Chef Kirk Westaway’s rooftop restaurant in Singapore’s CBD showcases the finest ingredients England has to offer
Singapore may be burdened with just two seasons — rainy and dry — in a year, but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy seasonal cuisines like Japan and the rest of the world. Take for example Jaan, the Michelin star restaurant that’s also consistently on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The 40-seater establishment, helmed by British chef Kirk Westaway, offers seasonal menus that showcase the best of English produce. Sure, there may not be such a term for British cuisine (or Australian cuisine for that matter), but each meal is satisfying nevertheless.
And there’s always a silver lining with food tastings. I missed out on the opportunity to savour Jaan’s spring menu, and I was also too early for its summer menu. No matter, for chef Westaway deftly put together a best of spring and summer menu just for the day. I’m told that I’ve missed his classic Pertuis Asparagus by a day. “We’ve ran out of it,” he says. “But then you’re the first to try my Line Caught Turbot.”
Well, you win some and lose some (in my case, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything). Here are my favourites from his menus.
Amuse bouche (Spring menu)
Everyone’s been raving about it, and I’m no different. Of the five presented that day, my favourite was the Devonshire Cheddar Cheese & Buckwheat pancake. Pull the pancake ball apart and you’ll be met with stringy cheese like what you’d see in advertisements. It was warm, fluffy and dense all the same, the sharp cheddar providing just the right amount of saltiness. Dear chef Westaway, can I get a bucket of these for movie night, please?
Charlotte Potato and Truffle Bouillon also set the bar for the afternoon. It sounds rich and heavy, though the dish is everything but that. The potato espuma was heavenly, its light frothiness paving the way for a clear truffle broth. Imagine sipping on this on a cold winter’s night.
Both the Cod Mousse Game Chip and Tapioca Chips with Cumin Hummus were fairly pleasing too. Both involve dollops of mousse piped on a crisp chip. They were on the salty side, and perhaps a less enthusiastic piper (I’m referring to the staff) would have been better.
On the other hand, I didn’t quite enjoy the Foie Gras and Truffle Macaron. Perhaps it’s my lack of a sweet tooth, but the macaron was so overtly sweet that I could barely taste any foie gras, nor truffle.
Violin Courgette (Summer menu)
It’s the first time I’m trying the courgette — a summer squash available from June to September — and I’ve no idea what to expect. It looks like an elongated avocado, bright yellow all around, with a pale green outline in its flesh. Sourced from Italy, the courgette is tender and easy to cut through, with just the right amount of crunch. Chef Westaway has also cleverly made a courgette risotto, a much less cloying alternative to the heavy Italian dish. I also made it a point to save the Scottish langoustine for last.
Eggs in an Egg (Signature)
Theatrical? Maybe. Worth ordering? Definitely. The dish is literally what it’s called. What you’re presented with is an ostrich-sized egg, that when opened, releases an intoxicating waft of smoked rosemary. Inside, you’ll find a cured organic egg yolk nesting in a throne of pickled mushrooms and onions, with a cauliflower puree beneath. Sitting on top of the yolk is a dollop of caviar. Where do I start? I savour the puree, which tastes like an egg white custard, and then move on to the mushrooms. Then, I stab the yolk, and carefully scoop out a spoonful, ensuring that each ingredient has a spot on my spoon. The result? Pure bliss.
Line Caught Turbot (Summer menu)
I’m told ingredients are flown in three times a week, and that it takes approximately 20 hours for the fish to be sent from the dock of southern England to the restaurant. The flat fish is firm, flaky and naturally sweet. Accompanying it is a green pea soup, and crunchy sugar snaps. A simple dish that has been well executed and fantastically served.
Fun fact: for the fish to be classified as a turbot, it has to weigh at least 2kg. Anything below that, and it’s called a turbotin.
Mara De Bois Strawberry (Summer menu)
Here we have the English version of Japanese summer on a plate. It’s my first time eating shiroi ichigo (Japanese for white strawberry, or as I call it, an upside-down strawberry), and it adds the right amount of tartness to counter the creamy mascarpone. It’s a great treat to end the meal, and I walk out feeling satisfied, and glad, considering I don’t have to worry about the dreaded food coma after.