(This article is about Chef Shen Tan’s Weekend Brunch Takeover pop-up at Artistry. To read about Artistry’s offerings for brunch, click here.)
Thought this was rather worth writing about despite the pop-up being over because I had never tried Chef Shen’s cooking before, and would like to share about the experience here.
Chef Shen is known within the F&B scene in Singapore for her takes on mod-Sin (modern Singaporean) cuisine where she combines western and local elements together for her innovative dishes. Starting her first venture in a hawker centre stall named Madam Tan’s Nasi Lemak at Maxwell Food Centre, she moved on to set up Wok & Barrel at Duxton Road before closing down due to rising costs and manpower issues. She struck back with the opening of Ujong at Raffles Hotel, offering mod-Sin fare that she was known for before leaving the restaurant and being culinary director at Gastrogig which specialises in pop-ups and events. Her pop-up at Artistry features a selection of her well-known dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Bak Chor Mee Pasta and also a Crispy Chicken Burger with a Pulut Hitam Pudding with Coconut Ice-Cream for dessert.
(Nasi Lemak with Grilled Brinjal)
I had always wanted to try Chef Shen’s rendition of the local favourite Nasi Lemak, which I had failed to try due to the closure of Wok & Barrel. From the menu, three variants were served, but when we arrived there was only two left; Long Beans or Grilled Brinjal. Picking the Grilled Brinjal, it was cooked in a curry which had its own spicy kick that somewhat lies in between mild and moderate and was well-executed, being soft to bite. Rice was Lemak, but it is not too overpowering so it was easy to finish. Comes with a side of pickled vegetables (quite refreshing), ikan bilis (crisp though turns quite stiff after being left for a while), boiled egg and cucumber. Atop the cucumber were two types of chili, and the Chef Shen’s Sambal was the one that got me. It’s one of those that was really spicy, but it had its different dimensions of spiciness where you could taste a bit of tanginess despite the heat. I found it really spicy but it was so good I just could not stop.
(Bak Chor Mee Pasta)
My dining partner was intrigued by the Bak Chor Mee Pasta, which was linguine tossed in vinegar and chili flakes topped with five spices pork. Unlike your typical Mee Pok, this was rather bold with the strong tastes of vinegar, yet coming with mild spiciness from the chili flakes tossed in. The pork confit marinated in five-spices was also tender, and while it was called Bak Chor Mee Pasta, this felt like something more premium; not the type you would expect to get from hawker centers.
(Pulut Hitam Pudding with Coconut Ice-Cream)
I was looking forward for dessert because I am a big fan of Pulut Hitam, and I must say that the Pulut Hitam Pudding with Coconut Ice-Cream never disappointed me one bit. This was a combination of Sticky Date Pudding with Pulut Hitam, which sees the glutinous rice coming in pudding form which was absolute delish. Coconut ice-cream was fragrant and refreshing as it replicated the coconut milk used for Pulut Hitam, and the Gula Melaka Butterscotch though tasted nothing like Gula Melaka, added a salted caramel-like sweetness to the dessert. Absolute love for this dish!
After trying our Chef Shen’s various dishes at Artistry, I have understood why her cooking had been so widely raved. The dishes share a few common traits; innovative combinations that actually taste good and even different when put together with a refined touch. There would definitely be some who would prefer similar dishes that are offered at hawker centers, but coming from the restaurant scene the dishes has to have a more upmarket touch to them. Would definitely look forward to trying more of Chef Shen’s dishes at other pop-ups soon!
(Madam Tan’s Weekend Brunch Takeover at Artistry is only available from 18th January 2015 to 19th January 2015 from 10am to 4pm.)
17 Jalan Pinang