Review of Dinner at Jaan at the Swissôtel The Stamford, Singapore
Date: 18 Feb 2019
Venue: Jaan, Swissôtel The Stamford, Singapore
Background to Jaan
It was more than a decade ago that I visited Jaan, and hence when the birthday boy suggested that I give him his birthday treat (for a special birthday milestone so it's all worth it) at Jaan, I made the booking immediately.
Ranked #38 of 11,477 Restaurants in Singapore on TripAdvisor, JAAN is an intimate, 40-seat restaurant dedicated to showcasing the finest in modern British dining in Singapore. The artisanal menu by Chef de Cuisine Kirk Westaway - winner of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for Southeast Asia, is built around a passion for showcasing the freshest ingredients through simple but beautiful dishes that reflect both culinary tradition and creativity.
Jaan is actually a Cambodian (or Sanskrit) word for "bowl". This private and intimate restaurant, with about 40 seats and less than 20 tables, is perched on the near-highest floor of the Swissotel The Stamford. Its stunning Murano crystal and silver free-form chandelier is matched by the breathtaking view of the eastern perspective of Singapore's cityscape.
Julien Royer first madehis mark at Jaan before creating yet another milestone at Odette. Julien helmed Jaan for four years from 2011, and brought Jaan to the 11th place in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list and World's Best 50 Best long list before departing to Odette. This made way for Kirk to take over the reins of Jaan to make it his own, earning a Michelin Star consecutively year on year till 2018 (latest to date).
More about Kirk Westaway
Kirk Westway was born in South West Britain, in the Devon county. With this attachment to his home country and county, Kirk applies the philosophy of "Reinventing British" to his menu, as it evolves season to season, to showcase British dining in a modern yet refreshing light, and full of surprising flavours.
Jaan Menu and Food
Being the second group of guests to arrive, we were fortunately to be placed at a window table. As the menu at Jaan was fixed, we opted for the main menu SIMPLE BUT COMPLEX:
Starting off strongly was the beetroot meringue, which was really soft and full of beetroot flavours. This was followed by the Devon cheese ball, which was a reflection of the chef's roots. Next was the interestingly-named "Fish & Chips", which was Chef Kirk's interpretation of fish and chips.
Roast Potate Truffle Soup
The truffle soup was my favourite part of the meal. The truffle was not overpowering, and gave the soup an earthly base flavour. In the soup were some macadamia nuts, which was unusual but gave a nice clean crunch.
Majestic Irish Oyster
This delightful dish was served with the can closed. The server opened the can to reveal the name of the dish on the underside of the lid, which was another pleasant surprise. I would say that the attention paid to details is one of the plus points of Jaan. The dish itself was nice, with North West Irish oysters and some caviar.
The next course is an aesthetically-pleasing spread of individually-treated vegetables and flowers, aptly named "English Garden". This is Kurt's signature dish and has been well-covered by the media as well. If you notice the watering can (filled with rosemary herbs) in the background, this is part of the theatrics of this dish too. In the watering can is a small amount of dashi stock which the diner is requested to "water" over the "English Garden". This interactivity, as well as the burst of colours and flavours made this dish a gastronomic delight. You could choose to eat each of the vegetable individually or mix them up as what you would do with a salad.
This was served with the gravy separate; the server, after introducing the dish poured the gravy stock over the langoustine. While we would rate almost all the dishes serve as 4 to 5 out of 5 stars, both myself and my guest agreed that this was probably the best dish of the menu (though I really liked the truffle soup too). It was all in the taste - the richness of the gravy stock matched the succulent flesh of the langoustine, and the sour crunch of the celeriac matched perfectly.
Eggs in an Egg
This egg custard dish was served in a giant egg ceramic bowl (of sorts). I was amazed by how the server was able to lift up the top part of the bowl in one hand! The dish was smoked with rosemary, such that when the lid was lifted, the smokiness of the rosemary saturated not only the dish but also the dining area. The flavours of the mushrooms were apparently and again made this dish both complex and enjoyable, in terms of taste as well as aroma.
Just when we thought that the langoustine was the best dish, it was easily surpassed by the Scottish Scallop. The star of this dish was not only the scallop by the small morsel of pasta, which was really rich in umami taste -- our only regret was that there wasn't enough of the pasta. All in all, we decided that this was the best dish of the menu (after some deliberation).
Line Caught Kinmedai
Another seafood dish, the Kinmedai or the splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens) is an alfonsino of the genus Beryx, found around the world at depths between 25 and 1,250 metres (82 and 4,101 ft), usually between 400 and 600 metres (1,300 and 2,000 ft). Although its most common size is 40 centimetres (16 in), it can reach lengths of up to 70 centimetres (28 in). It is known as kinmedai (金目鯛) or "golden eye snapper" in sushi and Japanese cuisine -- in sushi or sashimi terms it is usually known as the "tai".
The kinmedai was cooked to be more firm, and some nice crunch was added on top of the fish to give it more texture. The pumpkin was mixed with light curry to give it an almost japanese-curry-like sweetness. The shredded pickled carrot helped to balance the richness of this dish.
At this juncture, we were already feeling rather full. The main course was the Roasted Pigeon with blackberries. The pigeon was likely cooked via sous vide and was extremely tender and retained its rich juices. As this was a rather rich dish, the raspberry puree and the blackberries helped to again balance the taste, and the portion of the pigeon heart and liver also provided an assortment of texture to the dish.
I forgot to take down notes for this palate cleanser but it had produce of lemons and blood oranges and limoncello from various parts of Italy, Very sour-sweet and tasty and I could certainly have more of this as well. We were then served with Ivroy Caramel dessert by none other than Chef Kirk.
All in all, it was a very pleasant dining experience at Jaan. I have had dinners (even at Michelin-starred restaurants) where I wasn't surprised by either the presentation, the taste or the concept of the dishes. Chef Kirk managed not only to keep us entertained and engaged with the presentation of the dishes but give us new gastronomic experiences in the taste category. 4.8 upon 5!