May 24, 2016

Singapore trip 2016 day 4: A heavy Rocket assault

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For someone who can't seem to get enough Peranakan food - and who insists on hitting Candlenut on each and every trip to Singapore - it seems strange that I've never managed to get to one of Willin Low's restaurants.  So I decided it was time to address this issue, and got my ass to Wild Rocket for lunch today.

I must admit that I was a little apprehensive when I looked at the menu online.  What Malcolm Lee does at Candlenut is to update Peranakan dishes by using premium, non-traditional ingredients... or employing modern techniques to cook them.  But I love his dishes because they stay true to Peranakan flavors - or at least I think they do.

Willin's menu at Wild Rocket, though, lists things like beef carpaccio, pesto linguine, beef short rib... which don't sound like the kind of flavors that I was looking for.  But I know that my friend Chubby Hubby is a big fan, so I went ahead and pre-ordered the omakase menu.  As it turns out, not many people are crazy enough to take the full omakase at lunch.

Pomelo salad with tiger prawns and frozen coconut dressing - once the scoop of coconut dressing ice cream has been mashed up, mixed with the ingredients, and started melting, the flavors were indeed very familiar.  The salad came with string beans, prawns, pomelo, deep-fried shallots, peanuts, mint, dried cranberries, and crunchy cubes of chayote.  Very nice, but the flavors of the dressing were a little heavy and punchy for a first course.

Pan-fried Hokkaido scallop with nasi lemak - the scallop was nicely done, and came with a generous helping of homemade sambal ikan bilis that was really tasty, but a little more fiery than I had expected.  The puddle of green was inspired by nasi lemak, and was Thai jasmine rice cooked in coconut and pandan until it turned to mush... then sprinkled with a few grains of puffed rice.  This was creamy, and milder in terms of flavors.

Char kway teow with cuttlefish noodles - I was asked to guess the ingredient for the kway teow, but given the proliferation of squid/cuttlefish noodles these days, it was pretty obvious...  I looove char kway teow (炒粿條), and the flavors here were full-on... with chunks of deep-fried pork lard to boot.  Very yummy, but again very heavy in terms of flavors.

Uni laksa risotto - this was very mushy and creamy... and the rice had just a little bit of bite in the center.  Geoduck was chopped up and mixed in to provide some texture, and garnished with sakura shrimp (桜海老).  Honestly, this was tasty but I found that the natural sweetness of the sea urchin had been completed overwhelmed by the laksa.

Salted egg crab cake - made with both Australian spanner crab and Vietnamese blue swimmer crab.

Willin jokingly said that this was "full of crab", and thanks to the amount of crab meat inside, this was really tasty.  The sauce at the bottom had a little surprising sweetness, kinda like white miso (味噌).

"Singapore noodles" spaghettini with king prawn - I looooooove this dish!  The spaghettini has been cooked in prawn stock and dressed in lobster oil, so it was packed with umami and pretty spicy at the same time... although a touch of kalamansi lime juice tempered the heat.  There was also a good amount of garlic here.

The prawn itself was slightly tough and chewy on the outside, but actually done mi-cuit in the center.

I would do a big plate of this anytime, any day.

Beef tongue with Thai green curry sauce - not bad, but coming after that spectacular last dish this was somewhat anticlimactic...

Pink guava sorbet - with white guava chunks inside.  The fragrance of the guava was obvious, as was the sprinkle of Taiwanese preserved orange peel.

Chendol - with pandan-infused panna cotta, dairy-free coconut ice cream, and salted gula melaka.  I love chendol, and I would have liked Willin's interpretation of it, too... if it weren't for the bits of digestive biscuits at the bottom.  Willin had added so much butter to this that it really changed the flavor balance of the whole dessert, and honestly became a little too much to handle at the end of such a big meal.

I was COMPLETELY stuffed.  Nine courses is a lot to take in at lunch, especially since the flavors of many of these dishes pack a pretty heavy punch.  I was pretty happy with my lunch, and there were quite a few clear winners.  I do think, though, that the omakase should probably be scaled down a little for lunch...

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