May 18, 2015

Annual Singapore trip day 3: JAAN sans André

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Our time at the conference over, it was now time to eat.  I have a wonderful boss who knows of my passion for food and wine, and he very kindly asked me to book dinner "somewhere nice" tonight.  With that kind of go-ahead, I wasted no time in firing off an email to JAAN.

Like Restaurant André, JAAN has been an itch I've wanted to scratch - only longer, starting from the time when André Chiang arrived at the restaurant.  Lately there have been plenty of good feedback on Julien Royer's cuisine, and the restaurant was recently elevated to No. 11 on the list of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.  So yeah, I really wanted to come see for myself what all the hubbub's about.

We arrived early, and were led to a table by the window with views of Marina Bay Sands and the financial district - even though my email confirmation had indicated that we would not get a table with a view.  This was a nice surprise, and I think the boss enjoyed the view.

There was a choice of 5-, 7-, or 10-course tasting menus.  I figured the boss wouldn't want to sit through 10 courses, and 5 courses did seem a tad meager, so I pre-selected the 7-course menu.  At some point the boss would wonder if he'd leave the restaurant hungry, but thankfully that would not be the case.

Lentil hummus, cereals tuiles - wafer-thin tuiles, with grains such as sunflower seeds, sesame, and cumin.  Leaves a very lovely fragrance in the mouth.

Black sesame sponge, smoked eel - nice flavors, with some salmon caviar and dill on top.

Cantal and walnut crackers

Pig trotter samosa, grain mustard - yum! Pig trotter... Mmmm...

Mushroom tea, cep sabayon - the mushroom tea in a French press was poured on top of the acidic sabayon.  Loved the hearty mushroom flavors.

Nice anchovy toast on the side.
Hokkaido uni: obsiblue prawn, cauliflower, 'Oscietra' caviar - gee... this looks familiar... We've got a layer of obsiblue prawn gelée at the bottom.  Now, why anyone would take a precious ingredient like obsiblue and make it into a jelly is completely beyond me.  Anyway, there's a familiar layer of cauliflower foam on top, with sea urchin tongues and Oscietra caviar on top.  We've also got diced apple and daikon (大根) radish.  Nice, but I prefer what I get from Amber.

By the way, I was a little annoyed with the service.  This course was served to us before I had even finished the tea/sabayon, a sign that there was no coordination between the front-of-house and kitchen.

Beetroot collection: 'burrata artigiana', honeycomb - I'm not a fan of beetroot, but this dish was well-executed.  You've got a thin slice of radish from Hokkaido, and some olive oil caviar.  The little dollops of burrata come with honeycomb on top.  Then there were the red, white, and yellow beetroot, plus some pomegranate seeds and beetroot meringue.  Finally, you've got the quenelle of beetroot sorbet.  Very nice balance between the richness of the burrata and the acidity of pomegranate.  Refreshing, too!

55' rosemary smoked organic egg: ratte potato, chorizo iberico, buckwheat - the eggs were cooked at 63-64°C for 55 minutes, then smoked with rosemary.  These arrived in their shells, with dry ice adding to the drama of the presentation.

Then the organic egg with orange yolk is transferred into our little glass bowl, filled with espouma of ratte potatoes, chorizo iberico, and toasted buckwheat.  Very nice.

'Saint Vincent' asparagus: morels, pancetta, wild garlic, Vin Jaune sabayon - it's asparagus season, and this was pretty delish.  The dish was accompanied by nice morels, fava beans, thin strips of crispy pancetta, and some wonderful slices of lardo.  The acidity in the sabayon was a little surprising.  Beautiful dish.

Crispy skin amadai: kabocha, Thai veloute, obsiblue prawn - ah yes, the amadai with the crispy scales on top.  The boss was wondering why the chef hadn't bothered to remove the scales.  The amadai itself was nice, and came with Japanese pumpkin, some cooked obsiblue prawn, Swiss char, an interesting Thai velouté, and chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves.  Very Southeast Asian in flavor.

Hay-roasted pigeon: white corn, foie gras, cabbages, cumin - before I even started digging into my amadai, the waitstaff brought this over to show us.  I was a little annoyed at first, because I thought they were already serving the next course before the diners had even touched the previous dish.

When the pigeon finally came out again, I found the presentation beautiful.  The breast was more than just a little pink, but I was fine with this. Came with a small chunk of poached foie gras.  The "white corn risotto" at the bottom was basically corn kernels, mushrooms, and little chunks of liver.  The corn blini on the side was really delish, as was the potato tuile on top.

The confit pigeon leg was very, very nice... and of course, it was giving out the middle finger...

The pre-dessert was a panna cotta with coconut meringue and coconut foam on top.  The sorbet underneath delivered tropical flavors, with diced mango, papaya, and passion fruit seeds.  Nice.

Choconuts 'grand cru': tastes and textures - I don't know exactly what all the grand crus and origins were in the dessert, but needless to say this ranged from the semi-sweet to bitter, and a combination of textures.  There was even some hazelnut in the mix.  Pretty good.

The final act with mignardises arrived with more dry ice...

Mushroom macarons

Banana and passion fruit marshmallows

Canelés - pretty good, as the shell was crunchy and almost a little too hard.

Rosemary smoked lollipops - it's not one of my favorite herbs, but I can appreciate the effort and creativity that went into this.

The boss doesn't drink much - at least not on a school night in front of me - so we just took a glass each.  As we're in Singapore and it's pretty warm, I figured a cold, refreshing glass with tropical notes would be perfect...

2012 Paco and Lola Albariño Rías Baixas - very floral, with tropical fruits, a hint of flinty notes.  Nice acidity here but not too sharp.  A refreshing glass.

Contrary to the boss' worries, he did leave the restaurant with a full stomach.  The cuisine was very well-executed, and generally very tasty.  Certainly one of the best restaurants in Singapore that I have visited.  Interesting that the snacks at the beginning remind me of André Chiang, years after he left the restaurant, since I would probably rank this place just a notch below Restaurant André...

I really do need to get around a little more...

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