Beer is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, and for good reason too. Crack a cold one with your crew, throw a couple of pizzas, fried chicken and fries, and you got yourself a party.
While beer has undergone a craft revolution in recent years, it hasn’t quite escaped its salt of the earth image. Yet with Oktoberfest now on our radar, can restaurants up the ante and deploy the drink in a meaningful way beyond beer battered fish and chips?
That doesn’t mean one can’t play with it as an ingredient to kick things up a notch. In fact, chef Archan Chan from Level33 has a whole new menu that offers a fresh perspective on cooking with beer, accomplished with equal parts restraint and bold experimentation.
There’s even an artful way to start dinner there. The common ground between beer and bread are noted in the housemade sourdough. Beer malt is used here, which lends a pleasant musky aroma and makes a moister sourdough. It’s paired with a savoury butter churned with yeast and topped with crisp malt chips.
This beer theme continues with the starters and wielded with a deft touch. Hokkaido Scallop ($24) is pan-seared and served with dashi made with kombu, katsuobushi and wheat beer. The latter adds a surprising snap of crisp sweetness in an already smokey dashi, making this one very addictive appetiser.
The beer aspect of the dishes is not just about flavour as well. Say with the Kingfish Sashimi ($26) which is cured in a kombu wrap soaked for a full day in soya sauce and lager. This technique softens the fresh slices of fish while imbuing it with umami flavour.
For the mains, Seabass ($36) comes with beer malt risotto and pickled daikon, served with French beurre blanc sauce. The fish, locally sourced from Ah Hua Kelong, is well-cooked with a crisp skin. Yet, it is the risotto that steals the limelight. Puffed malt adds a toasty flavour and crunch in the barley risotto, cooked with parmesan and cream.
Malt, in ash form, finds its way in the Organic Chicken ($34). It’s a familiar option: a tender chicken breast and leg, served with sweet strips of leek fermented with salt and plum juice and a savoury jus of smoked eel and dashi. Malt ash lends a slight smoky bitterness to the dish.
Chef Archan doesn’t disappoint with dessert as well. Choux puffs ($12) comes sprinkled with coffee oat crumble and piped with a chocolate-like parfait. But make no mistake, for this is a marriage of malt, stout and vodka aerated with whipped yolks and sugar syrup. Not too sweet and not too intimidating, the nutty malt flavour makes this a perfect, light treat for everyone — even for those averse to dark stout.
It’s a truly refreshing change for this microbrewery/restaurant. While this is just the dinner menu, Level33 has proven that it can be taken seriously when it comes to food.
Mondays – Thursdays: 11.30am – 12.00am
Fridays – Saturdays: 11.30am – 2.00am
Sundays and Public Holidays: 12.00pm – 12.00am
Recommended dishes: Hokkaido scallop, seabass, choux puffs.
Price: $70++ (at dinner)
Noise Level: Medium