Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Food Picks: Jaan goes British, Prime's new zi char stall and Le Binchotan's National Day specials

English garden
English gardenPHOTOS: LE BINCHOTAN, WONG AH YOKE
Handmade prawn roll
Handmade prawn rollPHOTOS: LE BINCHOTAN, WONG AH YOKE
 Iberico Pork Collar Satay
Iberico Pork Collar SatayPHOTOS: LE BINCHOTAN, WONG AH YOKE

JAAN GOES BRITISH

Last week, after the Michelin Guide Singapore 2018 was unveiled, I suggested in this newspaper a list of restaurants that deserve a two-star rating. Let me add Jaan to that list.

The restaurant at the top of Swissotel The Stamford already has a Michelin star, but chef Kirk Westaway's latest menu really takes it up a notch.

The menu is well thought out; the plating is beautiful, playful and surprising; and the cooking refined. The Englishman looks home for his inspiration and either uses ingredients from Britain or interprets English classic dishes such as fish and chips in an original way.

Standout dishes include a delightful beetroot meringue with horse radish and eel cream, and a beautifully plump Irish oyster that is lightly poached and served with Jerusalem artichoke custard, pickled artichoke, tapioca pearls and a scoop of caviar.

My favourite is an amazing vegetable course called English garden. It comprises 12 cooked vegetables such as romanesco and baby purple carrot; six raw vegetables such as black radish and Japanese kabu; nine herbs such as citrus mint and Okinawa spinach; five flowers such as pansy and purple daisy; and five condiments such as Amalfi lemon dressing and black olive sugar. That's a total of 37 ingredients.

It not only looks like a colourful garden, but every bite also releases a fresh bouquet of flavours.

WHERE: Jaan, Level 70 Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road MRT: City Hall OPEN: Mondays to Saturdays, noon to 2.30pm, 7 to 10.30pm (closed on Sundays and public holidays) PRICE: Lunch from $98 (four courses), dinner is $268 for eight courses TEL: 6837-3322


LE BINCHOTAN'S NATIONAL DAY SPECIALS

Chef-owner Jeremmy Chiam of Le Binchotan is celebrating National Day by creating his version of two local dishes - satay and fried Hokkien mee - using his signature combination of French cooking and Japanese charcoal grilling.

Both are available until the end of the month and only for supper, after the restaurant finishes its dinner service.

The Iberico Pork Collar Satay ($17) has skewers of meat marinated in the chef's concoction of spices and grilled over binchotan (Japanese charcoal) while being basted with French butter. It is accompanied by kicap manis (sweet soya sauce) blended with shishito, banana shallots and togarashi (Japanese chilli pepper). The sauce makes the pork a little too salty for my taste, so I eat the satay on its own instead.

 

Hokkien Mee With Binchotan-Grilled Tiger Prawns ($18) is cooked with the noodles simmered in a French seafood bisque. The prawns are grilled over charcoal and placed on top of the noodles. It is a different take, but I prefer the traditional way of cooking the dish where everything is fried together. Here, the prawns seem disconnected from the noodles, but you may like the idea of having two dishes in one. In any case, the housemade sambal belacan that comes with the noodles is satisfyingly spicy.

The restaurant has also created a new drink to go with the food. The Bubur Cha Cha Cocktail ($16) comprises taro-infused vodka, coconut and pandan syrup and tapioca jelly. It tastes like the local dessert and is so delicious that you easily forget how much alcohol is in it.

WHERE: Le Binchotan, 01-04, 115 Amoy Street MRT: Telok Ayer WHEN: Till Aug 31, after 9.30pm for food, from 6pm for cocktails; restaurant is closed on Sundays TEL: 6224-1045


PRIME'S NEW ZI CHAR STALL

The Tan family behind the Prime supermarket chain and Mahota gourmet outlets has branched into zi char stalls, with the first outlet opening in Toa Payoh Lorong 7.

Called 1913 - the year the family's late patriarch came to Singapore from Shantou in China - the menu of this coffee-shop stall features a mix of local, Malaysian and Henghwa dishes that makes it stand out from the competition.

The reason for the eclectic dishes is that there are two chefs behind the menu, each with his specialities. I can't say I like everything, but there are a number of dishes worth checking out.

The one not to miss is the signature seafood broth pot called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($38 for small, $68 for big). It boasts a robust stock thick with collagen. In it are prawns, fish slices, chicken, lala clam, squid and vegetables. A small pot is enough for four. Order some rice and one or two stir-fried dishes and you have a very satisfying meal.

The handmade prawn roll (from $8) is pretty good. Or get the fried pork slice with fermented tofu (from $12), a popular Malaysian dish.

Henghwa dishes to order include Putien-style fried taro (from $10), where the taro cubes are coated with caramelised sugar. And for carbs, check out the fish roe fried rice (from $6), which has a mix of fried and puffed rice topped with tobiko. The different textures are so delightful. I found the rice underseasoned, but that is nothing a pinch of salt can't solve.

WHERE: 1913, 01-232, Block 18 Toa Payoh Lorong 7 MRT: Toa Payoh OPEN: 1 to 10pm daily TEL: 6253-5778

Book a meal at Le Binchotan with Chope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe