Fresh ideas at these eateries
WITH new chefs taking over the helm at several restaurants here, customers can expect interesting changes to their menus.
110 Telok Ayer Street
Mon to Fri, 12pm to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm; Sat, 6pm to 10.30pm; closed on Sun
Glen Ballis, as chef-partner and culinary consultant for Moosehead Kitchen-Bar, is one who believes that change is the only constant.
The two-year-old eatery recently took on a new head chef and, in the process, launched a new menu. Says chef Ballis: "The restaurant shouldn't be known for just one chef. Moosehead is about being experimental."
The current chef is Australian Drew Wilson. The 27-year-old had worked in the Ripples restaurant group in Sydney and is new to Singapore. He was introduced to chef Ballis through a friend.
Moosehead was previously headed by Spaniard Manuel Valero Ruiz, who has moved to Kilo.
As owner, chef Ballis decides on the menu's direction. While both the previous and current menus carry strong global flavours with unusual ingredient and flavour pairings, the previous menu's offerings were stronger and more robust in taste. The new menu features more vegetables, fruit and juices, and the dishes are lighter in taste overall.
The two chefs worked together on creating the new dishes. Among them are the seared watermelon topped with watercress and feta cheese, with a dressing of mirin, lemon and olive oil ($12), roasted cauliflower with garlic miso, leek confit and creme fraiche ($14) and roast beetroot with pomegranate, toasted almonds and ricotta ($12).
A meat dish that's worth having is the pork scratchings, topped with beef tartar and yuzu mayo ($6). The vegetable dishes are hearty and a welcome change from the usual salad offerings, and will appeal to diners who don't fancy eating greens.
The new dessert on the menu, strawberries and cream ($12) served with house-made sorbet and grated chocolate, is chef Wilson's personal creation.
JAMIE'S ITALIAN SINGAPORE
Mon to Thurs, 12pm to 10pm; Fri, 12pm to 11pm; Sat, 9.30am to 11pm; Sun, 9.30am to 10pm
If cooking was as easy as following instructions from a cookbook, everyone can be a professional chef.
Which is why Sardinian chef Alessandro Laconi believes that his heritage gives him an edge when it comes to Italian cooking.
The 39-year-old has been cooking since he was six, starting in his mother's kitchen, where he would play with eggs, dough and flour.
He honed his skills at hotels and restaurants in Italy, Germany and Britain. He came to Singapore in 2012 and headed the kitchens at Pasta Brava and Al Borgo.
Chef Laconi takes over from Alex Barman, who is now the head chef for the upcoming Jamie's Italian Kuta Beach.
The restaurant chain was started in 2008 in Oxford, England, in partnership with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his Italian chef-mentor Gennaro Contaldo.
Here's how it works at Jamie's Italian: All recipes are created by Oliver and Contaldo, together with a team of chefs. At every menu change, all these new recipes are then sent to the restaurants by the Jamie's Italian International team, based in Britain.
Each restaurant would then pick dishes which they feel would work well for their market. Some may see such procedures as being very restrictive and not allowing for much creativity. But chef Laconi says: "This way, I'm able to maintain the Jamie Oliver standard. It is all about ensuring high quality."
One of the new items on the menu, which will be rolled out on Thursday, is Crispy Music Bread ($7.50). This dish has three pieces of thin bread, topped with slices of pecorino sardo and small dollops of chilli jam mostarda on the cheese, finished with sliced chilli.
There's also the Italian Nachos ($7), which are fried mini ravioli stuffed with three cheeses and served with arrabbiata sauce.
Among the mains, the Chicken Al Mattone ($27.50) looks set to be a winner. The dish features marinated chicken, grilled under a brick, served with wild mushroom sauce, rocket and Parmesan. Chef Laconi has to follow strict guidelines - the restaurant uses only free-range chickens from a farm in Malaysia.
AKARI JAPANESE DINING BAR
Marina Bay Financial Centre, #01-02
Mon to Sat, 12pm to 2.30pm, 5pm to 10pm
After five years of wooing the financial crowd with the kind of dependable cooking to suit their fast-paced lifestyle, Akari Japanese Dining Bar is making them stop and savour the real washoku.
Washoku refers to the traditional dietary culture of the Japanese, which emphasises ingredients, appropriate culinary methods, presentation and taste.
Above all, kaiseki is the most refined form of washoku, where diners can enjoy all the different cooking methods such as stewing, grilling, steaming, frying, drying and fermentation.
Akari Japanese Dining Bar, which opened in 2010, will roll out its kaiseki menu at the end of this month, and this will replace its current dinner set menu.
In the process, it has brought in a new head chef from Japan, Hirotaka Murata. The Nakano-born chef, who has more than 20 years' experience, was the head kaiseki chef at the popular Ginyu Ryokan in Hakone and "his kaiseki sets are highly recommended by many Japanese customers", says a spokesman for Akari.
The restaurant declined to reveal more about its previous chef, and would say only that he has moved to Tomo Izakaya, another restaurant under the Tomo Group, which Akari is a part of.
Chef Murata, who joined the restaurant in February, is working on revamping the entire menu.
But the kaiseki menu will be launched first. Its spring menu consists of 11 courses priced at $150++. It includes dishes such as oyster chawanmushi; an appetiser comprising anago sushi, baby turban shell, smelt fish with wasabu vinegar; blue fin tuna sashimi; grilled wagyu beef and Hokkaido scallop rice.
Says chef Murata: "With the kaiseki courses I created for Akari's customers, I hope to change people's perception that washoku is available only at a premium price."
THE BUSINESS TIMES