I went to Hiroki88 expecting good things from Chef Hiroki, recently of 3-Michelin star L’Astrance in Paris. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness and meticulousness in every quarter.
The simple, nature-themed décor and the attentive service keep diners in a Zen-like state, ready to receive the next plate of brilliance from Chef Hiroki.
A French-Japanese fusion, one clearly sees both influences—the plating is austere but soothing; the food is rich, yet fresh and energetic, powerful but never dominating, a textural composition, but nothing overpowering. The structure is French—techniques, cutlery and order of courses—but the flavors and attention to every detail is Japanese.
A basket of olive and homemade focaccia bread with assorted butters arrived first. The soft, crusty focaccia was perfect with the herb butter. The butter is delicate —well-balanced and fragrant. I liked the anchovy butter—rich but not fishy.
|Sakura Bark Home Smoked Fresh Salmon on Garden of Beetroot|
Sakura Bark Home-Smoked Fresh Salmon on Garden of Beetroot arrived next. It is both an architectural creation and an appetizing combination of flavors. This is a dish that wows and surprises. The play of texture, fragrance and taste is excellent, as is the control of the cooking technique. To tell more would spoil the surprise.
The Grilled Fresh Squid and Cauliflower served with Squid Ink Pasta similarly impressed. Squid fans will love it —squid is charred to perfection, smoky, tender and sweet. The pasta is pungent and earthy—coated with a pesto so delicate that you hardly see it, yet it flavors and clothes each mouthful with its fragrance.
The Slow-Cooked Fresh Garoupa on Creamy Mushroom Risotto was excellent. This risotto is a show-stealer—the garoupa, though fork-tender with a crunchy skin, paled beside it. With the seaweed sauce, the risotto is heavenly—crunchy spring onions, nutty shimeji mushrooms, pungent base note of seaweed—this is what a fusion of East and West should be.
|CN PHOTOS: Xavier Tan
Slow-Cooked Fresh Garoupa on Creamy Mushroom Risotto(Left)
Next, the Grilled Fillet of Lamb Loin perfumed with Rosemary. The lamb was less satisfying than the accompanying slice of roasted daikon with macadamia shavings, or the crunchy French beans. It was too delicately done—its herb crust was interesting, but not enough.
Dessert was Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberry Compote, accompanied by mousse and a dusting of caramel-coated cashews. The airy mousse evanesces in your mouth, leaving behind the sweetness of the ice cream and the crunch of the cashews. The compote is tart and firm, balancing out the flavor.
There are greater things ahead for Hiroki88. In the works are a larger alfresco dining area and an impressive water feature. Already among the top four finalists of the Singapore Restaurant Association’s Best New Concepts, people have started to sit up and take notice of Hiroki88.
Although I applaud them for their all-round excellence, I feel that Chef Hiroki and his team are playing too safe. I await the day where, like L’Astrance, menus are banished from the restaurant and Hiroki and his team venture into those deep culinary woods. I will be right behind them, ready to eat what they prepare.
Block 16A Dempsey Road
Dinner: 18.30 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. (Open Tuesdays to Sundays)
Web site: www.hiroki88.com
Reservations e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org