Singapore, August 2016 – We decided to celebrate Singapore’s National Day at a restaurant with a sense of history. Corner House (#17 – Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants) was a natural choice since it was located at Singapore Botanic Gardens (an UNESCO site) inside a conserved building – a 1910 Black and White bungalow, which was the residence of E.J.H. Corner when he was Assistant Director of the Botanic Gardens from 1929 to 1945.
It was not our first time at E.J.H. Corner’s old residence. Mr. King and I were here previously when this housed the Au Jardin restaurant. At a glance, the architecture remained the same, but the furnishings have been revamped with cool tones of grey and crisp white. We were seated in The Verandah, which offered views of lush greenery.
We chose from four menus by Chef Jason Tan :
Menu Gastronomic – 4-course dinner ($148++)
Menu Botanica – 5-course dinner, vegetarian ($168++)
Menu Degustation – 5-course dinner ($188++)
Discovery Menu Experience – an 8-course dinner includes Carabinero prawn and two desserts ($258++)
Our choice was the Menu Degustation, which featured several of Chef Tan’s signature dishes such as Cod “Crispy Scales” and Japanese A4 Toriyama Beef.
Oyster Leave – it tasted like raw leave, with a trace of oyster flavor at the end.
Cucumber and Kumquat jelly – refreshing start.
Salty Fish Crackers with Tobiko and Crème Fraiche – crackers were crunchy and reminded me of Japanese lobster crackers.
Varanger Red King Crab – cucumber, meloni, yellow pepper, Kristal de Chine caviar
I believe this dish was a variation of Chef Jason Tan’s “standout dish” – Carabinero prawn: varieties of best season tomato, vintage sherry, Kristal de Chine caviar. The crab was done 3 ways – steamed, tartare and fried like a croquette. Although garnished with the same yellow pepper coulis and caviar, each style of crab tasted totally different. Mr. King commented that the stoneware added a zen-like touch to the presentation.
Brittany Cuttlefish – riso, seaweed, egg marmalade, Manjimup black truffle
This richly flavored risotto was my favorite of the evening. The cuttlefish was thinly sliced and extremely tender. The seaweed topping gave the dish another dimension of texture.
New Zealand Cod “Crispy Scales” – Mangalista pork, trombetta zucchini, girolle, aged Shaoxing
This gorgeous main course was as beautiful as it was delectable. The crispy scales were extremely thin and delicate. The cod was perfectly cooked.
Japanese A4 Toriyama Beef – horseradish, macadamia, black radish, shallot, soy caramel
The A4 Toriyama beef was very tender and well seared, but I personally think the caramelized shallots stole the show. The shallots were sweet and soft.
Pre-Dessert – Soursop sorbet with rose cream and strawberries.
Organic Milk from Limousin – Gariguette strawberry, elderflower, buratta
I love it when a couple of elements are at play. With this dessert, we had elderflower sorbet, pannacotta, milk ice cream, burrata cheese, basil leaves and berries. It was a medley of sweet delights.
Petit Fours – Chocolate coated Macadamia nuts and Salted Duck Egg Yolk Macarons
The Salted Duck Egg Yolk Macarons was surely a memorable way to end this meal. It was unique and actually quite delicious.
This Gastro-Botanica journey was delightful, and also very light. In nearly every dish, the usage of ingredients such as salted fish, soursop, rose cream and salted duck egg yolk reminded me of the Singaporean Chinese food heritage. In an age where everyone places emphasis on healthy and high quality produce, one cannot go wrong with Chef Jason Tan’s Gastro-Botanica cuisine!
I made reservations in early July, before the inaugural Michelin Guide for Singapore was launched. It was not too difficult to get a table. Since the Corner House has been awarded 1-Michelin Star, I naturally assume that it is now more challenging to book a table.
Corner House – 1 Cluny Road, E J H Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.