Thursday, October 22, 2009

Taste Paradise at ION

Tour of Luxury of Independence by The Hour Glass

I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Hour Glass to celebrate with them the visit of two major independent watchmakers, both of whom, over the years have also become friends to me. Kari Voultilainen and Romain Gauthier both were present for the cocktails at L'Atelier of The Hour Glass at ION and dinner at Taste Paradise at ION.

Kari and Romain are both talented watchmakers who prefer to work on their own, crafting wonderful timepieces with their own names, in very limited quantities instead of working for one of the major watch making houses. Both make very exclusive timepieces with an extremely high value addition, either with high level of finish and additional complication on old movements or creating totally new base movements. My friend Prof. Horolographer covers both these watchmakers and their work here as Part 1, 2, and 3.

But a tasting menu at Taste Paradise is certainly worthy of these greats in horology. I have earlier blogged about Paradise Inn...the Paradise group's lower end, home cooked, local chain of restaurants. The Taste Paradise is their version of Lexus...highend dining, with elements of fine dining. A cellar of fine wines line the corridoor as one walks into the beautifully decorated restaurant.

The degustation menu is set up French style. And presented a la Michelin...each course highliting individual ingredients and optimising the taste.

First course was a starter comprising of very traditional Peking Duck with condiments, Wasabi mayonaise Prawns, and pan seared foie gras.

Very nice presentation, worthy of a fine dining French Restaurant, and certainly commendable for a Chinese Restaurant.

First the Peking Duck:

Quite a traditional serving of Peking Duck...wonderfully crispy duck skin with a sliver of fat and meat, wrapped inside a flour pancake with a spring onion and sweet/savoury sauce. Excellent. And just nicely portioned to whet the appetite and palete to want for more.

The mayonaise prawn wasabi:

This was also expertly done. A fairly large prawn is deshelled, deep fried with a crisp, light batter, and coated with wasabi mayonaise. The slight pungent bite of the wasabi plays hide and seek with the rich, smooth mayonaise, and heightens the taste of the very fresh prawns. The ensemble sits on a small slice of sweet succulent water melon...nice touch.

And the final piece of the three part combination is a slice of pan seared foie gras:

Also excellent. The chef took great care to simply sear the liver just so...each bite provides a sensory experience that only foie gras can provide...the crisp outer layer exploding and spilling forth the fat, smooth, creamy, gorgeous taste of the foie gras. Wonderful.

Next, an innovative dish...Double Boiled chicken and sea whelk soup served in a coconut:

Quite clever this one...the soup was a rich tasting broth, made with superior stock. The chicken was tender as was the whelk, and imparted their flavours and goodness into the broth. The coconut shell serving as container also provided a richness, and mild coconuty flavour.

Next dish was also inspired...a baked cod with miso and crispy tofu with truffle reduction:

Interesting. Neither miso nor truffle are traditional Chinese ingredients. But fusion chefs have, in these last few years manage to marry traditional Japanese miso with cod (also not a traditional Chinese fish), and manage to work truffle into a chinese dish.

The fish was wonderful. Nicely done, it remained slight flakey, and moist inside the miso jacket. As cod is a rich, oily fish, the sharp, astringent miso provided a nice counterpoint to the dish.

The tofu was something else. The beautiful tofu...fragrant, soft and tender...hides inside a very crispy shell and topped with tiny mushrooms and sitting on a pool of black truffle reduction...the description sounds more like a Michelin starred French meal than a Chinese one...except for the tofu. I found this to be truly superb. The tastes, disparate as they seem to be, comes together very well...testament to the genius of the chef. Kudos chef.

And the main course was baked Kurobuta pork with wild mushroom:

Kurobuta pork is also a Japanese elite ingredient, now becoming more common and popular in the higher end eating places and embraced by western cooking as well as eastern. Kurobuta pork is more flavourful, more tender and more fat than regular pork. Pork fat tends to retain flavours of the feed, and as Kurobuta pork is raised on organic feed, carefully controlled in quantity as well as quality, the pork is usually fresher tasting than say AirPork (from Australia) or fresh Indonesian pork.

This piece of pork was indeed very tender. But I was disturbed slightly by the sweet sauce...marring the otherwise excellent dish (and indeed otherwise spectacular dinner).

Desserts was also inspired...and more a French style presentation with traditional Chinese dessert ingredients:

A combination of a small glass of chilled mango puree, black glutinous rice paste with vanilla ice cream and a baked custard. The mango puree was excellent, and served as a mouth cleanser...sweet and sour, with bits of mango pulp inside. The black glutinous rice went very well with the vanilla ice cream...providing the mouth with the rich taste sensation. And finally the baked custard was a flaky piece of pastry, with a custard core...very nice and also the pastry chef showed restraint in not making it too sweet. Perfect.

I came away very impressed with Taste Paradise. Excellent and inspired cooking, even when serving a party of 4 tables (about 40 pax) is not an easy task for any kitchen, but they proved to be truly capable.

Taste Paradise at ION Orchard
ION Orchard #04-07
No. 2 Orchard Turn
Singapore 238801
Opening Hours
Mon – Fri
11.30am- 3.00pm (last order at 2.30pm)
6.00pm - 11pm (last order at 10.00pm)
Sat, Sun & PH
11.00am – 5.00pm (last order at 10.30pm)
6.00pm - 11.00pm (last order at 10.00pm)
6509 9660
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