Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cheek By Jowl, Boon Tat Street

Cheek By Jowl (21 Boon Tat Street, tel : +65 6221 1911) is yet another establishment under Loh Lik Peng's Unlisted Collection. The restaurant which is helmed by a Rishi Naleendra doing modern/progressive Australian food opened last Feburary. This year, they were awarded their first Michelin star.

I've read somewhere online that each the dishes that the chef sends out "has to be precise"; that precision "a discipline picked up from his one year stint in Tetsuya's". For the first time in a long time, reality wavered and the meaning of 'precise' was suddenly not so precise anymore.

olives and gougeres
I think these are amuse bouche. Olives and gougeres/cheesy puffs with what they called 14 month Compton cheese. I assumed that the cheese has been aged for that period. It's been then processed into a mousse of sorts. Both were delicious by the way.

oyster smoked tomato
The first of the orders that arrived were their Coffin Bay oysters with smoked tomato. The smoked tomato element was shavings of smoked tomato sorbet that's piled onto the oyster. The flavour in reality was less exotic as it might have sounded because it was very much like barbecue sauce minus the sweetness. In shaven ice temperature and texture. I liked this.

raw beef salad | dry aged wagyu | maple | horseradish | brussels sprouts
I enjoyed their raw beef salad to a certain extent. A bit more salt would be nice. I thought it tasted like a dryer beef tartare with textures and aromas of toasted/burnt Brussels sprouts. 

That also meant that we were getting nada from the maple. I personally couldn't taste any horseradish and dry aged wagyu.....really? If I had to grade this dish, I'd fail it for failing to deliver on the flavours based on what the menu described. 

roasted quail | chestnut | mushroom | mint
The other first course item we had was the roasted quail. This was very nice. The chestnut came in the form of mousse and a topping of ceps powder. The bird was of a medium doneness and very tender. 

The only other things on the plate were very umami mushrooms and mint leaves draped over with thinly sliced pickled apple. The combination of flavours from these were extraordinary.

barramundi | wakami | pickled onion | broccoli
Barramundi was very nice and rather small portions. Fish was tender and firm with crispy skin. The wakami was in mousse form on the side. I presumed it was meant to be eaten with the fish rather than the other stuff but the flavours were all pretty good together as well.

lamb rump | smoked eggplant | globe artichoke | caper berries
The lamb rump was seared with a hard crust of spiced rubbed exterior. Tasted Middle Eastern-ish to me. Smoked eggplant wasn't so smoky and those fried artichoke.....not sure how that comes together thematically with the rest of the plate. 

hasselback potatoes | chives | sour cream
Because the portions of the food wasn't very substantial, some carbs were in order. Potatoes with whipped sour cream.

coconut | laksa leaf ice cream | pomelo | green chilli
I'm not sure how to describe the feeling I had for this dessert. I like the peanuts and the pomelo. Didn't think much of the coconut semifreddo. Chilli sauce was a nice touch. I thought the laksa leaf ice cream was a little too milky but I applaud the laksa leave flavours. I will never order this again if I return.

burnt pear | hay panna cotta | pear sorbet | salted caramel
This was the better dessert as much less exciting it sounded over the first. The hay smoked (or was it smoked hay) panna cotta had a tea like flavour which I thought was calming through the creaminess. The clean flavour from the pear sorbet was also much appreciated.

There's much less precision going on in the kitchen than credit is given to them for. From our seating "vantage point", I suppose we had a view of how the kitchen actually worked. Plating for example is also a "fall where it may" attitude rather than a full disciplined process. Noticed different levels of care with varying portions across different kitchen staff working on the same item. Some dude was even scratching his head just before handling food with his bare hands. Something that I would have preferred not to see.

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