On paper, Chef Ryan Clift’s special lunch and dinner menus for his three-day stint at Mandarin Grill look exciting. And that’s to be expected: He’s an award-winning chef well known for his modernist cuisine, and is highly regarded as one of the most innovative chefs in the region. His restaurant, Tippling Club in Singapore, is a regular on several top restaurants lists. We’re glad to say that the dishes live up to expectations, and more.
At first glance, you'll notice a lot of Asian ingredients in the menu – yuzu, wasabi, coconut milk, green curry, etc – but what really stands out is Chef Ryan’s Asian approach to flavours and how these ingredients are used. Every dish features robust flavour combinations (sweet, sour, salty, spicy and heat) that both complement and contrast one another, and are beautifully executed.
We also noticed a distinct bright acidity in several dishes, such as the slightly fermented, and hence vinegary, purified tomato in the gazpacho snack, and the use of tart apples in various forms to complement a surprisingly airy, but still buttery, foie gras mousse. This seems to be a recurring trend among many chefs around the world today – though the self-proclaimed food science geek professes that he doesn’t read cookbooks or food magazines to steer away from food fads.
One thing’s for sure, this menu feels very current, and while some of the elements on the dishes such as the eggless meringue are molecular in execution, they aren’t gimmicky. The recipes are some of Chef Ryan’s personal favourites, and if we have to choose from the nine-course dinner (including the four snacks in the beginning – counted as one course), our picks would be the kingfish carpaccio served with a tangy yuzu-cucumber sorbet; the aforementioned foie gras mousse; the snapper with green curry purée and tom kha velouté; and the textured milk that’s made of different milk elements (sago with coconut milk; yoghurt sorbet; macadamia nut milk marshmallow; eggless almond milk meringue; and crispy lactose).
There are two menus: the nine-course dinner and the pared-down six-course lunch, both with wine pairing options. Highlights include the dry Yamagata Masamune saké junmai that’s paired with the light and refreshing kingfish carpaccio, and the slightly effervescent Dr Loosen riesling kabinett from Germany that acts as a palate cleanser to cut through the buttery foie gras mousse. A vegetarian menu is also available upon request.
All in all, the food is very enjoyable, and if you’re a food geek, you’d appreciate the science that goes into every single dish. Grab the chef for a quick chat if you see him in the restaurant.
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