Magic Square: a year-long pop-up showcasing the next generation of young SG chefs

Photo: Magic Square
Photo: Magic Square

How’s this to add some spice into your culinary exploits: Portsdown Road is now home to a year-long pop-up restaurant that spotlights young, up-and-coming Singaporean chefs and their ever-evolving nine-course menus.

Called Magic Square — named after the painting series by Swiss-German artist Paul Klee — the concept is an initiative by local restaurateur Tan Ken Loon, the man behind popular seafood restaurant The Naked Finn and its offshoot Nekkid restaurant at Gillman Barracks. It’s a full circle of sorts for the 43-year-old, who launched the eatery earlier this month at the same place where his now-defunct cocktail bar Klee once stood a decade ago.

The loft-style 18-seater in a colonial building makes for an intimate experience, designed as a cozy studio apartment with just one long communal table, a lounge area for pre- or post-dinner drinks, and an open kitchen.

An example of a dish on the menu: steamed Indian threadfin and glutinous rice wrapped in potato leaves, in a fish broth. Photo: Magic Square

But what you won’t find here is a line-up of dishes that’s set in stone. The type of cuisine isn’t defined either. With three chefs under the age of 30, all handpicked by Tan — Desmond Shen (25), Marcus Leow (26), and Abel Su (29) — helming the kitchen, they’ll take turns each month to craft a nine-course menu that tells a story “based on their experiences and memories”.

That means the menu will change and evolve constantly — sometimes within the month — based on the seasonal ingredients available, the chefs’ experimentation, and even customer feedback. Nevertheless, you can expect local ingredients to be in the spotlight, with the chefs visiting Jurong Fishery Port for seafood and their mini indoor farm for vegetables.

Another sample dish: 10-year aged plum vinegar pork collar, grilled on binchotan. Photo: Magic Square

It’s just dinner for now, with two seatings starting at 6pm and 8:15pm for $78 per person, but lunch service is slated to start on July 3.

After the year is over, the space will be taken back by JTC Corporation for development. It’s a great concept for those who might like to lend their stomachs to support the next generation of local chefs, while also sampling out their new culinary ideas.


Magic Square is at #01-02, 5B Portsdown Rd, 8181-0102.
Tues-Sat 6pm-10:15pm; first seating 6pm-8pm, second seating 8:15pm-10:15pm. $78/person.
MRT: Queenstown

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