Meta- Contemporary Asian Restaurant
I had a hard time trying getting my head around the Contemporary Asian label on Meta, a new stylish restaurant that has opened along the vibrant Keong Saik Road. The background of Chef Sun Kim gave an inkling to the cuisine direction- this good looker hails from a family of South Korean restaurateurs and is also the alumnus of Tetsuya Sydney and Waku Ghin Singapore. I reckoned it would be Asian inspired dishes and flavors with modern techniques and presentation but all that mattered when we embarked on the dinner was 'what's next'.
|Credits: Shaun Tan|
The approach of Meta(morphosis) is to change and evolve, according to the seasons, trends, and most probably the chef's mood. ;)
At present, the restaurant offers a choice of three set dinner menus, namely five ($88) and eight-course ($128) Tasting Menus and a five-course Vegetarian Menu ($80). Here we have the eight-course Winter menu.
Amuse bouche of grilled asparagus with puffed quinoa and a sweet miso; rice cracker with garlic aioli and shaved squid. Interesting play on textures and flavors. That asparagus would certainly feature well on any tapas menu.
The current appetizer is the Oyster with Pomelo, a plump Irish oyster seasoned with tangy lemon and ginger dressing, and finished with a sprinkle of pomelo flesh for bursts of sweetness.
The Amaebi (Japanese sweet shrimp) dish was served with a dashi jelly, trout roe, slivers of pickled beetroot stems and carrot, as well as a smokey charred prawn head. The prawn head was the highlight of the dish though and everything else was what you'd expect of a sashimi dish. As much as the prawn head is super umami, i really do not recommend swallowing the whole thing unless you're ok with shards.
Another highlight was the Wagyu Tartare with Egg Jelly and Korean Pear Kimchi. One bite and you know you're having an elegant deconstructed bulgogi bimbimbap with a more refreshing pear kimchi (Sun's homemade kimchi dressing) instead of the regular acidic and tart pickled vegetables. The egg jelly helped to gel the elements together and a topping of puffed rice added crunch to it.
Scallops are undoubtedly one of my favorite shellfish and these plump Hokkaido ones were paired with a slightly sweeter Korean miso, squid ink cracker and topped with compressed and shaved bottarga for more flavors of the sea. Someone give me more of the cauliflower purée please! Though the separate ingredients were executed well, I felt that on the whole they didn't really come together as a dish and thus it was forgettable.
Our favorite dish was certainly the comforting John Dory/Sea Bass with Clams, Fregola and Basil which sees the pan-fried fillet of white fish (that crunchy skin side) presented atop a trio of clams in a clear clam broth (gosh that sweet brine) and finished with drops of basil oil.
Slow Cooked Tasmanian Grass-Fed Beef Short Rib with Parsnip was given the Asian touch with pickled oyster mushrooms, charred spring onions and parsnip puree. The beef is cooked sous vide for over 30 hours at 62°C to break down the tendons and as such, it was kind of gelatinous. I prefer my meat with more grain actually and that is still possible with this technique. Flavor wise, it was on point.
Vegetarians can look forward to Meta’s dedicated vegetarian menu which features a take on the popular street snack, the Korean Pancake with Seasonal Vegetables, and (purple) Potato Gnocchi with Sweet Corn and Parsnip.
For desserts, Pastry Chef Tammy Mah wowed us with her novel and innovative desserts. The classic cheese cake was given a twist with her Citrus Cheesecake with Blood Orange Bon Bon.
A golden citrus gel encases the citrus cheese mousse and 2 dark chocolate hemisphere that held a blood orange liquid center. The creaminess melted away to reveal the light bitter crunch, which cracked to contrast the intense and fragrant blood orange jam.
The White Chocolate Wasabi Cream with Sesame Sponge and Yoghurt sounded scarier than it tasted. You would hardly notice the wasabi if you didn't know it beforehand. It provided some tingliness after each mouth, which was enhanced by the crackly pops.
A fun 'petit four' was The Rock, a smoking espresso meringue made on the spot using nitrogen. Smokin hot.
A list of cocktail concoctions are available at Meta but I wouldn't say it's their strong suit (that or I really dislike overly sweet drinks).
Meta as a Contemporary Asian restaurant brings to the table hints of Japanese and Korean flavors on their modern plates. Certainly the next hit on the Singapore food scene.
9 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089117
Tel: +65 6513 0898
Mon - Sat: 5.30pm – 12.00am