Saturday, April 5, 2008

kitchen tour: first course

Like a witty, playful preface to a great novel, or a jaw-dropping opening act to an established band, the amuse bouche both sets the tone and perks up the senses at the start of the meal, promising all the great things yet to come.

You diggin' this? the bite-sized morsels say,

Hold on to your hat, sister, we're just getting started...

The amuse station. Dry storage located just beyond.

In this kitchen, there is a team dedicated solely to the amuse station. Some may consider it a breaking-in ground for newer cooks; the station both requires and teaches, among other things, organization, timing, teamwork, creativity, attention to detail and a sense of urgency. The plates may be small, but their impact is huge; first impressions are lasting ones!

Chinois, both coarse and fine, used for passing liquids and purees til velvety smooth.

The amuse team at work.

soy custard, spinach, soy mirin
Some last minute dressing.

quail egg, miso mustard
Front: Quail egg with miso mustard. Back: Soy custard with spinach, soy mirin dressing.

Consider them composed dishes in miniature form; each mouthful is presented as a concentrated palette of flavours, a spoonful of primary colours, as it were.

Taking stock of the numbers, before final plating and garnishing.

crispy tofu, basil, pineapple
Crispy tofu, basil, pineapple.

confit cherry tomato, chipotle mayo crostini
Confit cherry tomato, chipotle mayo crostini.

wuxi pork tart, confit potato
Back: Wuxi pork tart, confit potato.

fish croquette
Fish croquettes

Plates lined up, waiting for the call.

As each table is seated and settled in, the chits start rolling and the orders start flooding in:

Two amuses, one vegetarian!
Three amuses, one no shell!
Four amuses!
Two amuses, how long?

Did I mention that at this restaurant, each diner receives not one or two, but three separate amuses?

(Playful? Yes. Intricate? Yes. A possible holy hell of a headache if the wheels start falling off? Hell yes! But that's what makes it fun....)

Finished plates, ready for pick up.

Pig ear terrine

Skewer gets spicy peanut sauce, crostini gets basil sprout and guac, quail egg gets caviar...

Sharing platters for larger tables.

lobster/tomato water jelly
Lobster and tomato water jelly, purple basil sprout.

foie pate, wild blueberry preserves, spiced mantau bread
Foie pate, wild blueberry preserves, spiced mantau bread.

As the first wave of amuses are sent out, the other stations are set in motion; meat, veg, sauce, you're up next...

And the diners outside, delighting over the wee dishes set before them?

, they say, we are amused.


  1. Can't wait to eat out again!!!

  2. I love reading your blog... this one in particular gave me a different perspective of the tiny station that could... and does!

  3. anon: Yes, brunch time, next brunch channel!!!

    arrotsel: Thanks so much! I really did watch in amazement as three (mostly..) grown men moved around that wee little table so efficiently. :)