Singapore

Keystone restaurant, Singapore

I’ve heard of Keystone restaurant for some time now but never really made the effort to go out and try it. To be honest, I get pretty lazy when thinking about going out to fine dine in Singapore; but Keystone recently piqued my interest with chef Marks presentation of Sous vide cooking at the Savour.sg event. I’ve always wanted to document the impact on Sous vide on a modern restaurant that embraces the technique, and thus I emailed chef Mark to ask for a chance to view the kitchen if I happened to have a meal at his restaurant. I should probably point out as a disclaimer at this point that Chef Mark knew I was going to be coming in for a lunch reservation; I do not know if I was given preferential treatment based on this information, or if my dishes were plated differently, but to stay true to myself and the blog, I will be upfront with how I felt about the meal.

      

Amuse: Caramelized banana, pineapple with shaved almond, truffle popcorn with soy
The banana portion was a pureed banana, with a brûlée-d sugar finish over the top, truffle popcorn had a custard like texture, both were quite surprising texture wise, but it was the flavor of the cold pineapple with shaved almond that popped the most. Okay

   

Parmesan rosemary focaccia
The Parmesan gave the soft fluffy bread a nice crunch and textural contrast. The use of rosemary, which can be quite an aggressive herb, was spot on, it perfumed the bread nicely. I don’t usually go crazy about bread courses bur this was quite enjoyable. Good

   

43° SALMON GRAVLAX 
Tat Soi | Smoked Cream | Arctic Char Caviar | Tarragon Pommery

The salmon was cooked sous vide at a very low temperature, even lower than mi cuit, it was very similar to sashimi. I liked the dish, the cream tied everything together, the caviar had a firm, almost crunchy like texture. The orange pommery provided flavor encapsulated bursts of sweetness that provided a nice pop to the dish. The black calamari crackers had a similar texture to keropok(sorry for those non singaporeans/malaysians), albeit slightly more crisp, and it packed a lot of briny flavor that worked well with the fish. I wish it had been served in smaller pieces, because of the nature of is texture, it was quite impossible to break using utensils, so they had to be eaten in one bite. Just a slight issue with ergonomics in an otherwise solid dish. Good

   

GREEN EGGS & PULLED PORK
Agria potato Espuma | Atsina Baby Cress | Tsukiji Seaweed Soil | Green pea puree

The ‘green’ portion of the dish that isn’t quite visible is a pea puree. The pulled pork is first cooked sous vide, then braised in a Japanese style to infuse flavor. To be completely technical, it’s not really pulled pork since it wasn’t pulled, but the braise definitely gave it strong soy flavor that balanced out nicely with the vibrant, sweet pea puree. The egg was poached sous vide and the custard like texture of the yolk bound the whole dish together. The potato espuma tasted like an incredibly fluffy, light, savory potato puree, incredibe. Lots of soft textures in the dish but it all amalgamated together in harmony, one criticism is that the Atsina baby cress was slightly chewy, unpleasantly so, but this was the best dish of the meal, although I wish the pea puree was served on top for a greater visual effect. Good

    

NORWEGIAN FLAT WHITE 
Chanterelle Fricassée | Smoked Berskshire Belly | Smoked Sea Urchin Foam

A beautifully plated dish, but easily the one I agreed with the least. First, the faults- The fish was overcooked, which I found surprising considering the fact that Keystone utilizes a lot of sous vide cooking. The fish was seared before plating and this was probably where the fish got overcooked. The mushroom stew was completely over-seasoned, and it was all you could taste of the dish after a couple of spoonfuls. I assumed that the belly would throw the richness of the dish completely overboard before eating it, but to my surprise, the belly had a sweet glaze, which actually played off the savory notes of the dish beautifully. Unfortunately, there was a lot more mushroom stew than there was belly, and the dish was quickly off balance again. To my surprise, there was a hidden veal sweetbread hidden under the fish. Personally, I have no problems eating offal, but I can imagine some who would be quite upset to discover sweetbreads in a fish course, I pointed this out to the waitress, who responded that it was intentionally placed there to surprise the diner, hmm.. Regardless, the surprise addition of the sweetbread completely pushed the dish into a different direction, it was like going to an engineering class and discovering that your professor is about to give the class a surprise quiz on stem cell research, everyone is bewildered and noone is happy. While there were times when the dish worked for me, overall it was much too convoluted. Bad

   

KUROBUTA STEAK FRITES
Dehyrdated Yukon & Cheese | Heirloom Vegetables | Mission Fig Ketchup

