Food and Leisure

Crab & Lobster in santol raise the red lantern

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie and Karla Reyes - The Philippine Star
Crab & Lobster in santol raise the red lantern
Crab ceviche marinated in HongSing wine for three days, served with salmon roe.

I clapped my hands in appreciation for this magnificently prepared dining experience, grateful to have met chef Justin Quek,

a great culinary master of our time.

Millie: It was a degustation dinner like no other! Singapore’s top celebrity chef Justin Quek tremendously impressed me with a spectacular six-star dinner at Solaire’s Red Lantern as guest chef of the Culinary Masters Series recently.

When he approached our table, he asked what we desired to try and when we gave him that “Surprise us” look; he smiled and said, “Let me send you the dishes and just tell me when to stop!” Awesome!

Singapore’s top chef Justin Quek at the six-star dinner at Solaire’s Red Lantern.

Dinner unfolded with a glass of champagne to set the mood. For starters, we were served a fine, thin slice of fresh Hokkaido scallop ceviche doused with a ginger flower dressing and micro greens alongside chilled, fresh drunken crab with salmon roe housed in a teacup. 

Next came the sea urchin and scallop har gow topped with Ossetra caviar in a velvety crab bisque. It was paired with a glass of Le Rime Toscana Pinot Grigio.

Hokkaido scallop ceviche with ginger flower dressing and micogreens

Karla: The next course was one of chef Justin’s signature dishes, the duck foie gras xiao long bao. This was definitely not your typical xiao long bao. The wrapper was a little thicker than what we’re used to but I’m guessing it’s to better encase that burst of flavors. The dumpling inside was still made of ground meat but the taste and mouth-feel of the foie gras was evident. The soup in the xiao long bao was actually a truffle consommé, which made the dish even more special. The next dish was the slow-cooked salmon escalope in ginger and soya dressing. The dressing was light enough to let the flavor of the perfectly cooked salmon shine. The texture of the fish and its aesthetic seemed like it was still raw. But it wasn’t, it was so moist and perfectly cooked, which made me wonder how chef did it. I forgot to ask as I ate the dish together with its beautifully paired Gerard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2017.

Chef Justin Quek’s signature scallop and uni “Har Gao” in Crab Bisque.

The next course was the wok-fried main lobster in Hokkien noddle. It seemed like such a simple dish but it was very tasty, as the noodles were boiled in lobster broth. I hear a little bit of santol and calamansi was incorporated into this dish as well. The lobster bits were sweet and juicy. I was hoping that the server would accidentally give us a second round. Haha!

Wok-fried Maine lobster in Kampot white pepper sauce. Kampot is a region in Cambodia. The white pepper was hand carried by chef Justin Quek specifically for this dish.

Another lobster dish was up next. The wok-fried Maine lobster in kampot white pepper sauce was so addicting. Kampot pepper is from Cambodia, which was hand-carried by chef Justin himself. He actually only gets his kampot pepper from one specific farm because he likes to be sure of the taste and quality. Coming from someone who used to hate the taste of pepper, I absolutely loved this dish; it could also be that my taste has changed in the last 15 years or so. The peppery taste lingered for a while, but was not too overpowering, just enough to wash down with a Gerard Bertrand Pinot Noir. The main course arrived in sample portions, which was great since we got to try almost everything on the menu. On one plate, we had the braised abalone in abalone sauce, the wok-fried Wagyu beef short ribs and a bite of the roast pork belly. These were paired with a Roda Reserva Rioja.

On one plate, we had the braised abalone in abalone sauce (right), the wok-fried Wagyu beef short ribs (left) and a bite of the roast pork belly (center).

Mom and I were about to give up. We were about to request the chef to stop bringing out dishes already, but then, desserts started to pour in. We had a degustation serving of the “chendol” with salted gula java ice cream, baked apple tarte with salted gula java ice cream, a plate of assorted chocolate called “Chocolate Sensations” and lastly, the lychee soufflé, which was light and airy as it was a flour-less soufflé and also had lychee bits in it.  

Chef Justin Quek’s signature duck foie gras xiao long bao with truffle consommé.

Millie: Chef Justin Quek is the principal chef for Marina Bay Sands Singapore’s 240-seater fine dining restaurant, Sky on 57. He is also responsible for Justin Flavours of Asia, a relaxed and laid-back restaurant that elevates the Singaporean comfort food experience; and Chinoiserie Modern Asian, an exclusive fine dining restaurant which only serves the best French-Asian cuisine. Chef Justin has a unique culinary flair, a blend of French and Chinese techniques, honed from having worked in various Michelin Star restaurants in Europe.

I clapped my hands in appreciation for this magnificently prepared dining experience, grateful for the opportunity and the distinct pleasure to have met a great culinary master of our time!

“Chendol” with salted gula java ice cream. Ala carte version is served in a fresh coconut.

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Send email to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com and quichethecook.ph@gmail.com

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