Tuesday, April 24, 2012
JAAN: Julien Royer's Seasonal Menu
Chef Julien Royer seems almost too young to be behind the sophisticated menus he creates at JAAN.
He's just been crowned ‘Meat and Livestock Australia Rising Chef of the Year’ at the World Gourmet Series Awards of Excellence 2012 last month. This award singles out an individual aged 32 years or below with exceptional culinary talent and skill, one who is driven to raise standards of culinary excellence within his working environment.
This was the Friday that I got to try two eateries on my most wanted list - JAAN and Andre. Yes, both in the same day - it just fell into place that way - one for lunch, the other for supper. Even though it's been a while since he left, Andre Chiang's mark on JAAN is so strong that it's evident that comparisons will continue to be drawn with his successors.
But Julien is a different chef with his own style and execution methods, and perhaps should be viewed as such.
This native of Cantal, Auvergne in Central France comes from a family of farmers from four generations. So he grew up understanding carefully grown vegetables and animals, including how each of these had their own time of the year when they would embody the best. He is devoted to drawing inspiration from seasonal produce, so his menu changes quarterly to reflect what's best from the season's finest.
Starter bites - sesame crusted potato croquet, grilled chicken skin, and smoked eel parfait with pickled apples gelee.
The potato croquet has a cheese centre, but a pretty hard crust. They are nicely seasoned though. The chicken skin I had wondered if they would taste like "kawa", the Japanese grilled chicken skin, but they are entirely different. This is less fatty and more chewy. The smoked eel is beautifully rich but the apple cuts through the oily fish nicely.
Rye crisps with lentil hummus and chestnut. For me, the strong nutty flavour of chestnut didn't work with the hummus, but I know of people who do like the combination. Love the crisps though.
AMUSE BOUCHE: CEPES SABAYON AND MUSHROOM TEA
This is such an incredibly intense mushroom concoction, it will almost leave you parched at the end.
They get this intensity from using both dried porcini from Chaspuzac (Auvergne) and fresh porcini mushrooms for the mushroom tea. The soup is topped with fresh walnuts sourced in their own shell from Perigord.
So what do you do with such a full-flavoured soup?
Indulge in breads with it! The French are so good at breads - you must try each and every one of these!
ORGANIC BEETROOT COMPOSITION
BURRATA, BLACK OLIVE SUGAR, ALMONDS AND BASIL
This colourful garden-like array really kicked off the meal with fascinating flavours.
The beetroot is presented in varied ways (pureed, roasted, red and golden beetroot and sorbet) so you get to play with flavours and textures.
The creaminess of the artisanal burrata cheese, intensity of the olive sugar and crunch of the almonds paired with the basil help to balance the earthy and sweet flavours of the beetroot. A singular delicate slice of pickled chioggia beetroot adds another layer of crunch and texture to the dish.
And then came some organic New Zealand eggs on dry ice.
These have been slow cooked for 55 minutes at 64 degrees Celsius to achieve that creamy translucence. It is carefully poured at the table, along with some creamy artichoke veloute.
55’ SMOKED ORGANIC EGG
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, CHANTERELLES, IBERICO DE BELLOTA and
The runny golden egg yolk intermingles with the iberico de bellota from Salamanca and the sweet nougat-like porcini crumbs.
Bet you've never had ham and eggs as silky and suave as this!
GRILLED ESCALOPE of LANDES FOIE GRAS
“PAIN PERDU”, JAVA PEPPER MANGO and PEDRO JIMENEZ SHERRY JELLY
The foie gras is from Landes, a region in South West France. Its richness is pared down with a spiced mango and pedro jimenez sherry jelly. The mango is gently caramelized and seasoned with a beautiful long pepper from Java as well as coriander stems, fresh ginger and lime zest. Finally, the jelly of xeres adds a nice comforting and woody flavour to the dish.
CONFIT ARCTIC CHAR
CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS, CRAYFISH AND BURNED BREAD
The Arctic Char (a fish from the cold waters of Leman Lake, Switzerland ) is delicately confited in seaweed butter and paired with kombawa zest scented crayfish, mussels, whelks, cauliflower couscous, sea grapes (oh, memories of Okinawa!) and baby leeks.
The wait staff (well, we had Chef Royer himself, as seen in first photo) will micro plane burned poilane bread (specially sourced from the poilane bakery in Paris) over the fish to add a smoky dimension. Cute play on word "char" too.
JUNIPER ROASTED VENISON LOIN
PEAR, CELERIAC, SAUCE “GRAND VENEUR” and BLACK TRUFFLE
Tender venison from New Zealand is slow roasted and paired with the pear that's been poached in spiced mulled wine. The sauce is finished with a hint of bitter chocolate.
Note that these are all tasting portions.
BRIE de MEAUX TRUFFÉ
HERVÉ MONS SELECTED BRIE de MEAUX, BLACK PÉRIGORD TRUFFLE and HAZELNUT
Truffle-filled Brie with toast a.k.a "Can I just come here and eat this?"
The cheese fiend in me strikes again. This slab of heaven is my perfect dessert.
But wait, we aren't even at pre-dessert.
And it's this palate cleanser of Mango Mousse with Lychee Sorbet, infused with Thai Basil. Sometimes it's the little things that wow you.
TANARIVA MOUSSE, PEANUTS, MACADAMIA NUT ICE CREAM
The Choconuts consists of layers of sable biscuit, peanut butter (consisting of roasted peanuts from Piedmont), films of chocolate and Tanariva (a milk chocolate) mousse. The plate is sprinkled with peanut praline and the dish is served with a housemade macadamia ice cream.
Pleasant but pretty safe in terms of flavours.
Sweet endings for your meal - before farewell, they serve you a platter of petit fours to spoil you silly. Sorbets, chocolate, Carambar caramel snack bar (from chef's childhood), madeleines, chocolates, and a chocolate-coated rosemary ice cream lollipop. The Carambar is best eaten after it's been warmed a little.
The seasonal dishes will be at JAAN until end April, after which new ones will arrive.
Lunch with coffee goes for S$52 (three-course menu) or S$82 (five-course menu), while dinner is S$198 for five courses (S$318 with wine pairing) or S$238 for seven courses (S$418 with wine pairing). A la carte options and a special ten-course surprise dinner (S$288) are also available.
2 Stamford Road
Level 70, Equinox complex
Swissotel the Stamford
Tel: +65 6837 3322
Monday - Saturday: 12.00pm - 2.30pm
Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays
Monday - Saturday: 7.00pm - 10.00pm
Closed on Sunday
P.S. Did I mention the view from the 70th floor?
Many thanks to Swissotel the Stamford and Ate Consulting for hosting the lunch.