Whitegrass

Singapore

“Two words – umami and texture”

30 Victoria Street, #01-26/27, 187996, Chijmes, Singapore, Singapore

+65 6837 0402

http://whitegrass.com.sg/

Aussie chef mixes umami wit and ethereal textural play with local ingredients

Claim to fame: The chef, Sam Aisbett, former commander in chief at Quay, Australia

Reason to go: Two words – umami and texture

To look out for: The chef’s take on local ingredients like black moss, century egg and locally foraged, edible flowers

Three and a half years after taking the helm of Sydney’s Quay Restaurant, Australian native Sam Aisbett moved lock, stock and barrel to Singapore, creating one of the city’s most interesting new restaurants – Whitegrass.

Drawing inspiration from his motherland, the heavily-tattooed chef-owner’s food is textural, modern Australian but uniquely so, it takes on local ingredients with bravado. Dried black moss, a delicacy typically eaten for prosperity during the Chinese New Year period, is painstakingly draped over a slab of Mangalica pork jowl and pan-fried until it yields a beautifully crisp texture, the parcel is juxtaposed against a quivering mound of silken tofu, a tangle of velvety scallop “noodles” and white turnip cream with a light aromatic pork broth to finish. What’s more mesmerizing is Aisbett’s curious obsession with umami, take for instance the umami broth that accompanies a shock of clarified butter-warmed geoduck and maitake mushroom shavings with fermented celeriac, steamed egg custard, samphire tips and locally foraged snake gourd flower; or the kombu (sea kelp) jelly and consommé that arrives in a moated pool surrounding a fortress of white eggplant, Thai green peppercorn and shitake mushroom topped with salt-baked Australian Jade Tiger abalone. With each course, Aisbett’s brand of clean-tasting refinement – underscored by umami and textural play – comes to the fore effortlessly, as does an avalanche of ingredients that mingle together surprisingly well.

Set in the Gothic-style Chijmes complex, the elegant Takenouchi Webb-designed restaurant features a “blue” main dining room, a “green” private dining room, a circular “pink” room and a spacious marble-topped kitchen. The French-dominant wine list is adequate, albeit not very exciting, with an emphasis on known labels; it will gradually skew towards Australian wines by mid next year. Service is top-notch; kudos to the staffers who know the menu like the back of their hands.

12forward by White Guidelists 12 eateries in each chosen city that represent the very forefront of gastronomy.