I've never watched the film Babette's Feast, but I'm pretty sure the food served at the same-name restro-bar in Singapore is definitely Not as sleep-inducing as the film for me. I love French food as well as Japanese food and nothing could sound more anticipating than the fusion of both.
One classic example is the Duck Confit Donburi $28 where the humble rice staple of Japanese students and office workers alike are prepared the French way. Or more precisely, the familiar kentang aka potato is upgraded to premium Japanese grains, drizzled with some mysterious Babette sauce and topped off with a crispy duck leg that was slightly leaden and dry.
In fact, most of the items on the menu were inspirations from his traveling experiences, according to owner DJ Darren Towkay, who rattled about his restaurant-eur passion with an idiosyncratic flair. The steak and foie gras donburi $28, draws from the humble gyudon, though it's difficult to equate both beef dishes in actuality. Yet I would happily trade a gyudon for this hearty bowl because the less-than-medium doneness steak is comfortingly soft, coming close to my best steak in Tokyo. The degree of seasoning might be a little harsh but just fine if you have them with the rice.
I love soba but the Salmon & Soba $17 did less to ruffle up my serenity. The sous-vide salmon was overdone and bland, falling out of sync with the sweet tamagoyaki and nori flakes, though I appreciated the smooth firm bites of buckwheat noodles.
On the other spectrum of the menu "Small plates and tapas" are some comfort dishes, meant to satisfy late night pangs without too much unnecessary calories. The Charred Cauliflower ($8) is an unusual order; white flower heads literally "charred" to the right softness, served with a very mild yuzu velouté and lots of aromatic fried ginger.
Signature Honey Yuzu Ice Blended, Yuzu Beer, Passionfruit Gin Cocktail, Hot Matcha Latte.I thought avocados and octopus are two very unfriendly lowbrow ingredients but Babette has transformed them into something delicious. Avocado puree are sagely accessorized with fatty aburi, crunchy pickles, tomatoes in the Roasted Avocados $12 to produce an unfamiliar yet awesome texture. Think an inverted salmon tartare. The Octopus salad with Japanese dressing $17 and citrus segments provided a perky slab of acid to cut thorough the smoky flavours of grilled octopus.
The food that night was a mixture of appealing and ho-hum, but not till I chanced upon another gastronomic epiphany of my life. Ladies and gentleman.......let us welcome the Matcha Lava Cake! *applauses*
Not a novelty as Smoulders has launched a petty and unsatisfactory version years ago. But this was a terrific, dream-come-true amalgamation of the East meets West. Like the Madame Butterfly in the realm of plated desserts. So delicate was the molten creation that my heart wrenched in agony as I tearing down the walls with a ting fork and let the gooey yet viscous matcha flow. Not only will you feel tremendous guilt with every bite, lusting at the mellowness of the brew. But you'll be left inconsolable and wanting more when you are done.
Never in my wildest dream could I believe that I'll chance upon such a gorgeous matcha creation in Singapore. It must be fate. Yes, it must be. I'll be making a fool of myself to compare them with any matcha pastries in Japan. But to honour the excellency of a wondrous dessert, I am going to enshrine it in the Best of Matcha Collection 2014.
165 Tyrwhitt Road #01-03 Parc Sovereign Hotel,
Special thanks to Darren, Babette SG & Derrick