SPICE Singapore International Culinary Exchange

On the 20th February 2012, the SPICE hosted an exclusive lunch created by Celebrity Singaporean Chef Haikal Johari which is held in the Trade Center Tower, Seven Sands Restaurant. I am honored to be able to taste the famous “Perfect Meal” that he prepared for Channel NewsAsia was served to the former Singapore President Mr.S.R. Nathan and his beloved guests.

I am just gonna brief you a very short introduction on this talented chef. He is born and raised in Singapore. Don’t be shock with his name. For those who have never been to Singapore, it is a multicultural country consists of Indians, Chinese and Malays.

Chef Haikal is one of the country’s most celebrated chefs having led the kitchens of some of the most prestigious restaurants, including Restaurant Ember in Bangkok, Coriander Leaf Restaurant, Les Amis and the famed Pierside in Singapore. If I am not mistaken he is now the Head Chef of Water Library in Bangkok. Yes, I did some research on him before attending the lunch. Just so I know what to expect. Professional right? LOL! Just kidding. But I always have been the geek. I like to research before I step in a restaurant.

So YES! I am very lucky that I didn’t miss this out! But at the same time, I was a little disappointed at first cause I was hoping for the Singapore TakeOut Truck. The concept sounds really good to me. But due to some technical issues they aren’t able to transport the truck over. Anyhow I had a great lunch. Finally able to meet up with some of the food bloggers! Really happy to see you guys! We have to do this more often! It’s always nice to have meals with the right people who share the same passion as you do!

We were served with two different menus, one of it by of course, Chef Haikal himself. Chef Khalel Mustafa prepared the second menu. Five course in total including the dessert.

Now let’s the journey begin…

We were first welcome by the host of the day with a short introduction and later on by Mr. Lester Lu, Regional Director of Middle East & Africa Group of the IESingapore Company.

First course

Scallop Carpaccio, Foie Gras Mousse and Yuzu Foam.

Chef Haikal carefully selects only the finest from both land and sea. I actually love this as appetizer. To be very honest with you this is my second time trying Foie Gras and trust me my first time it’s not the best experience ever. So when I saw this menu I was kinda worry about it. It’s not polite to just leave food on the plate when the chef works so hard and put such an effort on it. So I just have to try it out again. And let me tell you, I just fell in love with it! It’s rich and creamy yet light and I think it went brilliantly well with the yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) and apple vinegar jelly. The acidity of it just balances the whole dish out. There are quite a lot of elements in this dish. So basically I am discovering it more and more with each bite! The flavor just explodes in my mouth. I have to say it’s one amazing appetizer.

Second course

“Kuay” Pie Tee prepared by Chef Khalel Mustafa

For those whose wondering what Kuay means, it means chicken in Hokkien. The chef takes a traditional Emirati chicken dish and gives it a Singaporean twist not just the name but also its flavors. It incorporates with some traditional Singaporean ingredients such as preserved soybeans and sweet turnip to complement this Arabic spiced dish. Now, here’s a problem I faced, I am not sure if it’s giving the right name to be honest. Cause it really doesn’t look like pie tee. With my knowledge, pie tee’s most important element was the thin crisp pastry. Which I don’t see in this particular dish. I might be wrong but this is my personal opinion. The chef might want to add some modern twist to it as well, but I believe even with the modern twist there’s just some important element that you just cant miss out or else it would totally change the whole point of the dish.

Third course

Pan-Seared Sea Bass and Prawns prepared by Chef Khalel Mustafa

It was serves with some Malay fried rice and rempah (spice paste) sauce. I love the sauce! It brings me back to Malaysia. Memories. Ah…! I always have been a big fan of rice! I am the type of person who needs rice every single day or else I feel like I haven’t been eating the whole day even I ate a big chunk of meat. So called “Asian Stomach” So the fried rice is just awesome! Just what I needed! Thank you chef! The prawn was slightly overcooked though yet pact of flavor. Delicious!

Fourth course

Lamb Rendang, Tamarind Jus and Spicy Cabbage prepared by Chef Haikal Johari

This is what I’ve been waiting for since last night! This is The Perfect Meal! I am slightly disappointed with the Rendang. It’s definitely not the usual Rendang we ate. I guess I had such a high expectation on it that when it’s not the usual Rendang, I just felt down. I am a huge fan of Rendang. Just by thinking bout it my stomach start growling! Imagine a hot piping of spicy Rendang with a bowl of rice. Delicious!! Anyway, the lamb was perfectly cooked! It’s soft and tender. Just the way I like it with a hint of coconut flavor on the crust. Love it! The spicy cabbage was a little weird to me, new flavor I tried today.

 

And finally the dessert

Singapore Sling “Deconstructed” by Chef Haikal Johari

This is the iconic cocktail in Singapore and globally. It’s a must to try cocktail whenever you have the chance to visit Singapore. But this is the non-alcoholic version. Chef uses fresh pineapple, lime, orange and adds coconut sorbet to turn the drink into an uplifting dessert. Oh! There’s also a piece of meringue sitting on top of the sorbet. I find it such a good combination, as the dessert is quite acidic due to the orange and lime. So something sweet just to cut it right off. And don’t worry the meringue is not overly sweet either. Indeed very refreshing. Just makes you wanna sit by the beach and order a glass of the “real” Singapore Sling. Sipping through and watch the sunset. What a life!

And of course but not least they gave us a goodies bag full with their local products, from oil to instant noodles. I have lots to try. I am actually eager to try the Koka Laksa and La Mian instant noodles.

Now I can get back to work, cooking for dinner! My stomach just starts growling after blogging this piece of post. Never blog or even attempt to read food blog before you eat! It’s just gonna make you hungrier! LOL!