Once in a while you discover a place by chance that leaves such a great impression that you want more. Hathaway is one such place.
The Dempsey cluster was famous for its eateries and laid-back vibes. But recently they have been hit hard by the pandemic and the cluster that was formed around Samy’s Curry, the whole place went cold and deserted for a while. Hathaway was opened during such a time.
One of the young owners, Ivan Ting said that some of the items in the menu were influenced by his Grandma’s cooking. A familiar theme, but not every Grandma’s a good cook, it’s the nostalgia that made them tasted fantastic. To make that vision and food come alive, the menu is curated by their Head Chef Tom Choong previously from SKIRT at W Singapore.
Starters and sides
The starters and sides were all safe bets, perennial favourites like langoustine tartare and kale salad.
Galangal Infusion | Black Caviar | Squid Ink Tapioca Chip
Finger food that you pick up and pop into your mouth. It was made with chopped langoustine (with the stuff in the head all incorporated into the dressing) and topped with a bit of black caviar (not the beluga type) in a taco-shell like tapioca chip blacked with squid ink.
Wow, what a flavour bomb! Everything worked well together, especially how the yucky but good stuff in the langoustines head have been incorporated into the calamansi olive oil dressing.
Local Duck | Salted Mustard Vegetable | Duck Crackling
Itek Tim is Peranakan classic, and also an example of how Hokkien or Teochew cuisine influenced the cuisine. Basically it is doubled boil duck soup with salted mustard greens. The same ingredients are used to recreate this dish and that’s where the similarity ends.
The “soup” is now a consommé – a concentrated version of the original soup. Only the duck breast was served, and it was sous vide in the marinade and not boiled to death in the soup. The crackling was made from duck skin. A very original starter/soup but the overall taste can be overpowering. It can be called a main and stand on its own.
Kale & Wing Bean Salad
Pomegranate | Quinoa | Sudachi Dressing
Sudachi is just a Japanese name for limau or calamansi. They have a special fragrance that normal limes do not have. This combination of cooked quinoa, chopped kale and wing bean was beautiful – I now have one more salad recipe that I can make at home.
No, this is not nasi lemak. Serunding Kelapa is grated coconut, cooked with spices to a crispy texture. It’s hard work and so easily burnt. It’s perfect here.
Local Leaves | Flowers | Roots
It was not the nasi ulam I was expecting from a Peranakan restaurant, the aromatics were tuned down. It was mainly turmeric, but I wanted more punch from the herbs. Nevertheless, it was a nice rice to go with the food.
The cuisine takes its influence from many places. Given the potpourri of ethnic cuisines available in Singapore and how rojak our palates have come, we have been wired to accept fusion cuisine. Some were pretty at fusion, especially if the chef did not understand the spices or ingredients well enough. But tonight is going to be a good night. Cue Black Eye Peas!
Grilled Veal Tenderloin
Potato Pavé | Fermented Lychee Reduction | Pickled Jicama
The Potato Pavé was served on the side and I forgot to take a picture, or take some of it because I was trying to avoid carbs. The veal tenderloin was cooked to medium doneness at the request of the guests. Wasabi and mashed jicama were provided to reduce the meatiness. The highlight of the dish was the fermented lychee reduction. Lychee wine was used to deglaze the pan and made into that delicious sauce. Too bad, I didn’t really enjoyed the cut of beef.
Black Cod & Razor Clams
Deep Sea Sablefish | Hand Dived Razor Clams | Miso Kombu Broth
This is one combination that I have not seen before – black cod fillet and razor clams. Usually it was either or and never together.
The cod was pan fried to a crisp on the skin side and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The razor clams were steamed and de-shelled for ease of consumption and topped with scallions and fried garlic and shallots. These were combined by a savoury broth. The broth was made with the shellfish with a kombu (kelp) dashi with white miso. Umami with every mouthful, we even cleared out the broth.
