With so many new restaurants popping up, you would think we have just about every type of cuisine in Singapore. Yet, Araya joins the ranks of gourmet dining in the nation as the first South American fine dining restaurant.
Anchored by Chilean origins, Araya focuses on Chilean South Pacific cuisine, with influences from cultures like Japan — a nod to South America’s rich tapestry of cultures. Expect to find native South American ingredients like corn, potatoes and proteins crafted with refined culinary techniques as Michelin-starred chef Francisco Araya and chef Fernanda Guerrero unveil the flavours of South America right before your eyes. This is our review of Araya.
The intimate 30-seat restaurant is nestled within the chic confines of The Mondrian. Beyond its copper-accented doors, the lowly lit space accentuates a stunning rose quartz counter, which takes centre stage.
Amidst the ombre-effect walls, the space is comfortable for 12 persons. This counter seating arrangement brings to mind a Japanese omakase experience, where guests get front-row seats to watch the chefs at work. Proximity also means you’ll get to interact with the chefs up close and personal.
Paying homage to the rich culinary heritage of South America, Chef Francisco embraces cultural diversity, fusing family traditions and heritage with techniques and ingredients from different cultures. In the nine-course Menú Degustación (S$298++), the chef also expresses his time in Japan, where he earned his first Michelin Star in 2013.
Starring the Japanese sweet prawn, the Ama Ebi Meringue is a delightful snack to start the meal. The umami-rich snack is topped with tomato meringue and is best enjoyed in one bite. The Ceviche sees Hokkaido scallops marinated in shio koji and served with tiger’s milk sorbet infused with ginger, elevating the sweet and refreshing flavours of the scallops.
Giving the Peruvian entree the Araya spin, the Causa features a baked Andean tuber chopped and mixed with aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli). The snack is built upon a potato nest with chu-toro and N25 oscietra caviar in between. Although savouring this in one bite was a little challenging, the blend of texture and flavours that emerged was truly satisfying.
Chef weaves in a touch of family tradition with Sunday Lunch and wagyu Picaña. A classic Chilean snack traditionally served on Sundays, the Empanada de pino (beef breaded dumpling) is elevated with wagyu offcuts from the Picaña and topped with pebre gel and micro herbs.
It may have roots in Chile, but it looked strikingly familiar to a Chinese deep-fried dumpling, except better. Picaña, also part of the chefs’ Sunday family lunch tradition, is chargrilled to juicy perfection, with its rich flavours harmonised by a chimichurri made from shallots, coriander and raspberry vinegar.
When it comes to pastry and desserts, Chef Fernanda takes the spotlight. Because bread holds such a central role in Chile, eaten at meals and as snacks, we enjoyed three different bakes — Marraqueta, Chapalele, and Chorizo — alongside the specially crafted Butter Merken made with a Chilean spice blend.
Our favourite was the Chorizo, a palatable soft brioche roll studded with chopped chorizo, Chef Fernanda’s take on the Chilean practice of sandwiching sliced chorizo (sausage) between Marraqueta for breakfast.
Our dinner rounded beautifully with Desierto Florido, a colourful riff of the popular Chilean dessert Chirimoya Alegre. Here, chef spotlights tropical fruits using honey orange meringue with a chirimoya alegre (joyful custard apple) foam and orange flan infused with the delightful flavours of mango and pineapple.
Antarctica features goat’s milk ice cream, crispy milk, and cinnamon Anglaise, covered with “snow”, mimicking Antarctica. It even comes with penguins by the side! Ending our culinary expedition, we were treated to some South American sights and scenes through a retro viewfinder.
Araya is located at Mondrian Singapore Duxton, 83 Neil Road. #01-08, Singapore 089813. Open Tuesday - Saturday 6pm - 11pm. Closed on Sunday & Monday. The nine-course Menú Degustación is priced at S$298++ per pax.