April 19, 2011
Waku Ghin, Singapore
My mom brought me to Tetsuya's WAKU GHIN!!!!! From what I've read, Waku Ghin is Tetsuya's first restaurant foray outside of Sydney, and eating there really fueled my desire to try Tetsuya's in Sydney.
I've been waiting for an opportunity to eat at Waku Ghin since before they opened, and my mom decided to bring me there for dinner as a graduation present. (Remember this bit, it comes in later.)
The food was absolutely GORGEOUS, and the attentive staff really rounded out the experience.
It was a 10 course degustation menu starting with the Flan of Oyster with Bacon and Spinach.
The oyster was briny and plump, and a great companion to the soft, silky chawanmushi it lay on. The spinach - for me - added body, and gave it a great base note that grounded the dish.
Just as we were finishing up the last silky morsels on the plate, a chef came out and presented us with this:
And he explained to us that we were going to eat what was on that box, before disappearing (alas with said box) as mysteriously as he appeared. So exciting!!!
Then came the Marinated Botan Ebi with Sea Urchin and Oscietre Caviar.
This was the pièce de résistance for me. I conveniently have a new addiction to Uni (Sea Urchin), and this absolutely fueled it further. It was sweet, without aftertaste, and boosted the sweetness of the Botan Shrimp. There was a thick, creamy, egg yolk sauce on the bottom, and added to the richness and left a great feeling in the mouth. The caviar contributed a light saltiness and great texture.
I'm not entirely an asparagus fan, but I quite enjoyed the Soup of White Asparagus with White Miso Cream and Caviar. The bitter aftertaste of the asparagus was tempered by the creaminess of the soup and the cream, and well, I think we've established that I really really like caviar. And for all of you who say that caviar is too salty and fishy, you have not been eating the right stuff. It was so subtle, and added dimension to the creaminess of the soup. The only thing that distracted me a little was that, even though I enjoyed the flavour of the asparagus thoroughly, I could taste the potato in the soup. And after the previous dish, it was just a teeny weeny bit of a let down.
The Slow Cooked Tasmanian Petuna Ocean Trout with Witlof and Yuzu, I'm told, is an updated version of the Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout at Tetsuya's - apparently the most photographed dish in the world.A sliver of melt-in-your-mouth fatty (in the best way) trout was gingerly laid upon a bitter leaf of witlof. I think I enjoyed the dish a whole lot more with less witlof in the mouthful, but I'm not as big a fan of bitter flavours as some may be. The bitter-sour-sweetness of the Yuzu really added a complexity that was slightly addictive. The trout, on the other hand, was a work of art in itself. It was so tender that it was ready to fall apart just with a look.
After this course, another chef came out from beyond the doorway and presented us with a plate with abalone on it.
He explained that these were Tasmanian Abalone, seasoned it, and promptly put it on the oiled teppan grill with a satisfying sizzle.
The chef was so incredibly polite, and patiently answered any questions that we had. He told us exactly what was going on the plate, so that there wouldn't be any mystery ingredients in there for us.
And so on an innocuous pile of rocket went the Tasmanian Abalone with Fregola and Tomato.
The abalone had a wonderfully salty crust on crunchy (for a lack of a better word) fresh flesh. I've never had abalone so tender and with such lovely bite! Abalone has always been a soup thing in my household, and according to the chef, the smaller size is the key to cooking tender abalone this way, as boiling it in a soup for long periods adds to the toughness of the abalone.
The fregola gave me the impression of being the fat cousin of Cous Cous. It was wonderfully light, and carried the acidity in the tomato sauce really well.
The chef took this out, and I nearly drooled in excitement.
He first lightly seared the lobster before adding a broth and braising it. Next went in a variety of ingredients - of which I missed before I was just so anxiously waiting for the dish.
Now I've always seen lobster as the prawn's less flavourful cousin, but only because I've only ever seen them pre-boiled and cold. But this, this is lovely. The meat still had great texture, and a depth of flavour that was greatly accentuated by the broth. At the end of it, I was even scraping the bottom of the bowl to try and slurp up any that was left.
