Not a fan of raw tuna? How about durians? Don’t think you could go on a gastronomic adventure or stomach anything fancier than your daily humble hawker fare? Team member Sin Yee (a self-professed zi-char lover and “safe-eater”) tells us about how a visit to concept restaurant Forest 森 has made her try – and enjoyed – dishes she never thought she would.
“Last week, I brought my parents to dinner at the newest restaurant Forest 森. Helmed by Sam Leong, I was sure my parents would enjoy the food since they used to frequent Tung Lok. I didn’t expect that I would love the food as well, or ended up trying dishes that I thought I would never ever try.
I was always a hawker food/zi-char kind of girl. I’ll choose bak chor mee over aglio olio anytime, and I’ll need my fix of sweet and sour pork every couple of months. When a special occasion calls for dinner at swanky restaurants, I usually make “safe” choices – grilled cod, wagyu beef cooked well or anything pasta. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food, and steer clear of raw items and anything that I consider “icky” – like caviar or escargot.
When we walked into Forest 森, what struck me was that it is nothing like a typical Chinese restaurant. Everything was bathed in beige, with woody accents and even a structure built to resemble a tree’s canopy illuminated by changing lights. I used to wonder why it was called Forest 森; the name of the restaurant was beginning to make sense now.
When we were seated, the waitress explained that besides the ala carte menu which served individual-sized portions, Chef Sam had also specially designed two discovery menus. What’s a discovery menu – something I’ve only seen at places like Joel Robuchon and Nobu – doing in a Chinese restaurant? The waitress highly recommended the discovery menu and my parents were sold. As usual, I went with my “safe” choices from the ala carte menu.
The meal lasted a little longer than two hours, and by the end of it, we were not only stuffed but really satisfied. It would be too much to detail each and every dish, but I’ll highlight three that stood out for me.
First, the tuna tartare marinated with mango served in a cone. Usually, I would skip anything rare. But it looked really pretty, sitting there in a black ice cream cone which made me want to eat it. It tasted quite good; the medley of flavours masked any fishy smell that I had expected to come with tuna.
Then there was the steamed thai rice with XO sausages and foie gras served in a baby pumpkin. The chef explained that the dish is meant to evoke the familiar taste of waxed meat rice easily found in Hong Kong and considered by many to be comfort food. He encouraged me to dig in and get the rice, foie gras and sausages in one bite. I ended up polishing off everything in that little pumpkin. The foie gras really complemented the taste of the sausages resulting in a fragrant, smooth, rich flavour.
Dessert was Siam chocolate banana ganache with wok-fried golden pisang (which has a hint of durian) and thai-teh ice cream . I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of durian – when my family brings home durians, I’d hide in my room so that I won’t encounter durian-breath. But since this was the last dish of the night, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and took my first bite of durian in 20 years. To my surprise, the durian taste was not too strong! I later found out from the waitress that the durian puree is mixed with cempedak fruit, resulting in a delicious durian-cempadak goreng pisang which had only a faint taste of durian. I did have a little durian breath after the meal though.
It was a dinner I wouldn’t forget anytime soon, not just for the tasty dishes, but also because it was a personal milestone as I broke some of my usual “diet restrictions”. That speaks volumes of how good the chefs are, in converting me into a durian, foie gras and raw tuna eater!”
Forest森 is located at the Equarius Hotel lobby. It is open daily for lunch from 12pm to 2:30pm and dinner from 6pm-10:30pm. Forest seats 176 guests (indoor and alfresco). Dishes from the A La Carte menu start from $15. The 8-course Discovery menu is $180++ and 10-course Discovery menu is $250++.
Enquiries and reservations can be made at +65 6577 7788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.