At Corner House, chef Jason Tan lets the dishes do the talking, for the house the restaurant is in speaks for itself.
This conservation-status black-and-white bungalow was where Edred J.H. Corner – a colonial-era Singapore Botanic Gardens assistant director – “greened up” Singapore, planning our much-loved nature reserves. It’s also where he refined his drawing skills, which can be seen in the paintings that still hang on the walls today. It seems fitting, therefore, that this place is where Tan dreams up his “Gastro-Botanica” courses, using the plate as his canvas.
Chef Tan and his team pluck selectively from the vast plant landscape for the striking (visually and flavour-wise) six-way showcase of the season’s tomatoes, as well as the cevennes onions served in four painstaking variations; and the well-pruned display of riso with earthy maitake and Plantin black truffle. Though the five-course vegetarian Menu Botanica did show the restaurant’s appreciation of flora, this year, we feel Tan and his team are more adept with the regular (meat) Menu Degustation.
The Hokkaido scallop is a beautiful picture of shellfish and petals, its flavours brought together by the refreshing yuzu kosho jelly. We’re also pleased to find the innovative use of Shaoxing as an emulsion for the New Zealand blue cod and its crisped-up scales – the dish would be lesser without the notes of umami. As this is ultimately a French restaurant, it is no surprise that Tan and his team display their classical chops with a consistently done Japanese A4 Toriyama beef.
Despite the accessible wine options – Corner House’s list is the size of an encyclopaedia, and the mainly French selection ranges from the early hundreds to $22,900 for a bottle of Hermitage La Chapelle 1961 – the wine and beverage service this year is a little haphazard. Perhaps next year, the team’s canvas could expand further from the plate.
1 Cluny Road, E J H Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens, (Nassim Gate Entrance), S(259569)