Corner House had been on my food bucket list, after earning rave reviews from many local writers.
This did not disappoint. The Gastro-Botanica cuisine created by Chef Jason Tan would a shoo-in for one of the best fine dining meals I had in Singapore. I won’t deny that there is this element of support for a young and talented Singaporean chef.
Located in the black-and-white bungalow EJH Corner House within the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Corner House would easily make it to be one of Singapore’s best new restaurants, if not the best for this year.
I would even make a bold prediction that, all it needed was some time to make it into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. If Singapore had Michelin stars the $1.5-million restaurant would have earned 1 or 2 of them (And yes, it did earn 1 in the end).
Chef Jason’s cuisine could be described as French with some twists inspired from food from his growing up years and travels. There was also inclusion of strong botanical elements – sustainably-sourced seasonal produce and vegetables, due to its unique location.
The degustation menu was an 8-course “Discovery Experience” (S$248++), while the 4-course set (S$98++) and 6-course set (S$148++) seemed value for its quality.
You could replace some items with signature dishes for an additional cost – Carabinero Prawn (supplement $18), Maine Lobster (Supplement $18), Hungarian Mangalitsa Pork (supplement $15) and Japanese A5 Omi Beef (supplement $45).
Most of the appetizers and starters were simply impressive. The Beetroot Collection was an art-piece on the plate. Beetroot prepared in various forms with smoked eel, horseradish, walnut and black garlic, were arranged like flowers in a garden. Taste was refreshing, uplifting and balanced.
The dish which almost made me cry (tears of food joy) was the 62 Degree Farm Egg. Chef used one of his favourite ingredients, the Cevennes Onion in four ways.
First, in a roasted hollow onion shell which contained sous vide eggs covered in grated black truffle. Cevenne onions from south central France were known to be sweet and mild, and they added a haunting aroma and gentle savour to the runny eggs.
The other three: Onion Tart, Onion Chip, and Onion Broth were all fascinating in taste and textures.
However, the main I had – the Hungarian Mangalitsa Pork feel short of expectation especially when all the starter dishes were striking. When you had foie gras macaron as an amuse bouche, this main was somewhat ordinary in comparison.
The Japanese A5 Omi Beef on first bite did not excite as well. But like a song with a regular introduction and impressionable chorus, I got hooked to the meat somewhere in the middle, and finished with a satisfying last bite.
While some French style fine dining restaurants had gone in the direction of theatrics, Corner House maintained its ground, treading somewhere in the middle – inventive yet rooted.
Like a blossoming flower, we await for Corner House’s spring to come, where it gets into the international culinary radar, and do Singapore proud. It should not need to wait too long. 2015 may just be their year.
1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, EJH Corner House, Singapore 259569
(Drive in from Nassim Gate, Park at Carpark A or B)
Opening Hours: 12-2:30pm, 6:30-10:30pm (Tue-Sat), 11:30am-3pm, 6:30-10:30pm (Sun & PH),