Ex-Robuchon chef marries Japanese ingredients with French techniques at a chic restaurant and bar housed inside the historic Fringe Club in Central.
Words Iris Wong
Did you know the Fringe Club, a Grade I historic building, has a fine-dining restaurant on the upper floor? Neither did we, as we look for the entrance of Circa 1913 obstructed by bamboo scaffolding (the outer walls of the establishment is undergoing renovation). Once inside, we are greeted with a neat, light wood bar shelved with myriad Japanese liquor. A cosy interior of dark Aegean blue walls are dotted with artworks by young emerging local artists; the fireplace exudes rustic charm harking back to a bygone era.
All the dishes we try that evening have two things in common: they are all immaculately plated with seasonal Japanese elements, and gold flakes. Lots of gold flakes. Chef de cuisine Anderson Tam knows how to make a photogenic dish, partly owes to his previous stints at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Zuma in Hong Kong. The starters of smoked toro tartare and tofu trifle ($188) and Botan shrimps marinated in passion fruit, fennel and mango salsa ($298) are both delightful. The tartare dish had a thin layer of tofu to balance the fattiness of the tuna, while tangy passion fruit and mango salsa are cleverly added in the second dish to enhance the natural sweetness of the shrimp. The main course of grilled Japanese Kumamoto A5 Waou tenderloin with cocoa beef jus ($1,080) is a real standout. The premium Waou beef was cooked to medium-rare perfection and drizzled with dark chocolate beef jus – decadent and utterly delicious. We may have left the sashimi risotto al salto ($398) for too long before digging in, as the crispiness of the fried risotto has worn away and we are left with a hard crust with a mushy centre, and sashimi that are slightly warm. In spite of this, the sashimi is fresh and the shiso flower garnish really lifts the flavours. With just the right amount of sweetness and varied texture, the fruity dessert of sous vide champagne Wakayama white peach with konnyaku ($188) rounds off our meal nicely.
The beautiful dark teal walls and wooden furniture make Circa 1913 a great location for both intimate and group dinners. We enjoy chef Tam’s meticulous plating, and the Waou tenderloin alone is enough to bring us back.
Spending: $1,200pp; a tasting menu is also available for $1,080pp, or $1,380pp with wine pairing
Highlights: Kumamoto A5 Waou tenderloin, sous vide champagne Wakayama white peach with konnyaku
What else: the restaurant also has a noteworthy Japanese-inspired drinks list and offers an affordable set lunch.
1/F Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central
Tel: 3643 0288