Happy New Year, everyone! And to celebrate the festivities (and Princess graduation), I threw a luncheon for her tutors at Euphoria. Get ready for onions!
Restaurant Euphoria is the showcase for Gastro-Botanica, the culinary philosophy by chef/owner Jason Tan. Located in vibrant Tras Street, the restaurant recreates a lush garden within its heritage shophouse interior, setting the stage for a gastronomic journey with an ingredient that launched the career of a ground-breaking chef at the peak of his craft. Everything, from the tableware to the wall fixtures and ceiling installation, recalls the onion in one form or another.
Sleek, chic and cosy, the space sports a foliage-covered ceiling that faces a concrete screed flooring. Detail after detail is an homage to the onion; the multi-panels of the front bar and the brown tufted banquette seating symbolise the vegetable’s layers; likewise with the curves of the six-metre-long brass lighting installation.
Voyage of Euphoria
This degustation menu highlighted all the signature dishes of Chef Jason and a few. There were his onion-inspired dishes, but this 2.0 version (if his Corner House menu was 1.0) featured more of the sauces.
With this 2.0 version, Chef Jason reinvents pure vegetable extraction and reduction with meatless sauces, shattering the boundaries of haute French cuisine by moving away from its five pillars of heavy mother sauces and jus. Collectively named Gastro-Botanica Essences – La Symphonie de Légumes, layers of flavours and nuances are extracted by the roasting, steaming, boiling and dripping of over 30 different vegetables, with the addition of select herbs, spices, seeds, olive oil, white wine, red wine, fruit zest, salt and butter.
30kg of whole vegetables go daily into extracting 2L of essence, which forms the backbone of Gastro-Botanica 2.0 cuisine creation. His four pure botanical essences comprise Légumes Demi-Glace (a brown sauce of celery, celeriac, carrot, onion, button mushroom and tomato), Légumes Vin Blanc (a white sauce of carrot, shallot, onion, fennel, ginger), Légumes Emulsion (an emulsion of three different cabbages and onion), and Légumes Essence (a pure and clear sauce of onion and kombu)
Here’s the whole menu.
- Amuse Bouche
- Feuille de brick | Garlic scape | Baerii caviar or Caviaroli
- Gorgonzola | Black truffle | Honey or Donut | Choron | Mushroom
- Watermelon radish | White balsamic | Sudachi
- Onion Jamboree / My Favourite Vegetable
- Mochishire “Soupe À L’oignon”
- Mirugai (add-on)
- Westholme Wagyu Shortrib
- Mont Blanc / Hokkaido Milk
- Alice In Wonderland
Feuille de brick | Garlic scape | Baerii caviar | Caviaroli
The first amuse bouche captured the essence of Gastro-Botanica in one small bite. Carefully assembled on a wave-like tile made from a single layer of pastry, they looked like wild flora growing out of the edges of roof tiles. Focusing on the botanical elements (vegetables, tubers, herbs, spices and fruits), everything on the feuille de brick was edible. And they tasted delicious, although the flowers did not taste like anything but were really pretty.
Garlic scapes 蒜苔 are the tender stem and flower bud of a hardneck garlic plant. They are cooked with macadamia nut butter to create a beurre noisette emulsion. Originating from a unique and prehistoric species, Baerii caviar is sourced from the sturgeon, also known as the Acipenser Baerii. And for those who do not like caviar, caviaroli was used; these are spheres of pure oil with the same texture as caviar and they explode in the mouth, leaving unique aromas and intensity on the palate.
My family used to grow this kind of orchid called the Dancing Lady at home, one of the first Oncidium hybrids developed by the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 1939. Orchids are not only sought by many because of their disarming beauty, they have been used by many cultures in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin Americas for their medicinal values and edible quality. Before you start plucking them from your florist, do note that these orchids (and flowers) are specially cultivated without any pesticide for culinary purpose.
The next two “mouth amuser” came together. And for one of my guest who was pregnant, the “bikini” which has raw ingredients in it was replaced with a donut.
Gorgonzola | Black truffle | Honey
At Eixample tapas bar Tapaç 24, el Bulli alum Carles Abellán elevates the simple sandwich, using grated black truffles alongside local jamon iberico and queso Manchegoon spread between grilled, crustless white bread. Sliced into four delicate triangles, the result is a satisfying, sexy little bite called “bikinis“. Here it is done as a “bikini string”.
Gorgonzola is a veined blue cheese, originally from Italy, made from unskimmed cow’s milk. It can be buttery or firm, crumbly and quite salty, with a “bite” from its blue veining. To mellow down the “bite”, honey was added together with crushed black truffles. They were then spread on a double-sided toast and cut into strings. Absolute fabulous eat.
Watermelon radish | White balsamic | Sudachi
Watermelon radishes are an heirloom variety of Chinese daikon radish. They get their name from their bright pink interior and green skin, not their taste. Here, they were pickled with white balsamic vinegar and filled with celeriac and konbu jelly and finished with the fragrance of sudachi lime. Refreshing, and reminded me of a Chinese pickled served before dinner.
