When I moved back to Singapore, the biggest gripe I had with the food scene was not the amount of restaurants and cafes popping up every other week but the serious lack of thought and quality that was put into them.
Many F&B business owners here think that copying the culinary trends in New York and London and simply plonking them without translating them to a local context will make your joint the next big thing. For some, that formula works for a while but what’s next?
I constantly find myself trying new places but hardly any have left me wanting to go back for more. The factors that matter to me most when dining out? An original concept and it’s menu/ingredients. It does not matter if it's the neighbourhood Zi Char place or it's Alain Ducasse. What I'm looking for is passion. That has to resonate through the food you are cooking and what you represent.
So when my BFF and fellow food lover was back in town after a stint in Shanghai, we met up for a quick weekday lunch. The first place I thought to take her was Sorrel, a new joint that is conveniently located next to my office; the series of attractive food photos I had seen on a few instagram accounts had made an impression and compelled me to make a reservation. Bear in mind that I had no clue what I had just signed myself up for when I made that reservation, not to mention the fact that it was hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng’s new venture.
Needless to say, I had an experience that checked all the boxes in my ‘I will definitely come back’ checklist.
Sorrel follows a bistronomy concept, a balance of high and low, mixing a casual bistro setting while serving exquisitely crafted fine-dining worthy dishes. The result? A cosy modern setting with a stellar menu that doesn’t cost me my next Lacroix acquisition. WIN.
As we were seated by the open kitchen, we managed to chat with Executive Chef Johnston Teo about his concept for Sorrel which ultimately places focus on quality ingredients that concentrates on flavour combinations with menu changes that are based on the prime produce of the season. Both my friend and I decided on the three-course lunch set, which was a great introduction to what the restaurant offers.
For our starters we had the Octopus and Kohlrabi, and this was where the fun started. Kohlrabi is a seasonal vegetable which has the texture of radish, not a very common vegetable on Singapore menus. This was served with mustard seeds marinated in a Sherry & Madeira reduction as well as a dressing of sesame praline. Which brings me back to my point on understanding your ingredients and translating that knowledge to taste. You see, Kohlrabi is mild and slightly peppery to taste. It also has a crunch to it so the tart but sweetened mustard seeds perfectly bring out the flavour.