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If you have a special occasion coming up and need a new place to impress your date, our Makan Kaki, hotelier, restaurateur & judge on Eat List Star, Loh Lik Peng recommends you head straight to this gorgeous fine-dining restaurant located in historic Caldwell House at Chijmes. White Grass is the whole package – wonderful food, service and space. Australian Chef-Owner Sam Aisbett and is known for his work in esteemed restaurants like Tetsuya & Quay in Sydney, which is why Peng was curious to pay his new restaurant, White Grass, a visit. In his opinion, it lives up to the hype.
First of all, the dining room will wow you. Especially in the day time, it’s flooded with natural light and is definitely on his list of most beautiful spaces in Singapore. It’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into presentation – from the curved, custom teal-blue velvet couches to the exquisite crockery and cutlery, there are nods to nature in the organic shapes of bowls and vases, as well as to the Art Deco style of the historical building.
You can select from 3, 5 or 8 course dinner tasting menus or 2-3 course lunch tasting menus (with wine pairings, if you choose) that give you a delicious sense of Chef Aisbett’s distinctive & personal interpretation of Modern Australian cuisine, which means you’ll get exciting textures and flavours, inspired by his home country, his travels and also local ingredients. In fact, Chef Aisbett spends quite a lot of time exploring Singapore’s wet markets and experimenting with how to incorporate familiar Singapore flavours (think century egg & jackfruit!) with Western ingredients & techniques. Plus, he even grows his own herbs in an urban cultivator located in a secret upstairs room! Have a look at a typical 8-course tasting menu (keeping in mind this will get updated from time to time):
Beautiful, fresh-baked Sourdough bread with quenelles of Echire butter and Australian sea salt sourced from a family-run sea salt farm in South Australia – but the highlight is the gorgeous crockery – look at those little bowls, designed to look just like mushroom caps!
Little bite-sized pre-dinner snacks, again, beautifully presented. Top Left: “brick”pastry with Mangalica Pork, seaweed & lemon jam. Top Right: Charcoal “sandwich” with Hamachi. Bottom: Comte cheese biscuit with fennel & goat’s cheese jam. The brick pastry, in particular, is an eye-rollingly delicious nugget of smokey, piggy goodness!
Wild-caught Japanese Yellowtail Amberjack is diced and lightly marinated in a white soy dressing, bonito oil, horseradish cream and fresh diced apple, then rolled in a jelly made from green apple juice, dried bonito, kombu, white soy and mirin before being set with agar agar, to create this luscious cigar shape, which in turn bathes in a toasted nori oil beneath it. Pickled choko (an edible plant from the gourd family) compressed with chardonnay vinegar and dill oil garnishes the roll, along with thinly sliced Japanese cucumber and seasonal herbs like sea succulents and nasturtium which are grown in the restaurant’s urban cultivator. Other young herbs are sourced from a local lady who grows special micro herbs and edible flowers locally specially for White Grass. Next to the roll is a line of wasabi snow, made with buttermilk, milk and fresh wasabi then frozen with liquid nitrogen and then blended to a fine powder.
In this eye-catching salad, two types of Australian beetroot are roasted, peeled and dressed with muscatel vinegar whilst still warm. Beneath the succulent fuschia vegetables lies a bed of cultured cream with smoked eel from Holland, that’s paired with rosella jam (hibiscus flower). For a garnish with crunch, shards of crisps made from beetroot juice and barley (red) & from sushi rice and eel skin (white). Grated Tasmanian mountain berry (similar to peppercorn, but milder & fruitier) finishes off this unusual salad.
This doesn’t look like much (pardon the bad photography), but it tastes PHENOMENAL! This clear consomme is deeply flavoured with fresh blue swimmer crab and fish heads that have been fried off in a chilli, ginger and garlic paste, then infused with Kombu, shitake mushrooms & chicken stock. Lemon juice and an aged fish sauce finish off the flavours of the broth beautifully. In it floats the very aptly named scallop velvet, made from a very light scallop mousse and egg whites that have been gently poached, as well as night-blooming jasmine & dill oil. A fragrantly floral and pleasantly briny dish with layers and layers of flavour.