Donut | Choron | Mushroom
For our mommy-in-waiting, she was served a tiny donut filled with choron sauce and topped with a slice of mushroom. Choron sauce is a variation on the classic Bearnaise sauce made by adding tomato paste to the standard Bearnaise. The donut resembled a brown button mushroom on the outside.
5 Allium | Oscietra prestige caviar | Légumes essence
When Chef Jason conceptualised the new menu for Restaurant Euphoria, he wanted to create a new onion dish, and challenged himself to create one using five different varieties of alliums this time. (The original in Corner House uses one main type of onion with four textures.)
The result was a visually spectacular dish that used all five different alliums – Cévennes onion, red onion, yellow onion, pearl onion and spring onion – in different ways and combining in harmonious dish.
Cévennes onions and smoked eel were used in the making of the centrepiece parfait with whipped cream and Riesling added in, yellow onions in the onion and lemon purée, pickled pearl onions and spring onion sprigs to form the “petals”, spring onion oil, as well as red onions in the Légumes Essence. The dish is also presented in a handmade, onion-inspired ceramic plate designed by Chef Jason’s partner Arissa Wang. The Légumes Essence is the ‘purest’ of all the four essences, created using a base of red onions and kombu.
Incorporated into this dish is caviar from Kaviari, the Oscietra Prestige which was specially selected by Chef Jason for its pop sensation and the flavours from the shorter four-month aging process. Only three restaurants in the world serve the Kaviari Oscietra Prestige, of which Restaurant Euphoria is the only one in Singapore. If you are wondering, the other two are Yannick Alléno (Paris) and Tate Dining (Hong Kong).
The onion purée and pearl onion lend a subtle sweetness that’s such a delight to uncover on a presentation that’s almost too pretty to pick on. There’s also a wildly generous spoonful of S Allium Oscietra prestige caviar on the smoked eel onion parfait, which, in itself, is deliberately mild with an impressive oiliness that made me gasp, bite upon bite.
My Favourite Vegetable
Oignon doux des Cévennes
‘My Favourite Vegetable’ featured Cévennes onions in 4 ways – in an onion cup with a 62 degree egg and black truffles, on a tart, in a chip and infused in a tea.
I had tried this the last time in Corner House. It was delicious, especially the Onion Tea, where 4kg of onions was reduced to 200ml over two days of slow extraction.
Mochishire “Soupe à l’Oignon”
Chef Jason moved away from the usual bread service featuring the ubiquitous sourdough or baguette to present his own creation, dubbed the “mochishire”, the cheesy, chewy, and fluffy lovechild of pao de queijo and yorkshire pudding – served warm and with a savoury, extremely addictive caramelised onion dip.
Mochishire is made with happiness by combining milk, olive oil, and tapioca starch, before adding in eggs, gruyère cheese and salt to form a gluten free dough for everyone to enjoy. It is equally in its place with kaya or chilli crab, or with this “soup à l’oignon”, which comprises caramelised Cévennes onions, olive oil and egg yolk..
Riso | Seaweed | Buckwheat
This course was an add-on to the Voyage, although it was part of the dinner menu. Here, Chef Jason used one of his favourite pasta, the rice-shaped riso, to make a risotto-like intermission to what I described as Part 1 of the Voyage, which so far made up of teasers to the palate. With the pasta, we moved into the serious part of the meal.
The technique was similar to his other riso dish featuring the squid. Here, Chef Jason used the Pacific geoduck called Mirugai in Japanese. The geoduck was scorched on the outside and then sliced to thin pieces and placed on a “riso”-tto cooked with seaweed stock and thickened with raw egg yolk like a carbonara. Popped buckwheat was added from texture.
No kidding, I could have finished it all in two spoonful, but I decided to savour the delicious pasta little by little for all its richness and umami. Everything work harmoniously together, just like the sotong version served at Corner House.
Chicken neck | Cordyceps | Vin jaune | Légumes emulsion
The vin jaune-enriched Légumes Emulsion graced the Mozambique langoustine course. Two ingredients that were seldom used in French cooking, cordyceps fungi and chicken skin were used to give an earthy flavour and a satisfying crunch respectively. Who can say no to crispy kawa.
Vin jaune (French for “yellow wine”) is a special and characteristic type of white wine made in the Jura region in eastern France. It is often used in sauces to give it that sherry-like fruitiness and acidity from the savagnin grapes.
The alternate version used finger lime for the acidity and the langoustine as full-cooked.
For the rest of us, the langoustine was lightly pan fried on the surface to leave the rest of the crustacean still raw and crunchy. The sweetness and umami remained prominent despite the competing emulsion sauce.
Obsiblue prawn | Butternut squash | Ginger | Soya | Beurre noisette | Légumes vin blanc
Samegarei サメガレイ Roughscale flounder has smooth, sweet flesh that contradicts its rough, bumpy skin. Two parts of the flatfish were served on the same plate – the flesh of the flounder, and the fins of the flounder called engawa エンガワ in Japanese. The engawa has a fatty texture that can be mistaken for silver cod.
