Thursday, February 25, 2016

META: Avant Garde Cuisine @ Keong Saik Road

The most wonderful thing about the full 8-course menu here is that it includes not 1, but 3 desserts. 

It's a good healthy number since most lunch/dinner courses end with only one or no dessert at all, hanging my heart (and stomach) in mid-air without a sweet ending to a meal. Opened only in end October last year, Meta is dedicated to modern avant garde cuisine without the pressure and rigidities of fine-dining. 

The 30-seater space is sleek, black and evokes the industrial punk vibes. Unless you wish to indulge in some lovey-dovey private space at the small tables, I figured the best position is none other than the row of bar seats, which allows a full perspective of the young rebellious kitchen team in action minus the heat, grease or what so ever that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Instead of going in chronological order, let me starting talking about my best dish, Wagyu Beef Tartar + Pear Kimchi + Egg Jelly + Rice. It sounds like an alien combination but it's the least alienating dish of all. Inspired by Head Chef Sun Kim's hometown dish Bimbimbap, the juicy raw beef is marinated in bulgogi sauce which imparts the sweet and salty flavors. 

There is some unexpected tartness, possibly due to the not-spicy kimchi juices that trickled down from the julienned pear. Just as I was enjoying the beef with the crunchy rice puffs, the gelatinous egg yolk balls rolled into the scene and adds more feel-good homeliness to this dish. 

Deep down I was shouting for a sunny side fried egg and warm rice to go with the beef (which I didn't of course). But I realized it was comfort soul food at best as I reluctantly placed the utensils on the empty plate and moved onto the next few dishes. 
It's not to say that the food before and after this beef tartare was not pleasant. They were truly delicious and remarkable in their own leagues. From the miso scallops to the seabass to the 30-hours braised short beef, the chef went very light on seasoning, allowing the natural sweetness and taste of the meat to shine forth. But I thought the food was similar to restaurants such as the Rabbit Stash or even Artemis Grill. That's why perhaps I had an instinctive fondness of the Beef "Bibimbap" earlier because it was an apt representation of street food taken to fine-dining stage. 

Since Chef Sun Kim used to be train at Waku Ghin and Tetsuya, a infusion of Korean elements into modern French cuisine would make this place stand apart from the mass. After all, I haven't notice any modern Korean-French avant garde restaurants in the Singapore food scene yet. 
The remaining 3 dessert dishes are taken care  by Pastry Chef Tammy Mah who is quite experimental about her sweets. Here, you get real desserts, not cakes waffles or ice creams but the authentic original plated works that are demanding on techniques. For example, the golden orb (or what some dubbed as the Quidditch Ball in Harry Potter) is a whimsically light cheese cake embedded with two hemisphere-shaped chocolate filled of blood orange sauce. 
But this is not as impressive as the latter two. One is mini white chocolate dome with tangy yoghurt ice cream but the wasabi was too elusive. Meanwhile, the Rock is a good introductory door to molecular gastronomy to layman like me. It's quite fun to have smoke emitting profusely from your mouth and nostrils but the pricky feeling that jabbed the tongue can be quite nasty, just like the touch of dry ice  with bare hands. 

There are currently 3 types of menu; 8-course ($128), 5-course and a vegetarian course. With a small kitchen team, limited seatings and quality modern cuisine, this may very well be a successful local story of "Giro Giro" if they could offer the exact same dining experience at a more affordable pricing. 

META
9 Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6513-0898
Mon-Sat: 5.30pm to midnight (including PH except CNY 
closed on Sunday
http://metarestaurant.sg/

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