Singapore

2am Dessert Bar, Singapore

Guave Plum

Pureed and frozen guava with plum sauce, homage to guava dipped with sim bueh(sp?) powder. This is the essence of what a deconstructed dessert should be, it looks completely new and bizzare, but pop in your mouth and all the flavours from different elements in the dish come together to form a familiar taste. It wasn’t perfectly executed, but I was very happy with the concept of the dish. Good

Strawberries and sweet milk

I honestly can’t remember too much about it, but the different elements of the dish didn’t work individually, and they didn’t work well together either. There were strawberry marshmellows and panna cotta in the dish but once again, everything was pretty soft and those aren’t textures that work very well together(marshmellows completely overwhelm the panna cotta). Bad

Blackcurrant

Interesting part about the dish is that it included a purple potato puree, that was meant to add a savoury element to the dish. But the intensity of the blackcurrant in the dish completely overpowered whatever potato puree was on the plated, and overall we only got very subtle hints of potato in the dish. There were tiny blackcurrant drops and those were very intensely flavoured and delicious, but everything else on the dish was mellow, an introduction of a crisp texture might have brought the dish to life. Okay

Popcorn Parfait

Probably the best dish of the night. The salty caramel ice cream was a perfect balance between the sweet and salty. Most of the dish was fairly soft(ice creams and a block with a ganache like texture), but the powdered popcorn added an interesting introduction of texture. There was a vial of warm popcorn(in the background) provided for aroma that smelled so good I was close to smashing it just so I could have some actual popcorn. Very good

Lime Sorbet, palate cleanser

Peanut butter and Jelly

The other great dish of the night. You don’t have to be American for this dish to be nostalgic- strawberry shortbread, homemade peanut butter(not as viscous as the regular ones), peanut butter ice cream, rice krispies(?), there were many ways to eat this, and it all tasted good. A great deconstruction of  a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; probably the heaviest dish of the night, but the intensity of the flavours made this a winner for me. Very good

Lemon Explosion

The technique behind this is very similar to the Chocolate Lollipop I had at Providence in Los Angeles, actually this is probably easier because the version at Providence had to have a stick attached to it. Pop the piece of chocolate in your mouth, let it melt away and a liquid lemon center suddenly floods your mouth, I don’t think I can ever get bored of the sensation you get when you eat something like that. The lemon pop rocks add an interesting touch to the dish, but frankly speaking the dish could do without it as it takes away from the “sensation”, I felt at times that there was too much going on in your mouth-  tiny rocks of candy exploding in your mouth while you are trying your best to concentrate on the chocolate ball. An interesting thing to note is that I actually preferred the chocolate lollipop over the lemon explosion, in the sense that it was quirky and fun, and something that I recognise from my childhood, it’s definitely something that I can see in a dessert tasting menu at 2am. Good

Banana Chocolate

When this was presented to us we were told the inspiration behind the dessert was a painting. I appreciated that it was nice to know that there was a story behind the dish, but I think it is hard for diners in general to ascribe some form of intrinsic meaning to a dish, when they cannot see the actual work the dish is drawing inspiration from. Maybe cheap print outs of the actual painting? The Roses/Artichoke dish(Course 22) at El Bulli is served with the actual rose so that you can actually what the artichokes are trying to mimic, and although the dish tasted bad, it was a very nice touch. But I digress, Banana Chocolate- The ‘Blood’ on the canvas is actually cherry puree and was actually fairly hard to get out because it was fairly dry, but I kept scraping at it because it added a very nice sour tang  to balance the sweetness of the chocolate and banana. The dish worked for me when eaten together, but maybe it could have been a little easier to eat. Okay

Chocolate H2O

2 blocks of  chocolate finished tableside, spheres are inserted and a liquid salted caramel is poured over. The chocolate blocks are actually made of Valrhona chocolate and Evian water, and had a mousse like consistency. I think the methodology is similar to that used by Heston Blumenthal in this video, but I’m not entirely sure. Overall the dish was stunning to look at but it didn’t particularly deliver taste wise. Okay

3°C Malt Sweet

I love malt, and I was really looking forward to this. It was a cold, creamy rendition of (what I believe) horlicks. I really appreciate that the desserts are trying to tap into the nostalgia of childhood(horlicks and pop rocks), but the dish wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. The taste of malt could have been a lot more intense, which is how I remember horlicks sweets being. Okay

I have no doubt that head chef Janice Wong has incredible talent, at such a young age she has worked at some of the top restaurants in the world that employ techniques used in molecular gastronomy- Alinea, L2O and Wd-50, I do admire her for what she has achieved in such a short amount of time. ‘Deconstruction’ is a word that I hate to love, it is very hard to make the concept work and appeal to the general public, but when it does, it’s fantastic, though I don’t think 2am dessert bar has quite reached that level yet. Out of all the courses we had, the dishes I have the strongest impression of are the Guava Plum, the Peanut butter and Jelly, and the Popcorn Parfait, all of which tap on tastes that I am familiar with, and can relate to. There is no point deconstructing a dessert, or any dish for that matter, if the diner does not know what the original ‘constructed’ dish is supposed to taste like.

