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At Oumi, tour a sky-high urban food forest before you feast

Oumi sakes

Above image: Some of the sakes available at Oumi

The reputation of 1-Arden – comprising several concepts by 1-Group all housed within the impressive CBD skyscraper CapitaSpring – precedes it.

Thanks in no small part to the massive 10,000 sq ft Food Forest found at the rooftop, now the world’s highest urban farm (and coveted photography spot during sunset hours), many come for the stunning views and a peek at what a successful, thriving edible farm in the city looks like.

We recently visited the Food Forest and dined at Oumi, both part of 1-Arden’s rooftop venues, and while we’re truly impressed by their agricultural achievements, it is the symbiotic relationship between the urban farm and the kitchen that we find sets it apart from the many other farm-to-table concepts out there.

The south side of 1-Arden Food Forest

While the Food Forest (managed in partnership with Edible Garden City) does of course provide produce for the kitchen, the kitchen too provides nutrient-rich compost that is used to regenerate the forest soil. This closed loop is the essence of sustainability, and by ensuring that one is dependent on the other, makes the endeavour a much more meaningful one. 

Thus for Oumi, an intimate 25-seater space serving contemporary Japanese kappo cuisine, farm-to-table isn’t its unique point, but the starting point in what it does. The same can be said about its adjoining sister restaurant Kaarla (which does contemporary Aussie cuisine), but we’ll leave that for a separate feature.

[Read more: Wine and dine in a lofty downtown garden oasis at Sol & Luna]

At Oumi (which means ‘sea’ or ‘ocean’ in Japanese), the dining experience highlights the use of quality seasonal produce from Japan and Australia (in synergy with Kaarla), and bringing to the fore fresh-as-can-be harvests from the Food Forest growing lushly just a stone’s throw away.

Chef Lamley Chua expertly turns the bounty at his disposal into dishes like the Awabi (S$50). This seasonal whole-abalone dish is first salt-baked on the teppan before being steam-baked with a splash of sake. Its innards are then chopped together with a house-made yellow miso and served topped on the sliced abalone alongside fresh wasabina plucked from the Food Forest. 

The Awabi dish at Oumi

This minimal waste approach and being as self-reliant as possible when it comes to use of ingredients can be seen in many of their seasonal nose-to-tail dishes, and to an extent, with regards to the rest of the menu too.

The Momotaro Cheese (S$20), for instance, makes for a great appetiser, and continues use of the aforementioned homemade yellow miso, but mixed together with a red miso and cream cheese this time. This miso cheese is left to rest chilled for 2 weeks for the flavours to meld and intensify together, before being served with momotaro tomatoes, wasabi dressing, fennel flowers, and nori rice puffs. The result is a sublime and mouthwatering opening dish.

Chua enjoys showing off his culinary chops through creative use of the tools he has too. His Tempura Crepe (S$25 for two pieces) isn’t deep-fried, but rather, slow-cooked over the teppan to still achieve that crisp and light texture. Good use of gruyere cheese, fish roe, sauces, hojiso flowers from the Food Forest, and a myriad of other ingredients complete this surprisingly lithe yet satisfying item.

Chef Lamley Chua

For meats, we enjoyed the Gyutan Yaki (S$35), where whole Australian Tajima beef tongue is grilled over binchotan, sliced thinly, then served with shio negi and freshly grated wasabi, and topped with citrus miso and chopped bua long long leaves sourced from the Food Forest.

The standout has got to be the Kohitsuji Yaki (S$70), a dish of Aussie lamb also grilled over binchotan, coated with finely chopped lemon myrtle and lemon balm, then plated with a Japanese sweet potato puree, as well as calamansi and edible flowers, again, from the Food Forest. Umami, acidity, and fresh herb aromas work in unison to deliver an impeccable moreishness we simply want more of.

[Read more: At Table 33, have your sakes served hot and house-aged]

When having the grilled dishes, a pairing of sake takes things up a notch. Labels like Juyondai and Sake Hundred are available if you’re feeling like splashing some cash, but flip the beverage menu to the Junmai Ginjos and Junmai Daiginjos to find decent bottles at somewhat high but still within expected prices for venues of this calibre.

The DAN Yamahai Junmai Ginjo (S$225/bottle) is a solid choice for an elegantly aromatic sake that is also rich and full of lactic creaminess, while the Imanishiki Junmai Daiginjo Nenrin (S$228/bottle) is the one to go for if fruity and floral aromas balanced with a slight brown sugar note sounds good to you.

Even if you’re not looking at opening a whole bottle, 180ml pours of sake are available too, as well as signature cocktails. Try The Oumi Blossom (S$20) for a refreshing G&T-like drink full of texture and fruity tones, that’s made using a homemade aloe vera tonic and a milk-clarified gin and oolong mix.

Get sky-high views while dining in an intimate, open setting at Oumi

We like that dining at Oumi can be either an ala carte or omakase experience too. Whether you’re going for the 9-course omakase (S$288) or 7-course omakase (S$228), you’ll get a seat by the kitchen counter close to the action and the chefs. Or be perched by the window and feast on your choice of kappo cuisine items from the menu.

Given the provenance of ingredients that Oumi sources from, plus the daringness of its chef to be adventurous, we can’t wait to see how else the offerings will evolve over the seasons and as the Food Forest continues blossoming. 

This deeper connection and proximity with the origins of what you eat, even as you’re dining 51 floors above solid ground in the epicentre of Singapore’s CBD, makes a visit to Oumi much more than just another fancy night out. 

Oumi is located at #51-01 CapitaSpring, 88 Market Street, Singapore 048948.

[Read more: What are natural sakes, and why one man has made purveying it his mission]

See also what our friends over at Spirited Singapore has to say about their experience at Oumi.

Dannon Har

About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.