latest entrant is HUI, which derives its name from the Chinese word “汇”, which means “to meet”.

HUI restaurant door

Housed within an iconic colonial bungalow in Rochester Commons, HUI is set against a backdrop of lush greenery, and offers both indoor and alfresco dining.

HUI LED screen

And as you walk into the restaurant, the first thing that’s bound to catch your eyes is its state-of-the-art LED screen that stretches from the floor to the ceiling. This features animated visuals that change with the season.

VIP Room at HUI
VIP Room at HUI

For diners who prefer some privacy for important business meetings or group gatherings, you’ll be happy to know that there are two VIP rooms located on the second storey of the restaurant. These are frequently booked up, so make sure you reserve in advance.

HUI review: How’s the food

Chef Liinson Heng
Chef Liinson Heng

HUI’s kitchen is helmed by Chef Liinson Heng, who was the Head Chef at Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt Singapore. Chef Liinson had also worked at three Michelin-starred Joel Robuchon Restaurant and was trained under Chef Jean Michel Perrchon in Paris. Chef Jean Michel has been awarded the prestigious title Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France), which is considered as one of the highest honours to be presented to French chefs.

Against the backdrop of his training, Chef Liinson curated a series of set menus for HUI that features authentic Chinese flavours and fine French gastronomy.

AVENUE ONE visited the newly opened restaurant to try its new seven-course dinner menu for the season.

Blue Crab
Blue Crab tartare with beet, Sze Chuan avocado puree, and Kaluga Queen caviar.

After I was served a pre-starter of refreshingly cold cucumbers with chilli to whet my appetite, the meal started with the Blue Crab. This is a tartare paired with beet and Sze Chuan avocado puree, and topped with luxurious Kaluga Queen caviar.

Right from the first dish’s presentation and unique choice of ingredients, I already knew I was going to be in for a gastronomic adventure.

I’m not usually a fan of the earthy beet, and at the same time, “Sze Chuan” and “avocado puree” just don’t sound like they usually go together. You bet I was puzzled. Thankfully, the beautiful presentation of the dish threw me off guard and I took a generous bite.

Surprisingly, the combination worked.

The Blue Crab was fresh and naturally sweet. Its taste was lifted by the subtle spice in the avocado puree and the beet gave the dish a refreshing crunch. Caviar offered great texture to top this dish off, giving it even more dimension.

I liked that this dish offered layer after layer of surprises; a gastronomic adventure, indeed, as I had expected.

The Blue Crab turned out to be among my favourite dishes in the seven-course menu.

HUI review scallops
Hokkaido Scallop sashimi with home-made chilli oil, sea urchin, and black truffle

Next, I was served the Hokkaido Scallop, a sashimi served along with angel hair pasta tossed with house-made chilli oil and truffle oil, as well as decadent sea urchin and black truffle.

With opulent ingredients like the scallop, sea urchin, and black truffle, I was surprised that the star of the dish was actually the house made chilli oil. This went well with the dish and made every item pop.

In fact, I liked the chilli oil so much, I told the HUI team that I would purchase it if they were to sell it in jars.

Poached Japanese oysters with ox heart cabbage and chilli beef
Poached Japanese oysters with ox heart cabbage and chilli beef

Next, I had the Oyster. This features Japanese poached oysters and Spanish ox heart cabbage. The latter is a rare ingredient that you don’t usually see in dishes in Singapore. Compared to round cabbages that you can easily get from the markets, this was more crisp and had a sweeter taste, which complemented the fresh-from-the-sea flavour of the oyster.

Instead of Tabasco sauce, this was served with HUI’s house made chilli beef mince, which made the dish a little heartier.

I enjoyed this uncommon rendition, but note that I typically have a bold palate. I can imagine this to be either a major hit or miss; oyster-lovers who enjoy raw oysters garnished with nothing more than a dash of lemon juice, may not appreciate this.

French Seabass with clams, shishito pepper, and mala bouillon
French Seabass with clams, shishito pepper, and mala bouillon

Next came the French Seabass, with its skin grilled to a delectable crisp. Lift up the fish and you’ll find clams and shishito pepper hidden below . This dish is a drenched in Mala Bouillon to give it its Chinese twist.

While each item on the dish looked well executed, the combination of ingredients didn’t quite appeal to me; they didn’t seem to go very well with one another, even though they tasted great individually. This was probably the only dish on the menu that left me feeling perplexed.

juku wagyu with morel
Juku Wagyu with morel and Sze Chuan pepper jus

Thankfully, the next item on the menu was the Juku Wagyu, which I think was the highlight of the entire menu. (Note: if you’re going for the seven-course menu like I did, this would be the sixth dish and I’d certainly suggest that you pace yourself so that you’d have appetite to savour this thoroughly.)

In this dish, the Juku Wagyu was served with lightly charred morel and drizzled with Sze Chuan peppery jus.

Perfectly cooked to medium-rare, the beef melted in the mouth. The Sze Chuan peppery jus gives it a nuanced touch of savoury and spicy flavour that elevated it without disguising the taste of good beef.

The morel – a rare mushroom – stood out with its addictive texture and earthy flavour.

This was certainly a delightful dish to enjoy before the meal ended with a dessert.

Apricot with Madagascar vanilla bean, chantilly cream, honey chrysanthemum ice cream, opalys crunchy pear, and coffee crumble
Apricot with Madagascar vanilla bean, chantilly cream, honey chrysanthemum ice cream, opalys crunchy pear, and coffee crumble

Apricot was the dessert that rounded up the meal. This came with a delicate Honey Chrysanthemum ice-cream placed atop a base of Madagascar vanilla bean, chantilly cream, opalys crunchy pear and coffee crumble.

I liked that the dessert wasn’t overly sweet and the fragrant taste of chrysanthemum was a great way to finish the meal, particularly for a menu that’s inspired by summer.

Our verdict

HUI Exterior

The seven-course dinner menu is priced at S$158, and considering the premium ingredients that were used: blue crab, caviar, black truffle, sea urchin, scallop, oyster, Wagyu beef, and morel, I’d say that it’s certainly offering great value for money.

While I wrap my head around the French-Chinese combinations in the menu, there were certainly more hits than misses for me, which make the meal adventurous but enjoyable. And if you’re bringing a date or business associate to HUI, these unique dishes can also make for a great conversation-starter.

The good value, an experiential gastronomic experience, and cosy ambience make this new restaurant a worthy spot to check out. Dishes are updated every few months according to seasonal changes, and I’m looking forward to see what Chef Liinson will roll out next.

Prices are as follows:

  • Three-course lunch: S$38 nett
  • Four-course lunch: S$68 nett
  • Five-course dinner: S$99 nett
  • Six-course dinner: S$128 nett
  • Seven-course dinner: S$158 nett

HUI is located at 10B Rochester Park, Singapore 139228. It is open daily from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 5pm to 10pm for dinner. For reservations, call 6530 3977 or email [email protected] For VIP room booking, WhatsApp or WeChat 8820 1150.

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