Every once in a while, there emerges a dish so aesthetically prominent, and so memorable that it threatens to remain forever on a chef’s menu. For Pollen’s latest executive chef, Michael Wilson, it’s a duck neck sausage. To make this, said neck — still attached to its head — is first painstakingly deboned and cleaned out, leaving a long pocket of skin. This gets stuffed with a mixture made by emulsifying pork fat, duck leg meat, and gin; as well as cubes of foie gras. The sausage is then roasted and brought to diners to be sliced tableside.
Sure, we’ve all seen our fair share of duck heads at any Cantonese roast place, but in the context of a fine dining establishment like Pollen, Wilson’s duck neck is a brazen piece of nose-to-tail dinner theatre — and it works in terms of flavour too. The skin renders and crisps up, providing flavour and texture that ordinary hog casing cannot. This gets served alongside something comparatively mild: aged duck breast, jus, and vanilla-speckled parsnip puree.
Elsewhere, Wilson’s cuisine is light, plant and seafood-driven, and just the right amount of playful. For snacks, there’s savoury taramasalata, whipped and stuffed into “ravioli” skin made with dehydrated watermelon; algae cracker topped with oyster cream and a healthy scoop of Amur caviar; and silky smooth chicken liver mousse fashioned into a meat-facsimile of a mini Cornetto cone.
There’s a refreshing lettuce gazpacho, served with sweet, briny spanner crab meat and given some edge with a tangy whey granita and espelette pepper; as well as a succulent hunk of beefheart tomato sourced from the Cameron Highlands, which is given the starring role alongside locally-grown herbs, sheep’s curd, and black garlic vinegar.
Other highlights include smoked eel from the Mediterranean Ebro Delta, which comes simply with seaweed vinegar gel to cut its richness, sea succulents for freshness and crunch, and a crispy, edible squid ink “net” for a touch of artistry.
Even for dessert there’s little risk of overindulgence — Wilson cleverly uses a mix of grains and fruit to recreate the typical rich, dark, and lactic flavours of a plated chocolate dessert. There’s carob mousse that closely resembles chocolate, chewy pieces of rehydrated figs, toasty, moreish barley ice cream; and puffed spelt that look and taste like miniature popcorn.
Be sure to also check out the restaurant’s drink programme — which includes non-alcoholic pairing options that range from jun teas to tepache and juice blends. More interesting though, is their wine list — which reads like a beverage manager determined to give fair representation across the world. There’s an uncommonly large section dedicated to Greek wine (the Peplo rose from Domaine Skouras is a floral, complex, concentrated and very good), as well as bottles from the island of Corsica, Israel, and even India.
18 Marina Gardens Dr, #01-09 Flower Dome. Tel: 6604-9988