Where to eat and what’s new in Singapore: Writers Bar at Raffles Hotel Singapore, Jaan's summer menu, and Yàn’s homely Cantonese dishes
Where we dined this week...
The last time we were acquainted with Preludio, our plates were plied with singular hues of black and white. So let's answer the burning question: Yes, monochrome is still the emerging chapter for the restaurant at Fraser Towers. But with a new season of the zestful summer, comes a refreshed take on the plates here — even if the colour theme has persisted. With endless scorching days come produce that are bursting with ripeness at the peak of their season. Starting with freshly picked Alaskan king crab, seasoned lightly and served above a bed of toasty breadcrumbs. Other complementing flavours that work in tandem include an avocado mouuse, corn sorbet, grilled piquillo pepper, and a thin silky layer of coconut jelly. While it might look like a simple starter, the dish is complex and dabbles meticulously with textural play. Speaking of which, a foie gras dish also came armed with a few tricks up its sleeve. Cloyed with savoury, sweet, and sour notes, the foie gras terrine was glazed with a piquant housemade coffee kombucha, and held a surprise element of popping candy made by chef Fernando himself. Finishing the dish was a drizzle of local mead — an element we were only glad to be reintroduced to; well, because honeyed alcohol. Other great standouts were retained from the previous season — like the butternut squash and amaretto agnolotti, pasta parcels adorned with almond snow and a heady dose of parmesan sauce. To elevate and cut through the cream was a calculated splash of 25-year-old Il Borgo traditional balsamic vinegar. Next up, an experimental rendition of Patagonian toothfish in prawn broth, but embellished with white chocolate flakes. By its side, laid a juicy purple tomato, filled with basil pesto. One thing's for sure, even chef Fernando's midas touch couldn't make chocolate and fish a fine pair. We did however, thoroughly enjoy the lone plump tomato by its side — yet another one of the great gifts from the tropical season. Alas, dessert, a cleverly disguised ‘strawberry milkshake' took the form of paper-thin white chocolate layers with yoghurt powder for that bit of tart, genoise sponge, strawberry ganache and jam. And yes that might have been one of the most intriguing ‘milkshakes' we've had in a while — minus the heavy bloating that is. — JS
Hero dish: Make It Pop (Foie gras terrine)
Estimated calorie count: 338
182 Cecil St, #03-01/02 Frasers Tower, Tel: 6904 5686
Lunch opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 11.30am-2.30pm, Closed Sat-Sun
Dinner opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 6pm-10.30pm
Jaan by Kirk Westaway
While it's a year-long heatwave in Singapore, Jaan by Kirk Westaway finally rings in its version of summer — with a few tweaks to chef Kirk’s esteemed Reinventing British menu. Safe to say, we stealthily devoured the snacks of codfish brandade above crisp tartlet shells and the moreish Devon cheddar cheese buckwheat pancake balls; almost secretly gleeful that none of those has been switched out since the last season. Honestly, it's hard to imagine a meal at Jaan by Kirk Westaway without Devon cheddar cheese and his wholesome roast potato soup leading the way. In case you ever forgot, this soup course weaves in the glorious renderings of roasted potato, mushroom stock, truffle trimmings, and pure, unobliterated truffle juice. Next to this indulgent bowl, a mini loaf almost seems redundant; but why ever deny yourself a good piece of pastry? Especially when it comes with a smidge of butter. In place of last season's bed of greens (also known as English Garden), comes a tastier alternative. A salad that features sweet beans (not typically found in most restaurants), i.e. runner, wax, as well as green and yellow ones adorning the top of a quinoa and burrata salad base. Within, you'll find herbs and flowers giving off aromatic jolts of flavour, alongside the occasional savoury cubes of joselito ham. It's palatable and refreshing, while reprising the fresh beginnings of summer greens. Extending the pea streak, is the poached brill fitted with a crisp skin and dabbled with green pea puree and a mussel broth. You've got the fresh catch from the ocean deftly