It was a very busy plate, with a quenelle of butternut squash mixed with bits of macadamia nuts. Légumes vin blanc was fortified with soya sauce and ginger with beurre noisette. A lonely, almost rare obsiblue prawn was hidden away at one corner, totally unnecessary. So a perfectly pan fried and light piece of fish was totally crowded with things that did not add brownie points to the taste or texture.
A4 Toriyama Wagyu Shortrib
Jerusalem artichoke | Black truffle | Légumes demi glace
Unbeknown to many in a fishing village in Kaohsiung County, Taiwan, Kuo Chang-shi (郭常喜), a blacksmith for 47 years, is famed for making swords, including the Green Destiny Sword (青冥劍) used in the Academy Award winner “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. Kuo is one of the few blacksmiths in Taiwan hand-making swords and knives in the ancient Chinese way. This patent design and technique is called multiple-layered veined steel manufacturing (積層摺疊花紋鋼). The steak knifes used here were made by this master using this method.
A4 Wagyu has slightly less fat and is not as overwhelmingly rich as A5 Wagyu. It still has the unique melts-in-your-mouth and the umami qualities which are unique to Japanese Wagyu in general, but carries a more beefy flavour profile and you can eat more of it in one sitting. Jerusalem artichoke was served as a mash with steaks, but here it was also presented as chips with shaved parsnip.
The black truffle-infused Légumes demi glace, although fabulous, was unnecessary because the wagyu was already succulent and flavourful on its own.
On another plate, a piece of baklava-looking pastry was presented surrounded by a ring of beautiful flowers. The filo pastry was wrapped round shredded wagyu. A wonderful piece of surprise, like a beef pie but better.
Yoghurt | Yuba | Isomalt | Oscietra prestige caviar
And now we moved to the final part of the Voyage, the sweet finale. Chef Jason always challenges us with strange ingredients for dessert and this time it was caviar. Strangely, we did not have a palate cleanser before jumping straight to dessert.
On the bottom, almond pudding with yoghurt and yuba (tofu skin). A dollop of caviar was placed on the pudding and a layer of clear isomalt was carefully balanced on top of the caviar.
To eat it, you crack the isomaly like a creme brûlée. The salty caviar mixed with the sweet almond pudding and sour yoghurt with refreshing yuba that get its flavour from the lemon oil drops. I wasn’t sure if this was a dessert or a palate cleanser.
Jivara | Earl grey | Parsnip | Whisky
I love Mont Blanc, not the pen company, but a chestnut confection invented in Piedmont, Italy. A quenelle of Earl Grey infused Jivara chocolate ice cream was drizzled with noodles of chestnut cream, decorated with parsnip chips.
Then, liquid nitrogen whisky was added for that extra kick to the dessert.
All you have to do it to scoop it all up with the spoon and enjoy my comfort food spiked with whisky.
Strawberry | Elderflower | Stracciatella | Med olive oil
Because of the used of whisky in the last dessert, an alternative was served using Hokkaido milk.
This dessert from his Corner House repertoire used liquid nitrogen elderflower served dramatically at the table with organic milk three-ways (meringue stick, stracciatella, panna cotta) and balanced with fresh strawberry and sorbet with a strawberry sauce.
Alice In Wonderland
Horlick kinako mochi | Canelé de Bordeaux | Macadamia “Caramelia 36%” | Nutmeg madeleine
And finally, we were presented with “Alice in Wonderland”, petit fours in a special box. The “Alice in Wonderland” box was custom design by JTAW design studio by Mrs. Onion (Arissa Wang) for Mr. Onion (Chef Jason) with special Canadian walnut wood and handcrafted with delicate Japanese lacquerware techniques. Each box took over 2 months for artisan to complete.
Horlick Mochi – Mochi filling is a childhood favourite of mine, a sweet meaty drink called Horlicks. Kinako mochi is like our local muah chee and is made from with glutinous rice flour and covered with kinako 黄粉 (soybean powder). I wished they would make them smaller, it was quite a big bite.
Macadamia truffles – Soft, rich and voluptuous, Valhora’s Caramelia 36% stands out with its rich milky flavor and compelling taste of salted butter caramel. Each truffle was embedded with a whole macadamia nut.
Nutmeg madeleine – Classic madeleine recipe with added freshly grated nutmeg. Not pictured was the Canelé de Bordeaux – Classic Canelé de Bordeaux recipe with finest vanilla and dark rum; Mommy-to-be was not given one.
Usually I am not a fan of these gastronomy philosophy, like Andre Chiang’s octaphilosophy, but for Chef Jason it was more of an obsession with using everything from the garden. The result was interesting and wonderfully light for the chronic cardio patients like me; I appreciate using less heavy cream and butter as normally would in French haute cuisine but not sacrificing the taste and complexity in the sauces. But the main courses became quite boring by the end of Part 2, because they started to taste similar.
Nevertheless, Chef Jason continues to surprise me with innovative combinations and new interpretation of old classics. This aspect of the meal I approve a lot. Recommended if you are a fan of slow food, and three-hour lunches.
76 Tras Street, Singapore 079015
Tel : +65 8028 8220
Visited Dec 2022
Michelin Singapore Guide 1 Star 2022
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