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Singapore Night – Pollen Street Social

by Ross Bruniges on February 27th, 2012

Around this time last month an email dropped into my inbox that actually made me want to read it. I get plenty of spammarketing emails from restaurants and this one, rather than tell me about a special lunch deal that I can’t go to (I work from home in Herne Hill) or a new facebook page that I don’t care about (I’m not on facebook) this one was letting me know about dinner being served at Pollen Street Social in associated with the Singaporean Tourism Board and being served by not only ‘home chef’ Jason Atherton but also Sat Baines and Claude Bosi – three chefs holding 5 Michelin stars between them.

I’ve not been to Singapore but love asian cooking and therefore this was very much to my interests. Doing a bit of background reading I found out that this has come about as part of a chef exchange – the three guys went over there to see what the cooking is all about and this dinner is their way of showing what they learnt. And a day after eating their creations I would say that they learnt very well. We were treated to 7 courses – 2 each from Sat and Claude and 3 from Jason – I guess he pulled rank with it being at his place.

Scallop, black bean, chilli

Things started off amazingly with a big old scallop topped with some powdered shrimp sitting on a base of black bean and chilli. The black bean tasted like something straight out of the local take-away (a good thing, I love black bean sauce) but the perfectly cooked scallop set it aside from your standard Sunday night fair with the added crunch of the shrimp putting it even higher up the taste ranks; a hard act to follow but the two little fried chicken mouthfuls next stopped my yearnings for another one. A delicious morsel of chicken leg meat sat upon asian radish paired with an even better chicken thigh mousse nested on a zesty puree of lemon grass. Described as lobster with black pepper the final appetiser came with a surprise of fried ravioli filled with lobster, asian basil, spring onion and pepper and unlike the surprises I got last week at work (don’t ask) this was a great little addition. The lobster itself was also pretty damn good, a generous chunk of sweet meat served with slithers of spring onion, asian basil and a light in texture but strong in peppered taste sauce. I always double take when I hear pepper being refereed to as a spice but dishes like this remind me that it’s probably one of my all time favourites.

Foie gras, cockles – Peranakan style

When sent the menu the week before I tricked myself by skim reading and missing an all important comma (something I’ve done now more times than I can remember). Foie gras, , cockles I misread as foie gras cockles; and I had no idea how this would be presented. What we got was, I thought, a little bit weird. Foie gras was cooked in a water bath and smoked and was perfectly rich and moist and served with a couple of delicious chutneys that added a real tang. Not sure what the addition of the cockle was meant for though, we were instructed to eat it last and it was just a cockle – I couldn’t taste anything Asian inspired about it. A nice big cockle but I’ve never been a fan of them and still aren’t.

Through-out my time eating at various of Jasons’ restaurants there have been plenty of amazing ox-cheek dishes and true to form we had a winning dish of ox-cheek rendang. The rich and sticky curry oozed off the meat, that was cooked to perfection and feel to delicious pieces at the touch of my knife.

Sweet Malay curry

Puddings were next and started off with a rather British sounding dish of rhubarb, beetroot sorbet and meringue being given the Asian touch with a bit of ginger infusion, mandarin and asian basil (an ingredient that seemed to make it’s way into every dish). The added sweetness to these great English earthy ingredients was beautifully fresh to eat. Similar to at his restaurant Sat served up a sweet curry for our final course – taking many ingredients found in a malay curry (lime, cinnamon, anise and coconut) and producing a sweet, smooth dollop of spiced cream over bitter sweet herbs and fresh crisp coconut shards. Fantastic stuff.

The chefs and me – a very, very drunk me

This was a great Sunday night out, as mentioned before I’ve not been to Singapore so can’t say how authentic the tastes on offer were but they were all great tasting and showed the style of the chefs who made them, I could imagine them being on the normal a la carte in their respective restaurants so showed a great understanding of what the ingredients could do. An equal bonus was the discovery that beers served at the bar now are served in tankards. And drinking beers in tankards is very very good.

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