Everyone knows that the kitchen — not the living room — is the true nucleus of any party. It’s where hearts are bared, where secrets are whispered, and most importantly, where people are fed. Perhaps that’s why the front entrance of showroom-restaurant-art gallery Siri House at Dempsey opens straight to the restaurant part (christened JAM at Siri House) of the multi-concept space.
Inside you’ll find an off-beat brand of opulence: mismatched chairs and throw pillows, crystal chandeliers, an art deco kitchen counter and bar, and Asian-inspired flourishes. It’s a strange, almost cheeky mash-up of high-society extravagance and street sensibilities that also somehow manages to make you feel at home. So at home, that you’re compelled to sink into one of those disarmingly comfortable, mismatched chairs to spend the better part of thee night there.
But perch yourself at the kitchen counter, and you’ll get to see the surprisingly lean kitchen team firing dishes with a relaxed efficiency. They’re headed by chef Ming Tan of Park Bench Deli, who confesses that he’s the least-trained member of the team — since the other guys have fine-dining names like Le Bernardin under their belts. “At this point I’m the one that’s playing about,” Tan shares (while doing a little dance, if we dare add).
Refined comfort food
It’s this playing around though, that allows for dishes like JAM’s chicken biscuit to happen. Inspired by the beloved snack/sodium supplement Chicken in a Biskit, JAM’s version is a marvel of fowl engineering. A chicken fat shortbread cookie gets covered in chicken rice-flavoured cream cheese before being topped with crumbles of chicken skin, which has been tediously processed and cooked for hours until golden, crispy and delicious.
This thread continues with hasselback potato, steamed and deep-fried before being topped with a respectably spicy mala mayonnaise and heady beef fat lardons. It’s fluffy, crispy, spicy, and a sin against cardiovascular health, but it also tastes like the best potato wedges you will possibly ever have.
Some dishes are given a more restrained hand: a very sensible charred broccolini with burrata, sumac, and pickled red onion; as well as scallop carpaccio with truffle-yuzu sauce, trout roe, and kombu. These aren’t the scallops you’re looking for though. The thick-cut molluscs at JAM have a stronger flavour, with a briny, almost uni-like depth that sets it apart from the mellow, sweet varieties commonly served.
While the scallops are enjoyable enough, it’s their handmade pappardelle with a tiger prawns that really makes a case for the seafood. The pasta comes tossed in a violently rich crustacean sauce, made by reducing prawn and lobster broth into a deep murkiness, and then cutting it with cream. This is something you’ll want to order to share.
Desserts too, follow the same fussless, refined comfort food formula. You might want a citrusy, light pavlova with mandarin-yuzu curd and sour cream ice-cream to breathe some levity into your meal; or you could go to town with their version of s’mores made with honey graham crackers, Valrhona raspberry ganache, and toasted marshmallows.
Siri House at Dempsey, Singapore. Blk 8D, #01-02 Dempsey Hill, Dempsey Road. www.sirihouse.com