While the rest of the world welcomes the arrival of spring with rows of cherry blossoms and movie-like petals sailing through the fading chill of winter breeze, Singapore finds itself fraught with intermittent showers and a gloomy, hanging humidity.
Yet, rather than brooding over the blooms in other parts of the world, we’d very much rather partake in a tapestry of flavours that showcase the annual affair with season’s best ingredients.
Come dinnertime, it’s comforting to stroll past Boat Quay and into one Michelin-starred Braci, an intimate 16-seater space armed with a menu just about as brief as a tweet: the only list that follows the simply labelled “Degustation Menu” is an index of this season’s ingredients you’ll be tasting for the night.
“Like gold refined by fire, this season’s tasting menu is our strongest one yet,” says Chef Mirko. “Everyone in the culinary team contributed to the conceptualisation of every dish, so it is even more meaningful and personal. It shows our continuous commitment to growth, a representation of our unity.”
Read on for our full review.
The best things come in threes — and so do the snacks here at Braci.
It’s unlikely you’ll find a monaka being served at an Italian restaurant, but there we were with a half-filled one, padded with a “bechamel” that’s birthed from smoked bonito infused soy milk, and adorned with tomatoes, fava beans and zucchini of the season. What follows is an adorable yellow puff, bursting with a blend of sweet white Hokkaido corn, DOP Fortina cheese, and a dollop of smoked egg yolk jam for good measure.
Snacks tail off with the seasonal firefly squid, a juicy number that finds itself within the clean waters of kombu dashi, spiked with essential oils of almond, tomato, parsley and dill.
You’d have to pardon our amateur photography skills, but what you see here may just have been the most unforgettable dish of the night. Nestled in a clear glass bowl is a Verona celeriac, aged for 20 days in wagyu fat. The vegetable is then burnt in the Josper and sliced — carpaccio style — before being delicately arranged, petal by petal in the shape of a bloom.
A sauce of Italian butter, dreamed up with a mix of chives, ikura, beluga capers and finger lime, is then spooned over the flower at the table in front of you. The smokey celery root falls apart on our forks, echoing creamy, meatier flavours than a hunk of bovine, but without the weightiness of actual meat.
Then comes the Topinambour. The pureed flesh of the spring Jerusalem artichoke is crowned with champagne vinegar cured sardines, paprika seasoned Alaskan king crab and fennel flowers, set within a sunchoke dome grilled on the binchotan.
Alas, the winner of the dish doesn’t fall back on its ornate ingredients, but what lies beneath the shell-shaped root. A broth of the most complex flavours pools at the bottom, crafted with kombu, toasted rice, Amalfi lemon and burnt Alaskan king crab shell.
Next, a deceptively simple plate arrives, complete with strands of pasta that seem too little for its vessel. That is, until we dig into it.
Chef Mirko fashions the noodles with Khorassan flour, an ancient durum wheat flour that’s nutrient-dense, high in fibre, and particularly suitable for those on a low-gluten diet. Yet, more than its nutritional value, it lends a hefty texture to the noodles that really grounds the spring menu.
The dish is then finished with its accompaniments — slivers of meaty surf clams — and rounded off with a swipe of bright piquillo pepper puree.
After a serving of the brown butter-based Dover sole fish and balsamic-glazed sweet peas, we moved on to the last hot dish for the night.
Here, a singular morel mushroom, stuffed with pine nuts and black trumpet mushrooms, lies beside a delightfully pink Maimoa lamb. Now, before you furrow your brows at the possibility of a gamey lamb, you’d best be off trying this for yourself.
The meat is macerated for two days in goat’s cheese to destroy its enzymes. The result? Extra clean, tender slices plated with whey foam, marsala lamb jus and a milky yoghurt cheese sauce.
The meal eventually winds down, and dessert is served. As you sip on the rest of your champagne, a trio of spheres that come bearing the colours of springtime materialises before you. The sticky scarlet Sakura mochi is served alongside a cloud of sake and Amalfi lemon, and finished with an invigorating strawberry sorbet that’s made completely with Fukuoka strawberries.
Braci is located at 52 Boat Quay, #05-01/ #06-01, Singapore 049841. The spring season menu, which will run until June, is priced at S$208++ per person for seven courses for lunch and dinner service.