The Edge Singapore
Singaporean head chefs Nicolas Tam of Willow and Marvas Ng of Path roll out new menus to meet the sophisticated palates of their customers
We love seeing local talent head up fine dining establishments in Singapore — especially these two young and dynamic chefs, both of whom are celebrating their restaurants’ one-year anniversaries. To commemorate this milestone, both chefs have launched new menus in time for Spring to showcase the season’s bounty. While being grounded in French cooking techniques, having access to Asian produce has allowed them to create dishes with more exciting flavours and aromas. Here’s what you can expect.
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A restaurant by the Ebb & Flow Group, Willow has firmly established itself as a coveted destination for epicurean connoisseurs over the past year. Helmed by former Zen sous chef Nicolas Tam (also from Esora and Joël Robuchon), Willow serves contemporary pan-Asian cuisine that honours the provenance and seasonality of Japanese produce. Tam’s cooking approach is simple, with minimal intervention to fully allow diners to savour each ingredient’s natural flavour.
My dinner tasting commenced with bite-sized tartlets in different colours to complement the fillings of diced-up sashimi and seasonal vegetables. For example, a purple one had beetroot and akami (bluefin tuna) served in a beetroot shell, while the bright orange variant had crunchy green asparagus and bafun uni.
Before the mains were served, I enjoyed the signature pain au lait bread flavoured with a trio of kombu, fresh and roasted nori. It’s served alongside a cheesy-buttery cream called katsuobushi sabayon, which makes the perfect spread for the warm fluffy bun.
One of my favourite dishes on the menu is the Sawara (Spanish mackerel) that’s been aged for six days and smoked to bring out its delicious flavours. It tastes heavenly, especially when mixed with the rhubarb sauce served on the side. Another unusual creation is Tam’s upscale spin on Newton Hawker’s BBQ stingray using binchotan-grilled Hotaru Ika (firefly squid). It’s served with a sambal-inspired caramelised onion chilli jam that offers just the right amount of fire on the tongue.
Tam created the Sakura Masu — a steamed cherry trout seasoned in a salt-preserved sakura flower sauce — to capture the season of cherry blossoms. It’s served with a light lily bulb purée and garnished with flowers of the season.
Although Tam’s cuisine leans toward seafood, he may introduce red meat like Miyazaki A5 beef or dryaged duck to heat the stomach. At the end of the omakase was a comforting rice dish, such as the Kinmedai (snapper), dry-aged for a week, roasted and served over koshihikari rice and roasted fish bone soup. Slow-boiled for hours with all the leftover fish bones, the broth, when mixed into the rice, gave it a lovely congee texture.
Overall, the dishes are inventive, beautifully presented and well-executed promptly. The team at Willow
did a great job of showcasing the natural flavours of each ingredient without overpowering sauces or too much seasoning. We’re looking forward to what else Tam has in store for us.
Willow serves lunch from $158++ on Fridays and Saturdays only; and dinners from Tuesdays to Saturdays from$228++. The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays.