Bukit Pasoh was notorious for its dark past of secret societies and brothels. But with gentrification and Cantonment Police HQ right next to it, this place is now the hippest address for some of the best new restaurants given its competitive pricing and proximity to the CBD. Poisson came in amongst some strong competition before them.
Poisson (pwa·son) means fish in French and as the name suggests, they sell seafood. Located in the Bukit Pasoh Conservation Area, Poisson is immersed in an area that traditionally houses Chinese clans and Ee Hoe Hean 颐和轩, a Chinese millionaire club founded in 1895.
Poisson is the brainchild of restauranteurs Geoffrey Weckx and Pierre Bolly, and operated by 159atas, which also runs Beouf (specialising in an all beef menu), Cochon (all pork) and Noir (as in pinot noir, this is a wine lounge). The marine-inspired dining room with its tiffany blue colour theme made me what to go back and paint my house the same as well.
Curated by Geoffrey and executive by Executive Chef Ma Yee Kwang, the menu is inspired by international cuisines from all corners of the globe including French, Japanese, Thai, British and Belgian. The team has created a distinct seafood menu with a range of shared plates using sustainable seafood. The menu is divided into four main sections, with Caviar Selection, Cold Stream (cold seafood), Hot Stream (hot mains) and Sweet Touch (desserts).
And to kick us off an oceanic journey was some fresh baked bread selection – crusty baguette, sourdough and focaccia – and some boiled edamame and a smoked salmon dip. I was expecting some fancy amuse bouche or seafood tapas., but this was some very good dip.
Caviar was Casanova’s favourite source of zinc, which helps in optimal blood flow if you know what I mean. The caviar is served as would traditionally with blinis, latte potato, sour cream and chopped chives.
There were three types of caviar on offer. The Caviar Tasting option is not a sampling of all three but two full portions of the Giaveri and Kaluga Queen at a volume discount. The only one that was not part of the tasting was the more approachable La Tsar kaluga caviar.
Giaveri 12 Years Oscietra
Most of the prehistoric Acipenser family members have now defected to the West from the Caspian, Black, and Azov seas. Many are currently thriving in Italy, which has been practicing sturgeon farming (“ladano”) since Roman times. River sturgeon (“attilo”) was a gourmet item during the Renaissance.
Caviar Giaveri based in Treviso which started out breeding fish for sport fishing, breeds Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (Russian Sturgeon), Acipenser baerii (Siberian Sturgeon), Acipenser stellatus (Starry Sturgeon), Acipenser transmontanus (White Sturgeon), Acipenser persicus (Persian Sturgeon), Acipenser ruthenus (Sterlet Sturgeon) and Adriatic as well as Siberian Beluga.
Rodolfo Giaveri opened his eel farm in 1979. In 2009 he built a sturgeon processing plant. Based on the river Meolo, a tributary of the Piave, it is a family business and passion shared with his wife Lorena, and daughters Jenny, Glada, and Joys. The master caviar master is Franco Fontebasso, who studied under Russian and Iranian experts. They have twenty-four sturgeon ponds. The family was formerly cheese-makers.
Caviar Giaveri Osietra Classic is harvested from Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) that has matured over 12 years. Caviar Giaveri uses the traditional Russian “Malossol” (“little salt”) method to intensify the flavour. The perfectly identical, crisp, lustrous medium-sized grains have a clean taste which is subtlely briny and aromatic. I could not imagine what would it be like if it was not salted at all.
Kaluga Queen 10 Years Hybrid
Not to be outdone by Italy and to satisfy the growing demand in China, Kaluga Queen based in Hangzhou, made its international breakthrough when, after nine years of trying, it was chosen to be sole supplier to Lufthansa. Today the company accounts for one-third of global caviar sales and supplies many of France’s top restaurants, but its biggest potential market is at home.
