It’s not often you see the familiar flavours of Malay cuisine elevated to fine-dining standards, but this new restaurant at Amoy Street does just that—and pretty well, too. Enter Espoir: the upscale semi-fine dining sister concept of the already popular and established The White Label. Like The White Label, Espoir is also Muslim-owned, and has a focus on refined French-European fare, with a familiar Malayan influence.
The 2-storey restaurant rests in a restored heritage shophouse previously occupied by the iconic Anglo Chinese School (ACS), with 2 very different vibes across both levels. The first level houses the bar and pastry/dessert displays; with a more moody, luxe-inspired vibe featuring rich royal green hues and bold floral and gold accents. You’ll find that the decor beautifully blends both Malay and Chinese elements together seamlessly, from the colour scheme, to the ceiling fixtures and plants.
In contrast, the second level is much softer, presenting a more feminine vibe with white, and pastel shades of pink and blue. The upstairs dining area also has sliding partitions, so you can easily transform the space into private rooms to accommodate different groups of people. We’re told that the second level also can be used for events or even wedding ceremonies, plus there’s even a little al fresco area as well.
Slow Cooked Breast of Lamb, $44
Compressed Watermelon, $14
Aside from the gorgeous decor, Espoir keeps to the semi-fine dining theme with beautifully plated dishes. One of their more popular menu items is the Slow Cooked Breast of Lamb ($44)—a unique cut of lamb that you don’t often see served in restaurants. We liked that the lamb breast was fork-tender, retaining a good amount of fattiness; and it even tasted something like braised beef, with no gaminess to it, thankfully.
Gambas al Ajillo, $22
Vol au Vent, $22
More unique menu items on the menu include the Gambas al Ajillo ($22) and the Vol au Vent ($22), both of which have a more familiar local flair. The Gambas al Ajillo is a play on the Spanish-style gambas; except instead of prawns swimming in garlic oil, Espoir presents a dry version of the dish. Espoir’s gambas has a Szechuan flair, and is similar to the mala flavour we’re familiar with, down to the slight mouth-numbing sensation it gives. The Vol au Vent features a local twist on the classic French dish, with light and flakey stuffed puff pastry topped with a mildly spicy and umami XO sauce.
Sea Urchin Tagliatelle, $39
Another of Espoir’s signatures is the Sea Urchin Tagliatelle ($39), with an uni mentaiko sauce and Hokkaido scallops, topped with more fresh uni. We found this to be quite standard, similar to other cream-based pasta dishes you can find elsewhere and is not the most unique offering. The mentaiko flavour also didn’t quite stand out in the sauce, but they do use air-flown uni from Hokkaido, so uni lovers might like this dish. We also wished the scallops had a little more sear to them, as they were slightly on the chewier side as opposed to being tender and juicy.
Le Botaniste, $15
Litchi Papillon, $16
Espoir boasts a pretty extensive selection of 0.0% alcohol cocktails that you won’t commonly find in other Muslim-owned joints, and they take pride in offering some unconventional non-alcoholic liquors in Singapore. One such cocktail is the Elixir ($16) a theatrical cocktail served in a treasure chest, this cocktail is said to be “whiskey-based” and is an interesting drink as it almost tastes like real alcohol, with more herbal-botanical undertones. While the drinking experience definitely cannot be compared to drinking real alcohol, it’s a good place for both Muslim friends and non-Muslim drinkers to enjoy a “drink” together and soak in the vibes.
Flower Pot, $18
Mango Tart, $8.50
Dark Chocolate Log, $9
Pear Entremet, $9.50
Sakura Entremet, $9.50
Espoir also offers some aesthetic desserts and entremets from the display case, all of which are freshly baked and crafted in-house. Price wise, we felt that Espoir has a mix of both café-range items as well as pricier dishes befitting the “semi-fine dining” concept, so you have a variety of choice depending on if you’re willing to splurge for the occasion.
Worth a visit: One of the rare upscale Malay-inspired spots in Singapore!
Address: 70 Amoy St, Singapore 069889
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 11.30am-10pm; Saturday, 8.30am-10pm