I was looking for ideas where to take my husband for his birthday this year. My husband is a man who has everything and wants nothing, so I was really racking my brain looking for an experience that isn’t just another run-of-the-mill fine dining restaurant.
I had gone to two of Andsoforth’s immersive dining before, many many years ago – I went to one of their first, The Heist in 2015, and then Grimmsneyland in 2018. I was quite impressed by the experiences back then, so when I found out they now have a permanent restaurant, I had to give it a try!
What is Restaurant Absurdities?
Restaurant Absurdities describes itself as “anti-fine dining, FUN-dining restaurant. The most absurd, delicious and entertaining dining experience you will ever have.”
For the experience, we paid $400 for 2 people (so $200 / person after GST and booking fees). This is their Friday price for a private table. The price changes depending on the days, and whether it’s a shared table or private table. Their experience can only be booked in group of 2’s or 4’s, so unfortunately there will be no solo diners here.
The price includes 6-course Omakase dinner and 2 alcoholic drinks – meaning, you won’t know what you’ll be having until each course is served. You can specify dietary restrictions. You can also add-on a cocktail pairing or bottle of wine at the start of your dinner, if you wish. I did not do this as I am a light weight and definitely cannot take much alcohol anymore.
I will be describing the experience and food we had in detail, which WILL ruin the surprise for you. If you are planning to go, please refrain from reading the post beyond this line. You can instead scroll down to my conclusions and see whether the experience is worth it or not.
However, if you don’t like surprises, then by all means – read on.
🚨 WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD! 🚨 From this point on, this post contains very detailed spoilers to the entire dining experience at Restaurant Absurdities. Do not proceed if you don’t want to spoil the surprises!
How does Restaurant Absurdities work?
For each of time slot, there are only a maximum of eight people. The way the restaurant works is that you go to a different “world” for each course, and “door” that you use to move from one room to another is… unexpected. I won’t spoil it for you further, but after the second room, we found ourselves trying to guess where we can go next.
Some of it required climbing and crawling, so please wear a comfortable pair of shoes and definitely no short skirts or long dresses that might get caught in random places (basically I would stick with pants).
After each room, we were given a collectible trading card that lists the name and ingredients of the dish or drinks we just had.
First Course: Asylum Coffee
The location of the restaurant is kept secret, and you’ll receive a text or WhatsApp message on the day of your booking. If you don’t – no worries, just call them. I did not receive the instructions and only realized it an hour before our dinner, but I received the instruction within minutes of calling.
When I saw the starting location of Restaurant Absurdities, I laughed. It starts at Asylum Coffee – a cafe along Jalan Besar that we’re actually a frequent patron of. It’s only about 10 minutes walk from where we live! I do remember wondering why the coffee shop is so small when they seem to occupy the entire shophouse. Well, now I know why.
We turned up 15 minutes before our dinner time and were checked in right away. We waited on the tables outside of Asylum Coffee for about 10 minutes, before finally being let into the cafe and given our first course and first alcoholic drink of the night.
The first course was initially something that looks like bubble tea served in a very interesting-looking ceramic bowl (it has legs!). Then the host came around and poured a dark broth into our bowls. Once you finished the soup, you’ll see face at the base of your soup! This soup is called Garden in a Bowl.
The first alcoholic, called Garden Sun Wine, drink is a herbal rum-based drink. The taste was strong on the herbal side, but the alcohol content… was not very high. I’m a light weight and I could barely feel the alcohol.
For me personally, the tableware definitely stole the show for the first course. I loved the bowl so much that I actually looked underneath (after I had finished the soup of course) to see if there was any branding. It was made by Mud Rock Ceramics, a ceramic studio based in Singapore!
Once the group was done with the first course and drink, we were ushered to the next room, pair by pair. There are six door panels at the back of Asylum coffee, one for each letters in A-S-Y-L-U-M. I had guessed that maybe we would go through the first door (letter A) since I saw glimpses of people in costumes each time the door was opened (it’s where our food were served from), but to my surprise it’s actually the last door (letter M).
The door led us to a trippy corridor filled with mirrors and LED lights. Great place to take photos if you ask me!
Don’t worry about taking photos in the corridor, you’ll have plenty of time for it. If you missed it first time around, the second room still has access to this corridor so you can quickly sneak back in here for photos after.
Second Course: The Tree of Old
Finding the second room in the dark mirrored corridor was a little difficult, but it’s the door immediately to the left at the end of the corridor.
The second room was visually stunning – the entire room is occupied by a large tree with hanging roots and vines that will immediately caught your attention. The seats are actually the wooden platforms built around the tree, and we are meant to be eating off the root of the tree itself – don’t worry though, it’s still a flat surface so there is no struggle there.