The fish that is harvested for the caviar is an offspring of Kaluga (Huso dauricus, ♀) and Japanese sturgeon (Acipenser schrenckii, ♂). Although wild hybrid can be found in the Amur River between China and Russia, their numbers are very low due to over consumption. This is a unique species to China that is the result of years of aquaculture fishery development. The younglings are raised in their nursery in near Hangzhou, in fish farms 4/5 the size of Singapore.
Kaluga Queen today rears its sturgeon in an area of about 42 hectares (104 acres) in Zhejiang province, including part of Thousand Island Lake. It hatches and raises them in the lake, then transports mature fish to the Wuxi River in Quzhou to simulate the wild conditions to condition the fish for harvesting. Their sturgeon matures in the 8th ~ 10th year, and can live up to 60 years and reach over 50kg. The caviar harvested is either brownish yellow or light grey in colour, which is often frowned upon by caviar consumers.
However the proof is in the pudding as they say. We all preferred the Kaluga Queen hybrid better than the Giaveri purebred. Each pearl is large, chewy and creamy. Most robust in the taste (i.e. slightly fishier than the Oscietra), but that’s the way I loved my caviar.
The Cold Stream features small plates that kickstart your meal with visually-appealing appetisers that match up to taste.
Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche | Japanese Cucumber | Roasted Capsicum | Shallots | Coriander
Coquille St Jacques (or “scallop shell”) is so called because it has been the symbol used since the 12th century by pilgrims walking to St Jacques de Compostèle. Every stopover point was painted with a shell symbol, and hence the scallop was referred to as St Jacques. Here, their Hokkaido cousins were used because they have a beautiful natural sweetness and firem texture, and can be eaten raw.
Spanish Octopus Carpaccio | Passion Fruit Vinaigrette | Paprika Seaweed | Salmon Roe
A staple of Spanish tapas, a boiled tentacle of the pulpo or octopus is thinly sliced and plated like beef carpaccio, and dressed with a vinaigrette mixed with fresh passionfruit. The passionfruit provided the sourness with refreshing fruity fragrance.
Bafun Uni | Caviar | Negitoro | Salmon Roe | Tamago | Seaweed Crispy Cereal Crunch
Bafun Uni 马粪海胆 (literally “horse dung sea urchin“) is the most popular and abundant of all varieties of sea urchin. Even if they are the go-to variety, there’s still a lot of difference between the different grades of Bafun. In the Uni world, peasants eat fishes and prawns while the royalties eat top grade kombu (seaweed). Different companies have different ways of rearing and grading their uni. This makes the price (and taste) difference.
This is nothing short of the highest grade Bafun uni, a little dollop packed so much umami and flavour profile that was orangey, creamy, satisfying. The seaweed cereal wafer was house made and layered on top were a sliver of tamgoyaki 玉子烧, negitoro (minced tuna belly) that had been mixed with ikura (salmon roe). And finally a sprinkling of Oscietra caviar. It was smoked with rosemary, a step which I thought was totally unnecessary and ceremonial. A great choice for appetiser if I were to praise myself.
Blue Prawn Tartar | Bafun Uni | Caviar Twist | Spring Onion Oil
There are prawns and there ARE prawns. Kuruma-ebi 車海老 (Japanese tiger prawn) is usually the prawn used in high-end sushi-ya, but they are not my favourite sashimi choice – great for tempura but just not sashimi. The Blue prawns used for today’s meal hail from local farms and their distinctive blue colour comes from a carefully monitored diet, which results in an incomparable taste.
Blue prawns were used in this tartare dressed in scallion oil and caviar. They had a melt in your mouth texture, and intensely sweet (not sugar sweet but seafood sweet) when raw. It strangely turns slightly sour and loose all sweetness when cooked. That’s why I personally prefer them raw and would order them whenever I see them on the menu. And the best part of the plate was the deep fried prawn head. Unfortunately there was only one per serving. And the Bafun uni made its appearance again, appreciated but not necessary as the prawns were already so tasty.
