Award-winning restaurant Born takes you on a journey of culinary self discovery with a transcendental tasting menu that explores the circle of life.

I wasn’t sure what to think when I first heard of Restaurant Born. The contemporary fine-dining restaurant, which opened in Singapore’s ultra-competitive dining scene back in 2022, boasted a chef-owner whose culinary philosophy was to celebrate ‘the circle of life’.

Particularly when it revolves around his own.

Lion King jokes aside, we’ve seen enough chefs who’ve burst onto the scene offering their self-absorbed, navel-gazing cuisines only to fizzle out ignominiously soon after.

Yet every food-loving critic I trust spoke effusively about Born. It’s eye-opening, they’d say. Life-changing, even. And then Born – which is backed by hospitality group 1855 F&B – landed a Michelin star and a coveted place in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants a year into the restaurant’s opening.

I was convinced enough to make a trip down. And immediately regretted not visiting earlier.

Main Dining Room of Restaurant Born

Restaurant Born is located at Jinrikisha Station, a historic building in Singapore’s Chinatown district that – incidentally – was once used as a family planning and maternity clinic during Singapore’s formative years. The building’s unorthodox arrowhead shape and neo-colonial architecture – along with its conservation status – dictate the restaurant’s unusual layout, but despite that the main dining room remains welcoming and warm with a contemporary, multi-culture aesthetic. Such as the restaurant’s hanging centrepiece, a billowing and formless paper sculpture that hints at the concept of birth and rebirth.

A theme that you’ll find in Chef’s Zor cuisine. Our visit coincided with the second iteration of his degustation menu, an exploration of the significant flavours from his childhood memories and throughout his professional career that have intrigued and inspired him.

Kanpachi at Born

The Malaysian-born Chinese chef has lived and worked in Singapore and Macau, and his unique cross-cultural approach reflects his Hokkien ancestry with accents drawn from Cantonese, Taiwanese, and even Sichuan culinary legacies. Chef Zor counts Andre Chiang as a major influence and mentor, following the award-winning chef with stints at JAAN and Restaurant Andre in Singapore, as well as RAW in Taipei.

Until Restaurant Born.

But it’s truly hard to define Chef Zor’s cuisine. You’ll find, as part of your multi-course gastronomic exploration of his life, a vanilla creme-filled rolled potato crisp garnished with Oscietra caviar, a whimsical take of his childhood practice of dipping french fries into soft-serve vanilla ice cream. A snack that deconstructs and reimagines the siu mai, which he learned to make at a Cantonese dim sum favourite the earlier years of his career.

Mud crab

An appetiser that comes as a tart topped with spiced beef tongue and pickled radish but offering flavours of Taiwanese beef noodles. Or a traditional Teochew pig stomach soup – another dish of his childhood – creatively reimagined as a stuffed chicken wing.

But ideas are nothing if execution is short of perfect. In that, Chef Zor excels. A dish of cuttlefish consommé swimming with paper-thin ribbons of cuttlefish – a throwback to his first-ever experience with Japanese ika – is stunningly scant yet bursting with flavour. Or an absolutely moreish puff inspired by a trip to Spain but also the traditional Foochow oyster cake his mother used to make.

Chef Zor Tan of Born

If you’ve gone through some aspects of Chef Zor’s life, you may just relive some of those memories as well. Among the quartet of his petit fours – each of which depict the classic Chinese cardinal flavours of sour, sweet, bitter, and spicy (酸甜苦辣) – was a spicy cookie that wholly reminded me of 鸡仔饼, a Cantonese chicken flavoured cookie from my own growing years that’s fast disappearing from local gastronomic lexicon.

And if you haven’t? Every mouthful is still a delight.

Restaurant Born is stunning gastronomic storytelling, one that challenges you to rethink tradition, process, mindset. Even the meaning of life.

I find myself rooting for Chef Zor. And the next iteration in his cycle of life.

Restaurant Born

Address 1 Neil Rd, #01-01, Singapore 088804 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 11pm Tuesdays to Saturdays; closed on Mondays and Sundays
Tel (65) 9270 8718
Facebook RestaurantBorn
Instagram @restaurantborn
Reservations book here

Follow us on Telegram to get updated on events and other spirited announcements!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.