Thursday, June 19, 2014

Xperience Restaurant & Bar, Sofitel So Singapore, Robinson Road

This place (35 Robinson Rd) has surprises. The least of all being the chef Anne-Cecile Degenne of Bordeaux who managed top 6 in this year's Top Chef in France. There was also the fact that she managed to capture Asian flavors really well. The other surprises? The food portions were really small and the prices were however not so. It made me recall an old joke I had with some friends over the tiny portions in fine dining and having to go McDonalds after. We went McDonalds after. True story.

But this place was really a lot about the flavours and textures which hopefully could endure with consistency. The menu segregates items by textures and taste. Most of the food on the menu here comes in three sizes. xs for tapas portion, xm for single person and xl for sharing. These were all xm.

This was simply called fish ceviche, cucumber, jalapeño. As one can see, it's rather refined. The acidity of the dish was really too low for ceviche as I know it and in spite of the fact that they had sliced jalapeño in there, it probably would work as a palate cleanser. That being said, the cucumber sorbet was pretty damned good. Made a nice starter.

Then, their foie gras & truffle siew mai sitting a light dashi broth. It's softer than regular siew mai as the meat fillings were a wrapper for a little chunk of the foie on the inside. The shape barely held. I liked that there was enough liver to live up to its name. Realistically, these aren't the best siew mai I've tasted. But they were competent. That says a bit. And for $7.50 a pop, it's a little pricey. Oh, no truffle flavour.

The siew mai came with chilli sauce and vinegar. I thought that the dumplings didn't need the condiments. But the chilli was actually good stuff and the vinegar was good quality as well. It might have been an overkill here.

That above was the roasted lamb, lentils, coconut & curry. This place makes excellent foam. Why? Because we got a full bodied dhal aroma just from eating the foam alone. And it wasn't just a mere interpretation of dhal. It tastes exactly like dhal we can get here with a moderated heat. Lentils weren't too mushy and the toasted ones provided a crunchy texture to the base. The roasted lamb was tender and very good even though I would have liked it to be a little more pink. The portions were a little too small for me with the expectations of a single person quantity.

This is where I say 'Pardon my French' and that it's fucking good. Bear with me on the abused word 'authentic'. Authenticity is a range. There's no quantified precision. The laksa flavours from the risotto falls well within that "authentic" range and impressively so. I could taste the hae bi (dried shrimp) in the stock, there was sufficient laksa leaves to aromatize the rice and the coconut content came from the foam. Hell, I've had laksas from local stalls that didn't taste half as good. Seafood was fresh and sweet and did not get overpowered by the flavor of the spices. The portions were again, too damned small. 

I feel like Michel Roux Jr. here.

And because the portions were small, I asked for white rice which they probably steamed upon my request. The chef was quite apologetic about the portions and the fact that I needed a filler after all the food. She delivered the rice personally. It was also an excuse for me to use up the chilli sauce and vinegar which I had been licking off my spoon. 

The modernist or contemporary (or lazy) description of the menu sometimes does little favours when you're trying to sell the menu. This dessert was just called banana and passion fruit. It's melted bananas and passion fruit pulp (with seeds) stoppered with some tangy mousse on both ends of a caramel snap cigar. And I think the medley of sweet, fruity and tangy in that midst of creamy and crispy was jaw clenching good. 

No comments: