Are your dining plans in a rut? Then check out these restaurants that have recently revamped their offerings so you can sink your teeth into new and innovative offerings. Dishes to be found on the new artistic menus will surely serve as fodder for you and your social media feeds, with flamboyant presentations and pretty platings aplenty.
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1. Powder, Puree And Plating at Zafferano by Chef Emanuele Faggi
The 43rd-storey Italian restaurant-in-the-sky has got a new hire and plenty of new dishes to try. Tuscan chef Emanuele Faggi started out his culinary career as an intern for Gualtiero Marchesi, the first Italian cook to garner three Michelin stars. A tribute to his first mentor and the famed father of modern Italian cuisine, chef Faggi introduces a new dish at Zafferano that isn’t shy of shining too brightly. As if saffron — which, by the way, is the restaurant’s Italian namesake — isn’t gold-standard enough, the ‘super fino Carnaroli Acquerello’ saffron-tinged risotto comes topped with 24k gold leaf. The creamy dish, thanks to the bone marrow mixture, is said to be a guarded recipe of Marchesi and is shared only to those who have had the privilege to work under him.
But surprisingly, the risotto’s sunny plate is overshadowed by other beautifully presented seafood offerings. There’s the raw Hokkaido scallops, sprinkled with dried capers powder, topped with Avruga caviar, and served with sautéed monk caper plus saffron sauce that comes piped into little sunshines. From the teeny Sicilian town of Mazara, raw red prawns find their way neatly lined up on a plate, between juicy tomato confit and cocktail sauce espuma. Streaks of warm ricotta and basil oil complete the flavourful dish.
For mains, try the gnudo — known as the “naked ravioli”. It is a typical Tuscan treat made only out of ricotta and spinach, where the filling — in this case, some baby squids — are served in the form of gnocchi but without the pasta wrap. It’s cheesy, chewy and a classic. If you want a break from seafood, try the sous-vide and pan-fried Queensland farm rack of lamb, which sits on a bed of roasted eggplant puree. There’s also sauteed bok-choy for some crunch and coffee powder. Yes, coffee powder. It’s all part of chef Faggi’s commitment to minimising food wastage, so any food discards such as the skin of onions, tomato and carrot, and used coffee beans are made into powder for garnish or simply beautifying a plate.
2. Secret Suite at Stellar at 1-Altitude by Chef Christopher Millar
Another high-perched, high-stake new menu on the table to try is the Dom Perignon Plenitude Suite at Stellar at 1-Altitude. But hush-hush, it’s actually a secret.
The by-invitation-only dinner set within the restaurant’s private dining space is truly a feast for the senses. Inspired by Plenitude, Dom Perignon cellar master Richard Geoffroy’s three-phase champagne release, the seasonal menu is chef Christopher Millar’s doing. And just like the different stages of a wine’s development on the lees, each dish is served with a series of video vignettes and projections of the different seasons. And these aren’t just run-of-the-mill, on-the-wall projections. Sit tight, because it’s going to be a multi-sensorial ride as you dig in.
Depending on when you dine, you’d get dishes like Chorizo-crumble-dusted Hokkaido uni custard with a most terrific stick of Iberico cracker, balanced on the bowl, bending a bit from the mass of some sumptuous Sturia vintage caviar that sits on one side. Other highlights from the customisable night of lights, action and play is the amuse bouche where guests are given a magic green capsule (made of cocoa butter) to throw on their plates, breaking and revealing oozes of black olive sauce to go with some puff bread. There’s also the roasted Comté cheese espuma, which semi-sharp flavours pair well with the Dom Perignon Plenitude Deuxieme P2 2000, a full-bodied champagne with layers of fruit purity.
In true chef Millar MO, diners will also delve deeper into the storied sources of the produce he uses — from the producers themselves. There’s the cheese made by Hervé Mons, third-generation head of his family’s eponymous cheese dairy with a railway-tunnel-turned-maturing-cellar in nearby Ambièrle, France; and the Sturia caviar from Laurent Dulau’s sustainably French-farmed sturgeons in a river near Bordeaux.
Pastry Chef Jasmin Chew also joins in on the action to create before your eyes her customary dessert art, redolent of early spring — with frost and all. But just when you think the sweet edible delights are the dinner’s finale, the whole team at Stellar has something else up their sleeves. Be warned: You may be blindfolded.
3. Homage To Singapore at Labyrinth by Chef Han Li Guang
This is Labyrinth 3.0 — chef Han Lin Guang’s departure from mere fun and games. We’ve essentially watched Han grow as a chef. When he first launched his own cooking-lab called Labyrinth in 2014, finally saying sayonara to being a banker, he took the scene by storm, presenting bold and a shade gimmicky creations such as chilli crab ice cream and strips of squid passing off as bak chor mee. Notwithstanding, it was good quality stuff and diners lapped it all up, earning the Singaporean his first Michelin star last year.
While still truly mod-Sin in style, chef Han has wittingly brought his avant-garde interpretations to a more sophisticated stratum this time around. He’s injected a proper dose of tradition, spotlighting local produce along the way. Labyrinth’s new culinary direction is inspired by hawker food and the pockets of farming communities still found in Singapore. Chef Han goes further by incorporating old recipes, especially from his late grandmother’s cookbook.
The “Ang Moh” Chicken Rice is a clear example of his homage to both homeland and granny. Why ang moh? Apparently, chef Han’s Hainanese grandma used to work for a British family during colonial days and while the Caucasians shun the typical Singapore-style rice, they loved her iteration which comes with a button mushroom sauce. Han elevates his childhood dish by sticking diced chicken (sourced from Toh Thye San) into a flavourful dumpling adorned with threads of chilli. But that’s not all: Hidden underneath is Grandma’s chilli sauce and of course, there’s a side of mushroom roux.
The produce-propelled offerings continue with the Labyrinth Rojak, where unpasteurised stingless bee honey from Batam is all that is used to provide that unique zest one would expect when eating local rojak. Along with the wide mixture of herby greens —white pea flower, Indian borage and more — is a surprise cempedak-jackfruit sorbet that makes this truly rojak of a dish unusual yet familiar.
But perhaps the most decadent “new expression of Singapore cuisine” that chef Han wants to vigorously push is saved for last: A local breakfast staple turned on its head and presented as a cool dessert instead. Toasted goodness from Sing Hon Loong Bakery in Balestier holds together a first-rate kaya ice cream further enriched by a scoop of savoury pearls — yes, that’s caviar in exchange for salted butter for you. We wouldn’t want kaya toast any other way now.