At Equilibrium at Capitol Piazza, Chef Samdy Kan, whose work experience includes Senso and Ritz Carlton, presents a modern Italian menu with modernist desserts. The cocktails are generally sweet, which I like a lot, but they are small, and I downed two glasses in 10 minutes. There is an attempt to refresh traditional Italian cuisine, and although some tweaking is required for the food recipes, it holds great promise. Hopefully, in time, Equilibrium will reach equilibrium.
The Imperial Seal ($17, chammile tea syrup, tequila bianco, cointreau, dehydrated chrysanthemum, lemon, fresh chrysanthemum flower) and Smoky Nectar ($18, Bulleit bourbon, raspberries, spiced pear liqueur, raspberry nectar tea with smoked hickory wood.)
Foie gras pate crostini with parma (2 pcs, $15)
Grilled calamari with fennel butter and citrus espuma ($15)
Panelle (6 pcs, $12)
Among the small plates, the la bombette (2 skewers, $9.50) are skewers of pork belly wrapped around grated parmesan and minced meat–the inside was powdery and too salty.
The other two small plates fared much better. Grilled squid, though overly chewy, was delicious in the butter infused with fennel, chilli, and mint. The crostini smeared with foie gras pate scored perfect marks for contrasts in flavors and textures, crunchy and soft, pungent and sweet. Although the crostini is pricy, it is the one small plate I’d order again.
New Zealand ribeye, dry-aged 28 days ($39)
Pork and mushroom aglio olio ($19)
Truffle paste, coppa ham ($27)
The mains were generally palatable. The steak a perfect medium rare, soft, succulent, and tender–delicious mushroom sauce. The pizza thin, crispy, and well-balanced. But the pork-and-mushroom farfalle, inspired by bak chor mee, was too salty. This particular dish reminded me of the one at Sorrel, and if Equilibrium can get the recipe right, this would have been a show-stopper.
Equilibrium’s desserts follows modernist cooking philosophy, using many modernist cooking techniques: what you see is not what you get. For instance the charcuterie ($21, above) is a plateful of desserts. 64% dark chocolate disguised as salami; raspberry and green apple as prosciutto; onion-chocolate as pate.
Modernist cooking treats food as an art form. What qualifies as art is that the pieces are interesting and provocative but they don’t have to be beautiful. Just like both beautiful and ugly paintings can be considered as art, food, as an art form, can taste bad and still be interesting.
In short, I often find modernist cooking sacrificing substance for style. The inherent fault in modernist cooking is apparent here in the appealing and interesting desserts. There was nothing awful about the desserts. On the contrary, they were nice. But in desserts, I don’t want nice morsels. “Nice” isn’t worth the diabetes. I want shiokness, I want big spoonfuls of creamy, rum-drenched tiramisu. Old habits die hard, I guess.
Watermelon carpaccio ($14)
One thing’s for sure: there is effort, thought, and creativity in the food. And around the City Hall area, $19 for pasta is a rare and wondrous find.
15 Stamford Road, Capitol Piazza #01-86, Singapore 178906
T: +65 6384 4069
Service: NA (Tasting)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
This is an invited tasting.