Superb cuisine is art on display at Chef Zor Tan’s cross-cultural dining experience, Born. In partnership with 1855 F&B, 39-seater Born is nestled within the light-filled cavernous halls of the iconic Jinrikisha Station in Singapore’s Tanjong Pager district. Heritage is celebrated everywhere here. The historic century-old architecture, breathtaking modern art installations by creators such as Peter Gentenaar, and ultra-chic dining room are perfectly paired with Tan’s precise and elegantly curated dining experience: a journey through his Circle of Life philosophy.
Beginning again is significant for Chef Tan: “Having Born on this stage feels especially meaningful and personal,” says Chef-Owner Zor Tan.“I’m finally standing here with my own name.”
The restaurant’s choice of venue also accentuates the power of renewal. Constructed in 1903, Jinrikisha Station’s historic melding of a triangular shape softened by curved edges has become the perfect space for Tan’s flavourful retrospection on his culinary journey. The building itself is steeped in history, initially beginning its life as a rickshaw depot, evolving to host a cavalcade of nightclubs, and eventually being purchased in 2007 by international film star Jackie Chan. Now, over a hundred years later, the legendary building provides an avenue for Chef Tan to further expand his culinary horizons with a new adventure – his first restaurant.
For over a decade, Chef Tan’s culinary path has been guided by Taiwanese master chef André Chiang. Initially handpicked by Chef Chiang as a commis chef for the launch of Restaurant Andre in 2010, Chef Tan’s novice status would not hold him back for long. His work, dedication, and loyal attention to flavours catapulted him into becoming Chiang’s co-executive chef at RAW, Taipei, and the executive chef of Sichuan Moon in Macau, which garnered two-Michelin stars while under Chef Zor’s tenure.
But, it was with the worldwide 2019 Covid lockdown that devastated the hospitality industry that Chef Zor re-evaluated his position in the sector and revisited the influences that shaped his own gastronomic identity.
“When something ends, something new begins,” says Chef Zor of the time. “Born represents the birth of a brand new me; the decision to leave my mentor chef, who I worked with for 11 years, and the momentous step to start my very own project.”
Perhaps influenced by Chef Chaing’s “octo-philosophy” of eight elements from which he crafts his dishes, Chef Zor frames his own dining experience through a harmonious exploration of nine guiding principles: Birth, Roots, Memories, Craft, Relationship, Vicissitudes, Time, Progress and Legacy. Through these, the retrospection of his culinary journey is encapsulated in nine sublime courses. As Tan declares, “This is the story of my life… seen and felt”. Infused by the chef’s childhood memories, professional journey, and personal ideals, Chef Zor’s exquisite Chinese flavours and ingredients are elevated with graceful precision by flawless French gastronomic sophistication.
Each moment spent with the menu is a nuanced expedition of flavour: From the trio of pickles which pay homage to his parents ‘economic rice’ stall in Malaysia to the reimaging of sashimi and soy sauce as a nod to his first work experience at a Japanese restaurant, or the revisioned foie gras parfait drawn from his experiences with Chef Chiang, Chef Tan fully embraces and shares the Spanish, Japanese, Cantonese, and Sichuan culinary path he has travelled.
Through all, Tan’s luxurious nine-course escape is designed to be slowly explored and indulgently savoured.