Former head chef at the celebrated Au Bec Fin in Kyoto, and Bibbi in Kobe, Chef Ryoichi Kano presents a Japanese version of French cuisine, that is to say, this is what French food would taste like in Japan. The 6-course Christmas menu ($148++) features fresh seasonal ingredients from Hokkaido. Mr Daisuke Kawai is an award-winning sommelier who can advise you on wine pairing.
The course began with a stunning hassun or a “variety of flavors”: crabmeat in yuzu; squid with cauliflower puree; Hokkaido potato veloute with caviar; sea urchin on seaweed jelly; ikura soba tea rice sushi; and my favorite, mackerel on soba tea rice. Everything on this plate was delicious, one better than the next, raising my expectation for the meal.
The next course, Hokkaido scallop, was lonely–two more scallops would be nice–but it arrived flaming, sizzling, and spectacular. In a butter dashi sauce, the scallop gave an umami bliss when eaten together with spinach and mushroom.
Like the scallop, the sauteed Kinki fish (above) and Joshu Wagyu steak (below) were too little. A complete piece of steak would be nice. The grade A4 steak came with hide-and-seek foie gras hidden under brussel sprouts–very mischievous. The steak was seasoned with sansho pepper, giving it a bit of spice, and red wine sauce, a bit of sweetness.
Although the scallop, fish, and beef needed a bold dash of salt to add to its flavors, the shime (Japanese curry rice) was nacreous and complete on its own. Ended with an elegant and highly prized Hokkaido mango, coconut pudding, coconut shavings. Wood sorrel gave the dessert a surprise spice. Felt as if it was Thai-influenced.
Two qualms: (1) not wheelchair-friendly, you’ll have to trek up a flight of steps and grown men have panted at the top, and (2) $148++ seems overpriced. My suggestion to the restaurant is to increase the portions, more scallops, a bigger piece of fish, a complete piece of steak. On the whole, the food was not bad, and the black-and-white colonial house in lush greenery was lovely, full of intrigue and romance.
Directions to Lewin Terrace: Turn left into a small gate just after Masonic Club, and just before Singapore Philatelic Museum. Free valet parking but tip the ah boy lah.
21 Lewin Terrace, Singapore 179290
T: +65 6333 9905
Rating: 2.9/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
Thanks, Samantha and June, for the invited tasting.