The second course, on a first glance, looked like a burger with pieces of burnt logs and aptly named “Burger and Ash“. The host in this room made us guess what we were eating. I am crediting my Indonesian root for correctly guessing what the burnt logs were – The fries were made from an ingredient that is commonly found as street food in Jakarta: Fried cassava as “fries”.
It is sprinkled with a secret ingredient (for the “ash”) that I will not mention here so that you’ll have a chance to guess. We were told no one has been able to guess on their own what the ash was made of, and I was one of the ones who failed to guess.
I am again giving my Indonesian root credit for also guessing correctly what was inside the burger. In Indonesia, jackfruit is often used as an ingredient (look up Gulai Nangka and Gudeg – if you’re curious) as it has a meaty texture in it, and that’s exactly what was used in this burger to simulate the texture of pulled pork. However, I was only able to guess that the secret ingredient after I was told the entire meal is almost vegan (The brioche bun probably contains eggs and dairy). I actually thought we were eating meat at first!
Looking back, this was absolutely my favorite course of the entire meal, as you’ll be able to tell by how much I’m gushing about the meal in relative to the other courses. I am fond of fried cassava and vegetarian meals, and this was just so well done. I would 100% have this dish again if it’s sold separately.
Like I said before, this second room still has access to the mirrored corridor if you want to take more photos after your meal. Which was exactly what I did. Then when it was time to move on, we were instructed to push a panel behind us and voila! Off to another world we went…
Third Course: A Moroccan Tent
Suddenly, we found ourselves in a Moroccan-inspired world, complete with the colorful lanterns, sandy floo, cushions and white tent to simulate a Bedouin desert vibe.
I’ve been to Morocco before, so as soon as I was told we were in Morocco – I knew what meal we would be served. If you guessed a tagine meal, you would be correct! However, the meal inside wasn’t really a typical Moroccan tagine meal, rather it’s a middle-eastern inspired meal of pan fried white fish with Pomegranate Taboulleh. It was quite delicious and I think it’s probably my second favorite meal, after the ash burger.
I did find out later on, while looking at other early reviews of Restaurant Absurdities, that the meat was supposed to be smoked quail instead of white fish. I’m not sure why they did away with the quail, but now I wonder how it tasted like.
Oh! and this is the part where, if you had indicated that you’re here to celebrate a birthday, they will put a candle on your meal. And then all the guests will sing the obligatory Happy Birthday song.
Anyway, although the dish wasn’t what you’d find in a typical Moroccan tagine meal, they ARE served in a tagine (referring to the conical pot the dish is served in), handcrafted by the same studio that made the other tablewares – Mud Rock Ceramics! Each of the symbols on this tagine is supposed to represent the “worlds” we will be visiting during the course of the dinner.
The meal ended with some trivia questions about Morocco. Having visited Morocco before, I answered the first trivia question (though it was really easy). As a prize, I was given… one of the collectible cards, which everyone would have gotten anyways. So no, there was no actual prize for answering the trivia 😛
Then we went off to the next room, which wasn’t difficult to guess, but this one did require us to climb a ladder and crawl on all fours into the next room.
Fourth Course: The 50s American Kitchen
The crawlspace dropped us into a vintage-looking pastel-colored kitchen. Immediately, you’ll know where you are, based on the furnitures and old-school kitchen equipments that can be found around the room.
This room is the typical kitchen in the 1950s in suburban America, when women were expected to spend most of their time in the kitchen, cooking for their working (and probably cheating) husband and take care of their children at home.
The fourth course is one of the most memorable presentation to me. True to the decor of the kitchen, which was filled with cereal box resembling that of Kellog’s corn flakes, we were served a bowl of cereal and a bottle of milk. On a second glance, you’ll notice they’re not actually cereal and milk, the dish is actually a savory dish – it’s a take on chicken pot pie!
Mama’s Famous Chicken Pot Pie, to be exact. The “milk” is white soup made of mushroom and corn milk, and underneath the cereal bits, there are grilled chicken, cauliflower puree and frozen vegetables typically found in the freezer of an american household.
And typical to how you would probably had your cereals when you were young, the meal was served using plastic utensils and plastic cereal bowl (but these seems to be durable plastic, not the single-use kind!)
There was a bit of a pause after the end of our meal here, and we were left to explore the room. We took the liberty pushing nearly everything in the room to find our next exit, but failed to find a way out.
Finally, we were ushered to our next room… I will not reveal HOW we get there, but we were required to crouch down and do a short crab walk.
Fifth Course: The Wizard Room
We arrived at the fifth room, which is the wizard room. They did not reveal which wizard the room was inspired by, but I’ll tell you there was a high chance it was inspired by Harry Potter.