As mentioned before, I'm a big fan of fat (ha. ha. No fat jokes please!), and the feel that it leaves in the mouth. And the next dish really hit the spot for me.
The Wagyu Beef with Wasabi, Citrus Soy Sauce (Ponzu) and Grated Radish was a delight every step of the way. The Australian Wagyu beef was cooked to a delicate medium rare, with the thoughtful chef giving us the option to make it more done should we prefer it so. Besides the ponzu, the beef was served with fried garlic chips and finely sliced spring onions, which added texture to the otherwise divine melt-in-your-mouth-ness of the beef.
And the wasabi.
The wasabi was freshly grated on a wooden board covered with sharkskin. Sharkskin!! Excuse me for sounding unsophisticated, but the only time I've seen this is on Iron Chef! The reason why Sharkskin is used is because using any other sort of grater alters delicate taste of the wasabi. The fresh wasabi also lacks the strong nasal hit that has come to be associated with what is served at sushi bars.
The chef then presented us with this:
Pearly sushi rice with a piece of seasoned fish daintily sitting atop. He then explained that chicken soup was going into the bowl as well.
The Consommé with Rice and Hirame - I later found out - was a fine dining version of Ochazuke. Ochazuke is a Japanese dish that involves green tea being poured over rice and various toppings. Personally, this tasted quite reminiscent of Teochew rice porridge, which is nice in its own way, but I really would rather have tried the green tea version.
And to end the main part of the dinner before we started dessert, the chef brought out a little tea set.
It is important with green tea to make sure that the water is not too hot, as hot, boiling water will scald the leaves and kill the delicate flavour of the tea. There is an elaborate, somewhat necessary ritual to ensure this, which involves pouring the water through different vessels before finally allowing the tea leaves to steep.
What's special about this Gyokuro tea, however, is that it doesn't just involve water that is cooler than boiling, but still warm. No, it requires room temperature water! Apparently water any warmer than that will bruise the leaves and a strong bitter taste will eradicate the fragile flavour of the tea.
We first noticed that the tea had a savoury flavour to it, which - to our surprise - the chef informed us that it was umami!! Umami is one of the 5 basic tastes (yes 5 - throw away those outdated textbooks children!) together with salty, sweet, bitter and sour. It's a savoury taste (it reminds me of Nori, the seaweed that you wrap your sushi with), and - as I have learnt off my TV education (Heston's Mission Impossible) - Umami is a flavour that is almost unaffected by the pressurized cabin and low humidity of an aircraft.
I really wish I could have had another cup.
And finally, the desserts.
The Granita of Grapefruit with Chartreuse Jelly was the first dessert to be served. Granita, to my understanding, is made of shaven ice, with a sugar syrup and flavouring. It was light, and delicate, but kind of reminded me too much of a high-end, refined version of an Ice Kachang. Excuse my plebian tastebuds, but it wasn't a knock-me-down dish for me.
And here comes the lovely surprise. Remember I told you earlier that this meal was a graduation gift?
How cool is this?? The staff had asked my mom beforehand whether this was a celebration and she told them that it was because I had graduated. Even when they asked our names before, I hadn't suspected a thing! It was such a lovely surprise and really ended my night on a high note.
And don't let the excellent service detract from the cheesecake, which definitely held its own.
The Ghin Cheesecake has little bits of silver leaf on the top, and Ghin means silver, like in the restaurant's name. It was light, fluffy, and there was a burst of flavour from the little pocket of equally light lemon curd in the middle. It was so light that eating it was almost like trying to catch a dream. You just wanted more and more until, oh no, it's all gone. /sad face.
The service didn't end there though. As a memento, we were presented with the menu of what we had, and, surprise surprise, mine had my name on it! How thoughtful was that?
There was also a box of petits fours for us to take home.
Definitely an experience that I'd love to repeat, and I would encourage anyone with the opportunity, to go. The food is to die for, and the service supports it every step of the way. Divine.
We ate at:
10 Bayfront Avenue,
#L2-02, Casino Level 2
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
+65 6688 8507
View Larger Map