Tag Archives: julien royer

JAAN | Singapore | Oct ’14 | “luxury and naturalism co-existing”

9 Nov
  • Rating: 17.5/20
  • Address: 2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882
  • Phone: +65 6837 3322
  • Price per pax: SGD$375 [10 course option] (USD$291 at 1 SGD = 0.7761 USD)
  • Value: 3/5
  • Dining time: 150 minutes
  • Chef: Julien Royer
  • Style: Naturalist French

What I like about JAAN:

  • Every great restaurant has a voice, the voice of an executive chef who puts his vision on a plate. At JAAN that voice is developing, but it is unmistakably Chef Julien Royer’s:
    • Impeccably cooked ingredients. Dishes are always technically well executed (for instance, the crispy-scaled Amadai)
    • Ingredient profile tends towards the traditional luxury ingredients (truffles, iberico, abalone, uni, good wagyu, and Chef Julien’s favorite – obsiblue prawn), from artisanal producers across the world.
    • Many of the dishes will have mushrooms or truffles of some sort. The signature mushroom ketchup sauce (made from repeated straining a grab bag of mushrooms) is especially great.
    • There will be at least one vegetable garden dish (as a homage to his period in Michel Bras’s kitchen)
  • Even with the exalted view of Singapore from the 70th floor of the Swissotel, the cooking remains humble in two important ways. Firstly, the chef is not overwhelmed by the luxury ingredients, and he does not hesitate to make sunchokes and beetroot two of the star dishes of his ten-course tasting menu. Secondly, the chef does not warp ingredients with molecular techniques beyond all recognition, his ingredients preserve their natural shape while being cooked.
  • The mushroom tea with ceps sabayon, and 55’ Rosemary Smoked Egg, are reliable crowd pleasers.
  • The Choconuts dessert has surely reached a pinnacle of perfection. It is one of the best chocolate desserts I can remember having.

What I feel can be improved at JAAN:

  • I felt that my meal this time round could have had better composed dishes. While the individual ingredients were impeccably cooked, the sum was sometimes just equal to the parts. As an example, my last main, the Toriyama beef, was paired with tremendously good Hokkaido creamed corn and grilled corn, but a greasy cornbread somewhat detracted from the clean fat of the beef. Similarly, the amuse of black sesame sponge and smoked eel made little sense to me, and the first main, a “supergroup” of Hokkaido sea urchin, obsiblue prawn, and caviar was neither really synergistic nor intellectually stimulating (I had the same reaction to a very similar dish at Amber in Hong Kong earlier this year – I just felt that luxury ingredients were their own raison d’etre for the dish, and it was on the menu more as to signify luxury than for intrinsic merit)
  • The dessert program should become more comprehensive. In a sequence of three desserts, having two of them as sorbets (and very run-of-the-mill sorbets at that) is disappointing.
  • The bread program can also be improved, the best parts of the breads were the charmingly pointed baguette ends (curled up like leprechaun shoes), but the rest of the breads were slightly humdrum.

For refined, well-executed cuisine, JAAN is the first restaurant that comes to my mind. It is easy to forget the Chef Julien is still very young. I wonder how the cuisine at JAAN will develop in the next year or two.

Rating: 17.5/20


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  • Lentil Hummus, cereals tuile

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  • Black sesame sponge, smoked eel (3.5/5)
    • I didn’t understand this amuse, and why black sesame goes with smoked eel. The flavors were separate, even the form – solid sponge with solid eel, one after the other – maintained separateness

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  • Parmesan tart, tomato fondue

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  • Cantal and walnut crackers

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  • Mushroom tea, cep sabayon (4.5/5)
    • A very good amuse, a Julien Royer standard. The earthiness from the mushrooms paired as well as ever with the light yet substantial savory egg-foam sabayon. What elevated it (I cannot remember if this is a new touch since my last meal last year) was the toasted buckwheat on top of the sabayon. When the mushroom tea is poured in, the toasted buckwheat maintained its crunchiness, providing a crunchy texture. But it also gave a taste of Christmas to the tea. It is hard to describe the taste of buckwheat, but it is as impactful as nutmeg.

