After the meal, the pregnant Huccalyly said, “Can we return to Whitegrass Restaurant at CHIJMES? The waiter is f-ing hot.”
I replied, “So we have degenerated to paying money to see men now? Sure, let me text my boyfriend to break off with him. I wanna be single when I see the hot waiter.”
And the Modern Australian food is as delectable as the waiter. Chef-owner Sam Aisbett was head chef of award-winning Quay at Sydney and sous chef at the world famous Tetsuya. His experience explains why there is much Japanese influence in his food.
The food is like that Edelweiss song, clean and bright throughout the courses. Like my experience at other fine dining restaurants, the most expensive ingredients are treated carelessly and the cheaper ingredients shine bright like a diamond.
Take for instance, the best starter is the vegetarian salad: with the umami of seaweed oil, the cherry tomatoes (above) burst with the milkiness of goat’s feta and the crunchiness of pine nuts. The another starter yellowtail sashimi (below), rolled with lime creme fraiche, is sublime with a perfect hint of wasabi, just tantalizing enough. The most expensive starter, ribbons of Hokkaido scallop in clam consomme (below), is very fishy.
Likewise for the mains, the best dish is the cheapest: the buckwheat risotto enriched with truffle butter (below) has the umami of white hen of the woods mushroom and the crunch of deep fried mullet. Fantastic.
The roasted New Zealand red snapper (above) in smoked eel broth is undercooked, still slightly pink in the middle, but it is delicious with white radish, a staple in Japanese cooking. I almost never order fish at fine dining because fish is easily cooked at home, really not much difference at a fine dining restaurant. But the East-meets-West combination here is smart and refreshing. One of the better fish I’ve eaten at a fine dining establishment.
Now the worst main, which is probably the most costly, a grass fed Angus steak (above): way too gamy, and the texture is consistent throughout without the char on the surface. I think Whitegrass should look into their beef supplier.
The rule of cheap ingredients continues for desserts. The dessert using tropical fruits, jackfruit ice cream, long’an, ginger cake, is covered with a layer of coconut mousse (above), whose smoothness is broken with caramelized almonds. Very refreshing on a hot day.
The pink guava ice cream combined with bergamot lemon (above) tastes like passionfruit—good. The most expensive dessert, lucuma ice cream on 64% Valrhona chocolate (below), is ok, but the strong chocolate overpowers and covers the taste of Peruvian national fruit, lucuma, which tastes a little like sour plum.
On the whole, this is a very enjoyable meal. Whitegrass doesn’t do gimmicky, postmodern, stupid sleight of hand; they simply combine ingredients in original ways that are delightful, bright and clean. I can’t help but to compare Whitegrass and Odette—both angmoh chefs lah—and I like the former so much more because Whitegrass serves unpretentious and honest food without smoke and mirrors.
And of course, the service is handsome too. “He looks like he should be on the cover of Tatler. Did you see the tattoos peekaboo-ing under his suit? I feel like he will rip off his suit any time like an animal. Like Wolverine. Grrrr.”
A 2-course prix fixe lunch is priced at $48, 3-course $68, 5-course $135. A 5-course dinner at $170, 8-course at $265. No a la carte. Including a glass of riesling ($23++), I paid $107 for lunch. My dining companions, who didn’t drink, paid about $80 each. Whitegrass is in running for the Restaurant of the Year 2016, along with Meta Restaurant, Ashino, and Ushidoki. Likely to receive Michelin stars.
30 Victoria Street, #01-26/27, Chijmes, Singapore 187996
T: +65 6837 0402
Th & F 12pm-2.15pm, T-Sat 6.30pm-9.30pm
Overall rating: 3.719/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.