Executive Chef Kirk Westaway of JAAN by Kirk Westaway is exuberant about his second Michelin star. He shares, “Words alone can’t fully express the surge of emotions and pure elation I felt. It is an incredible honour to be awarded two Michelin stars, and testament to the hard work and dedication that the team and I have put in over the past six years.” Given the unpredictable and challenging year that the entire industry has been through, Westaway adds that this recognition is even more meaningful to him at this time.
Serving up Modern British since 2018, the restaurant’s current summer menu (until the end of September) continues with his sophisticated take on British classics of his childhood in South West Britain. It was a happy coincidence that we were able to dine in just hours before the Michelin Guide Singapore 2021 list was announced on 1 September.
To get my appetite going was a quartet of bite-sized snacks starting with a refreshing Cucumber Meringue topped with pickled cucumbers, fresh fennel and a fennel flower. Next up, a crispy tapioca chip dotted with chickpea hummus and cumin yoghurt dressed in a striking black olive lattice cracker dusted with cumin and salted lemon. A duo of Buckwheat Waffle filled with soft cream cheese and Kristal caviar, and goose mousse was indication that things were off to a good start.
This was followed by a velvety reinvention of the British Roast Leek and Potato Soup, served in a receptacle designed by Westaway and a fresh onion baby brioche. It’s a comforting hug in a mug comprising a light but intensely perfumed mushroom stock, truffle trimmings, truffle juice and essence of roasted potato. An airy potato mousse is piped atop the lush soup, and a surprise awaits at the bottom with macadamia nuts.
Bread is, of course, a big part of British food culture and likewise is treated with extra care in a nest of hay and hot stones. The butter from Devon where Westaway grew up, however, was the star. There’s table side trolley service for the butter, crowned with Cornish sea salt and herbs from the restaurant’s own aquaponics farm in the same building. Unabashedly, I had a lot more of the rich, creamy butter than initially intended.
The next course, a Sweet Summer Tomato – a riff on a caprese that packed herb-infused bright flavours within a vine-ripened ox heart tomato. Slow-roasted tomatoes, house made spicy ketchup, dehydrated olives for a salty tang and burrata cheese were accompanied by a bright basil sorbet and an abundance of herbs from the restaurant’s farm.
An elegant take on British eggs and soldiers, the Hen’s Egg was a slow-cooked organic yolk on smoked organic purple aubergine, cauliflower custard and black truffles. Delivering umami in spades was the toasted soldier with melty 10-month-old Berkswell cheese and a side of cauliflower mash mixed with the same cheese elevated with pearls of Kristal caviar.
A surprise highlight, the Snapper with Violin Courgette had perfectly cooked fish overlaid with courgette “scales” steamed to a toothsome tenderness. Under the delicate fish was a medley of sweet langoustine and king crab in a caper and chive cream sauce, which looked unassuming yet packed a punch. Dill oil and an array of herbs such as garlic, thyme, basil, parsley and lemon zest brought the dish together.
Reminiscent of British summer holiday roasts with the family but elevated in this form, the Organic Chicken with Herbed Potato had chicken leg, breast and skin cooked three ways and served as a roulade rolled in crunchy chicken skin atop crispy kale. The fondant potato crusted with parsley, chives and chervil was really tasty, together with the deeply robust sauce made from trimmings.
Inspired by a quintessential Earl Grey Milk Tea, the palate cleanser had a refreshing sorbet, fruit tea jelly and pomelo alongside a bay leaf topped with flowers, lemon balm and garden mint powder.
To end, the traditional strawberry Eton Mess dessert was given a wonderful lightness both in texture and sugar levels, without compromising on flavour. Airy gluten-free sponge cake, wild British strawberries, yoghurt ice cream and Madagascan vanilla bean cream was paired with shatteringly crisp dehydrated meringue scented with lemon verbena powder. Sum was more than its parts for this dessert best enjoyed in generous spoonfuls.
The experience would not be complete without the final petit fours, which I’m pleased to report indeed consisted of four delightful sweets to end the meal – Devon cream tea, lemon meringue pie, almond caramel and coffee praline. A recent bugbear of mine is to return to restaurants only to find that their petit fours have become petite un or deux or worse zero.
When pressed about what’s next on the horizon, Westaway says, “It’s onwards and upwards for us as we continue to pride ourselves with serving culinary masterpieces for our guests with the same unwavering passion to make a definitive mark on modern British cuisine”. He shares that he and his team will continue to stay true to what they do best and hope to grow from strength to strength after being awarded JAAN’s second Michelin star.
“With each new seasonal menu, we challenge ourselves to develop fresh and unique gastronomic creations using the finest produce from all over the UK. Next up, diners can look forward to the comforting flavours of familiar autumnal classics, but with an element of surprise as always.”
Available from 1 October, the upcoming autumn menu looks to evoke the same enchantment that the season’s falling leaves do. Still grounded in the same ‘Reinventing British’ philosophy as the summer menu, the dishes pay tribute this time to autumn’s best ingredients. Diners will get a taste of nature’s bounty of root vegetables, squashes and pumpkin from artisanal producers in the UK.
JAAN by Kirk Westaway is located at Level 70, Swissôtel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Rd, Singapore 178882. Tel: 6874-1488