SINGAPORE — I was informed by a fellow food writer that a significant menu change was afoot at LeVeL33. Apparently, these days, a 'menu change' also refers to an outright interior-ripping, kitchen-remodelling effort that closed the restaurant for a good five weeks. Naturally, I am excited. My last visit here was a good six months ago, and then, the space felt rather, you know, dated. Like the wife of an Indonesian tycoon, still insisting on a massive blowout for a quick visit to Hermès.
But dated it no longer is.
Getting to LeVel33 in itself is akin to a luxurious, out-of-body experience. Served by its own lift lobby, this is a restaurant that has clearly been meticulously planned to exist within the gargantuan structure of the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC). The lift takes longer than usual to arrive, which might at first annoy you but it is, after all, traversing 33 floors, taking you from the earth straight up to the skies. Use this time to ponder life and muse, like I did, over how every person walking past me probably earns more in a month than I do in a year.
Perched on the apex of MBFC Tower 1, LeVeL33 prides itself as the world's first urban microbrewery as evidenced by the large copper vats that line the runway from the lift leading into the dining space. The restaurant is thematically divided into two distinct areas, separated by a revamped bar. On one side is LeVeL33 Dining (a fine dining experience) and on the other, Level 33 Social (sharing plates, boisterous laughter, and generally more laid-back). The distinction between the two spaces lies in its choice of upholstery—a vibrant red on the Social side, and a more muted, sophisticated Gray on the Dining. Gone are the huge, dark grain tables flanked by heavy wooden chairs decked out in orange-kumquat monstrosity. In its place are furniture with a slim profile, tabletops the colour of slate—longer than it is wide—and a general spaciousness so in vogue with modern aesthetics.
These changes reflect the cultural and gastronomical sensibilities of executive chef, ArChan whose oeuvre includes the upscale modern Australian restaurant Cutler and Co., and Supernormal, an Asian-inspired casual eatery. Just like the décor, the food here is taken very seriously. ArChan tries as much as possible to incorporate either by-product of beer production (spent grain and/or dreg) into each dish or be inspired by the various processes of beer brewing.
The single sheet produce-driven menu begins with a plate of fresh Hiramasa Kingfish (S$22), served sashimi style with salmon roe and a touch of green chilli. It is bright, refreshing, and surprises the tongue with the hint of raw spice. Hokkaido Scallops (S$23) are pleasantly chewy and soft—like a seafood marshmallow if I am to draw a parallel. Although not immediately discernable, both plates carry ingredients that have been cured or pickled with lager.
The Grilled Asparagus (S$21) is beautifully charred and simply seasoned with Konbu and malt oil. It comes with a quenelle of creamy burrata and a side of Mantou, the colour of earth, made with the addition of spent grain—the by-product of beer brewing usually tossed away. This is Mantou like you've never had before—it's not excessively crispy, but it rivals the softness of the local iteration fondly enjoyed with chill crab.
A plate of Grilled Octopus (S$23) is perfectly sous vide and seared, but then again, it doesn't take much for me to be swayed by a meticulously prepared octopus. It sits with a medley of richly-spiced fennel escabeche and is served with bright yellow saffron aioli.
If you've ever eaten Iberico Pork Jowl (S$34), discard those memories and make space for the ArChan version which is literally the most tender, most seasoned, most-everything slices of pork I've had the pleasure of eating. Slosh it around with the green goddess dressing and if anyone asks to try, glare and protect this plate with your life. And if you're not a fan of pork, trust and believe this, will change your mind.
Vegetarian options include Spent Grain Linguine (S$28), made with, you guessed it, spent grain and is tossed with seaweed butter, parmesan, and truffle shavings. It is luscious and creamy without veering into the Land of Cloy.
I found heaven in a Spent Grain Chocolate Tart (S$15) which hides a perfectly tart strawberry jam under a stout ganache, the colour of a night sky, encased in a glorious spent grain pastry. Apple Sorbet (S$7) is shockingly refreshing, especially when eaten after the richly decadent chocolate tart.
I spent the entire weekend after this dinner telling friends, and whoever is willing to listen to come here for birthday dinner celebrations, casual dinner, dates, anything their heart desires. This is hot on the heels of a disappointing birthday dinner (of a friend, not mine) at a trendy local restaurant known for their aesthetics, huge floral arrangements, enormous cake slices, and not much else. I figured, if I'm going to be spending good money on food that is well-thought, considered, and comes with a killer view to boot, I can't and won't go wrong with LeVeL33.
8 Marina Boulevard #33-01, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, Singapore 018981, +65 6834 3133
Mon–Thu: 11.30am – 12.00mn, Fri–Sat: 11.30am – 2.00am, Sun and Public Holidays: 12.00pm–12.00mn, Eve of Public Holidays: Till 2.00am