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The Scoop: Lunch Bowls At Restaurant Ibid, New Menus At Meta, JAAN And Summer Pavilion

A round-up of good eats and dining news from Singapore in September 2018.
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This month, we welcome seasonal ingredients from JAAN and Meta, dig into Singapore-inspired lunch bowls at Restaurant Ibid and savour Chinese dishes with a contemporary touch from Crystal Jade’s new group executive chef, Martin Foo.

1. Restaurant Ibid’s New Lunch Menu

The four-month-old contemporary Chinese restaurant rolls out a lunch menu with a la carte options and rice-bowl dishes that are friendly for time-starved office workers in the Central Business District. Some of its fuss-free lunch dishes, which are priced competitively, are inspired by hawker food. . The Thunder Tea Rice Porridge ($14++, above) consists of Japanese pearl rice that is cooked with a herbaceous green-hued paste made of green tea, mint, coriander and basil. The one-dish meal is complete with a sprinkling of peanuts and anchovies, a ramen egg and pan-fried grouper from Ah Hua Kelong.

Craving bak kut teh but not in the mood for soup? The pork rib rice ($14++) is fashioned after the Hokkien rendition of the pork broth soup. The lacquered succulent Iberico pork ribs are coated with a glaze made from braised sweet herbal soya sauce and spices. The meat is served with buttered rice, fried okra, soft boiled egg and ginger-marinated cucumbers. Those who cannot get enough of the shao bing appetiser on the dinner menu will be happy to know that the same baked Chinese flatbread is used in the Shao Bing Burger ($14++). Sandwiched between the flatbread is a medium-rare beef patty slathered with piquant green chilli mayonnaise that has just the right amount of heat. Charred onions add sweetness while mozzarella cheese adds a dash of saltiness.

Poached Australian baby spinach with fresh beancurd skin, ginkgo and whole garlic (Credit: Crystal Jade)
Poached Australian baby spinach with fresh beancurd skin, ginkgo and whole garlic (Credit: Crystal Jade)

2. Veteran Chef Martin Foo Joins Crystal Jade As Group Executive Chef

After two years of helming contemporary Chinese restaurant VLV, home-grown chef Martin Foo is back to heading a Chinese restaurant group. In June, he was appointed group executive chef of Crystal Jade and oversees the chain’s wide range of culinary concepts, from the one-Michelin-starred Golden Palace to its casual Express outlets. Foo also doubles as the resident chef of Crystal Jade Palace, the chain’s flagship Cantonese restaurant in Ngee Ann City. He brings his flair for contemporary Chinese cuisine, which was apparent during his VLV days, to set menus and six dishes that are available till 30 September.

An East-meets-West creation of his is the roasted Irish duck ($25), which has been steamed in truffle oil for 12 hours before it is roasted to yield crisp and scented skin. An unusual addition to the double-boiled sea whelk soup ($22) is the spongy sea cucumber flower that elevates the rich sweetness of the black garlic clove in the chicken consomme. Baby spinach leaves, which are usually raw found in salads, make an appearance as a poached vegetable dish ($26). The creaminess of the poached greens is enhanced by a collagen-rich chicken soup and thick-cut beancurd skin. More restaurant changes will be unveiled after Chinese New Year next year.

Smoked Duck with Crispy Beancurd Skin and Garden Greens (Credit: Summer Pavilion)
Smoked Duck with Crispy Beancurd Skin and Garden Greens (Credit: Summer Pavilion)

3. Summer Pavilion’s New Tasting Menu

One-Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Summer Pavilion in The Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore has introduced a new quarterly six-course set menu ($168++ a person) by its Chinese executive chef, Cheung Siu Kong, who showcases his creative side.

The smoked duck appetiser gets diners busy with their hands. They have to sandwich duck cubes, crisp beancurd skin and barbecue sauce in steamed buns, tacos style. Playing on the classic combination of bitter gourd and black bean sauce, the buttery-soft cubes of Miyazaki wagyu beef is deftly contrasted with crunchy rings of bitter gourd coated with umami black bean sauce. The accompanying black garlic discs injects some sweetness to this dish.

Riding on the popularity of the signature poached lobster rice dish is the new menu item of poached vermicelli and abalone in fish broth. The milky collagen-rich broth, which is poured at the table, is intensely aromatic as it is simmered with pan-fried grouper bones for 30 minutes for the right amount of collagen to seep into the soup. The springy noodles and soya bean puffs add texture to the dish. For desserts, purple sweet potato is the theme. The warmth from the cool ginger pudding gives an interesting sensation in the mouth, coupled with sweetness from the cubes of purple sweet potato.

English Garden (Credit: JAAN)
English Garden (Credit: JAAN)
4. JAAN’s New Menu Reinvents British Gastronomy

Known for his ingredient-forward, refined modern European cuisine at one-Michelin-starred JAAN, head chef Kirk Westaway changes culinary directions with his new British-inspired summer menu. Inspired by his hometown and long-standing passions, Westaway highlights premium, hand-picked ingredients that are reminiscent of his fondest English memories. The English Garden, for example, is a medley of baby carrots, Romesco leaves, kohlrabi, cauliflower and radishes, plated in a beautifully haphazard way and served with black olive powder, anchovy dressing and a Scottish seaweed and herb broth in a little watering can.

Another highlight is a dish of Scottish langoustine, poached in a vegetable bouillon perfumed with orange zest and a host of spices like coriander seeds, star anise, and cumin seeds. This is accompanied by Italian Violin courgettes cooked two ways: blanched atop a puree of Amalfi lemon and sweet red pepper chutney, and made into a courgette risotto with parmesan, butter and stock.
5. Meta’s Summer Menu Celebrates Local Flavours

At one-Michelin-starred Meta, chef Sun Kim injects Japanese and Korean-inspired flavours in his modern European dishes. His new summer menu brings in another more tropical aspect to his cooking, perhaps a reflection of his love affair with our sunny island state. Kim’s signature style shines in the dish of Carabinero Prawn — a lusciously red Carabinero prawn is seared on a pan with prawn oil and butter, and paired with a cloud of butternut squash puree, the sweetness from the crustacean and squash lifted with kaffir lime shavings.

What looks like a bowl of charred Brussels sprouts turns out to be a mound of moreish Korean short-grained rice mixed with homemade sambal. Desserts and petit fours incorporate tropical fruits like banana, coconut, pineapple and passionfruit, and make a cheery ending to the seven-course menu ($158).
Jalapeño ice cream (Credit: Botanico)
Jalapeño ice cream (Credit: Botanico)

6. Daring Dishes And Lush Scenery At Botanico

Located in a pretty conservation bungalow in the lush setting of the Botanic Gardens, multi-concept F&B destination The Garage is surprisingly accessible, just a short walk from Botanic Gardens MRT station. On the second floor is Botanico Restaurant And Bar, helmed by talented young local chef Sujatha Asokan who dishes out contemporary European creations with Asian inflections. Daring dishes on the a la carte menu include sliced beef tongue with mustard caviar, crunchy deep-fried capers and ribbons of pickled celeriac, as well as the chef’s interpretation of Assam laksa — in a ginger-flower-and-tamarind-scented sea bass ceviche with shrimp paste ice cream, no less.

Fresh chitarra pasta, a spaghetti with a thick square cross-section, is cooked in an umami-laden XO sauce and topped with two succulent lobes of sous-vide slipper lobster and pickled slices of baby turnip. Dessert is a rojak-inspired ice-cream-and-crumble combination of jalapeno cream cheese ice cream with charred pineapple, dehydrated bacon financier and micro coriander.

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