Aesthetically speaking, this room was one of the most impressive rooms throughout the restaurant. The wall of wooden Chinese medicine cabinet, and ceiling filled with books upon books and all the details of the apothecary bottles on the other side… it looks like a movie set!
The fifth course is called Mortar Purple Squid Risotto, but without rice. The dish is made of squid, purple carrot, celeriac, topped with Uni – my favorite! We were also served a petri dish containing what looks like shards of glass but actually is Isomalt lime glass (a sugar substitute), and a small bottle filled with seaweed crumble.
We were instructed to mix the shard into the dish and mix and watch it change color. Given the theme of the room, I expected something magical like how the Blue Pea flower would change color when you mix with citrus, but… we didn’t actually notice any color change. Perhaps they meant the purple carrot puree at the bottom of the dish was supposed to change the color of the dish?
We were left to wonder again where the next room would be. There were a few things that are designed to throw us off, but those two were too obvious. Again, I won’t tell you where the next door is – you just have to find out.
Sixth Course: Absurdities Airlines
From the dark wizard room, we were suddenly transported to a… private jet! A private jet with 1970s style, to be exact, with bright colors dominated by orange and blue – think Austin Powers.
Our cheerful and very bubbly stewardess awaits. Complete with that familiar, low hum of an airplane, this room must have been a hit during COVID lockdown when most of Singapore couldn’t travel outside of the country.
Here, we were served our sixth course and the last alcoholic drink of the night. The sixth course is a jiggly dessert made of jelly that’s shaped like an old school rotary telephone (called First Class Gold Leaf Jelly Telephone). The alcoholic drink is a flute of prosecco, which makes sense considering we were in a private jet. I loved the room, but I thought the dessert was just… alright. It’s edible, but forgettable. I think it was something with elderflower.
Just like being in a plane, we were also given a brochure for “duty free shopping”. Though I doubt it’s actually duty free! Instead they sell merchandise related to the restaurant, if you want to pick up some.
Then the light dims (just like it would on a real plane!) and the “windows” on the sides of your seats will start to simulate the experience of flying, and eventually landing.
Then the plane landed. We slowly exited the plane through the exit door (no surprises there), and with that, our immersive dining experience came to an end. We found ourselves back to reality by the side of the road on Jalan Besar.
Conclusion: Is Restaurant Absurdities worth the price tag?
I think Restaurant Absurdities is a well executed immersive dining.
So in honest conclusion? Yes, I think it’s totally worth the price tag and definitely worth checking out for a special occasion. Maybe I’m easy to please but I had so much fun. My husband, the man who wants nothing, also told me he had fun that night. Or maybe he was just saying that to be nice to me? 😛
I’ll give this experience a 4 stars (out of 5). Rating means nothing unless you personally know me, so I’ll expand on a few aspects:
- The food itself was memorable. Though I think some of them could be improved, all of the courses were delicious. I appreciate the attention to detail that goes beyond food, down to the tableware we were using, which were mostly commissioned work handcrafted by Mud Rock ceramics.
- The food portion was good. I didn’t think it was too little or too much. Everyone in the group was full by the time we reached the last room. I think if I had the cocktail pairing I may have been too full, so I’m glad I didn’t.
- The pacing of the courses and transitions to the other room were done well. We had enough time to consume the food and explore / appreciate the room we were on. We never had to wait too long for the food, or to move on to the next room.
- The hosts in each room were actors, and they were sufficiently entertaining – good humor while being well-versed in the food they were serving.
- The ambience was amazing! Each of the rooms were well thought of, down to the details. Thinking back to my first experience with Andsoforth in 2015, they have really come a long way.
- There is no continuous storyline – I wish there was, but I suppose this experience is not meant to be a play, so each room is not tied to each other.
The 1 star that I knocked off is for the few things that I think could have been improved around the logistics – there were a bit of lull in some of the rooms, one of the staff explained the ingredient incorrectly, and in one of the room, someone who is not the host came in to speak to the host which I think kinda breaks the illusion a little. I also thought that one of the meals (the chicken pot pie) was way too salty for my liking. For its price tag, I expect these aspect to be run smoothly, but in grander scheme of things, they were all but minor inconveniences.
That said, we won’t go back to Restaurant Absurdities. Simply because… that’s how it is designed. What makes the experience worth it is both the food and the novelty and surprise of transiting to each room. Once you’ve gone through the entire experience, that element of surprise is gone and I certainly don’t want to pay another $200 / person just for the food. I do expect Andsoforth to refresh the restaurant every so often, and once they do, I’ll consider coming back.
For now, I’m happy to walk away finally knowing what is behind that suspiciously small coffeehouse we’ve been frequenting!