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Roia Review: New Modern French Restaurant By Award-Winning Chef In Botanic Gardens

1st March 2024

Roia is a new modern French restaurant by Chef Priyam Chatterjee

roia-building

When one-Michelin-starred Corner House completed its last table service in June 2023, many diners were devastated. The popular Botanic Gardens restaurant, named after the colonial building it was housed in, was well-loved for its botanical-inspired cuisine and lush garden setting. Now, after six whole months of refresh, the word is in: modern French restaurant Roia has officially taken over the iconic spot.

Food at Roia

roia-chef-priyam

Roia is headed by the renowned Chef Priyam Chatterjee, who’s most famous for being the youngest chef to receive the Chevalier de l’Ordre du MĂ©rite (Order of Agricultural Merit) in 2019. This prestigious award is given to those who have contributed significantly to agricultural practice and related industries. Chef Priyam has also cut his professional teeth in Europe alongside noteworthy figures in the scene, including his former mentor, Chef Jean-Claude Fugier of the three-Michelin-starred La Maison.

We had the privilege of sampling Chef Priyam’s creations in the form of their newly launched four-course lunch menu, comfortably priced at $98++ per person.

roia-amuse-bouche

The amuse-bouche—this isn’t counted as part of the four courses—comprises three bite-sized nibbles. You’re to start with the Roia Toast, starring a mesmerising “crystal” toast made with kudzu (starch) powder that’s painstakingly baked and dehydrated for two hours for a satisfyingly brittle snap. Paired with Iberico pork and curried mayo, this snack is an ode to our local curry puff, which was the first thing Chef Priyam put into his mouth upon arriving in Singapore. It was a party of flavours in my mouth that made sense.

Then, move on to the Hamachi, Ikura, Yuzu: a mini tart topped with ikura, blessed with a light yuzu fragrance to cut through the brine. The pretty Pickled Cucumber, Daikon, Creme Fraiche, finished with edible flowers sourced from the Botanic Gardens, rounded up the trio nicely.

ROIA-mille-feuille

Next up was the Mille Feuille Saint Jacques, a lunch-only item. The main characters were the paper-thin, crisp sheets balancing between the raw scallops, which were deliciously sweet and plump on their own.

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Accompanied by a refreshing basil orange vinaigrette and a French-inspired curry emulsion that was more aromatic than spicy, this plate was a beautiful play on textures and flavours, as much as it was a work of art.

roia-bread

It’s a little unusual, at least for me, to be served the bread course in the middle of a meal. Interestingly, Roia adopts this practice—our bread basket came right before our mains. According to a restaurant representative, warm bread is served at this point to follow the course’s cold-to-warm progression.

Each diner gets two slices: one brown rye sourdough, and the other brioche that’s been buttered and seared. Both are served with an umami-packed seaweed butter sourced from a small-batch producer in France. I appreciated how vastly different they were; the sourdough was dense with an addictive tang that held up well against the flavoured butter, while the brioche boasted golden-brown edges and a subtly sweet crumb.

roia-funghi-interaction

Fungi & Corner followed the bread course for good reason: you have the option to mop up your remaining sauce with any leftover bread. This signature, also found on the dinner menus, was my personal favourite. Here, mushrooms were dried and infused with herbs such as sage and rosemary, then cooked to a thick and creamy velouté consistency. Right in the centre sat a perfectly circular rosti, completed with fresh truffle shavings and a single confit egg yolk for extra richness.

fungi-dish-closeup-roia

This dish was every bit indulgent, yet at the same time, it wasn’t overly so, thanks to the garlic and chive flowers that added brightness in between each bite. Additionally, almond milk was used in replacement of dairy cream, which made the veloutĂ© lighter on the palate. I mopped up every last bit of it.

roia-chicken-interaction

Our second main was the Brittany Chicken, another lunch-only exclusive. This dish pays homage to the quintessential Hainanese chicken rice: there’s a slab of tender chicken breast garnished with microgreens, next to a leek tart topped with finely grated black truffle.

