You wouldn't expect a chef of Chinese and Romanian heritage who sharpened his knives in France, Denmark, and Korea to whip up a mean rendition of har cheong gai (fried prawn paste chicken) — but Chef Haan Palcu-Chang has done just that, and more.
In town to kick off the inaugural Lazy Susan series of pop-up dining experiences, Haan will be offering his eclectic take on Asian food — ranging from Singaporean hawker fare to dim sum-inspired nosh — dished up in a slew of sharing plates.
The Lazy Susan concept was conceived by none other than Cynthia Chua, the CEO and creative tour de force of the Spa Esprit Group, and aims to showcase emerging culinary talents by giving them the opportunity to temporarily set up camp in a new city, keep their finger on the gastronomic pulse of the city, and reinterpret these culinary codes in unexpected ways.
Haan's Singapore-inspired menu proved to be a playful riot of flavours. A sourdough toast topped with white mozzarella, wing beans, and XO sauce sounds pretty revolting on paper, but turned out to be a harmony of savoury flavours brightened with a touch of hibiscus leaves.
His predilection for vegetables bodes well for the vegetarians amongst us. Sliced lotus root departs from its traditional domain of double-boiled soups to form a fresh salad enlivened with kaffir lime leaves, dried shrimp and chilli jam, while pulled-pork sliders get a vegetarian update with pork making way for tender slithers of braised young jackfruit slathered with gula melaka BBQ sauce.
Given that Haan had spent all but three days stuffing himself with all manner of street food (all in the name of research), his grasp of balancing the flavours and textures of local ingredients and condiments is pretty darn impressive.
The hardest dish for him to nail? Har cheong gai. He fried his way though 10kg of chicken before getting the batter and flavour close to what he envisioned the dish to be. The result is an incredibly crisp chicken fried to perfection and laced with just the right degree of pungency from the shrimp paste sauce. The chicken is presented on a fluffy waffle, then drenched in a sambal maple syrup. It's the kind of dish you really don't want to share with anyone.
If Haan's inventive take on Asian fare is anything to go by, we certainly see great things in store for future instalments of Lazy Susan.
Lazy Susan will pop-up at House at Dempsey from now till 27 December, every Thursday to Sunday. It'll spin its way to Open Door Policy from now till 6 February 2016, Mondays to Sundays. For more information, click here.