I was quite taken aback by the amount of food in this dish, easily the most bang for buck choice in their set lunch menu. This is basically Kurobuta pork shoulder, cooked sous vide, then finished on the grill. The grill must have been at quite a high temperature, because the meat stayed moist and tender, with no cook ‘rings’ around the edge of the meat. I found the pork to be slightly under-salted, but when eaten together with the fig ketchup, it was perfect, very intelligent seasoning. The strong char on the pork from the grill gave it a distinct smoky aroma, as well as slight bitterness that again, worked nicely together with the sweetness of the ketchup. Im not sure why the yukon was referred to as “frites” since they were more similar to chips. A solid, safe dish, but not particularly boundary pushing. Okay

   
360 BRÛLÉE TEXTURE
Caramel Custard Foam | Salted Maple | Valrhona Equatoriale
I was not entirely sure what to make of this dish, the name seemed to point in the direction of a modern take of a creme brulee, but what arrived was basically a chocolate pots de creme, with a salted maple layer sitting atop of it, and a custard foam to top it off. The only flavor profile that reminiscent of a creme brulee was the custard foam, everything tasted foreign. Despite the inconsistencies with expectations, the dessert was delicious- the chocolate creme(55%) had carried the flavour of chocolate through the custard and maple well, the foam had a nice body to it. The main technical fault was that the mouse was either not strained properly, or did not freeze right, because there were distinct lumps in it. The dish has a striking resemblance to Le Bernardin’s “Egg” dish, right down to the layers- Bernardin’s consists of a milk chocolate Pots de creme(55% as well), caramel foam, maple syrup, and maldon sea salt. The dish was also plated with dehydrated mandarin oranges, which doesnt sound like much, but tasted amazing. Okay
COMPOSITION OF FRUITS 
Coconut Palm Sorbet | Sudachi Lime Curd | Peppered Tropics | Dehydrated lychee
The coconut sorbet wasn’t too intensely flavored, and its muted flavors worked well with the peppered pineapple(the pepper revealed itself at the end of the dish). There was a freshness about the dish with all its acidic notes, but the lime curd was slightly overcooked and had a gummy texture. Quite unfortunate because it was difficult to get past, seeing as to how it formed the base for the dish. Okay
Overall, I had a pleasant meal at Keystone, this is going to sound incredibly greedy, but my lunch at Keystone(at 2pm) was my first meal of the day, and I opted to have 2 lunch sets by myself. Yes, I literally ate everything that I’ve just posted by myself. Somewhere along the Kurobuta dish, I was ready to give up, I could feel lethargy starting to creep in and a belly starting to form; instead I pushed on and by the end of the meal, I was pretty glad that I got to try quite a few dishes. The strengths of the restaurant clearly lie in their starters, lots of innovation and creativity flowing through both dishes- many subtle, delicate flavors interplaying with one another.
The mains came out with lesser, but more distinct, stronger flavors, unfortunately the Norwegian Flat White dish wasn’t well executed and didn’t work for me. Desserts brought the creativity back a notch, I loved the use of the dehydrated fruits, it brings about a familiar taste in a strange texture, but were let down by the technical aspects of the dish- Lumps in the mousse and overcooked curd.
Service was absolutely top notch, Id go as far as to say that it is on par with a 2 Michelin star restaurant, my server had no problems answering all of my food related questions, although I should also point out that I was the last customer in the restaurant. Chef Mark seems to be genuinely passionate about his food, and wants to educate the general public about it as well, I spoke to one of his sous chefs, who told me that he loves working for chef Mark because he is open to testing out new dishes and embracing new ideas, this is reflected in the food- a lot of flavor memories and profiles borrowed from different cuisines, Japanese, American, French. At its core they are all strong flavors, but slightly let down by finesse and execution. I personally think that the direction the restaurant has taken is a sound one, although my criticism is that they should cut down on the number of dishes in their repertoire and iron out the nooks and crannies of each dish. For those wanting to try Keystone for lunch, do note that parking in the area is a bitch.
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One thought on “Keystone restaurant, Singapore

  1. Wow, your reviews are always so detailed, knowledgeable and to the point. Really gives me a great impression on the quality of each individual dish. Compliments for another great post!

    One question: was it 43 Fahrenheit rather than Celcius, or did the 43 degrees stand for somethin else? 43F would definitely be sushi 😉 I love 43C salmon, but that’s cooked more than mi-cuit and in the picture the salmon does indeed look rawish.

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