roia-chicken-closeup

I found the meat just tender enough, with its skin thin and slippery smooth. A decadent Crème de Volaile (poultry cream) that’s infused with cumin was served Ă  la minute, tableside—the gravy leaned salty but thankfully, the plain chicken somewhat balanced it out.

leek-tart-roia

Then there was the leek tart which, when paired with chicken, took this dish to the next level with its wafer-thin bottom and umami-laden filling. You can add some of the dairy-free “sour cream” on the side for extra richness; it’s made with almond milk too, so you won’t feel jelak!

roia-chocolate

As I have a sweet tooth, dessert, to me, is always the main star of the show at any fine dining restaurant. We were then presented with the pièce de résistance: Valrhona Dark Chocolate Gateaux, accompanied by burnt milk chards, candied hazelnuts, and salted caramel ice cream.

ROIA-chocolate-dessert

The burnt milk chards added a pleasant toastiness to the chocolatey dessert, while the ice cream had the perfect amount of salt to offset the sweetness. I enjoyed the contrasting textures in each layer: the smooth dark chocolate ganache was complemented by the crunch of the biscuit-like middle and caramelised hazelnuts.

We’re awaiting confirmation on whether this dessert will appear in the lunch or dinner menu, and will confirm once we hear back from the restaurant.

roia-petit-fours

And if, at this point, you’ve still got room for another sweet ending, you’ll be pleased to know that petit fours are included in the package. The Sea Salt Caramel, Jaggery Tart was well-executed, but I preferred the Strawberry Pâte de Fruit that concluded my meal on a bright and zesty high.

Ambience at Roia

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Roia is housed in E.J.H Corner House, a conservation building that was formerly the residence of the assistant director of Singapore Botanic Gardens, E J H Corner. On the ground floor is the Private Salon, open for intimate gatherings of up to 10 diners, and on the second floor is the main dining space overlooking the gardens, named The Balcony.

roia-dining

The interiors scream quiet luxury, with rattan-backed chairs and neutral tones to match the natural surroundings. White and gold accents add an upscale vibe, while dark wood furnishings create a warm and welcoming space that isn’t overly stiff or formal. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows face the lush greenery outside, creating a relaxing atmosphere.

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Alternatively, have a seat inside, which has a more intimate and cosy space that’s no less elegant.

The verdict

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Roia ticks all the boxes for the perfect special occasion date. While prices are not cheap, they are nowhere near exorbitant for a fine dining spot of this standard. Throw in fab service and an idyllic setting that’s unlike any other, the restaurant easily comes up tops in my list of must-visits in Singapore.

Do note that the restaurant is open for lunch for three days only, Friday to Sunday. Dinner is available every day from Wednesday to Sunday. I’ll be back to try their Signature ($188++) and Experience ($288++) dinner menus next time!

For more dining options in the area, read our guide to the best food places in Botanic Gardens. Alternatively, check out our Restaurant Air review if you’re looking for another celebration-worthy dining venue.

Address: 1 Cluny Road, E.J.H Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569
Opening hours:
Wed-Thurs 6:30pm to 12am, Fri-Sun 12pm-3pm, 6:30pm to 12am
Tel: 8908 1705
Website
Roia is not a halal-certified eatery.

21 Botanic Gardens Food To Fuel Up At After Exploring The UNESCO Site

Photos taken by Melvin Mak.
This was a media tasting at Roia.

Roia Review: New Modern French Restaurant By Award-Winning Chef In Botanic Gardens
  • 8.5/10
    Roia Review: New Modern French Restaurant By Award-Winning Chef In Botanic Gardens - 8.5/10
8.5/10

Summary

Pros
– Innovative French fare with a local twist
– Lovely ambience that’s great for special occasions
– Lunch set is worth the price tag

Cons
– Lunch is only available for three days
– Far from the MRT

Recommended dishes: Roia Toast, Mille Feuille Saint Jacques, Fungi & Corner

Opening hours: Wed-Thurs 6:30pm to 12am, Fri-Sun 12pm-3pm, 6:30pm to 12am

Address:1 Cluny Road, E.J.H Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 2595691

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