Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wild Rocket - Mod Sin Cuisine

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet Chef Willin Low at a Gaggenau press event held at The Cape showflat. I learnt that he was working as a lawyer for eight years, and was the in-house lawyer for Far East Organization. Recently, he was asked by Far East Organization to contribute to the kitchen design and choose from Gaggenau's high-end kitchen appliances to equip the The Cape's apartments.

Chef Willin was identified by fellow contemporary chefs as one of 100 emerging culinary stars in the book titled 'Coco: 10 World Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs'. The New York Times also sang praises about his culinary creations.

I frequent his restaurant 'Relish' at Cluny Court but never made my way to 'Wild Rocket'. Hence, I decided to finally make my way to Mount Emily to check out his very first restaurant that he opened in October 2005.

Wild Rocket is located within Hang Out, a backpacker's hotel on Mount Emily on Wilkie Road. I got lost the first time I went there as there was no signage of Wild Rocket anywhere to be seen on the road or the facade of the building. So do take note if it is your first visit.

Cosy and unpretentious interior

When asked what Wild Rocket is about, Chef Willin said, "When I first opened Wild Rocket, everyone kept asking me what type of cuisine do I serve. I didn’t know how to describe it and always described it as food that I would eat. But that was a problem because every journalist and guidebook that wrote about us always have to find a way to label us. So in early 2006, I coined the term “Mod Sin” (or modern Singaporean) to describe our cuisine since most of the dishes are inspired by Singapore flavours, hawker dishes or food I grew up with as a child."

So let's look at the food now. I would describe his food as a modern interpretation of local Singapore cuisine. It is not exactly fusion nonsense as the food is really delicious. It is something Singaporeans can understand, while being something foreigners can accept and appreciate too.

Amuse-bouche - Slow braised pork cheek with tau cheo garlic (bean sauce)
*If this is a main dish, I would order it. It taste a lot better than it looks. In fact, it was such a tease to have only 2 thin slices as it was so amazingly good.

Herbal bah kut teh consomme with foie gras and pork wontons
*This is one peppery soup. Order only if you can handle your spice. I love it.

Burmese tomatoes and blue swimmer crab salad
*Yummy salad and I could eat this everyday. A pity Wild Rocket is not located conveniently near my residence.

Salmon carpaccio on octopus & bonito spiced brown rice
*Chef Willin told me he was inspired by Japanese Chirashi when he was asked to make a brown rice dish for a friend who was on a special diet. It became popular and made its way into the menu.

Roast Chilean seabass with chai poh and congee
* This is my favourite dish and one of Chef Willin's signature dishes. I have to say this is one of the most innovative take on Singapore cuisine. Chai poh is fried pickled radish that is commonly found on chwee kuay (rice cakes that Singaporeans eat for breakfast). To serve the fish on a bed of congee reminds one of Teochew porridge. Must try!

Laksa pesto linguini with tiger prawns and quail egg
*Laksa is another local dish that Chef Willin re-interpreted into a pasta dish.

Wild Rocket Chendol
*This is Chef Willin's deconstructed version of the local favourite Chendol dessert. Coconut ice cream and gula melaka crumble. I dare say it's better than the real thing!

Lychee martini white chocolate tart
*I was expecting a white chocolate tart served with lychee martini sorbet but I was wrong! It turned out that the frozen lychees infused with martini were in the tart! Amazing texture and I got a kick each time I bite into the frozen lychees!

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