Things i like about chef Willin Low:
Abdicating his corporate status to pursue his heart instincts.
His unabating passion for cooking.
His courage to twine local nosh & western posh.
The unpredictability of his dishes.
Relish. Wild Oats. Wild Rocket.
I never had a boredom issue with Wild Rocket's menu. The 3-course Ala carte Lunch ($35++) is my running choice here. The cast changes periodically & newbies-on-probation often sound mismatchingly gripping. They make you go ?!! alot.
Check out: Bah kut teh wanton, foie gras ngoh hiang, salted duck egg pasta, bee tai bak, blue swimmer crab congee soup, hainan tomato relish, gong tng, sticky rice.... Slowly getting disturbing.
The foccacia bread seemed to have waned in standard. I remember it being dense & moist with savory cheese speckles dabbing its caps the last time, but now the virtues have vanished.
Five-spice Foie Gras ngoh hiang meat roll ($13.80)
How's a Foie Gras Ngoh Hiang for starter? Think French wave thwacked Peranakan Loh Bak. He swathes foie gras & five spice-marinated prawns in beancurd skin, then teamed caramelized onions & fresh granny smith sticks to cut some unctuousness. Culturally bizarre but interesting.
Pan-seared Tuna Rocket Salad ($12.50)
I thought they could have laid more semi-seared tuna, or maybe used a less canton-evoking ginger dressing to silence my grouses. Relish's got a similar version with 5 tuna slices.
Harji Pasta with Prawns ($5 supplement applies)
Fans of "har ji meen" would beam upon their special-of-the-day. The Hong Kong delicacy is done a notch classier by replacing egg noodles with fine angel hair slicked in minimal olive oil. The shrimps were crystal (my own term for crunchy, semi-pellucid prawns) but dried shrimp roe too little to shine.
Roast Chilean Seabass on light congee ($32)
On extremely rare occasions, i see grease in a different light.
Their Roast Chilean Seabass happens to fall in that pinhole. Fish oils + the oleaginous attributes of chai poh confit composed a flavor so scrumptious, that diluting it with uninspiring ketupat-like congee makes no prudent sense.
Personal note: Still loving Ember's CSB most! (:
Kueh Baulu Tiramisu ($9.80)
Kueh Baulu's versatility worked. The reappraised dessert tallies alcohol-moistened spongecakes, espresso icecream & mascarpone cream that's not unduly firm. 5 points for taste, 2 points for his witty substitute.
Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheesecake ($10)
Deconstructed food can be tricky. Consume each component individually & you're bound to condemn: Lemon mascarpone too thick, macerated strawberries syrupy sweet, maple icecream stings of saccharine (but i like it!), biscuit blocks boring.. A mouthful of any could tip the threshold.
My strategy: Take concerted spoonfuls of everything. Allow all the players to glister & flaws would conceal.
Willin conveys close-to-our-heart ingredients in contemporary makeovers, without elaborate sauces or presentations. His innovation is apparent but steep. And i'm not sure how long this risky fashion will continue to lick the boots of the crowd. One or two attempts are likely, but we cannot dismiss the tendency of Singaporeans reverting to no-frills hawker fare for best local comfort.
Even for me, i'll be more enthusiastic spending 40 bucks on a focused, less alloyed cuisine. Sad to say.
'The discovery of a new dish does more for the good of mankind
than the discovery of a new star.' How true.
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Hangout Hotel @ Mount Emily