WINNER, WINNER Crenn’s whole chicken dish also comes with a butterhead lettuce salad and jus.
Tucked away discreetly at the back of Gemmill Lane, “hidden” restaurant Maggie Joan’s is perhaps not so hidden any more. Four years of operations is a few lifetimes in Singapore’s notoriously fickle dining scene, and the restaurant is still going strong with new chef Zachary Elliott Crenn at the helm.
Crenn fits into the restaurant’s pattern of hiring boyish, eager chefs with impeccable pedigrees. The 30-year-old Australian has a baker for a dad, and last cooked as the head chef of the one Michelin-starred Portland Restaurant in London.
Fans of Maggie Joan’s unfussy, flavor-forward modern European cuisine – a precedent set by previous chef Seamus Smith – will be glad to know that the restaurant is continuing in that tradition. It’s not all the same though. Baking’s definitely in Crenn’s blood and he brings a predilection for pastry to many of his dishes.
CHEF AT WORK Crenn plating a dish of red snapper, local vegetables, black garlic jam, and dashi broth.
Snacks include feuille de brix “cigars” coated in candied pistachios and filled with a moreish pate made from the liver of local chooks; and financiers that get a savoury twist with butternut squash, macadamia puree and a flurry of mimolette cheese.
For the vegetarians – and really, non-vegetarians – there’s something from Crenn’s days at Portland: moreish smoked carrot tartare with house-pickled mustard seeds and miso, all enriched with a confit egg yolk.
His magnum opus is a whole Loyang chicken prepared in grand, classical French style. The legs are braised with aromatics, shredded and encased in a flaky, buttery pithivier.
Meanwhile, the chicken breast is done in a style reminiscent of French heavyweight Alain Senderens’ canard apicius – a Roman-inspired dish of duck caramelised with honey and spices. Crenn’s version sees the chicken’s breast brined, aged in hay and then roasted and glazed with honey; its superlatively crisp skin studded with aromatic flecks of floral red peppercorn, juniper and thyme. It’s a modern take on classical French extravagance, and if this any indication of the direction Maggie Joan’s is taking, we’re more than excited.
AGED FOR UMAMI
Tiong Bahru is better known as a home to hip cafes, where you can get your coffee with any milk alternative you fancy. But the quiet neighbourhood now counts Kyoten as one of its hidden gems for good sushi. Chef-founder Anson Lim (formerly of Chikuyotei at Intercontinental Singapore) is an expert at ageing fish, which he turns into Edomae-style sushi for an omakase meal. Try the aged slivers of shiro amadai (Japanee tilefish) on a pillow of Miyako sushi rice, dabbed lightly with soya to bring out the mellow sweetness of the white fish. Kyoten, 5 Yong Siak St. Tel: 6223 0213
THRILL FOR THE SENSES
Live jazz, tango dips and twirls. Dining at Madame Fan has always been about exquisite Cantonese cuisine. But Mi by Madame Fan takes things up a notch by adding theatrical entertainment to the mix. The quarterly dining series is where the likes of magicians and dancers take to the stage every weekend as guests tuck into a multi-course meal that includes signatures such as double-boiled four treasures soup with fish maw and sea cucumber. Madame Fan, The NCO Club, 32 Beach Rd. Tel: 6818 1921
FULL HOUSE D’Silva’s menu at Kin is expansive, with items ranging from market-fresh seafood to a selection of regional salads.
Damian D’Silva is a household name when it comes to heritage cuisine. The gentle-speaking chef has found a new home in Kin, located in the chic space of The Straits Clan. D’Silva’s cooking is as homely as it’s always been, but the flavors are as fine as the decor of the space. The pork satay, grilled over charcoal, is juicy and deliciously charred, while the oxtail stew features meat that is meltingly tender. Save room for the pillow-y kueh kosui topped with generous shavings of fresh coconut.
Kin, Straits Clan (Lobby), 31 Bukit Pasoh Rd. Tel: 6320 9180
TEXT WEETS GOH & MERYL KOH