These new menus featuring vegan offerings, natural produce and sustainable whole foods are not only good for you, but are wonderfully satisfying.
TEXT AMY VAN & DAVELLE LEE
01, 04 NATURE’S BEST
Tuck into this salad composed of couscous, grapefruit, heirloom tomato, pomegranate, lettuce and creamy avocado dressing; Complete your meal with chia seed and caramelised hazelnut pudding.
Located on the fifth level of OUE Downtown Gallery, Kilter Avenue is a fitness lifestyle space that boasts a studio gym and HRVST, a restaurant (it focuses on vegan fare) plus a bar. HRVST is helmed by head chefs Addis Tan and Dylan Choong, who have worked at Tippling Club, Esquina, and Cheek by Jowl prior to this.
The menu includes unique creations, some spiked with piquant Asian flavours. For instance, the starter of soya satay is seasoned with traditional spices and perfumed with lemongrass. The skewers are served with a mild peanut sauce, sweetened with gula melaka, as well as addictive veggie chips of lotus, zucchini and carrots. Another wholesome item is the beautifully plated “scallops” of king oyster mushroom, which share plate space with baby carrot and baby corn, alongside a bright spinach puree, garlic snow, and a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts and lemon zest.
A crowd-pleaser with a clever combination of flavours and textures is the sourdough (from Bread Yard); it’s slathered with smooth, creamy house-made nut butter spread made with almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. The bread is topped with a slab of orange-glazed grilled tofu (marinated overnight in orange juice before grilling, for a citrusy touch). Broccoli and cauliflower florets blanched in kelp stock add a welcome crunch, and the brightness from the pickled yellow zucchini ribbons balances the dish perfectly.
The chefs turn up the heat with the pumpkin gnocchi served with tom yam broth. Instead of seafood, corn is used to make the tom yam broth, and it’s thickened with coconut cream. The dish packs a punch, with just the right amount of heat and a hint of sweetness. And it is further heightened with coriander oil, shimeji, baby corn and Japanese cucumber ribbons.
Fruit-based desserts are thrown in for good measure. For instance, matcha ice cream is brightened with blood orange puree and poached plums. The rich ice cream is made of hand-churned coconut cream, subtly fused with matcha. After your meal, linger over a glass or two of New Zealand wine or a boutique gin at the bar on the open-air patio, next to the edible garden. HRVST is open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday, and brunch on Saturday. Tel: 6920-7500. www.kilteravenue.com/hrvst
Taking over the former Glow at Level 2 of Hilton Singapore is Verde Kitchen. This modern and cosy spot is great for those who want to enjoy a quick nutritious lunch featuring natural, sustainable whole foods. Verde Kitchen’s dishes are made from scratch every day. All chicken and eggs are certified organic, free-range and lacto-free, and 60 per cent of the seafood served is sustainably sourced. Some of the fresh greens such as lettuce and nai bai come from the hotel’s vertical herb and vegetable garden, which produces up to 120kg per month for the hotel’s restaurants.
The generously portioned meals will fill you up, including the colourful salads. For a refreshing option, go for the salmon sashimi with pomelo, capsicum and red cabbage, dressed with yuzu soy. The salad of chickpea, bulgur and candied walnut is slightly more hefty, with its tiles of mildly salty grilled halloumi.
For mains, spice up your palate with the boldly flavoured Malaystyle chicken curry with turmeric and coconut, accompanied by spicy organic okra and brown rice. The chicken farmed in Malaysia is bred without any antibiotics and growth hormones. To round off , sneak in a slice of flourless chocolate cake made with brown sugar and dark chocolate. Tel: 6730-3397. Mok Kit Keung is a chef that executives call up to restore a restaurant’s Michelin-star rating. The 54-year-old returned to Hong Kong in 2011, after a 20-year stint in Singapore, intending to impart his considerable experience to a new generation of chefs.
Instead, the man who had clinched numerous awards from the Restaurant Association of Singapore, and cooked for Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and Russian President Vladimir Putin, was asked by the former general manager of Kowloon Shangri-la to help Shang Palace, the hotel’s flagship Cantonese restaurant, to regain the star it lost a year before.
The former Marina Bay Sands’ chef de cuisine pulled it off, a few months into his role as Shang Palace’s executive chef in 2011; it has maintained the two-star rating since. Now, he has been deployed to oversee Shangri-la Singapore’s Shang Palace, currently starless, with an eye to carry out the same feat. Says the Mandarin-speaking chef: “We’ve been getting two stars for seven years (at Shang Palace in Hong Kong). Let’s see if we can do the same here.”
His knack for creating refined, innovative dishes will serve him well. He has introduced to Shang Palace here wok-fried French quail and braised South African abalone with foie gras. Recently, he showcased bird’s nest savoury potential in the form of deep-fried rice balls with seafood and bird’s nest, and bamboo fungus stuffed with bird’s nest.
He says he feels no pressure, despite the expectation. “I’m used it. The most important thing is how guests feel – I want them to be happy when they dine at Shang Palace,” he says. By his own admission, he is not motivated so much by star chasing as he is by educating the next generation of chefs.
“When I retire, who will continue my culinary knowledge?” he explains. And that knowledge is both substantial and extensive. He worked his way up from being a dishwasher at his uncle’s restaurant at the age of 13 to head chef at three restaurants in his 20s. He declares: “There’s nothing I haven’t experienced.” He intends to take a more structured, hands-on approach to training new chefs. While he learnt by watching masters at work, without formal guidance, he pushes his cooks to execute a dish until they get it right. “Practice with the wok will help them to tell by instinct when the fire needs to be smaller or bigger,” he says.
Mok is continually learning too, when working alongside Western chefs. “I noticed their precise control of time and temperature with their dishes. I use salamander ovens now because they help with temperature control – something that can’t be achieved consistently with traditional Chinese ovens.” He has also turned to pan-frying ingredients such as bee hoon, lamb racks and scallops as the technique allows for more control. The items are later transferred to a wok for wok hei.
Says Mok of his learning process: “These are things we can apply to our own cuisine and bring it to its fullest potential. Before I retire, I want to share this knowledge with other Cantonese chefs.”
“GUESTS CAN TELL WHO HAS COOKED WHICH DISH FROM THE WOK HEI.”
02, 03 BOLD FLAVOURS
Hrvst’s sourdough bread topped with house-made nut spread, tofu, and veggies; “Scallops” of king oyster mushroom, baby corn and spinach puree
Pete’s Place at Grand Hyatt recently rolled out its first vegan buffet. Fill up your plates with delicious plant-based creations.
Pete’s Place is mostly known for its hearty Italian pastas and pizzas. Now, this Italian trattoria has just launched a vegan buffet lunch. The menu is refreshed daily, so diners can look forward to new plant-based dishes every day. The spread includes items like sauteed organic vegetables, eggplant in tomato sauce, orecchiette with pumpkin, and wood-fired pizza with toppings like tomato, mushroom and olives. Even the baked items and desserts are plant-based. These heart-warming Italian favourites are available from Mondays to Saturdays, 12pm to 2.30pm
This year, Grand Hyatt will also see the introduction of more plant-driven meals across all restaurants; this is in line with the hotel’s vision to be more sustainable. The initiatives include using organic herbs and ingredients from the hotel’s rooftop gardens, organic greens from local farmers, and sustainable seafood produce. It will also aim for 100 per cent conversion of food waste into pathogen-free organic fertilisers, and the in-house production of electricity. Tel: 6738-1234. http://singapore.grand.hyatt.com
Bringing the best out of Cantonese cuisine lies not just in technique. To Shang Palace’s chef Mok Kit Keung, it’s also about teaching new chefs.