I love it when once in a while I would chance upon a really decent dining spot which has a nice ambience, a central location and dishes that are worth paying for. One such place would be Chef's Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl, a restaurant in Tanjong Pagar that managed to surprise and delight, much like Cheek by Jowl for me this year and Cure last year. What's unique about Chef's Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl is that there is no fixed menu - you only cross out what you don't like/eat in a list of 28 ingredients and the chefs will work to come up with dishes that are fresh and seasonal. This degustation/omakase, or carte blanche style comes in three prices: 4 courses at S$98+ per person; 6 courses at S$128+ per person and 8 courses at S$150+ per person.
Of course it is an open kitchen concept in the shophouse, and you can see the chefs and sommelier keeping busy the entire time. We had the gorgeous white wine called Gruener Veltliner, Pike & Joyce, Adelaide Hills, Australia ($19/glass, $92/bottle) to start. Chefs also personally served us our dishes - and told us a little bit about them as well, since there is no menu to read the ingredients. For our first dish for example, we were all given an oyster leaf to start and cleanse our palate. I've had this before and it really tastes like oyster!
The actual first course was the Crabmeat with cucumber, cucumber flower, gazpacho of cucumber and yoghurt. One thing we realized by the end of the meal was how every dish there's something to be poured onto the plate, so there's a puddle. Not complaining, just bemused after the third dish had the same treatmeat. This was yummy as an appetizer - there was a bit of ikura on top of the sweet and fresh crabmeat, which I adored.
We then moved on to the hamachi with peas in textures, bouchot Mussels and saffron stock. See? The rich yellow saffron stock was poured onto the sliver of hamachi. Tiny morsels of mussels added pops of the sea amidst the rather plain but still yummy fish. The portions here are definitely not for sharing, in case you're wondering!
We then proceeded with another seafood dish - the cod fish with parsley risotto, green asparagus, lobster stock and jamon iberico. The parsley risotto was definitely a first for us - it wasn't overpowering though, and the cod fish was so smooth and buttery! The lobster stock felt a little weird - perhaps not necessary with all these flavour powerhouses like the iberico ham.
Then we moved onto two red meat dishes - the veal ragout with white butter bean puree, horseradish, mustard and salad burnet. In case you think veal sounds like a heavy dish, rest assured. This was a tiny bowl of chopped up veal, which was meant to camouflage with the others such that each little cube was a surprise. It worked! I really liked the portioning of this. We also switched to an Austrian red wine - the Wiener Trilogie (Cuvee of Zweigelt, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) (S$19/glass, S$92/bottle).
The last main dish was the Muscovado duck with foie gras, fermented grains, shallot, chanterelle mushroom and nasturtium leaves. Wow, I don't really recognize the last two ingredients. The veal was nice and soft - but I wished there was more foie - it was such a tiny piece! Except we were super full by now.. (also notice the pouring of gravy again).
Lastly, dessert! Yay. We were treated to a sound and visual treat when this special utensil was carried out. A glass ball above the liquid nitrogen was 'ringing' as it vibrates from the fumes. This is called the Flavours of Black Forest with cherry, chocolate, cream, along with liquid nitrogen. Pretty impressive sight to behold!
Tastes good too! The liquid nitrogen has completed frozen the cherry liquid inside, such that it becomes sort of a cherry sorbet. The light scoops of cherry ice cream, with some chocolate cake pieces above, were also tasty. No complaints - what a creative dessert.
Chef Stephan Zoisl has managed to surprise and delight with this nouveau concept of using only the best seasonal ingredients to bring to diners a different meal every time. I really liked the quality of the food and the fact that it was not too 'chi chi' like a proper fine dining restaurant. Instead it feels more like dining at a chef's home, which I suppose is exactly what they would like!
Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl
61 Tras St, Tanjong Pagar, Singapore 079000
Tuesdays to Saturdays 5pm-12am
Closed on Mondays and Sundays