Chef Zor Tan Rises Up With Restaurant Born - Men's Folio
Lifestyle, Wine & Dine

Chef Zor Tan Rises Up With Restaurant Born

  • By Bryan Goh

The former acolyte of Andre Chiang and the maverick behind Sichuan Moon, the golden path of Zor Tan has him reincarnated as the chef-partner of fine dining restaurant, Born.  

With all accolades aside, the magic behind every dish Zor Tan has conjured at Born leaves one happy — even before we dive deep into his ingredients and plating. Happiness (and regretfully, at times, its absence) in a culinary context, is what most chefs would consider when it is what they would like to elicit out of a customer. One might even say that this form of happiness is a goal toward making diners return. 

 According to Zor Tan, the concept of his new restaurant titled Born stems from the push and pull of “rebirthing”. One does not simply stay the same person — regardless of his culinary chops or character — throughout his lifetime.  


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 “With the launch of Born, I, myself, am like a child being born. I take guidance from my own personal and professional roots. I am aware that it will take time for me to develop and fine-tune my signature style, and my diners will, in turn, need time too to understand the philosophy and stories behind my cuisine. I always believe that before I can bring ‘food happiness’ to others, I must first be happy with the dish myself. As I conceptualise the dish and the progression of the menu, I often question myself, what is the kind of journey I would like my guests to take when they dine at my restaurant.” 

 “When I think of birth – I think of the happiness, joy, and appreciation of that moment. I want my guests to enjoy a new experience, and that the time they spend at Born, are their best moment yet. This is the happiness and I hope they will feel it too.”  

Chef Zor Tan Rises Up With Restaurant Born
Born to eat, eat to live and with Born, one lives to eat. Like Chef Tan mentioned, each dish at Born telegraphs a tale, from the Taiwanese meets French twists he learned from Restaurant Andre to refining it at Sichuan Moon. From personal memories (the Pickles & Snacks course is an ode to his parent’s economic rice stall in Malaysia) to the concept of time (one really will be in awe at each dish’s meticulousness), Tan’s cuisine at Born is “a representation of [his] personal and professional journey, further shaped by [his] ideals. It was not created to be trendy, but [he] would like to believe it is a heartfelt expression of [his] ‘best life.”  

 “The Tomato Capsule dish is one where I recall my father bringing home fresh mango and guava. He would put sour plum powder on top of the fruit slices, inspiring these capsules. Next is Chicken skin and eggplant, a tribute to my mum’s fried eggplant with pork belly. The series rounds up with Salted egg taro puff, based on mum’s taro gula melaka puff.” 

 “Growing up in a fishing village, I loved eating cockles with chilli. Here I ‘elevate’ the experience and serve abalone with chilli. It is a comment on life’s vicissitudes(酸甜苦 – a varying, vibrant mixture of bittersweet and spice) and how I have progressed to being able to afford the consumption of premium seafood.” 

“I would say the most difficult dish to create is the Chicken Liver / Smoked Oil / Mushroom, as it is a dish I created to pay tribute to my mentor, Chef Andre. It is his signature dish, and I wanted to recreate it with my interpretation of the iconic Foie Gras Parfait — a ‘re-birth’ that brings into focus the elements of birth, relationship, and progress. Chicken liver — a very under-appreciated ingredient — is elevated into an indulgent flan. Forest mushrooms and blanched cubed celeriac are added to finish.”  

 “All the dishes are created with a story, as they are based on my memories. But perhaps the ‘Pickles & Snacks’ is the dearest one to me as it is based on my memories as a child and the food cooked by my parents. It is a bittersweet childhood memory.” 

 For all the professed ingenuousness and delight in his dishes, happiness is just around the corner at Born and of course, served with heart and humility. 

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