Friday, 7 November 2014

Wild Rocket SG: where I had Mod Sing cuisine and a history lesson

Whenever I visit Singapore, I always try to meet up with my former colleague, S (who also blogs here). She always takes me to the coolest places, which makes sense as she's lived there all her life. For this trip, S took me to Wild Rocket at Mount Emily.

Wild Rocket serves “Mod Sin” cuisine (Modern Singaporean) as pioneered by its chef and owner Willin Low. Drawing inspiration from his travels and his passion for food he grew up with, the lawyer-turned-restaurateur conceptualises his dishes by twisting ingredients and turning presentations without losing the spirit of tradition. The result? A very exciting and contemporary take on Singaporean food. Think hawker food but gourmet.

The space, refurbished recently, is contemporary and clean-looking. There's an omakase bar where the chef serves an 8-course degustation menu (SG$118, roughly £55) and a area you can hire for private dining.

As we munched on the complimentary bread (served with really good olive oil), S and I both opted for the set lunch. It's great value for money at SG$33 (roughly £15) especially when some of the mains are set on that price.

Our first course came and the server instructed us to pull our drawers for cutlery. I liked this idea. I also liked the fact that as we were in Asia, it's almost customary to take photos of your food first! Lol.

For starters, we had the gyam chye mustard greens in duck consomme with duck confit ravioli and foie gras bits. S tells me it's a modern take on the classic Peranakan dish itek tim, a soup of duck, vegetables and salted vegetables and salted plumps simmered together (like the Filipino dish tinola).

The bits of foie gras and the gyam chye (pickled mustard) gave the dish good texture and the duck confit ravioli was really good. The consomme itself looked spectacularly clear, except S & I both couldn't finish it as it was a bit too kiam (salty).

We asked for a separate order of their famous pomelo salad with tiger prawns and frozen coconut sauce (SG$17) which S had been raving about for yonks.

It looked so deceptively simple yet the freshness of the ingredients made this dish sing. The frozen coconut sauce, sweet with notes of fish sauce and savoury things, is genius. Each bite was exciting as textures from green beans, nuts, crispy garlic, chilli and coriander play freely in your mouth. Yummy.

For mains, I had the catfish masok merah with spicy tomato relish served with asparagus. It looked rather simple but captured the flavour profile of masak merah, a classic curry dish often served with chicken. I thought I'd be hungry after this but two fillets of catfish in that awesome sauce later, I was pretty satisfied.

S ordered the krapao thai basil pork bee tai bak topped with onsen egg. I had a bit before she poked the yolk and I liked it a lot. Pork had a bit of a kick and the noodles were interesting.

That said, for someone who doesn't eat egg I truly appreciated the food porn the onsen egg created.
Onsen is a Japanese term relating to hot springs that flow, and look at how that egg yolk flowed...
Impressive, no?

I had the ji ma hu black sesame soup with milk ice cream for dessert. It was a generous portion for what it is but anyone who loves peanut butter would consume this with much gusto. I wish the texture was a bit smoother but overall, the taste was moderated by the milk ice cream.

S had the coconut ice cream with salted gulab malaka. I love all things coconut but thought the ice cream was just average. I thought the salted gulab malaka (palm sugar) would taste like salted caramel but actually, it has less smoky/burnt flavour with a bit of tang and a smoother texture. Quite pleasant.

Overall I reckon my Wild Rocket experience was made better by dining with a local who was able to explain origins of each dish. With each forkful of contemporary food, my mind traipsed through history, culture and tradition. I enjoyed it very much and though the location is a bit tricky to get to, it's pretty worth the trek.

Wild Rocket Singapore
Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road Singapore | +65 6339 9448
Ave spend pp: SG$50 for lunch, $75 for dinner
Like them on Facebook. Follow Chef Low on Instagram.

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