Ah Nya’s Fish Curry
Heirloom Recipe | Local Kuhlbarra Barramundi | Crispy Okra served with roti bakar
“It’s all about the rempah.” I was once told about the trick to Peranakan cooking from a Nyonya bibik that worked in our family coffeeshop was all the secret mix of spices that were used in each of their dishes. Every family is different, and the secret was passed down by verbal instructions and on-the-job training, and seldom recorded in recipe. Ivan proudly proclaimed that this curry was based on his grandma’s heirloom recipe that he blended himself and guarded the ingredients and mix like KFC.
It was good curry. Rich, coconutty, and unlike other fish curries, the sauce was more for dipping than soaking with the roti bakar (grilled bread). A loaf of bread was cut into rectangular blocks and grilled on all sides for that toasty crust and replaced the baguette as the dipping bread. You can ask for more curry if needed.
Despite the fancy name, this locally sourced farmed sea bass was rather bad choice of fish for curry as it was quite flaky and tender and not suitable prolonged cooking or stew. But nothing that a good curry cannot rescue. I poured the curry on the rice, I ate it with the toast, I dunked the fried okras into it, I barely touched the fish.
Octopus Bakar & Sambal Udang
King Prawns | Western Australian Octopus | Lime Crema
“The octopus tasted like char siu!” exclaimed one of my dinner guest. And indeed, the smokiness and marinade used on the WA Octopus did make it taste like Cantonese BBQ pork. The king prawns were marinated with sambal and grilled. And the condiment was this sour cream infused with lime. I find the prawns to be overcooked, but that’s just me because I like prawns to be cooked to ‘C’ and not ‘O’.
Jerusalem Artichoke Puree | Fried Artichoke | King Oyster Mushrooms
Sous vide is the magic tool of the modern kitchen. Poached Chicken is actually sous vide chicken breast. It was still tender and moist, and topped with artichoke chips, which is a nice fine dining touch. The king mushrooms were drowning in the sauce but that’s OK, the flavour of the Jerusalem artichokes (which is closer to yam than artichoke) was properly infused into the funghi. A dish for the health conscious, very lean and clean in taste.
Banana Ice Cream | Pisang Goreng | Yuzu Curd
Harum Manis translates to “sweetness for heaven”. I was thinking of the varietal of mango from Indonesia when I saw this dessert. But there’s no mango in this sweet at all. Instead, it is goreng pisang or “banana fritter”. The banana cake was shaped like a putu ayu and topped with yuzu custard. The banana flavoured ice cream completed this banana bonanza. Warm fritter with cold ice cream, crash of temperature, texture but blended together with complimentary flavours. Good dessert.
Kueh Salat | Apom Berkuah Ice Cream | Pengat Sauce
Seri Muka is Kueh Salat. This searched deep into their Peranakan roots. The Kueh Salat was a good eat, with the sweet and slightly salty glutinous rices coloured naturally by blue pea flowers holding together the nice pandan and coconut flavoured custard on top. Apom Berkuah is Peranakan pancake made with pandan and coconut milk, but the taste profile of the original was made into this pancake ice cream. And the sweetness was emphasised with the pengat sauce which tasted like caramel but make with banana and gula melaka. Delicious.
Barley Sorbet | Fried Barley | Passionfruit
It was introduced as a lady’s favourite because it was light and cooling for the tropical heat. I find the overall combination kind of underwhelming. The barley sorbet tasted like frozen Yeo’s leman barley drink. I expected the fried barley to be like puffy and crunchy, but instead it was exactly as described – fried. It was the only fail for the evening of some really outstanding food.
“Tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.” That’s the soundtrack that went through my head as I went through each course. Except for the last dessert, every course that came on the table was surprising harmonious and good. Some Fusion places can really screw it all up, but not tonight. Hathaway has nailed it – Peranakan, Malay, Indian, Chinese with French techniques.
Congratulations, Ivan, and sorry for doubting your Memaw. Your Nonna is a really good cook, and you have a good thing going here. Looking forward to come back for more.
Date Visited : Aug 2021