Corner House, in the Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, is where I would go for some gastro-TLC. It’s offering is head and shoulders above the usual fray of F&B players in an already competitive and vibrant scene here in SG. It sits in the tranquil, stunning setting of a historical black and white bungalow set in the newly minted UNESCO heritage Botanic Gardens. It has gobs of history, being the home of former Botanic Gardens assistant director EJH Corner (hence its name), and then you have a kitchen helmed by profoundly talented and larger-than-expected Chef Jason Tan. The food he creates is a mesmerising symphony of surprising, delightful flavours that play on the Singapore palate, presented in a delicate yet stunning visual procession that left me seriously impressed.
Don’t bother with short hurried meals there when you can have a leisurely six courser on the verandah (closed in with plate glass windows and nicely air conditioned) with a lush view of the greenery outside.
Lunch started with a quartet of Asia-centric amuse bouche, then came the first course — French Royale oysters. It was a lovely riot of textures — a slippery briny oyster served in its shell on an icy bed of plum granita, and topped with the taut bursts of olive oil caviar.
Not to be missed is ‘Onions in 4 iterations’ — Chef’s piece de resistance — which shows off the deliciousness and diversity of the humble onion. First a whole onion, baked, then hollowed out, and made into a sweet creamy onion puree with truffles, and sous vide egg, then a delicate tart of filo pastry filled with onion confit and parmesan cheese. The third, a thin chip of dehydrated onion, and finally an ‘onion tea’ that plays on cold and warm: a consommé of Early Gray YinZhen tea and onion, poured over a chilled emulsion of onion confit and cream. A touch of genius and creativity, and reminds you never to dismiss the onion (or any seemingly inconsequential vegetable) again.
I loved the crispy scales fish – a highlight of the meal. While disturbing to look at with its tiny scales fried till standing, they gave a delicate crunch that sank into moist sweet flesh. Complemented nicely with sweet roasted beetroot, and a fragrant sauce of shaoxing wine.
The A4 Toriyama Beef was presented like a painting, and a foreword to its delectable flavours. Juicy beef full of flavour was lifted by a sweet, rich corn puree, and roasted corn. It was a humble pairing that was surprisingly moreish.
Chef Jason’s forte I feel lies in his seafood above all, but he is pretty deft in desserts too. A palate cleanser of calamansi sorbet was heightened by a host of other local flavours – a hint of chilli padi, a light pandan and ginger granite, and celery. Then, a dessert called ‘Kaya Toast’ – Kaya parfait, French sable, yuzu sorbet, yuza meringue, gula melaka foam.