July 25, 2016
Surrounded by lush greenery amongst the historical beauty of Fort Canning Park, in the absence of metal and concrete of the city, lies the magnificent Lewin Terrace.
On one very lucky evening, I had the most wonderful opportunity of tasting Executive Chef, Keisuke Matsumoto’s mind-blowing, and taste-buds-explosive creations. That night, I left dinner absolutely satisfied.
Poised in black and white with wood flooring and a beautiful verandah, this Colonial style terrace house makes you feel like you’re visiting a precious landmark in a past era from our Singaporean history.
The interior boasts of elegance and class, with table set-ups fit for a stylish, sophisticated wedding. And indeed, Lewin Terrace, with all its grace and congeniality, accommodates special events like anniversaries and weddings all year round.
As a restaurant that changes its menu according to the seasons and the freshest ingredients that each season has to offer, we had the WAKON YOSAI “和魂洋才”, a Summer menu specially crafted by Chef Matsumoto, which is availble from now till August.
Before the course started, we were served Home Made Bread and Original Yuzu Butter infused with miso. The butter is so slight and ephemeral, it felt like I was eating clouds, and the yuzu-miso paste has a wonderful salty tang that goes so beautifully with the crisp yet fluffy home made bread.
Then came the Amuse Bouche, courtesy of the chef. Ground beef sautéed in green pepper sauce placed on yuba (crispy tofu skin), with dehydrated tomato and mascarpone cheese. The tomato, which is hollow and crisp as a rice cracker, tastes both sweet and sour.
The savoury beef bits go very well with the lightness of the mascarpone and the yuba adds a nice crispy munch to it.
The course kicked off with Hassun, a two-part meal, with part one being a concoction of awabi (Hokkaido abalone), and umami dashi and lime leaf oil.
Served in a cocktail glass and with an iron spoon, the dashi is gelatinised konbu and bonito broth that disintegrates in your mouth, turning into smooth liquid gold that coats your tongue with umami salty flavours.
Hidden underneath the gold treasure of dashi jelly is Hokkaido abalone so fresh, it transported me right to the seaside.
Somewhere between me being in awe with the dish and relishing in its delicious glory, came a sudden burst of lime flavour. I’m just at the first part of the first course and I’ve already been titillated in every way.
The second part of Hassun is foie-gras brulee and Hokkaido corn puree topped off with roasted soba seeds. The hokkaido corn puree has a slightly sweet piquancy that is heavily contrasted with with the deep heady flavours of the foie-gras brulee.
For an added element of surprise, the roasted soba seeds bring a smokey crunchy character to this velvety dish.
For the second course, the menu stated Wagyu Shabu-shabu. The waiter set up a syphon on the table, lit the wick beneath it, and the broth syphoned up into the upper chambers to boil with assorted vegetables.
After all the soup had travelled “upstream”, the fire was put out and the soup fell back into its source bowl, ready to be served.
The accompanying elements to the Wagyu Shabu-shabu are wasabi gnocchi, okahijiki (a land vegetable that looks like seaweed), dashi, and white radish. I could feel excitement build up as the waiter poured dashi broth over the ensemble of beautiful colours that resembled a bouquet of flowers.
The beef, sliced paper thin, is so thin and soft, it’ll disintegrate in your mouth upon contact. Combining just a drop of wasabi extract with the Italian gnocchi was an ingenious move by Chef Matsumoto – seared, thick and starchy, a hint of wasabi was left lingering in the mouth when finished.
The broth is so light and ties the entire dish together so perfectly, you wouldn’t want to leave even a drop left behind (I surely didn’t).
Chef Matsumoto going around letting us take a sniff of his freshly squeezed wasabi extract. So adorable.
Next, came the Sole Meuniere: Meunie’re flat fish, noisset butter sauce, smoky potato, Spanish almond powder. Served with beetroot leaf. The fish is soft, flavourful, and goes so well with the tomato base of shallots, dried tomato, lemon, parsley, and sumak spice.
Robust, bright, and refreshingly paired with the light flavours from the fish, every element of this dish accompanied one another superbly.
The other main, Nippon Rossini (summer version) is Kagoshima Wagyu steak, foie gras terrine, Japanese mushroom paste and truffle. Served with black rice, Japanese lily root, shiitake, madera and oyster sauce, this dish, in contrast with the previous main, is heavy and headier in flavour.
The steak, soft, fatty, and tender, fuses magically with the mushroom paste and the strong heavy flavours of the foie gras terrine.
What piqued my interest is the contrasts in temperature in this dish: the foie gras terrine is served cold while the steak is warm, heightening my already spectacular encounter with it.
It was time for desserts!
Normally, when I go out to eat, I eagerly look forward to desserts. This time, however, my mind was shrouded with a difficult dilemma. Desserts meant that the dinner was coming to an end, and after tasting Chef Matsumoto’s creations, I did not want to part with them.
Alas, I came to terms with the fact that all good things come to an end, and decided to enjoy what was left of it.
Amane-melon Soup is made from the Japanese Shizuoka Melon, which costs over a hundred dollars per melon. If that isn’t premium, I don’t know what is.
This dessert in a cup is very sweet and icily refreshing, especially with the sudachi (Japanese calamansi) that gives you a burst of sour. Sadly, it comes like a shot, so you’ll finish it in one second, leaving you sorely craving for more.
The Riz Au Lait comes served with liquid chocolate in the style of leopard prints and with chocolate brittle-like biscuit. It looks like that’s all there is to this dessert, but it isn’t!
When you uncover what’s underneath the chocolate brittle, you’ll see a whole party of things that screams kawaii! Vanilla rice pudding, a brownie, charcoal coloured flower (made from white chocolate) and caramel spice ice cream.
The ice cream has cinnamon, cloves and star anise, all very interesting spices to add to this dessert. The combination of cocoa, spice, and vanilla make it such an explosive concoction of flavours – a wonderful end to a wonderful evening.
An evening at Lewin Terrace sets you on a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions, because every dish makes you fall madly in love with it, and finishing each course feels like you’re breaking up with someone you’re not ready to part with.
Thoroughly thought out, every aspect of Chef Matsumoto’s dishes follow the theme of summer and entwine flawlessly with one another. It truly is an experience like no other, and it’s something I would highly recommend anyone in Singapore to try at least once in their life.
If possible, do go for the wine pairing, as every wine and sake served is ensured to pair splendidly well with their respective course.
Expected Damage: $178++, $240++ with wine tasting