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  • HOKKAIDO SEA URCHIN Obsiblue prawn, Kaluga queen caviar (4.25/5)
    • Seaweed butter, burnt toast. The obsiblue prawn was made into a jelly this time (did you know? Obsiblue prawn is available all year round).
    • This was a dish delicious by virtue of its ingredients, but it had little synergy. The mild burst of marine taste from the urchin and obsiblue prawn jelly was over in one or two bites.
    • Reminiscent of the 2* Amber’s signature dish: “Hokkaido sea urchin in lobster jelly, with cauliflower, caviar, and crispy seaweed”. A popular confection – sea urchin, crustacean jelly and caviar. But while this trio of ingredients may feel decadent by virtue of its ingredients, I don’t quite taste the synergy.
    • The idea of this dish also seems an unwieldly mashup on two ideas: the refined little supergroup of luxury ingredients in a single bowl (e.g. found at Amber), and the sea urchin – black toast combination  (e.g. found at Jean-Georges). I was a bit confused as to whether to eat the dish with a spoon or by using my burnt toast as a dip.

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  • BEETROOT ‘COLLECTION’ Burrata artigiana, honeycombs, radish (4.25/5)
    • I especially liked the beetroot sorbet, something which captured the earthy simplicity of beetroot, available to any chef.
    • The scattered bits of honeycomb added marvellous texture and taste to the dish.

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  • WILD ABALONE Grenobloise (3.75/5)
    • Baby abalone, burgundy truffle, mushroom ketchup.
    • The baby abalone was quite tough. The best part was the mushroom ketchup (a signature sauce here, straining different mushrooms)
    • It remained separate. Burgundy truffle only imparts a mild truffle taste to the dish.
    • Grenobloise (a parsley-brown butter) sauce is listed on the menu, but I have little impression of it.

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  • AUTUMN GARDEN Roots vegetables, mushroom ketchup, Burgundy truffle (3.5/5)
    • Sunchoke, parsley sponge made to look like parsley.
    • A sweet onion smell permeated the salad
    • But a bit too much sunchoke? It was present as puree, chips, roasted etc.

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  • 55’ ROSEMARY SMOKED ORGANIC EGG Ratte potato, chorizo iberico, buckwheat (4.5/5)
    • 55 minutes cooked egg at 63.7 degrees celsius (they’re getting much more precise). Robustly flavored iberico chorizo, the shape of matchsticks with an explosion of umami in every bite.
    • A very good signature dish

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  • AMADAI ‘RETOUR D’ORIENT’ Confit romanesco broccoli, coquillages, argan oil (4.75/5)
    • Pickled and roasted romensco broccoli, crayfish, miso caramel
    • Very well done crispy scales on the Amadai, (the scales needs first to be scrubbed to face up, and then fried without touching the flesh of the fish). The purple hanaho flower (from the shiso plant) gave a fresh taste to the dish. The miso caramel was delicious

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  • GRILLED TORIYAMA BEEF Baby girolles, Hokkaido corn, sherry vinegar (4/5)
    • Toriyama wagyu, Hokkaido creamed corn, roasted corn, girolle mushrooms, and Hokkaido corn cornbread.
    • While the wagyu was perfectly cooked, and full of clean beef flavor, unfortunately the cornbread, which was greasy and undisciplined, detracted from the clean oiliness of the wagyu. I had to set aside the cornbread to focus on tastes of the wagyu.
    • But the creamed corn, and the roasted corn, were full of clean corn flavor. The pickled onion  was an inspired touch.

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  • KYOHO GRAPE Elderflower, lemon, granite
    • Elderflower pearls, lemon granite

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  • CHOCONUTS ‘TART’ Taste and textures (5/5)
    • I was very pleased with this dessert. Chocolate in multiple forms: a perfectly formed quenelle of chocolate ice-cream (puzzlingly described to me by the Front-of-House as a “sorbet”), with chocolate foam, chocolate balls, chocolate tuile, on a chocolate tart, with a huge dollop of hot chocolate cream being applied as the coup-de-grace.
    • Marvelous and classic chocolate dessert, one of the very best I have tried anywhere in the world. Decadent, delicious, and (very quickly) disappeared.

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  • CUCUMBER Mint, milk (3.5/5)
    • Cucumber sorbet, apple granite, mint, milk meringue on top.
    • Desserts seem to be a weaker program here at JAAN. Of the 3 dessert courses, only one was a real dessert (as opposed to sorbets, which can be slapped together with very little thought). I hope the kitchen will step up their game on dessert offerings in general. While the Choconuts tart was excellent, a restaurant of this calibre should really have two proper desserts on a 10 course menu.

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  • Mignardises (anti clockwise from 10 o’clock): Rosemary ice-cream with chocolate; coconut marshmallow; canele; cep-mushroom + chocolate macaron
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JAAN | Singapore | 26/07/13 | “mushrooms and fungi”

28 Jul
Address: Level 70, Equinox Complex, Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore, Singapore 178882
Phone: +65 6837 3322

Julien Royer of Jaan is a feted chef these days. Jaan is ranked #22 in Asia for the 2013 Miele Guide, and the preternaturally young chef has been pegged as the rising chef to watch. I recently had the good fortune of dining at Jaan, and sampling Chef Royer’s Artisanal Cuisine. In his foreword to the meal, he mentions that his cooking involves “simple but beautiful dishes that reflect both culinary tradition and [his] creativity”. I chose the 7-course gastronomic lunch option.

