Fine-dining is probably the epitome of etiquette and decorum in the culinary world. There was a period of time in history where the slightest deviation from proper etiquette would mean social ostracism. Fine dining was a way for the upper echelons of society to differentiate themselves from the lower class, a way of ostracism and alienation, and also to reaffirm their position in society.
As time passed, the underpinning behind fine-dining has changed. Now, it is seen as ‘attas dining’- really expensive food for when your whims strike. Be it for the atmosphere or the culinary experience, or bragging rights, those are some of the motivations why we go for fine-dining nowadays.
Alan Yau, the man behind global Japanese chain Wagamama, Hakkasan and Yauatcha(each awarded a Michelin star), is giving you an extra reason to do just that. He has just made his first venture into Singapore with the opening of Madame Fan.
Situated in the NCO Club at South Beach Avenue, the rich history of the place makes a befitting backdrop to his mysterious and alluring new restaurant. The old-world charm and dream-like beauty of the place will be the first thing that will welcome you as you ascend the flight of stairs to Madame Fan. But do not let the grandeur of the place put you off, however, because Alan Yau has decided that dining at Madame Fan will be ‘etiquette-free’.
That means the collection of cutlery has been swapped out for a simple pair of chopsticks and a spoon, the Chinese’s go-to weapon of choice. Tables have been reduced to a 4 to 5 seater instead of large ‘yum-cha’ roundtables, which allows you to have conversations much more easily instead of shouting across the Lazy Susan. You get to enjoy the perks of fine dining and traditional Chinese cuisine without the bother of putting up appearances and minding where you put your hands. It is the best of both worlds.
“The bottom tier is what we call yum cha, where families come together, and the food and carbohydrates arrive in the middle. At the top, we have what the Japanese call Kaiseki, or what the French call a dégustation menu, which is a fixed-course menu. To me, etiquette-free sits in the middle. You can customise your course-by-course dining experience and it is up to you to create what course comes first,” Alan Yau explains.
Madam Fan’s signatures include a viscous Double Boiled Four Treasure Soup, jam-packed with the flavours of the sea with the sea cucumber, fish maw, dried scallop and crabmeat swimming in harmony. The Drunken Crab Rice Noodle with 20-Year-Old Gu Yue Long Shan Rice Wine is also a must-try, together with the Steamed Soon Hock with Ipoh Soy and Spring Onion. Because, as we know, a steamed whole fish is a mainstay of every typical Chinese gathering.
“To be honest, people are already dining etiquette-free style, especially the modern middle-class Chinese whom the economists call the Four Dragons. They may be more health conscious and hence, leave the carbohydrates at the end when they curate their own course menu in hopes of lowering risks of diabetes.”
Food is, arguably, one of the soft powers of the world, and if it has the ability to reflect the state of society and its culture. Madame Fan will be the opening act of this revolution as she ushers in the new age of Chinese dining with finesse.
She will open her doors and welcome guests with open arms on the 23rd of April, so be sure to visit Madame Fan.