Le Petit Chef review at Grand Hyatt Singapore: The World's Smallest Chef's six-course meal inspired by his travels
A table set with tricks
There's a memorable scene in the recent Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe where Keanu Reeves makes a jaw-dropping entrance. And no, it's not just memorable because of Reeves' wispy mane or smouldering gaze (we're not all that shallow), but of an achingly familiar portrayal of fine dining done in 2019. In this particular scene, Randall Park's character is horrified to find that gastronomy involves pairing your meal with a set of headphones blasted with the sounds of the animal that's about to be eaten. And well, "fish flakes".
Not going to lie, an experience at Le Petit Chef might remind you of that hilarious ode to molecular dining. The meal revolves around a tiny fictional animated chef dancing around the table and taking you through a six-course episode inspired by his nomadic travels. The real magic and trickery can be found in the projectors above the diner's table, which is where the graphics come in, filling and awashing your table with a sea of colours and impeccable visuals. Also, hilarious commentary from the petite chef himself.
Housed in mezza9 (at Grand Hyatt Singapore)'s unassuming wine cellar, the space lets on a cosy and almost mysterious façade. The premise is perfect as it transports the diner to an entirely different place — one that doesn't seem like you're having lunch in a hotel.
The host (who's very aptly French) starts off the experience with a few words, making it clear that it is, at the end of the day, an interactive meal. Which means diners' participation of answering and quipping to the occasional questions would be essential in this. Prior to the meal, you might have seen videos and photos of Le Petit Chef, but nothing beats what unfolds before your very eyes. The visuals are immersive at best, pulling you in as you fixate your attention on the tiny chef.
The Marco Polo expedition, begins in Marseille in the South of France. Which brings us to the start of food service. On the tray, was bouillabaisse (a signature of Marseille), but contained in a terrine instead of the stew version. Below it was a rouille crouton. The other amuse bouche was a crab salad squared off with kaluga caviar. And while it strayed from French tradition, the cold snacks were delicious, especially the terrine — a risk that payed off in dabbling with the flavours of bouillabaisse.
Our tiny chef then finds himself in Middle East. Where we indulged in a myriad of small plates — think moreish bites of beetroot falafel, beef tartare, avocado, and a spicy tiger prawn salad that was a tad too acidic with an overdose of vinaigrette. Next up, India. Butter chicken, that can honestly do no wrong when paired with a decent stack of naan. The palate cleanser came next, a lemon ginger sorbet, that was jazzed up in a smoke-show.
A thousand photos and videos later, we finally sojourned to China for the main course. An elaborate bowl of steamed lobster cooked in superior stock with abalone and a dumpling, which resulted in a disappointing climax. The lobster turned out overcooked, and paired with a bowl of brown rice that way too dry to stomach.
Fortunately, dessert turned things around. With the finale of our main (little) man applying everything he had experienced on his travels, his grand swan song of a cardamom rice pudding with caramelised saffron, was refreshing to savour. The use of the spices helped to elevate the entire flavour profile of a crème bulee, especially with the sweet spike within.
The final verdict? It was a fun lunch break that leveraged predominantly on the fine use of technology and awe-inspiring visuals and storytelling. None of that however, could change or alter how the food tasted. Le Petit Chef stands to be an engaging dining experience (perfect to share with a loved one or the kids) — akin to instances where you eat in the dark — and not so much where gourmands should expect to be served an impeccable six-course meal. You come here to have a good time, without depending so much on your company — which is what we need once in a while at a restaurant.