paired with the sweetness and the hint of smoky brine at the same time. Then rolls around a salt marsh lamb — one of the main leads in this season's menu. The young lamb is found sea sept fields in Northern Wales, where it feeds on special herbs like sea lavender, thrift grass, and mixed sorrels. It's a leaner red, as compared to the usual that we're used to grinding against our teeth. On the same plate, we find an aubergine garnish, bursting with flavour. Now with its shoulder, chef Kirk grounds and then slow-cooks it alongside creamy mash potatoes — only to serve up a delightful shepherd's pie. We hardly tasted any salt, just the good, trusty aroma of the lamb that concluded the savoury courses of the experience at Jaan with simple flair. And in case you're wondering, the pre-dessert still cheekily nods to chef Kirk's love for Pimms. There's even a poem he specially crafted to go along with this palate cleanser. A medley of alcoholic pomelo, fresh oranges, and lemon granite never felt so significant, until now. — JS
Hero dish: Salt marsh lamb
Estimated calorie count: 210
Dinner opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 6.45pm-8pm, Closed on Sun
Any makings of a stellar Chinese restaurant would incite praises along the lines of "it's as good as homecooked food". Yàn's menu from new head chef Ng Sen Tio, does just that. As a veteran with three decades of experience at countless Chinese restaurants, chef Ng’s masterful interpretation of Cantonese cuisine truly evoked emotions of home; and built upon the sturdy foundation of homeliness was an ornate elegance from premium ingredients, which elevated the experience entirely. We started with a combination platter consisting of fatty barbeque pork, marinated okra and our personal pick of the bunch — fried minced duck meat and cuttlefish paste in egg pancake, a rendition of a traditional Cantonese dish that’s effectively extinct in local kitchens nowadays. The amalgamation of the components, with mayo and mustard, resulted in a complex explosion of flavours and fascinating textures, eschewing gaminess or fishiness despite the ingredients. What caught everyone's attention next was the wok-fried crab in pumpkin sauce, which delivered a satisfying punch of sweetness and umami. The pumpkin sauce hits with a sense of familiarity, from being fried in the same aromatics regularly used in salted egg sauces, but avoids the characteristic cloyingness of salted egg dishes. The showstopper came in the form of a lobster porridge with clams and puffed rice — its broth was luxuriously rich from the generous amount of seafood and delivered a comforting warmth, while each grain of rice was cooked to the right amount of softness though retaining some bite. Peppered with black rice puffs, each mouthful was complemented by traces of nuttiness and crunchiness. The curtains were closed on the meal with a chilled peach resin with osmanthus and aloe vera jelly dessert which, while pleasant, did little to differentiate itself from the typical desserts found in any Chinese restaurant. What mattered was that we ended the meal feeling wholesomely fed. — EM
Hero dish: Home special local lobster porridge with clams and puffed rice
Estimated calories: 650
1 Saint Andrew's Road, #05-02 National Gallery, Tel: 6384 5585
Lunch opening hours: (Daily) 11.30am-2.30pm
Dinner opening hours: (Daily) 6pm-10.30pm
Where we're looking to dine...
The Garden Club
This newly opened bistro-bar concept takes over the space formerly occupied by HRVST at the OUE Downtown rooftop terrace. Unlike its predecessor, The Garden Club is a omnivorous dining concept, but still retains that health-conscious edge — offering up many plant-based dishes and DIY bowls, using healthy and wholesome ingredients, including some from their own rooftop garden.
OUE Downtown Gallery #05-01, 6A Shenton Way, Tel: 6920 7500 Opening hours: (Daily) 5pm-12am
Raffles Hotel has a history filled with literature pedigree, even naming legendary Ernest Hemingway amongst its patrons. To build on that, they have expanded the iconic Writers Bar into its own private space, offering cocktails born of collaboration between the head bartender and the writer-in-residence currently — best-selling author Pico Iyer.
Grand Lobby, Raffles Singapore, 1 Beach Rd, Tel: 6337 1886
Opening hours: (Daily) 5pm-12am