For my unannounced dinner, I choose the $188 menu, which is only $30 more for an extra four - albeit smaller - courses. But as the meal wears on and I start getting bored with the food, I wonder if I have made the right choice.
The meal starts with a series of snacks and amuse bouche - little morsels such as a cilantro meringue filled with smoked salmon that are packed with interesting flavours and which promise a good start to the meal.
Then the first course arrives and the faults appear. The starter, called Tomato, comprising vanilla oil- marinated Japanese momotaro tomato, coriander water, balsamic vinegar sorbet and cashew nut papadum, tastes refreshing until you inevitably take a larger scoop of the sorbet. You feel the sharp attack of acid on your throat and almost choke, which negates any positive feeling you have towards the dish earlier.
Thankfully, the next course of Avocado provides a balm. Layers of avocado and pickled bangkwang (jicama) are topped with a quinoa tuille and sprinkled with coconut shavings. The avocado is overpowered by the bangkwang, but it is not unpleasant.
The next two courses, Scallop and Lobster, however, both suffer from a mismatch of ingredients.
The scallop comes with raw sweet potato leaves and a herb coulis that both taste too green to complement the sweetness of the shellfish, while the lobster is matched with a bland rice cake and rice milk that do nothing to enhance its flavour.
Next comes Seabass, which is a smooth and sweet fillet that goes well with the coulis of shallot and tomato. But be careful not to mix in too much of the tamarind sauce. A little dab works well, providing the acidity needed to lift the dish, but too much and all you taste is tamarind. In the end, I leave more than half the sauce on the plate.
Beef, which comes next, is described as charcoal-grilled Kobe beef with eel mousse and fermented black garlic puree. The sirloin from a grass-fed cow is chewy, but the problem is that no matter how long you chew, you cannot detect any of the rich, buttery flavour you expect from Kobe beef. I would suggest that the restaurant changes its beef supplier because there is plenty of better quality meat on the market.
The next course is Pigeon and it turns out to be the best of the savoury dishes. The roasted breast fillet is cooked to perfection - not too rare but juicy and tender nonetheless. The leg is served separately, with the bone removed and stuffed with liver before being roasted.
The savoury courses end with Onion, comprising onion puree, shallot confit and comte cheese chips that make up a nice combination of flavours and textures. But I am rather full by this stage and cannot help but feel the dish would have been better appreciated if it had come earlier in the meal.
The sweet courses, however, bring much-needed life to the meal.
Pear, the pre-dessert, is my favourite, with a slice of the fruit served in a glass with pear marmalade, Williamine sorbet and parmesan crumb. The flavour from the variations of the fruit is light and refreshing, which is very welcome after the heavy meal. But it is the slightly salty parmesan that makes this stand out, providing moments of contrast to surprise and excite the palate.
The Chocolate which ends the meal is good too, with a Manjari chocolate sphere filled with coco praline crunch, passion fruit caramel and vanilla parfait. It may be a rather conventional combination of flavours, but the well-balanced sweetness and the variation in textures ensure it does not get boring.
If the earlier courses had been as well thought-out, the meal would certainly have been more enjoyable.
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- The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.