Food and Travel (Singapore) - - New Bites -

White­grass sits in a beau­ti­ful space, within the walls of newly made over CHIJMES, elab­o­rate with com­mis­sioned works that ex­tend from a whim­si­cal wall art (by lo­cal artist MessyMsxi) to the tiny or­na­ments on the ta­ble where even the bowls used to hold but­ter and salt re­sem­ble wal­nuts. Said to rep­re­sent the om­nipres­ence of na­ture, where na­ture is free of ge­o­graph­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions, White­grass of­fers mod­ern Aus­tralian food with a dis­tinctly Asian touch of in­ter­na­tional in­gre­di­ents. Raw ac­cents of fresh fo­liage and flow­ers sur­face in all three din­ing rooms, through­out the restau­rant, like another dec­la­ra­tion of chef-owner Sam Ais­bett’s fer­vent love for na­ture. Hav­ing worked un­der Tet­suya Wakuda at Tet­suya’s and Peter Gil­more at Quay, chef Ais­bett has a pro­found grasp of in­gre­di­ents and cre­ates with them beau­ti­ful com­bi­na­tions of flavours. His move to cul­tur­ally-di­verse Sin­ga­pore has given him a free­dom to ex­per­i­ment, bring­ing in in­gre­di­ents, na­tive to Aus­tralia, that are rarely seen here, and avail­ing him­self to the ex­pan­sive va­ri­ety of Asian pro­duce. We see this in his show­case of the tiny tart Aus­tralian emu ap­ple (or muntries) in his dish of lightly mar­i­nated Hokkaido scal­lops, laced with rib­bons

Xof pick­led melon, served with caviar, fen­nel jam, pis­ta­chio sil­vers and a dol­lop of fresh cul­tured cream. As well as, the course of young co­conut mousse with jack­fruit ice cream and gin­ger cake – a re­fresh­ingly light dessert made with trop­i­cal fruits and Asian spices.

White­grass of­fers five- or eight-course tast­ing menus at din­ner, for S$170 and S$265 re­spec­tively, where ev­ery el­e­ment of a dish is made in-house. With an un­de­ni­able heavy in­flu­ence of Ja­panese cook­ing and a new fas­ci­na­tion with lo­cal pro­duce, chef Ais­bett’s dishes seem to al­ways present it­self in mul­ti­ple lay­ers. The but­ter poached quail breast is lit­er­ally buried un­der crisp sheets of roasted milk, and em­bez­zled with toasted pine nuts and sun­flower seeds, the gooey whites of the cen­tury egg, caramelised pun­gent black and white gar­lic, and en­dive heart. All of which com­bine to form tex­tures and flavours that your taste buds will thank you for. Ja­panese in­flu­ences in chef Ais­bett’s cook­ing man­i­fests in his dish of slow-cooked Man­gal­ica pork – a creamy umami-packed bowl of pork jowl (that has been brined in a salted chicken broth) and diced Jade Tiger abalone, with sil­vers of fer­mented cab­bage, spongy hasu-imo, and spi­rals of fid­dle­head fern swim­ming in a pork and sea­weed broth.

Your meal isn’t quite com­plete with­out a glass of wine or two. Restau­rant man­ager and head som­me­lier Cé­line Chatte, who pre­vi­ously worked with Ais­bett at Quay, will rec­om­mend from a list span­ning from Aus­tralian va­ri­etals to French clas­sics. #01-26/27, CHIJMES, 30 Victoria Street. Tel: 65/6837-0402 www.white­grass.com.sg

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