When a new restaurant re-introduces a protégé to the world—like a second coming of sorts—it feels like the food media community holds its breath to withhold quick remarks. I could sense this when Clos Pasoh on Bukit Pasoh Road opened not too long ago, with Chef Louis Pacquelin helming the kitchen on the second level shophouse unit.
The menu is a breath of fresh French air, with modernity having a heavy hand in its recipes as much as the dining space. Furnished with strategic pockets of foliage tucked in between plush emerald green sofas and rattan-back chairs, the cosiness in Clos Pasoh tempts stubbornness, just to prolong a meal.
What I tried
Bread as an appetiser is one of the greatest gifts for the table, I believe. And when the condiment—butter or otherwise—is housemade, that makes for an easy conversation starter if you’re on a blind date. In this case, the Cervelle de Canut (S$12) blesses the start of lunch with a side of chargrilled sourdough. My affection for sourdough is what, honestly, keeps me returning for the fromage blanc, made with Fromagerie Janier (in Lyon) with shallots, black pepper, walnut oil, and herbs.
I practice restraint not knowing how much food I’m expecting, but I suppose it is a fun little game I play with myself whenever I dance with the devil that is carbs.
While innards are typically not associated with refinement and beauty, it was rather pleasurable to see the Trippes et Caviar (S$32) so eloquently dressed on a plate. Cascading down the mound of braised and fried tripe is Noilly-Prat sauce dotted with caviar for that touch of opulence. I anticipated a gamey bite that’d instantly ward me off, but I was rewarded, instead, with crunchy, briny morsels that were satisfyingly chewy.
If I had to persuade anyone here to give it a chance, I’d liken it to deep-fried oysters—and maybe not constantly reminding yourself it’s actually a cow’s stomach.
Perhaps, then, a more familiar ingredient would add some joy to your meal at Clos Pasoh; the Bisque coco-homard (S$29) is every bit as luxurious as the above shot makes it to be. Honestly, sitting here at almost 6pm seeing this is making me realise how famished I am. But before I run off to prepare dinner, I have to share that this modern coconut and lobster bisque couldn’t be any more different than the lobster bisque we’ve acquainted ourselves with so fondly in the 80s.
For the ravioli, each lobster claw is hand-picked and cooked with chives, green shallots, and confit lemon from the South of France. And although the bisque itself is classically created with cognac and white wine, Chef Pacquelin throws us a curveball with the addition of Thai basil and kaffir lime. What I got was an almost-tom yam goong that’s insatiably creamy, yet light enough to allow breaths of sweet lobster to emerge.
They really need to consider making this a double portion (which I’d gladly spend good money on).
The last thing I’d expect to be transported to our table was an entire vessel, meant for the Pot-au-feu (S$138) broth. The contraption works similarly to a drip-coffee machine, with dehydrated kitchen trimmings, chilli padi, herbs, fennel, coriander seeds, and fresh coriander stuffed in a towering syphon infuser. If the sight of this throws you off, then you’ll soon be placated by the knowledge that this dish is served in two parts.
Part A is a polite way to keep our idle mouths eating, while we patiently wait for the broth to come to a boil—and it comes in the form of dumplings.
Poached at low heat, its texture is similar to firm tofu, which Chef Pacquelin cheekily refers to as ‘meaty’. It works great as a teaser, but all this while, I’m really just impatient to get my teeth sunk deep in the beef.
Although the final boiling of broth happens at the table, it’s already gone through several rounds of cooking prior, with 10 kg of meat and 3 kg of vegetables to create 5 litres of broth. Be sure to call dibs if you’re with equally eager eaters because there’s a pick of short rib, oyster blade, and beef cheek to pick from. It’s almost impossible to tell which is which once you’ve drenched every part in scalding broth, but from memory, I recall the cheek was the winner for me.
In spite of its rigorous cooking process, the broth remained delicate enough to appreciate its nuances—never burdening the palate with too-earthy or too-herbaceous notes.
A keen eye that peruses through my articles at SethLui.com will know that while I try to favour non-chocolate desserts, I cannot stray too far from my true chocoholic self. With that said, the Mousse au chocolat (S$14) is a dessert jar I couldn’t bear to share—but for the sake of my reputation at work events, I had to. The recipe is as genuine as it gets, ripped straight from the notebook of Chef Pacquelin’s mother.
He confesses to enjoying this every Sunday growing up—can someone say food envy?—and I can see why he dotes on this so much. Made with egg yolk and chocolate, the whipped egg whites are folded into the chocolate to create an airy, not-too-decadent mousse. My suggestion is to use the accompanying biscotti as a spoon; it’s just so much more satisfying.
Even now, I cannot forget the Bisque coco-homard, so you definitely need not ask what I’d choose for us to order. But the bigger question is, did Chef Pacquelin make a powerful, convincing entrance to spearheading his own place? Yes… and no. Yes, because, I need not repeat my lust for the bisque and chocolate mousse, but there were also some dishes that didn’t grip me the way a formidable force is supposed to.
Given there should be space and allowance for growth, I don’t doubt that Close Pasoh will only tighten its ship in the coming months.
Expected damage: S$40 – S$65 per pax
Price: $ $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
48A Bukit Pasoh Road, Level 2, Singapore 089859
48A Bukit Pasoh Road, Level 2, Singapore 089859