(Media Tasting) With the “World’s Highest Food Farm” next to it, newly opened @kaarla.sg has bragging rights to being a farm-to-table dining destination of distinction. Situated at the rooftop of the iconic CapitaSpring building, they are both part of Singapore’s latest integrated lifestyle destination, 1-Arden.
Upon arrival, our small group was taken on a tour by the bubbly @iamsarahrod of @ediblegardencity - the company that manages the six themed garden beds spread over 10,000 sq ft. We got to meet Head Farmer @christopherleow as well. Without pausing his work, he shared a little about what he does, such as the sustainability programmes they have in place at 1-Arden Food Forest, the challenges of cultivating vegetables and herbs high up in the sky, and even revealed how the 6-years-and-going-strong “bromance” he has with Kaarla’s Executive Chef @jpfiechtner, spurs inspiration for them both.
(Note: As this was a media tour, special permission was given for us to pluck a few of the plants but please note, this is actually not allowed).
@huatkaliao and I were then ushered into @kaarla.sg for lunch. It is within the same space as @oumi.sg, a modern Japanese kappo dining concept that also embraces the same principles of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as Kaarla.
The “Coastal Australian Cuisine” menu curated for us, brimmed with fresh ideas and flavours. There was a newness to every course that felt genuinely refreshing. Naturally, they incorporated the Australian and Singaporean heritage varieties of produce from the 1-Arden Food Forest we had just walked through. Here is what we had:
1. Sydney rock oysters with a kombucha-like vinegar made from fig leaf and 1-Arden-grown oyster plant reduction.
2. Damper from Chef JP’s sourdough starter, its unusual soft fluffiness and flavour the result of being fermented and aerated at room temperature. Really delicious with the macadamia spread, lardo, garden-picked lemon balm and dried quandong powder.
3. Surprisingly moist salt-cured lean kangaroo loin from Queensland, Australia that had been brined and smoked for three days. It was coated in a vegetable trimmings powder and complemented by bunya nut, Australian finger lime, an anchovy-based dressing, plus watermelon radish, daikon, breakfast, purple korean radish, and edible flowers from the 1-Arden Food Forest.
4. Shockingly different but very good was the Kaarla Closed Loop Salad. The day’s harvest from the rooftop garden formed the bulk but propelling it to distinction were the tiger nut curd, pickled daikon and mixed herb powder.
5. We loved the steamed and lightly charred garden-grown Zucchini flowers that was presented with pickled mussels, Japanese tomatoes, trout roe and lemon balm.
6. One of my favourites was the wild-caught Fremantle octopus tentacles. Grilled swiftly and sliced, it was plated with smoked and charcoal-burnt leeks, pickled boab, beef fat-cooked muntries and 1-Arden-grown succulents.
7. Of the mains which Chef @jpfiechtner thoughtfully sized down so we could sample more of, the woodfire-grilled White Pyrenees Lamb Saddle with salsa verde was the standout for me. Its slight gaminess balanced beautifully by lemon myrtle-infused stingless bee honey from Batam, a salt bush and bunya nut pesto, and dried saltbush leaves.
8. Australian free-range Asado Pork from Northern New South Wales was brined then slow-cooked for 8 hours to flavourful tenderness. It was brushed with toasted black sesame and jazzed up with a warm minya and riberry vinaigrette that had elements from the 1-Arden Food Forest, the same source as well for the eggplant which arrived charred and puréed.
9. Brined, steamed and finished in the wood-fired oven ensured the farmed Cod from Murray, Australia to be moist and lovely. While the sauce was a complex thing of fermented fennel juice, fish bones’ stock thickened with butter and cream, a bouquet of pickled carrots, endives and radicchio leaves layered on crispness.
10. Served as a side, the stunning Blue Pumpkin had been grown in the 1-Arden Food Forest too. Cooked over the residual heat from the coals for 12 hours, its soft sweetness was matched with a miso made from its own seeds and creamy goat's feta.
11. Tiger nuts harvested from the sky-high food farm led to a Tiger Nut Ice Cream, accessorised with tiger nut nougatine, calamansi jelly and poached oranges.
12. The other dessert of wood-fired pineapple with shoyu ice cream and miso pecan crumble possessed a sweet and savoury mix I found highly appealing.

How wonderful to have this unconventional addition to Singapore’s dining scene. Thank you Chef JP and Team Kaarla for showing the way.