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My view.

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Chef’s Manifesto

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Snacks. Clockwise from top,

1. smoked eel on a spoon + chicken pastilla (think samosa)

2. sardine in a can

3. home-made hummus + rye crackers

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____________

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Amuse-bouche: Cepes Sabayon and Mushroom Tea (5/5)

A Sabayon is a foamy egg sauce; this is what a Cepes mushroom is like. The mushroom-tea was poured into the sabayon. A light foamy mixture, strongly-tasting of mushroom, but very light. Possibly a small wink at Singapore’s foamy tea, teh tarik.

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Course #1: Crab & Obsiblue ‘Shell’ – avocado, apple, caviar (5/5)

This dish is an alternate rendition of the Obsiblue prawn dish mentioned in food blogger Aun Koh’s review.  The sublime taste of Obsiblue prawn comes out beautifully in a tartare, with crab salad and caviar on top. An avocado foam tops it; a crustacean jelly undergirds it. Superb.

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Course #2: Buffalo Heart Tomato – burrata ‘artigiana’, basil, piquillos (3/5)

I didn’t like this dish. Buffalo Heart Tomato, the centre piece, was as tasteless as a supermarket tomato. The sweeter Japanese tomatoes on top were too small and similar in taste to the Buffalo Heart to provide a better tomato flavour. The redeeming aspect of this dish was the contrast in texture and temperature between the tomato sorbet, and the tomato consomme. A last kick of salt on the sorbet was very good.

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Course #3: 55′ Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg – Smoked rattes, chorizo iberico, buckwheat (5/5)

Chef Royer’s specialty among specialties. Cooked for 55 minutes at 62(64?) degrees celsius, this egg was the texture of an onsen egg. Crisp potatoes and fantastic ham matchsticks. This one will live long in the memory.

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Course #4: Hand Dived Scallop – Artichoke, girolles, truffle (4.5/5)

Well-seared scallop, if slightly on the colder side of warm. Well-composed dish, with artichokes cream.

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Course #5: Miyazaki Beef Striploin: mushroom ketchup, cherry, almond (4.75/5)

I enjoyed the fruity bite of the white almonds, the audacity of the mushroom ketchup (something that went with Obsiblue prawn in Aun Koh’s review) – apparently made by straining a mixture of different mushrooms. The beef was top-grade, fatty and springy – is to normal beef what otoro is to normal tuna meat. Cherry was of a taste with the ketchup. Charred onions were pretty, but bit-players in taste.

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Course #6: Brie de Meaux Truffe – artisan brie, truffle ice cream, toaste ‘poilane’ (4.75/5)

Audacity! Truffle ice cream! The (sweet) taste was good, though the ice cream was getting melty. There was a noticeable ‘salt kick’ for the ice cream, which was again very pleasant to me. (This may be due to the uneven way I consume sorbets). I was very impressed by the brie, stuffed with marscapone and black truffle and walnuts. Excellent and salty.

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Course #7: Choconuts – Guanaja mousse, Karukera sorbet, nuts… (4/5)

This was a decent chocolate dessert. It was nice to find salty peanuts between number 3 from left and mousse number 4.

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Mignardises: Anticlockwise from bottom:

1. Pop-rock ice lolly; 

2. Raspberry biscuit;

3. Banana on marshmallow

4. Rosemary chocolate lollipop

I love pop-rocks. I remember chuckling to myself when I first had them at Andre in 2011; he had stuffed them in his “pop-corn”. After I finished the lolly, I was using the stick to gather more pop-rocks to eat, like a more useless anteater tongue. The smoke from the rosemary chocolate lolly was a nice throwback to the smoked egg.

Overall thoughts:

Two things stand out. It appears that mushrooms are a specialty of Chef Royer, which is great because I love mushrooms. Can’t get enough of them. Another is the salt-kick for sorbets, a trick that was used twice with great effect, once to rescue a flatlining dish, the second to accent a great one.

When the Michelin Guide for Singapore is published, I expect Jaan to get two stars. The mushroom tea, Obsiblue prawn ‘shell’, and smoked egg will live in the memory. I expect to return soon.

Price paid: 209/pax

Memory: Mushroom tea, Obsiblue prawn tartare, smoked egg, stuffed brie.

Verdict: 18/20