Roast pork belly, barbecued stingray and char siew are some of the favourite dishes of Jay Teo. He is the chef-owner of progressive Asian restaurant Full Circle by J.man. The restaurant opened in August at Thye Hong Centre in Leng Kee Road.
At his place, these local dishes are presented unconventionally. For instance, The roast pork is served like a Korean bossam. Diners wrap the glistening meat and pickles in lettuce leaves with lashings of coriander pesto and tangy fish sauce caramel that enhances the sweetness of the pork. Teo’s memories of barbecued stingray, on the other hand, come alive through red snapper slathered with laksa rempah. This is then grilled in banana leaves.
From Modern Australian to Progressive Asian
The 32-year-old says, “I love eating Asian food and gravitate towards those flavours. The best way to showcase my identity is through the food that I have memories of.”
Teo puts a lot of himself into his restaurant, whose name encapsulates his career journey. Previously, he was the head chef of now defunct modern Australian restaurant Cheek by Jowl, owned by chef Rishi Naleendra, who nicknamed him “J Man”.
Melding culinary cultures across Asia on a plate
In October 2020, Teo left the restaurant, which was rebranded to Cheek Bistro, to become a culinary arts instructor at his alma mater, SHATEC hospitality and tourism school. In returning to helm Full Circle by J.man, run by the owners of caviar brand Caviar Colony and one-Michelin-starred modern European restaurant 28 Wilkie, he comes full circle.
He reflects: “Although the hours as a chef are crazy, I still like the adrenaline rush — it is irreplaceable.”
Teo is melding culinary cultures across Asia — from Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea to Japan — in his tasting menus at Full Circle by J.man. There is even a smattering of Spanish influence through dishes such as lap cheong croquette, as Teo trained at the one- star La Botica Matapozuelos in Spain, after winning a tapas competition as a student.
I love eating Asian food and gravitate towards those flavours. The best way to showcase my identity is through the food that I have memories of.Chef Jay Teo
Experiment with uncanny flavour combinations
His ability to experiment with uncanny flavour combinations came through his six years under Australia- trained Naleendra, who received two Michelin stars this year for his progressive restaurant Cloudstreet.
Through his training in modern Australian cooking, Teo has been able to combine components from a melting pot of cultures. His restaurant, however, has a more Asian flair. As he puts it, “The easiest way to showcase my menu is to use flavours I l enjoy. The food has to be something that I can eat almost every day.”
Find out more: Full Circle by J.man