A few bloggers and I were invited to a Tasting Dinner at The Screening Room
last month. They had hired a new Group Executive Chef, Wayne Nish, some months back and wanted to showcase his talents. Wayne hails from New York and has received various accolades, including a highly coveted Michelin star. Wayne was our host for the evening and guided us through the entire dinner. He’s like a walking food encyclopaedia and was most affable.
The Screening Room
is a multi-concept dining establishment that marries film, food and nightlife. It is housed in a quaint heritage building (previously occupied by Damenlou Hotel) at Ann Siang Hill. There are 5 different levels
, each imbued with a different ambience. Of all the floors, my favourites are the rooftop bar and the film theatre.
They hold regular screenings of movies (don’t expect the latest blockbusters as due to licensing constraints, they are only able to hold screenings of classics or slightly older films). In keeping with their philosophy of combining the sensual experience of eating with that of watching movies, they organise special food and film paired events.
Wayne had arranged for tasting portions of all the items listed in the menu above so that we can sample a large variety of what they had to offer. The menu looked interesting but we felt apprehensive as the list was so long that we began to wonder if there would be too much food!
The prices on the tasting menu were to give us an idea of how much the dish would cost when ordered a la carte. It was essentially a 5 course meal. I found this an interesting coincidence considering that this place has 5 levels and is focused on stroking the 5 senses: 1) Taste – food, 2) Smell – food, 3) Sight – movie & food, 4) Hearing – movie & 5) Touch – the sensation of textures in food & the plushness of the couches.
Crudos Platter (sampling portions)
From bottom: Shime Saba (Mackerel) with Preserved Lemon & Grated Ginger (S$18);
Botan Ebi (Shrimp) with Uni, Mentaiko, Nori & Calamansi (S$26);
Scallop Carpaccio with Ito Kuzuri, Nori & Sesame Oil Chuka Dressing (S$24);
Coriander Cured Salmon with Salmon Roe & Spring Onions (S$20) &
Mekajiki (Swordfish) with Olive Oil, White Soya Sauce, Sesame Seeds & Chives (S$18)
We started our meal with a Crudo
platter of seasoned raw fish. “Crudo
” is an Italian word for “raw” and refers to seasoned raw fish slices that are served as appetizers. They’re tasty morsels that do not require further seasoning to enhance the freshness of the sea. In other words, whilst the seafood is sashimi grade, no wasabi and soy sauce combo should be added.
We were advised to start from the mildest tasting crudo and progress to the stronger tasting ones. Hmm…very similar to cheese tasting! We started with the Swordfish. I generally love Swordfish (especially when eating Sashimi) for its firm and crunchy texture. Thus, it was by no accident that this was my favourite crudo on the entire platter. The sweetness of the fish was enhanced by the slightly nutty flavour of sesame seeds (a favourite ingredient of mine) and the entire experience was smoothened by the slick and fragrant olive oil. The Salmon was pretty good but I felt that the Ikura (salmon roe, another of my favourite ingredients but barely discernible atop the salmon) was a little too hard. The Scallop Carpaccio was another item that I liked because it was very sweet and fresh, not bland or fishy like what you sometimes get at the lesser Japanese restaurants. I also loved the bonito flakes that garnished it. Next was the Botan Ebi Shrimp, I loved the Uni (sea urchin) and brilliant ruby-coloured pomegranate seeds that topped it. I could barely taste the Mentaiko (spicy cod roe) that was used to season the shrimp so perhaps another visit with friends to try the crudos again is in order. The final crudo was Mackerel (Saba). This is an oily fish (Omega 3!) that is generally not appreciated by alot of people because of its perceived “fishy” taste. Its strong flavour is countered by the addition of Preserved Lemon (an ingredient commonly used in Persian and Moroccan cuisine) and grated ginger. I thought the combination of Ginger and Lemon was quite similar to that of Chinese style cooking where ginger and preserved plum is used to season steamed fish and to help counter the “fishy” taste. It was an interesting combination in which the sweetish tanginess of the preserved lemon and the spiciness of the ginger complemented the strong flavour of the fish so that the “fishiness” is reduced and the sweetness enhanced.
