Banker turned chef-owner Gabriel Lee expands his private dining gig to 8picure, a full-fledged restaurant serving up European cuisine.

Located right opposite Valley Point Shopping Centre, 8picure is a cosy 16-seater restaurant run by chef-owner Gabriel Lee. Lee has taken quite an unconventional path to get to where he is today —he was formerly a banker but was deeply passionate about cooking, which led him to pursue a short culinary course in Italy. Upon his return, he honed his skills at Italian fine-dining restaurant Forlino for about a year before taking the plunge to set up a private dining kitchen in the comfort of his own home.

From there, he established a loyal group of customers who enjoyed his creations, which are all prepared with the best quality ingredients. But operating a private dining concept has its limitations—due to space constraint in his house, he was only able to accommodate up to six pax at any given time, and his customers were constantly asking if he could expand the seating capacity. This led him to think about opening a physical restaurant with a larger seating capacity. After months of searching for a suitable location, Lee decided on the cosy and intimate space where 8picure is currently housed.

Gambero rosso pasta - 8picure River Valley Road

Gambero rosso pasta

The menu here is centred around European cuisine with a particular focus on Italian dishes. To start, we recommend trying the tuna salsa with prawn cracker ($12) and the burrata cheese with beetroot gazpacho ($16). The former boasts savoury flavours with a spicy kick and we like how the cracker gave the dish a nice textural crunch, while the latter offers a lovely combination of sweet and buttery flavours from the cheese, as well as savoury notes from the parma ham crisp, which all went perfectly with the silky gazpacho.

Deciding on our main course was a breeze as we were recommended by the waitstaff to try Lee’s signatures which have been favourites on his menu since his private dining days, such as the gambero rosso pasta ($26), the slow cooked beef ($32), and the herb crusted baked cod fish with broccoli mash and roasted red pepper sauce ($34). All three were outstanding, but the pasta dish, comprising tagliolini tossed in special in-house prawn stock and topped with sweet shrimp tartare (amaebi) and flying fish roe (tobiko) was a clear winner. The pasta was cooked to al dente perfection, offering a nice bite, while the prawn and fish roe gave the dish a delightful mix of sweet and savoury flavours. Apart from using fresh, premium quality ingredients, another thing we noticed about Lee’s cooking is how he strives to achieve a good balance of flavours and textures in every dish.

Burrata cheese with beetroot gazpacho and crispy Parma ham - 8picure River Valley Road

Burrata cheese with beetroot gazpacho and crispy Parma ham

Meat lovers are bound to enjoy the wagyu beef cheek which is slow cooked in caramelised onions and served with cauliflower puree, maitake mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. The meat is was flawlessly executed, yielding fork tender meat that melds perfectly with the mushrooms and vegetables. Another scrumptious alternative is the cod fish, featuring a deliciously crunchy crust that is made from almonds, parmesan and herbs mix.

End off your meal on a high note with the tiramisu 8picurean ($16)—Lee’s take on the classic tiramisu, prepared using homemade mascarpone cheese mousse, lady fingers that have been soaked with a special blend of whisky and marsala coffee, roasted almond flakes and 100 per cent cacao powder.

The menu at 8picure changes seasonally according to what’s fresh and available.
#01-04, 428 River Valley Road. Tel: 6677 1075

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