2am dessert bar will continue to grow(Please make the seats more comfortable), and I hope the menu evolves as this happens. In my perfect world, which I hope to live in, in the future, 2am serves deconstructed desserts from my childhood, something with milo, honeydew sago, mango with pearls in coconut milk, a savoury-sweet dessert made from those animal crackers laden with MSG, a dish with red rubies, the possibilities are infinite, and Singapore needs a restaurant that utilizes avant garde cooking techniques for dishes from the past. We have to look back, in order to look forward, but enough ranting, I will return to 2am dessert bar soon.

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Los Angeles

Providence, Los Angeles (**)

Butter + Salt

For bread Service, I was very glad I only had one piece of bread


Amuse Bouche: Carrot juice shot, Gruyere cheese pastry, Pistachio Marshmellow, Salmon.

Okay

chowda’
smoky bacon, manila clams, creamy clam broth

This was actually one of the most intensely flavoured clam chowders I’ve ever had. The smokyness from the bacon really shone through, and the chowder was incredibly rich, but it was balanced out by the sweetness of the clams. Good


Maine lobster risotto
carnaroli rice, sea urchin, shimeji mushrooms, nori and lemon

This would have been such a good dish apart from the fact that it was overseasoned. The flavour profiles worked so well together but after a few scoops all you could taste was the saltiness of the dish. Okay


Dessert Tasting 1: Spherified Mojito

I have had a lot of “Spherified” food (sodium alginate + Calcium Chloride), from olives, to potatoes, to balsamic vinegar, to grape juice, to apple juice, and I have to say that this spherified mojito is probably the best example, or use of that technique I’ve had so far. Good


Dessert Tasting 2: Mandarin Orange Ice

This was a medley of orange ice, cabbage, and spice. The Orange ice was delicious, the cabbage had a tinge of vinegar, which I felt brought too much acidity to the dish, and the spice threw everything off; It got to the point where I was eating everything seperately, obviously leaving the spice alone. Bad


Dessert Tasting 3: Kalamansi Gelee
white chocolate coconut soy milk soup, litchi-shiso sorbet

One of my favourite desserts of the night. The kalamansi gelee was very intensely flavoured and really brought the dish to life, when eaten to the subtle flavours of the sorbet and the soup. The almonds brought a nice texture to the dish. Very refreshing, clean flavours. Very Good


Dessert Tasting 4: Deconstructed Pumpkin “Pie”
curry ice cream, pecan streusel

Why was there a curry element in a dish called “Deconstructed Pumpkin ‘Pie'”? Nonetheless, I was happy to try curry ice cream for the first time, and it was actually fairly pleasant- it was sweet when it hit your tongue, but the aftertaste left a lingering taste of the familiar spices. The pecan streusel, when eaten with the pumpkin ganache, was actually a pretty good rendition of a pumpkin pie. Good


Dessert Tasting 5: Banana

Banana nut bread, caramelized banana, Cream cheese Ice cream

Oh boy, the cream cheese ice cream is probably one of the nicest ice creams I’ve ever had. When you first taste the ice cream, all you get is the slight sweetness of it, then all of a sudden the chees-y flavours burst through when you’re not expecting it, and it wasn’t overpowering, it was actually fairly subtle. Balance that with a delicious banana nut bread, and caramelized bananas cooked to perfection. Good


Dessert Tasting 6: milk chocolate-whisky panna cotta, bailey‟s ice cream, coconut raviolo

The bailey’s ice cream was very good, but the panna cotta was fairly mediocre. And as a side note, at this point of the meal, everyone at the table was quite close to dying because the desserts were starting to get very heavy and the conversations taking place at the table were beginning to sound very strange, possibly due to the amount of sugar present in what we were eating. Okay

Trying to remain calm as my body takes in even more sugar.


Dessert Tasting 7: Beer Ice cream and Chocolate Ganache

Beer ice cream was intense, very very good. The chocolate ganache, I dont remember eating, but I did eat it, because my plate was empty when the server took it. I might have passed out or something. Okay


Dessert Tasting 8: Lollipop

Milk Chocolate,  Berry Tea

I was very glad that the last course of the tasting menu was something I could finish in one mouthful, and required no chewing whatsoever. Pop the thing in your mouth, and slowly let the milk chocolate outer coating melt away, sweet, creamy; and all of a sudden you’re hit by a wave of refreshing, cold berry tea, encapsulated in the milk chocolate sphere. Very good