Must-Try [Crudos Platter]: Swordfish & Scallop Carpaccio
Chef Wayne was very sweet in sending a bottle of Chateau Bonnet, Entre Deux Mers, Bordeaux 2006 to complement the food. I don’t know much about wines but I felt that it was a pleasant white wine that was not too acidic.
Gastrobites Platter (sampling portions)
From bottom in the main pic: Chicken Patties with Poached Chicken & Vegetables in Phyllo Pastry (S$8);
Cold Tofu with Century Egg, Mentaiko & Uni (S$18);
Roulade of Raw Beef Carpaccio with Harissa Mayonnaise & Herb Salad (S$22);
Torchon de Foie Gras de Canard with Mango Coulis & Papadums (S$29) &
Confit of Chicken Schnitzel with Quail Egg, Lemon & Anchovy (S$18)
Next we moved onto the Gastrobites Platter. I loved the Chicken Patties(cross-section in the top right corner of the mosaic) best because they were crispy parcels of juicy chicken seasoned with Asian spices and herbs. The pickled green chili paste beneath it added a tarty and spicy dimension to this tasty puff. My next favourite item was the Confit of Chicken Schnitzel (bottom right pic in mosaic: quartered, with a quail’s egg sunny side up on top of it). The Cold Tofu was my third favourite but I wished that it had a slightly stronger taste of century egg. I liked the Harissa (Moroccan chili paste) Mayonnaise in the Roulade of Beef Carpaccio but would have preferred a slightly tangier flavour. Torchon de Foie Gras de Canard is essentially Duck Foie Gras that has been poached. It was smooth but I’m partial to pan-fried foie gras with its crisp exterior and soft interior so the Torchon de Foie Gras didn’t quite do it for me.
Must-Try [Gastrobites] : Chicken Patties & Confit of Chicken Schnitzel
Crispy Veggie Ribbons @ S$8
Lotus Root, Parsnip, Carrot, Potato & Sweet Yam with Sea Salt & Fines Herbes
After both the cold and warm appetisers, we took a small break while waiting for the mains. We were served bowls of Crispy Veggie Ribbons to keep us busy. The thin strips had been deliciously seasoned with the subtle flavour of sea salt. This is a Must-Try!
New York Strip Steak, 12 oz (340grams) @ S$70
aka shortloin/Kansas City Strip Steak, fully trimmed & sliced
I love steaks so I was thrilled when the Medium-Rare steaks arrived. Wayne explained a little more about the New York Strip Steak that had a marbling which was similar to Grade 6 Wagyu. It was EXCELLENT!
I loved it as it had a smoky exterior with a succulent core that melted in our mouths, thanks to the beautiful marbling. Check out the picture above to see what I mean. It was one of the best steaks I’ve had in a while! This is definitely a MUST-TRY!
Yuzukosho & Shoyu Dip
The NY Strip Steak was served with some Yuzukosho & Shoyu Dip. Yuzukosho is a Japanese condiment that is made of grated Yuzu (a fragrant Japanese citrusy fruit that is highly prized) zest and grated chili peppers. In short, its a tangy, spicy and salty dip. It complemented the rich flavour of the steak perfectly! I recall having tried this dip before while digging into my piece of AUS Kobe Wagyu steak at Takumi Tokyo
Tenderloin, 8oz (225grams) @ S$62
centre cut filet mignon steak served with herbed butter
After savouring the New York Strip Steak, the Tenderloin paled in comparison. It was good but not as juicy as the New York Strip Steak.
Cod with bits of Olive & Preserved Lemon
Skinny Epicurean doesn’t eat any meat, so they prepared a huge cod steak for her. I tried a little piece and thought that it was delicately poached. Cod is one of my favourite fish, however, I’m a Beef-eater, so I’ll choose a steak over cod any day!
