Review of CURATE’s New Menu

September 2017: Chef de Cuisine Benjamin Halat introduces an exciting new culinary direction for CURATE’s year-round menu, served in between the quarterly Art at Curate series, by focusing on inventive contemporary European cuisine with Asian accents and influences.

5-Course Menu 8-Course Menu
  • Belon Oyster
  • Carabinero Prawn
  • Alaska King Crab
  • Iberico Pork Chop
  • Sweet Corn (dessert)
  • Foie Gras Parfait
  • Hokkaido Scallop
  • Braised Oxtail
  • Turbot
  • Wagyu Sirloin
  • Brie de Mauxe
  • Kafir Lime (dessert)
  • Sweet Corn (dessert)

In every dish, diners can expect to experience Asian influences through the use of ingredients such as bamboo shoots, umeboshi and even five-spice powder. Ingredients like laksa leaves and white pepper also promise to bring to mind the familiar tastes of local favourites in Chef Halat’s European cuisine. Notably, Chef Halat’s cuisine also reflects his fascination in delivering the fifth taste, the unforgettable umami flavour, whilst ingenuously mixing different textures in each dish.

Each menu comes with servings of canapés and petit fours, which are not fixed items on the menu. I had the chance to try out dishes from both menus, and here are what I find most appealing.

Highlights from the 5-Course Menu

Belon Oyster

Belon Oyster

I’ll admit, raw oysters aren’t my thing. I was pretty apprehensive about diving right in to one as the first course in the 5-course menu, but I must say that Chef Halat’s Rosella emulsion with fresh coconut infusion excited my palate in a way I didn’t expect it to. Reminiscent of Tobasco sauce and lemon, the Rosella emulsion hit my bitter, sweet, sour and even spicy taste receptors all at once. Whether or not you’re an ostreaphile, this Belon Oyster dish is sure to whet your appetite.

Alaska King Crab

Alaska King Crab

Marinated in coriander chilli, a succulent and slightly salted chunk of fresh Alaska King Crab leg is placed atop a European crab mash and oriental bamboo shoot slices that have been coated with chilli powder. The mint emulsion at the base gives off zesty (and slightly sour) notes of lime, brilliantly balancing out the mild musky taste that is typical of crab dishes. Having studied Anthropology, I must say that this dish exemplifies the beauty of syncretism – when East meets West to produce something completely new and different.

Iberico Pork Chop

Iberico Pork Chop

Inspired by – but not intended to mimic – Bak Kut Teh, this Iberico Pork Chop is seasoned with white pepper and five-spice powder before it is grilled to give that mesmerizing slightly charred taste. I don’t usually enjoy eating fatty meats, but I loved the layer of fat around this lean cut of Iberico pork because it melts in your mouth, and is at once comforting and satisfying. While pork is in general is a dense type of meat, the spices and cubed white bell peppers in this dish give it that slight piquant kick so you won’t feel too cloy to indulge in the Sweet Corn dessert and petit fours that come after.

Highlights from the 8-Course Menu

Hokkaido Scallop

This dish doesn’t just taste amazing, it gives diners an all-rounded sensory experience.

Hokkaido Scallop (I)

The top layer of the dish rests on a shell-shaped plate and releases an attention-grabbing whiff of trapped cedar smoke when lifted, permeating the air and making it a truly impressionable dish. Comprising scallop tartare, umeboshi (pickled Japanese salt plums) and crispy fried seaweed, this layer of the dish provides a great mix of textures and a cacophony of sour and savoury flavours.

Hokkaido Scallop (II)

Beneath the shell-shaped plate, a juicy whole Hokkaido scallop that has been seared to perfection forms the centerpiece of this dish’s bottom layer. The peas that accompany the scallop are coated with lardo (white pork lard) that is a welcome kind of oily, decadent, yet not overindulgent thanks to the savoury umeboshi broth that turns refreshingly sour as it lingers on your tongue.

In my opinion, this dish reminds me of Japan’s plum blossom festivals, and is definitely the highlight of CURATE’s new 8-course menu.

Braised Oxtail

Braised Oxtail

Before it is wrapped in a layer of crunchy red onion like a gift, the braised oxtail meat is first braised for 13 hours so that it becomes extremely tender – and a walking umami bomb. Chef Halat himself also came out during the tasting session to grate pieces of aromatic fresh Black Truffle that blend seamlessly with the oxtail and potato espuma base, bursting with an intense earthy flavour in your mouth. Because of its full-bodied richness, this dish is best savoured slowly to avoid overwhelming your senses.

Wagyu Sirloin

Wagyu Sirloin

Probably the most creatively plated dish in CURATE’s new menu, the Wagyu Sirloin resembles a fairy tale garden and brings Chef Halat’s signature whimsical style of plating to the table. Topped with assorted herbs, Chanterelle mushroom and daikon rolled with horseradish, the prime cut beef has an exceptional depth of flavour thanks to Chef Halat’s own innovative technique of dry-aging beef using kombu seaweed instead of conventional air ventilation. The accompanying puree of smoked bone marrow and mushroom is savoury, earthy and creamy, further adding another vivid layer of depth to the dish.

Kafir Lime

Kafir Lime

Made of kafir lime and aloe vera plucked fresh from Tangerine’s herb garden, this citrusy dessert is a great way to cleanse the palate after several courses of bold-flavoured dishes. If you don’t like sour food, fret not. The sugar cane espuma that forms the white foam above the lime sorbet is sweet and alkaline enough to neutralise the sorbet’s acidity.

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CURATE  |  website link
5-course dinner costs S$158++  |  8-course dinner costs S$198++
Location: Forum L1
Opening hours: Dinner 6.30pm – 10.30pm  |  closed on Sundays
Dress code: Smart elegant.

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