Of the many, many dishes we sampled in 2016, these are the ones that left an impression. Add them to your must-eat list.
reputation on his meats, chef Drew Nocente does a pretty mean fish dish too. The Norwegian mackerel is first cured in Applewood Gin (from Applewood Distillery in Adelaide Hills), then torched lightly for a deliciously smoky and tangy finish. It’s served with powdery nori ash, and pickled cucumber and radish – which add flavour, depth and texture respectively – as well as a dollop of horseradish for a subtle kick. Makes for a great appetiser, but just as impressive as a main. In 2017… “We’ll be looking to use all parts of sea produce – fish offal, undercuts, shells and bones. We will also make some of our own cheeses, and have plans for a seafood charcuterie board with items such as tuna prosciutto.” – Chef Drew
TOPPED WITH GOLDEN UNI, AN ONSEN EGG AND TRUFFLE CAVIAR, THIS WAGYU DON IS AN INSTAGRAMWORTHY TASTE EXPLOSION.
One of the most decadent Japanese rice bowls we’ve ever seen. Cubes of tender A4 wagyu beef and panseared foie gras are layered atop a bed of rice (fried garlic or white, it’s up to you) and topped off with generous servings of golden uni and truffle caviar, a wobbly onsen egg, and a dressing of yakiniku and truffle shoyu. A veritable taste explosion, and seriously Instagram-worthy. In 2017… “The menu will be leaner, to reflect the shift in focus towards betterquality seafood dishes. This will allow the chefs to concentrate on bringing out the best characteristics of a particular dish or ingredient, as well as its presentation and execution.” – Sushi Jin
DUH MEAT BOARD, $28, FAT LULU’S (WWW.FATLULUS.SG)
Head chef Sam Chablani is all about noburnnotaste (ie he likes cooking food over charcoal and fire), and his Duh Meat Board is testimonial to that cooking philosophy. The slab of wagyu skirt steak is grilled at low heat for slow caramelisation; the thinly sliced Iberico pork collar is marinated in sambal and salt, then burnt on the grill; the stalks of kailan are charred on a hot grill, then glazed with a soya dashi broth and finished with a sprinkle of garlic chips. Each component is intensely flavourful and a star in its own right. Together, they make one damn shiok dish. In 2017… “I’ll be looking to ‘burn’ more vegetables, seafood, fruits and starches, and develop ‘burnt’ sambal and sauces. Hopefully, this will encourage my team of chefs to be inspired to put their own spin on dishes.” – Chef Sam
BONE MARROW WITH ORTIZ ANCHOVY AND GARLIC ON SOURDOUGH, $10, MOOSEHEAD KITCHEN & BAR ( www.mooseheadproject.com)
To counter the richness of bone marrow, chef Seumas Smith chops up capers, baby gherkins, shallots, pickled lemon and parsley, and mixes them, along with anchovy puree and garlic, with Inka ovengrilled bone marrow. The slice of sourdough, too, is flash-grilled in the oven for a crisp finish. Take a big bite to get the flavour impact of everything coming together: the smoky richness of the gelatinous marrow, the citrusy crunch of the chopped herbs and vegetables, and the yielding bite of the sourdough. In 2017… “The Moosehead Supper Series, where we collaborate with local eateries to create something unique and fun, will be our focus.” – Chef Seumas
TWISTIES CHARRED CORN, $13, LOOF (WWW.LOOF.COM.SG)
Local chef Bjorn Shen – he of the “dude-sin food” modus operandi (read: local and unapologetically nonatas) – recently revamped Loof’s menu. Taking inspiration from a childhood dilemma of having to choose between cheese- and curry-flavoured Twisties, he slathers a savoury-spicy curry mayo sauce all over grilled corn cob (organic bicolour corn, which is extra sweet and juicy), and tops it off with shaved grana padano cheese, fresh lime juice and chives. There are no redeeming health qualities whatsoever, but it’s so delicious, we don’t care. In 2017… “I aim to incorporate a couple more ‘dude-sin’ dishes, such as modern satay skewers presented in an interesting manner to invoke nostalgia.” – Chef Bjorn
FRENCH DUCK LEG CONFIT, $30, TESS BAR & KITCHEN (www.tessbar.com)
An excellent duck leg confit should be the sinful combination of fall-off -the-bone meat and crackling skin – and head chef Martin Wong’s version is as good as they come. Besides the earthy, richly flavoured flesh and perfectly charred skin, it’s the accompanying side of chopped kale sauteed simply with salt, pepper and garlic – instead of the traditional potatoes or lentils – that elevates this dish and pushes it into “must-have” territory. The kale, which belongs to the kailan family, adds a delicious crunch and a mild bitterness to off set the heavy meaty flavours, and is a lovely Asian twist to the French classic. In 2017… “I’d like to use local ingredients such as Chinese sausage, laksa leaves and curry leaves to create more interesting dishes. We use traditional French cooking techniques at Tess, and what I hope to achieve is a 70-30 proportion in terms of Western and Asian influences in the food, to help it achieve a balance between modernity and our local roots.” – Chef Martin
JIANG-NAN CHUN’S SIGNATURE PEKING DUCK HAS A LOVELY SMOKY AROMA, DELICATE AND GLISTENING SKIN THAT SNAPS NEATLY, AND MEAT THAT’S INCREDIBLY JUICY AND FLAVOURSOME.
Thanks to a roast in a mesquite-wood-fired oven, Jiang-nan Chun’s signature Peking duck has a lovely smoky aroma and a glistening exterior. Have it sliced Beijing-style (with more meat attached to the skin) or Hong Kong-style (thinner skin), and wrap it with the regular plain-flour crepe or the green version made with spring onions. There’s even the option to have it with sevruga caviar. Whatever you choose, there’s no mistaking the duck’s quality: the meat is incredibly juicy and deeply flavoursome, with delicate, crisp skin. A must-order. In 2017… “We’ll continue focusing on authentic Cantonese cuisine that speaks to the heart, and offer an even greater selection of Old and New World wines from boutique wineries.” – Jiang-nan Chun’s executive Chinese chef Alan Chan
Sometimes, the key to a spectacular dish is to let top-notch ingredients speak for themselves. Ruby-red baubles of vine-ripened tomatoes (sourced from Italy and France) are dressed simply in extra virgin olive oil and a touch of salt, and paired with house-made bufala mozzarella and toast. The intense sweetness and firmness of the tomatoes juxtaposed against the creaminess of the mildtasting mozzarella sets the stage for a truly memorable dish. In 2017… “We’ll present a new dinner series with a special tasting menu that highlights a different region of Italy each month. Guests will get to enjoy dishes using seasonal produce and complemented with wines unique to the region.” – Osteria Mozza’s executive chef Peter Birks