Rack of Lamb (for 2 pax) @ S$49
Roasted Prime New Zealand Centre-cut Rack of Lamb with Tamarind & Coriander Seed Crust
The rack of lamb was well-prepared. The slightly sourish and sweet flavour of the tamarind added an interesting dimension to the dish. However, the first steak had left an indelible impression in my mind so this dish was overshadowed by the New York Strip Steak.
By the time I was done with the mains, I was getting stuffed. Then the cheese arrived. I always have room for cheese! Wayne explained that these cheeses are especially tasty and rich because the raw and unpasteurised milk that they were made with allowed for a more complex and intense flavour development.
Handmade French Raw Milk Cheese @ S$36
From bottom: Epoisses de Bourgogne, Reblochon, Beaufort, Roquefort, Tomme de Belloc & Selles sur Cher
My absolute favourite was the Epoisses de Bourgogne. It was very rich, runny and strong! Absolutely divine! The Reblochon (next to the Epoisses) was delicious and was one of the favourites at the table because it was not as pungent as the Epoisses.
My next favourite is the Roquefort (pale in colour with blue veins). It was creamy and pungent yet delicious! The rest of the cheese were much milder and less creamy so I wasn’t too keen on them. If you like cheese, this is a platter that will please.
They served the cheese with fluffy Naans instead of the usual crackers. It was an interesting variation. I thought the cheese went better with naans instead of crackers but as I generally prefer eating cheese without any accompaniments, I ate my cheese with a fork.
Fresh Fruit with Ginger Syrup, Honey & Spiced Salt @ S$15
I loved this dessert as the mix of diced fruits was very refreshing yet spicy. The spiced salt added a fragrant touch to the dish. This is a Must-Try, if you like fruits and spices!
Sticky Date Pudding with Vanilla Whipped Cream & Palm Sugar @ S$16
The sticky date pudding had a dense texture and was unfortunately a little too dry for my liking. I would also have preferred for it to have been served with the traditional butterscotch sauce instead.
Lime Semifreddo with Mango, Lime & Chilli @ S$15
This dessert was rather refreshing and I enjoyed chomping into the chunks of mango.
Sheep’s Milk Mahalabia with Pistachios, Candied Ginger
& Pomegranate Molasses @ S$15
This was a very interesting dessert which I enjoyed very much because I loved the crunchy bits of pistachios, candied ginger and pomegranate seeds. This is worth a try for the experience!
Molten Chocolate Cake with Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate @ S$16
This dessert was a bit of a disappointment as the molten chocolate cake was a little overcooked and dry. I hope its better the next time I visit as I love chocolate. Then again, I can always indulge in the Fresh Fruit dessert instead.
Salted Nut Kataifi Tart with Almond Milk Kulfi @ S$16
The 6th and final dessert was another interesting one. The pecan nut and caramelized sugar tart was delicious! I didn’t like the Almond Milk Kulfi though as it was a little too dense for my liking.
Here’s a picture of Chef Wayne Nish and Samia Ahad, Founder of The Screening Room
& The Coriander Leaf. I couldn’t help but note that the ethnic essences could have been influenced by Samia. I had taken cooking classes with her at The Coriander Leaf and remembered her penchance for spices (like me!) and ingredients like preserved lemon and pomegranate seeds. Chef Wayne told us that he had learnt quite alot about Middle Eastern and Indian spices from Samia and that they had worked together before. I think its always interesting to try new variations to traditional recipes as long as the “marriage of flavours” is matched well.
The Screening Room
12 Ann Siang Road,
Tel: +65 6221-1694
Restaurant Operating Hours:
Mondays to Saturdays: 12pm to 2.30pm & 6.30pm to 10pm (Fridays: Last Order @ 10.30pm)
Closed on Sundays
Bar Operating Hours:
Mondays to Thursdays: 6pm to 1am
Fridays & Saturdays: 6pm to 3am
Closed on Sundays
* PS: Thank you, Screening Room and Sixth Sense Communications for hosting us!