The Hot Stream features hearty mains to please even the most discerning of seafood lovers.
Uni Trofie | Hand Peeled Mangrove Crab | Bottarga Twist
The first hot stream main course was a pasta dish. Trofie is a short, thin, twisted pasta from Liguria, Northern Italy. It is usually paired with a creamy sauce like pesto or carbonara. Uni Trofie is an alternative and innovative carbonara made with a rich and creamy uni sauce and bottarga (salted grey mullet roe).
Mud crab meat was then topped onto the al dente trofie pasta with creamy uni sauce. Then bottarga was shaved onto the plate like Parmigiano-Reggiano to intensify the creaminess and umami. Sweetness from crab, saltiness from bottarga, and umami from uni came together in perfect harmony.
Marinated Squid “Plancha” | Roasted Garlic & Onion Tomato | Grilled Herbs
No prize for guessing where the inspiration of the name came from. Plancha is Spanish for flat grills that get very hot in the centre that creates the wokhei. Marinated Squid “Plancha” is a simple grilled sotong marinated with spices and herbs. What was outstanding was the temperature control of the chef here, it was still soft on the outside but the squid had the smokiness of the plancha. And the squid had got the eggs sac which I loved so much. Yummilicious.
Hand Peeled Lump Crab Cake | Homemade Thai Chili Sauce | Crispy Spring
This looked seemingly a very simple American classic until one bite into it. Named after Sebastian, the French-accented crab in The Little Mermaid, the crab cake was full of blue spanner crab meat and not as heavy as croquette. It’s like eating into a spoonful of crab in every mouthful. The sharp tartare sauce that came with the crab cake was delicious that I totally skipped the Thai chilli sauce.
Steamed Atlantic Cod | Thai Red Curry | Lime Leaf Roasted Pineapple Twist
If there’s one course that I did not like, it was this. Steamed Atlantic Cod in Thai red curry sounded like a lovely combination. Atlantic cod (or gadus in French is one of my favourite fish for its flaky, fatty goodness that is yet totally healthy and rich with Omega-3. But I often have it grilled or fried, but never in a curry. So when I saw it in the menu, I was intrigued.
And the curiosity killed the cat. It was not a good combination as the fattiness of the cod crashed with the creaminess of the red curry. It was a very heavy dish. And the cod steak was pretty much bland because the flavours of the curry did not permeate into the fish. Even when I flicked the sauce onto the flakes of fish, it was still quite weak. And the curry was pretty mild.
What’s a good meal without a proper sweet ending.
Crumble | Mix Berries Cremeux | Green Apple Mousse | Almond Mint Glaze
Choco De Coco
70% Warm Chocolate | Chestnut | Vanilla Ice Cream
The desserts were alright and not their forte or highlight. I would be really impressed if they have better desserts.
The thought of French seafood was what attracted to me this restaurant. I was hoping for the cold seafood tower, oysters on ice and salt baked seabass and classic seafood preparations of Marseille. Instead, I got a modern Fusion restaurant that would be mistaken as Japanese-Thai. The Cold Stream menu was mainly raw items, while the Hot Stream was Asian-influenced. But I was not disappointed as this menu was actually very good (maybe with the exception of the Thai cod curry).
They usually ran a degustation menu (6 streams/courses) with drinks for Sunday brunch, but I was lucky to be allowed to order ala carte. Each stream was meant to be shared, the portion is enough for two persons. We ordered four from each stream and were sufficiently fed. The total (without drinks) worked out to be a better deal that the degustation. But if you are dining as a couple, I would definitely recommend that you go with the degustation menu for a variety (and if you drink as the wine pairing is built into the costs).
I was very impressed with the freshness and the taste of the food overall. But it was the attentive service of the front team that made the difference. Highly recommended for the family gathering or a quiet dinner for two.
48 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel : +65 6223 2131
Visited in Apr 2022