Japanese pastry chef Makoto Arami, who is well-known for his exquisite French desserts handcrafted with highly sought-after seasonal Japanese fruit, will open AMI Patisserie at 27 Scotts Road, a black and white colonial bungalow near Orchard Road in early November.
Arami, who worked at Marina Bay Sands and was the Executive Pastry Chef at one-Michelin-starred Beni, will offer a sit-down chef’s dessert table concept at AMI Patisserie.
AMI, derived from his name Arami, translates to “friend” in French. In Japanese, AMI also means “blossoming in Asia ”, the name fittingly expresses all of Arami’s aspirations for his boutique sized sit down restaurant-cafe concept.
“I wanted to create a sit-down chef’s dessert table concept, so I left Marina Bay Sands in June 2021,” he says. “It gave me the opportunity to open a dessert place I could call my own.”
The 1,000-sq-ft cafe, which was converted from a garage, seats 12, while the chef’s table space, Tsudoi (集, which means gathering in Japanese), accommodates six to eight people.
Have a seat at Arami’s Dessert Table
Tsudoi will be home to Arami’s Dessert Table, where the chef will deliver a stunning seasonal eight-course dessert experience during lunch and dinner time.
Gourmands can expect a dessert menu (prices start at $118) brimming with artisanal seasonal products from Japan, including top-grade uni, kyoyasai (heirloom vegetables from Kyoto), and premium fruits , intricately woven into the courses.
Highlights of the sweet-savoury menu include starters such as a choux caviar and two other small bites, followed by a vegetable tarte and grilled and deep-fried kamo nasu served on a creme brulee base and miso caramel sauce. The dining experience wraps up with three plated dessert courses and petit fours.
The food will be artfully presented on Shigaraki tableware, created in Arami’s hometown in Shiga by potter master and friend Kasho Morioka.
Arami plans to offer liquor and tea pairing, which will be served in bespoke Kimura glasses to expand the flavour profiles of the menu. Beverages include an homemade infusion of dehydrated yuzu skin and dashi made with leftover vegetable peels.
Arami’s approach to his beverages is an ode to mottainai, a centuries-old Japanese philosophy of respecting the value of resources while minimising waste.
Besides the chef’s dessert table experience, the cafe will also serve hugely popular signature items, such as the Mara des Bois Strawberry Frasier, which features the Mara des Bois strawberry from France on pistachio and almond sponge, layered with kirsch, pistachio cream and strawberries. Other items include Choux Box, Mont Blanc, Paris-Brest, and new savoury items like carrot and onion tarte.
Arami’s face lit up as he discussed his explorations for AMI. In May, he travelled to Sukabumi in West Java, Indonesia in search of fine vanilla to make into ice cream. Aside from hojicha, he cannot wait to see how dessert lovers react to his miso coconut ice cream. Meanwhile, chocolate aficionados can look forward to specially selected bean varieties from Vietnam and Bali in his new creations.
Opening AMI has been in the works for Arami for the past two years. It started out as an online shop that offered delivery and takeaway service in June 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Arami’s pastries became an instant hit and gained cult status among well-heeled foodies.
A love for sweets that spans generations
Arami’s love for sweets comes from his father, who inherited a wagashi shop from his grandfather.
The personable pastry chef, now 34, recalls, “My grandfather made traditional Japanese sweets with red beans and mochi. My father, inspired by his trips to Europe and the States, loved Western sweets more. The shop eventually transformed into a yogashi (a western-style confectionery).”
As a child, he was always eager to come home from school.
“I would go straight to the kitchen and have my father’s favourite freshly made Mont Blanc. It could also be a choux filled with vanilla and custard. It’s simple, so delicious, and always makes me feel warm at heart.”
This cherished emotion and many happy childhood moments helped him find his calling. With his father’s blessings, the youngest child in the family with three older sisters left Shiga for Tokyo at the age of 17, and enrolled in Tsuji Culinary Institute in Tokyo. He went on to further his studies for another year at the Ecole Hôtelière Tsuji in Lyon, France.
Back in Japan, Arami joined Beige Alain Ducasse in Ginza, learning everything about bread and dessert making there. He then headed to Restaurant Ryuzu and Dominique Ansel in Tokyo, before relocating to Kyoto to work at French restaurant L’ Embellir.
Arami arrived in Singapore in 2017 to work as Executive Pastry Chef at Béni before moving to Marina Bay Sands in 2019. Over the years, he has created his own distinct style and adheres to a few guiding principles in dessert making.
“I try to keep it as simple as possible, weaving in layers of flavours and textures,” he says. “I also give myself a lot of freedom to act based on how I feel about the produce; if I don’t resonate in any way, I won’t use it.”
More importantly, he learned to keep happy. He declares: “I’ll stop work if I do not feel good, for the simple reason that if I cannot make myself happy, how will I be able to bring happiness to others?”
What drives me is the idea of seeing people happy from the food I made, the same way my father’s desserts warms my heart, so I just keep doing what I am good at. Nowadays, I come to work happy everyday. I really appreciate my team and what I have, and as always, continue baking with all my heart.Makoto Arami, Chef-director, AMI Patisserie
Baking with all his heart
When asked why this dream of opening AMI Patisserie took this long to materialise, Arami explains how escalating rental costs and COVID-19, stood in his way.
“We just have to be prudent,” he says matter of factly, “It was tough for me waiting for this to happen, but looking back, this has been a good experience, the difficult time has passed.”
Throughout it all, he never lost sight of what he loved.
“What drives me is the idea of seeing people happy from the food I made, the same way my father’s desserts warms my heart, so I just keep doing what I am good at. Nowadays, I come to work happy everyday. I really appreciate my team and what I have, and as always, continue baking with all my heart.”