JAAN by Chef Kirk Westaway
JAAN is the the El Bulli of Singapore, recognised for handpicking and grooming global culinary stars, many of them carved out their careers here, and then left for greater things that they call their own. Now we have Chef Kirk Westaway, who worked alongside Julien Royer for years, now taking over the reins at JAAN. Well.. while you can still taste some of the Julien specials, you can be sure that Kirk is going to ease you into his brand of JAAN.
To say Kirk Westaway is a storyteller is an understatement. He spins fairytales. His attention to details, the subtlety and balance in his pretty dishes, the overall ebb and flow, ups and downs, and then that happily ever after that ended on the perfect note.. Needless to say, i was won over dish after dish during my 4 hour long 10 course dinner. Julien may be the punchy one, but you'll never get sick of Kirk and you'd want more of his dishes.
The first serving of Wagyu beef tartare, with a clever "Fish & Chips" (done a la French fine dining), a foie gras and truffle macaron (salty, creamy, sweet and chewy), and an olive cracker with olive purée and cheddar cheese (superbly crumbly). You know this Briton has a sense of humor with this French rendition of English food.
Then came the best onion brioche i've tasted. Those layers and that subtle onion flavor..
Loved the creamy, plump and firm texture of the Irish oyster, which was balanced with the slightly nutty Artichoke cream. And then you have those pops of the sea as the caviar bursts.
A surprise mod-Japanese dish was the Cured Japanese Saba (it spent 3h in a Japanese vinegar marinade) with harissa infused spicy organic cous cous, English horseradish, pickled heirloom radishes and char-grilled avocado. Clean flavors were served on this plate to allow diners to rest their taste buds for a bit.
Then it was back to more refreshing bites with the Tomato Collection. Kirk took the humble tomato and cheese dish and elevated it to typical JAAN standard. The many flavors are coaxed from the vine-ripened heirloom tomato- first cooked sous vide in a tomato consommé to intensify its flavours, then stuffed with a mixture of cubed Oxheart tomatoes, gherkins, capers and oregano. It was then restored to its original shape by the process of dehydrating and rehydrating the fruit. The supporting basil sorbet, green basil and mimolette cheese pesto, Japanese tomato berries, olive soil, burrata brought out the intense sweetness of the tomato, by providing a refreshing song in the background. This is the most sophisticated and complicated tomato I've eaten.
Another gorgeous plate was the Farmer’s Harvest with Hand Dived Scottish Scallop, a dish that changes with the season. A combination of sous vide and roasted, blanched, baked, pickled, pureed, grilled root and leafy seasonal vegetables provided the different textures and that Carrasco ham added a nutty salty balance for that meaty flavor. There is just so many evolving layers on 1 plate! Of course the perfectly seared scallops contribute to the meatiness of this dish.
A short break later and bam. Kirk hits home with comfort and stability with the Line Caught John Dory served with crayfish tail, fava beans, broad beans, clams and pea puree. The dish is finished with a pea velouté poured tableside. I felt stuffed but i couldn't help but finish every bit of this perfectly browned fish. This is almost an Asian dish i feel.
The Roasted Venison Saddle was the most heavy handed dish of the lot but the meal peaks here. A New Zealand venison is served medium rare, with celeriac ribbons that have been blanched in wholegrain mustard emulsion, pear glazed in port sauce, pear chutney and celeriac puree. Ah such lovely Christmas flavors. I thought it was a tad salty for me though.
Palate cleanser of fennel sorbet with lime espuma and pomelo sacs that was so punchy. I'll never have another sorbet like that. With this, i was ready to go again.
Dessert song with a lilt. High again on the Ivory Caramel, an out of this world chocolate dessert made with 45% Michel Cluizel white chocolate, flourless chocolate sponge with tempered chocolate sheets are joined by French caramelised hazelnuts and sous vide Aero chocolate. For added lightness and bite, some caramel meringue is included along with a chocolate croquant made from cocoa powder and fondant icing. A sea salt caramelised white chocolate ice cream, that further enhances the taste of the dessert, is made from white chocolate prepared at 95°C for 3 hours till it becomes golden caramel. The finishing touch is a Peta Zeta sprinkle (pop rocks) and 72% dark chocolate espuma.
Then wham bam blood orange sorbet with French clementines in a ginger and orange soup. I will be a sorbet convert if all sorbets are all this good.
The meal ended perfectly with the petit fours. Here we have (right to left) the thin ginger snaps with pineapple, passionfruit marshmallow (so pillowy), that pride and joy of Kirk which is the Devonshire butter biscuit with jam and cream (it simply crumbles into powder)! And finally a semi sweet ending with a sublime caramel filled chocolate ball which was a amber liquid instead of a dense sticky chewy caramel.
JAAN under Chef Kirk Westaway is most certainly the best meal i had in 2015. I'm sure it would be the best you'd get in 2016. Other signatures from the menus include the Langoustine Canneloni, 55' Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg, Forest Pigeon, and the summertime classic of Peaches and Cream. It does feel like a repeated visit to JAAN in the day is necessary. Till then.
Level 70, Equinox Complex
Swissôtel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, Singapore 178882
Tel: +65 6837 3322 | firstname.lastname@example.org