We’re both big fans of Top Chef (the one with Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, not to be confused with Masterchef), so when we found out that Eli Kirshtein, who placed 5th in Season 6 (arguably the best non-All Stars season), was in Singapore as a guest chef at Krish, we couldn’t resist checking it out. We figured – how often would we ever get a chance to sample the food of a Top Chef contestant?
Alas, I think his (and the show’s) reputation preceded him. We expected to be blown away, but instead we got fairly generic, not particularly well-executed food that would have been quite forgettable in any other context.
We ordered the $135 surprise 5-course menu, but it was hardly a surprise when everything that we got was also available as an a la carte order. We started with an amuse of a deep fried pork rillette ball with Tabasco sauce. Not bad, in a way that any deep fried meat would be; the Tabasco sauce was pretty subtle and could’ve been more aggressive to stand up to the deep fried rillette.
The next course was supposed to be octopus with watermelon, but it was changed to raw tuna instead. It was dressed with a honey vinaigrette, and the sweetness of both the dressing and the watermelon completely overwhelmed the flavour of the tuna. I could only taste the tuna by deconstructing and eating it separately from the watermelon.
The next course was my favourite of the evening – Egg 63, which consisted of an egg yolk cooked at 63 degrees, and paired with shimeji mushrooms, Chinese sausage (lup cheong) and a mushroom broth. The lup cheong actually went pretty well, with the sweetness pairing with the earthiness of the mushrooms. The egg was perfect – I expected it to ooze and muddy the clarity of the broth, but it had the perfect firmness yet all of the flavour of a runny yolk.
This next dish was a disappointment – shrimp with succotash. The sauce had some sort of crustacean extract and was quite flavourful, but the shrimp weren’t deveined, and had a really mushy texture. I didn’t know if they weren’t fresh or were somehow that texture because of how they’d been cooked. Either way, this wasn’t very pleasant.
The next course was a sous vide duck breast with turnips and beetroot puree. Expecting the duck to be super tender since it was cooked sous vide, again we were quite disappointed because the duck was quite chewy. Some bits were better than others, but generally it wasn’t the standard that I expected.
Dessert was an almond financier with coffee sauce. Surprisingly, this was another highlight of the meal. The financier was amazingly buttery, and went very well with the coffee sauce. At least the meal ended on a high note.
Is this the standard of the food that goes before the judges on Top Chef? I’d like to think not, at least not in recent seasons with the standard as high as it is now. I guess ultimately it’s about execution, and while on the show Chef Eli may have been solely responsible for the dishes he made, here he may have conceptualised them but the most important part, the execution, would have been done by a host of other chefs.
At least we were treated to dinner entertainment in the form of a neighbouring table, a clearly tipsy gentleman with his lady friend. Also apparently a Top Chef fan, he kept bugging the waitresses by asking Chef “Ellie” (as per his pronunciation) to make him a soufflé since he'd made one on the show...
Service was good. The decor was interesting. The sauces were intriguing. But the main component of each dish was just so average that I was very disappointed.
Maybe Top Chef had our hopes set too high but the food overall was far short of mind-blowing.
Except for the dessert. At least that rocked.
And a look at Krish’s regular menu was interesting enough to make us want to go back and give it a try at some point. I guess we’ll review that then.
9 Rochester Park
Tues to Sat: 6 pm to 10.30 pm
Sun: 10 am to 2.30 pm