Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SET @ PoMo : East-West Contemporary Set Menus

The team behind former TAO's restaurant makes a comeback by launching 5 or 6-course pre-fixe set menu featuring East-West contemporary cuisine. Carefully illuminated to set the romantic mood, the dark timber interior of the 94-seater restaurant looks like a traditional western dining house but the dining experience definitely isn't as taut as a tea ceremony.
Breaking away from the rigidity of fine-dining, the Chef's starter was a piping hot Mushroom & Bacon Gratin, instead of the typical dainty one-bite sized cold amuse Bouche. The portion was fine, just enough to be smeared on crusty toasted brioche. This could enlarge into a main dish as it turned out to be one of the few dishes with strong flavours
Soon after, the cold appetizers rolling out, setting the theme for the subsequent courses to come. The Huai San Carpaccio is a refreshing twist to the usual raw meat version; crunchy, tangy and slimey. The Tomato Caprese is best enjoyed in a single mouthful; fluffy whipped mozerella pulling out the umami sweetness of the tomato with the assistance of sea salt flakes. Other two options include Salmon Gravalax and Smoked duck breast which could be revitalized with more citrus elements. 
Leading the soup lists was the Double-boiled herbal chicken with red dates and dried scallops (top right), a robust flavourful soup that takes the cue from an authentic Cantonese broth. The Mushroom soup with peanut butter (bottom right) sounded as if it was born after someone accidentally dropped some peanut butter into the soup but I'm glad it didn't turn out to be a kitchen nightmare. Nutty with a lingering bitterness, I haven't exactly understand the contribution of peanut butter but why not try this next time to find out for yourself.

The Roasted Pumpkin with Truffle couldn't outshine the Miso Soup with Sake (above left) served in a tokkuri.  The latter has a smooth, strident earthiness that does not dissipates instantly. One is unlikely to get drunk from this but might be startled with its strong shot of saltiness, especially when it goes solo without any rice. 
The repertoire of the Main Courses resembled the Big 5 of the UN Security Council, featuring prominent proteins of our daily lives; pork, fish, chicken, beef and lamb. The Baby Pork Ribs (above), softened up with the steaming treatment and blasted on the grill with Chinese Barbeque Sauce, were tender and well penetrated with smoky flavours. Deboned and compressed into a ball, the Roasted chicken with chestnut sauce (cover pic) didn't quite deliver any depth of flavour and could plump up on the stuffings.

The Grilled Snapper (above), unfortunately, seemed overcooked and depleted of moisture, despite the underpinnings of sweet caramelized onions. The Roasted beef tenderloin with black pepper sauce turned out to be the dark horse. Well-marbled and ridiculously tender, the beef reined in the excesses of fats and kept it from going worst with perfectly sealed meat juices. There is also Rack of Lamb, cooked in a textbook-perfect way without any gameyness, yet could not move beyond the classroom. 
In line with the multicultural concept, there is oriental Huai San Jello, literally Cheng Teng in jelly with the usual suspects such as white fungus and longan. The Poached Pear with Gelato (top right) would make delightful ending if it could brighten its acidity level to cut the sweetness.

Meanwhile, the Pistachio Panna Cotta doesn't shout as much as the traditionally smooth and creamy version, but on a closer inspection, you'll spot coarsest grinded pistachio nuts which add flair to simplicity. Not keen on nuts but craving for something custardy? Go for the Espresso Creme Brûlée (bottom right); reliable with mellow espresso notes.

What got me infatuated was the unassuming Chocolate Cake with Coconut Shavings (above left), reminded of the classic Lamington from Down Under. It was neither dense nor fudgy, but light and fragile, shattering into crumbles at the poke of the fork.  
The 5-course lunch stops right up to here. But come at night and one will be treated to an extra course; Grilled Oyster Mushroom, humble ingredient elevated to a delicate level of sophistication with truffled mayo foam

Not only adults, kids (aged 12 and below) can also enjoy a set menu at $18.80 including baked flounder with cheese. The food here might not be exceptionally elegant nor profound, but on the very least, something pleasantly unpretentious and occasionally with fresh invention injected into the plates.

SET @ PoMo
#02-01 POMO
1 Selegie Rd 188306
6337 7644
Daily 11.30am-10pm (Dinner menu from 6pm)
Email: reservation@set-sg.com

Special thanks to Petrina and Lay Pheng

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