food

JAAN Singapore: Chef Kirk Packs a Sophisticated Punch To Succeed Predecessor Chef Julien

Last Updated: April 1, 2016

Written by Seth Lui

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JAAN, the Singapore French fine-dining regular on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sees Chef Kirk Westaway taking over the helm of Chef Julien Royer to continue the legacy of produce-driven creative gastronomy.

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While JAAN is already well-known for French dishes that evolve with the season, Chef Kirk’s creations introduce an English comfort based on his British pedigree.

And who better to hand over the reigns than the sous-chef who has spent years working hand-in-hand with Chef Julien?

With Chef Kirk’s background, diners won’t experience a shocking overhaul of the menu, instead offering a nuanced yet distinct understanding of what regular guests adored about JAAN, while focusing on the artisanal quality that has made the restaurant so well-loved.

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Derived from the Sanskirt word for ‘bowl’, JAAN is an intimate 40 seater with a clean and sophisticated interior that spots a huge Murano crystal and silver free-form chandelier above head.

High up on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford hotel, a breathtaking cityscape can be enjoyed together with the exquisite menu.

I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to taste Chef Kirk’s latest interpretation, which I’ll be presenting as follows.

The dishes served are varied depending on season, as well as the set course menu chosen, so things might differ when you dine there yourself.

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The bread starters from the beginning set the precedent for more, with choices of baguette, sourdough, onion brioche and walnut raisin.

I settled for the onion brioche which married buttery fluffiness with subtle onion sweetness. None of that sharp pungency you sometimes get with onions, this is a table favorite.

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Wagyu Beef Tartare. Served on a handy stick, the beef tartare is seasoned with ginger, togarashi and olive oil emulsion and wrapped in thinly slicked daikon then topped with droplets of tomato jelly.

The detailed technique gone into the beef tartare leaves one in awe. The pairing of fatty wagyu coated with ginger and thin slice of daikon brings about an understated balance.

Fish and Chips. Yes, this looks nothing like the type you regularly eat, but you’ll be surprised how reminiscent taste-wise Chef Kirk’s own reinvention of the classic fish and chips is. The fish is poached in milk with bay leaves and thyme, then mixed with charlotte potatoes and capers to create a light but flavorful ball of brandade.

Taken apart and reconstructed, comfort food is presented exquisitely.

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Truffle Egg. Egg yolks whisked with truffled Echire butter, dusted in brioche breadcrumbs and served with black truffle vinaigrette.

The light crust bursts apart easily, revealing an explosion of truffle goodness you can only dream of. Or sample at JAAN.

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Foie Gras and Truffle Macaron. Light macarons that sandwich delicate French foie gras and a rich Perigord truffled fromage blanc (white cheese).

The faint sweetness from the macaron cuts through the beautifully indulgent foiegrasm finishing with the fragrance of truffle. All my favorite things in one bite.

Served on a piece of drift wood, one wonders where Chef Kirk shops for these beautiful table pieces. The beach?

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Potato Soup with Black Truffle Bouillon. Charlotte potato espuma, fine blue chipper potato gravel, roasted macadamia nuts and a warm black truffle bouillon poured over.

The salty crisps add an extra crunchy oomph to the dish, as you transcend from foam to hearty bouillon below. A mix of texture that elevates simple soup so well, grandma would approve.
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Majestic Irish Oyster. Irish rock oyster with artichoke foam and ‘Oscietra’ caviar, sourced from Donegal, a North Western Coastal town of Ireland.

The plump oyster together with the caviar is distinctly oceanic and rich, while being complemented with the nuttiness of the artichoke foam, differing from the usual tart or spicy pairings with oysters. Tabasco is oyster blasphemy folks.

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Tomato Collection. A classic combination that pushes the limits of a tomato. The heirloom tomato is sous vide in tomato consumme then stuffed with cubed oxheart tomatoes, gherkins, capers and oregano. The stuffed tomato is then restored to its original shape to fully extract every level of tomato essence you can get.

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Kinda like cooking a tomato in the blood of tomatoes, then stuffing smaller tomatoes into its body and resurrecting it as a tomatokenstein. That’s just so metal.

Green basil and mimolette cheese pesto, Japanese tomato berries, burrata as well as a tart, earthy basil sorbet also accompany the dish to take your mind off the tomato carnage.

Tomatokenstein was invigoratingly delicious I say, we need to stuff more vegetables into other vegetables.

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Farmer’s Harvest with Hand Dived Scottish Scallop. The farmer’s harvest brings together seasonal vegetables served with enormous Scottish scallops.

The mix of vegetables include smoked aubergine puree as the base, purple and yellow carrot, purple cauliflower, broccolini, romanesco, cevennes onions as well as other baby vegetables that have lost my attention span.

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Recommended to eat in a linear fashion, one can fully immerse in the evolving seasonal greens and taste the varying techniques used to prepare each individual root and vegetable – blanched, pureed, pickled, grilled, its all there on one plate.

Each ingredient shines on its own, but also melds together like the Spice Girls. Probably the fanciest salad I’ve ever had in my life. And hand dived scallops? Of course, any other means would just be barbaric.

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Turbot & Crayfish Tails over Carrot Puree. Roasted fillet of turbot, glazed crayfish tails over a roasted heirloom carrot puree.

The dish is finished with a warm turbot jus and Gomashio (Japanese sesame salt) to tie in the entire dish. The hearty jus and Gomashio gave the otherwise plain dish exactly what it needed – a strong punch.

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Fennel with Lime Espuma. This pre-dessert cleanser consists of a refreshing fennel sorbet, lime espuma and juicy pomelo sacs.

Saccharine, tart and bitter, this sure wiped clean my palette’s memory.

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Ivory Caramel. A wide variety of chocolates are used here like some chocolate Armageddon. Varying degrees of cocoa like the sous vide Aero chocolate, 45% Michel Cluizel white chocolate and 72% dark chocolate espuma with Peta Zeta sprinkles (pop rocks) makes it quite a perplexing dish.

There’s a lot going on with the first spoonful; crackling, different densities of texture, sweetness, bitterness and initially it felt quite heavy. Or jelat as locals might say.

Surprisingly, the sea salt caramel white chocolate ice cream ends of the taste and encourages one to take a second bite. Then third. And so forth till just a smudge of brown remains. Even that might be gone if I weren’t in a fine-dining restaurant where etiquette matters.

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Clementine Sorbet. A blood orange sorbet paired with fresh French clementines and a ginger and orange soup.

Thankfully after all the intense cocoa orgy, dessert ends on a refreshing note with this acidic, subtly spicy sorbet.

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JAAN is just one of those fine-dining institutions in Singapore you are obliged to visit given its successful lineage of amazing chefs, from Chef Andre, Chef Julien and now Chef Kirk.

Whilst I did relish pretty much most of the dishes, there was a certain confit duck and pear glazed with port which I didn’t particularly enjoy due to its strong anise and peppery taste that just didn’t blend well with the iron-tasting duck. It seems to be gone from the current menu thou, thank goodness.

At JAAN, Chef Kirk Westaway manages to put an impact into his dishes despite all the dainty and refinement French fine-dining is so known for. There is more frolicking with textures and rustic flavours while jelling all elements into cohesive works of art. Should you visit? Yes sir.

The lunch menu starts at $78++ for 3 courses, while dinner starts from $198++ for 5 courses. More exquisite gourmand menus and pairings are also available of course for the big rollers.

Expected Damage: $100 – $250 per pax

JAAN: 2 Stamford Rd,  Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Singapore 178882 | Tel: 6837 3322 | Website

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