The PIECE DE RESISTANCE! Everybody’s favourite & in Peng’s opinion, most outstanding dish of the entire meal: Slow roasted Mangalica pork, shaved Australian abalone, handmade silken tofu, resting on a smoked onion cream and garnished with black moss (yes, what the Cantonese call Fatt Choy!). To quote Peng, “It’s almost too pretty to eat!”
But wait! Then they pour on this aromatic pork broth and the entire dish comes together like MAGIC!!! Such a sublime combination of textures, from the tender, fatty pork with it’s crispy skin, the silky-smooth tofu, crunchy-chewy abalone and everything else.
Foreground: Roasted milk skin & finely chopped century egg “whites” with a “salad” of toasted flaxseed, almonds and sunflower seeds, dressed in a sauce made from the “whites” of century egg cooked in butter, all resting on a bed of steamed endive hearts.
Background: Butter-poached Quail topped with a duo of white garlic puree (made from milk steeped with garlic) and black puree puree (made from fermented garlic).
This dish was inspired by Chef’s first taste of century egg porridge (pei dan chok) in Singapore & this was the result of playing around with century egg’s unique texture and flavour!
Grass-fed beef from the Scottish Highlands, which is cooked over white charcoal (or what the Japanese call bincho-tan, then rubbed with a very fragrant lightly roasted white sesame oil. It sits on an intense mushroom puree that is made from fermented shitake & Swiss brown mushrooms. Topped with with black salsify (seaweed), wilted wasabi leaf, shimeji mushroom caps, ice plant tips and crispy rice “lace” blacked and seasoned with charcoal and shitake powder (we could eat these little crspy lace chips all day long!). That little black dot on the top right of the plate is actually the true inspiration for this dish and personally surced by Chef. What you see is 5 precise drops of a pure, unadorned, rare 20-year-old Japanese soy sauce called Kamebishi Shoyu from Kagawa prefecture in Japan and made by one of the oldest soy sauce companies in Japan. This family-owned company has been around since 1753 and is the last remaining one that makes soy sauce the traditional way using mushiro-koji. The soy is left to age in 200-year-old cedar barrels resulting in a heady, aromatic product that smells strong, but was surprisingly mellow, yet rich and not super salty.
Chef’s jaunts through the local wet markets yielded a discovery of our unique tropical fruits and this is an ode to those flavours. Light-as-air young coconut mousse is paired with creamy jackfruit ice-cream. Zingy ginger cake and lemon puree balances all the rich sweetness, whilst different texture excite the tastebuds in the form of milk biscuits, meringue, caramelised almonds, macarons, sugar shards and young coconut meat.
Finally, these pretty little Petit Fours were created based on the chefs’ memories of childhood desserts & is a tribute to each of their home countries. Head Chef Diego is from Peru and created the melt-in-mouth Alfajores de Manjar blanco which is a delicate cookie sandwich filled with Dulce de Leche, a decadent concoction of condensed milk, caramelised sugar and vanilla bean. Executive Chef-Owner Aisbett went with the Australian Chocolate-covered Raspberry Snowball that was inspired by Arnott’s Royals Chocolate. Sink your teeth into one of those smooth, 66% Valrhona dark chocolate globes and you’ll experience layers of chocolate brownie with almonds, marshmallow & raspberry jam.
This is why Peng says he had one of his best dining experiences at White Grass and as far as special occasion restaurants go, Chef Aisbett’s restaurant is right up there with the best of them and a fine addition to Singapore’s culinary scene.
30 Victoria Street
Open daily: Tuesday-Saturday Dinner 6:00 – 9:30 pm; Wednesday-Saturday Lunch: 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Reservations: +65 68370402