The sommelier who put Singapore on the fine dining map
Claim to fame: The swanky and Burgundy-heavy 25,000 bottle-strong wine list
Reason to go: Luxe Japanese ingredients gleaned from the owner’s deep affection for the land of the rising sun
To look out for: The three distinct spaces; a 24-seat dining room, a bar counter for eight and private dining room
Sommelier and haute-dining veteran Ignatius Chan, has taken his eponymous restaurant –– and its bevy of notable head chefs –– through 15 years of thick and thin. In this time, the seasoned restaurateur and frequent flyer has honed a sharp palate for fine cuisines, a skill that comes in handy when shaping the menu at this modern European institution set in a minimally embellished black-bathed space.
Taking most of his cues from Japan, a country he visits religiously for gustatory pleasure, and Europe, a continent whose cuisine is the bedrock for his team of young chefs, Chan has charted a tasting menu that fuses top-end European gastronomic delicacies with seasonal Japanese specialties while sometimes weaving in finds from the local market place. Marking the advent of spring, fukinoto, the young shoot of giant butterbur, makes its fleeting appearance embedded in a ball of beer batter “croquette”, teasing your palate with herby notes of subtle bitterness. Raw uni, a mainstay on the menu, lounges on a silky bed of cauliflower puree with momotaro tomato jelly and yuzu zest adding a whiff of acidity that cuts through the sweetness and richness of the sea urchin. Mejina, the Japanese black rudder fish that consumes mostly shellfish in summer and seaweed in winter, is carefully confited to retain its moistness and subtle sweetness, then matched with Japanese vegetables and served in seaweed butter sauce with plankton foam for a delicate hint of umami. With a roster of seasonally-changing menus (Gastronomic, Pescatarian and Vegetarian), it’s hard to predict which pasta will make an appearance, if you can work your charm, request the umami-dense sakura ebi-flecked capellini in lobster oil and kombu.
Chan’s dessert surprises with a reprieve from the onslaught of pristine Japanese ingredients, soursop comes disguised as a refreshing mound of custard with lemongrass and saffron ice shavings, topped with a singular dianthus flower.