This will be a very intimate and personal post, because I would like to share the entire dining experience with you as I've felt it. Great things are meant to be shared, and I hope that today I can be your ears and eyes, allowing you to enjoy this meal as I had.
Anyone who loves fine dining would know of Restaurant JAAN. Boasting an impressive array of accolades from the likes of World's 50 Best Restaurants and Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, Restaurant JAAN is one of - if not the - best restaurants in Singapore.
Helmed by Chef Julien Royer, JAAN has consistently produced simple, yet mindblowingly stunning food. Even with the influx of Michelin-starred restaurants, I dare say you'd be hardpressed to find another restaurant that offers a better dining experience.
Located on the 70th floor of the equinox complex at Swissotel, it's the epitome of dining with a view. Of course you'd have to secure a window seat first. Those are always the first to be taken up, so do book in advance to avoid disappointment.
I've been to JAAN several times, always leaving with a very satisfied tummy. The service, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. Being the highly recognized restaurant that it is comes at a hefty price. Thus regular diners are business peoples and the likes, who are impeccably dressed and literally ooze money. Unfortunately neither my family nor I belong to that category. That reflects in the service we've received on multiple visits, where the waiters were impatient, unattentive, and slightly condescending. We've had our orders forgotten and missed once, and unlike the most humblest of local restaurants that offers some form of compensation, we received none. Quite disappointing really.
As much as service makes up a huge part of one's dining experience, it's the food that most pay attention to. Besides it's the pictures that you're here for, no? We had the 3-course lunch menu (S$68++) that day, which is one of the most affordable and value-for-money meals there. The menu changes regularly to reflect the seasonal produce Chef Julien gets his hands on.
Amuse Bouche - hummus and rye crackers
Literally translated as "mouth amuser", an amuse bouche is a bite-sized hors d’œuvre that's meant to tease your appetite and get you excited about what is to come. Even in the smallest, simplest of bites, JAAN's dedication to quality produce and food is evident. JAAN's interpretation of the ordinary hummus takes it to new heights, using instead lentils from Saint Fleur and chestnut paste. That gave it a mellowed and pleasant nutty, earthy sweetness. Very appetizing indeed.
Amuse Bouche - parmesan tuile with foie gras and fig (front); walnut crackers with cantar cheese; black sesame sponge with smoked eel
Every bite was distinctly different from the previous, in textures, flavours, and ideas. Not once was presentation compromised. I especially enjoyed how fresh figs were used here. Sweet, juicy, and crunchy, they were a great and different compliment to the buttery foie gras.
Second Amuse Bouche - Cep sabayon wild mushroom tea
What most restaurants would call "cappucino", JAAN calls "tea". A wonderful mushroom sabayon, that gives way to a rich, delicious, mushroom consommé. The best mushroom soup I've ever had; so I'm really glad it's complimentary. The presentation itself is no less spectacular. Pouring the consommé from a french press into dainty little cups of foam certainly stays true to its beverage description.
Complimentary Breads - walnut raisin, mini baguette, onion brioche, rye sourdough
Homebaked selection of bread served with an amazing French butter from Brittany came next. Incomparable to restaurants the likes of Joel Robuchon in its variety, but no less in its quality. The butter was unsalted, served with a small pinch of salt on the side for you to add at your discretion. I loved this touch, cause it took into consideration the different flavour profiles of its breads, and how butter should compliment and not overwhelm it. The freshly baked breads were nothing short of amazing. My favourites were the brioche and the mini baguette.
55° Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg - ratte potato, chorizo iberico, buckwheat
One of the most raved about of JAAN's dishes, these eggs came once again with a spectacular, dramatic presentation. Delicately poached, the eggs were presented in its original shell on a typical egg tray, accompanied with dry ice on the side.
Here's where the astounding lack in service reared its ugly head. Knowing full well I was photographing the dish, our server never paused to allow for photos (despite my request), and even sped up in her explanation and presentation of the dish. No doubt the dish was as amazing as it sounds, but the horrible service left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Autumn Garden - root vegetables, mushroom ketchup, Burgundy truffle
Absolutely adore how fresh and appetizing this looked. Fresh greens, crunchy grilled roots, sweet pears and a surprising green sponge - the composition of this dish was so befitting of its name. Earthy, fresh, with the rare burst of sweetness, it was a wonderful appetizer to the meal.
Beetroot 'Collection' - burratta artigiana, honeycomb, radish
This looked beautiful. Art on a plate. I was quite surprised at how this looked more like a dessert than an appetizer. It's not every day one starts their meal with sorbets and meringues. It worked wonders for the dish: bites of crunchy meringues, juxtaposed with raw radishes, tart pomegranates, and the cold, refreshing beetroot sorbet. Yet another example of how Chef Julien tests the boundaries of our expectations, creating something amazing in the process.
Grilled 'Mangalica' Pork - baby giralles, violet artichokes, sherry vinegar
The pork was juicy, succulent, flavourful, and so so tender. If you could imagine a melt-in-the-mouth texture with pork, this would be it. Sherry vinegar gave it that light tartness and balance. Absolutely delish.
Kabocha Pumpkin & 'Gaperon' Cheese - chestnut pasta, glazed cabbages
An unfortunately bad photo that does no justice to the dish, cause this would be the favourite main on the table. The tortellini was heaven in a bite. Creamy sweet kabocha, spiked with the nutty salted cheese. Eaten with the fresh vegetables and simple emulsion, we enjoyed every bit of this.
Artic Char & Beurre Noisette - jerusalem artichoke, macadamia, 'champignon de Paris'
A suitable substitute for salmon, the fish was soft, rich, and very very delicious. It gave me a little jolt of happiness to see char on the menu. Sustainable eating has become a major issue in the F&B industry, so it makes me feel tons happier to know that as I'm enjoying my food, I'm not contributing to a big environmental problem.
Truffled Brie de Meaux (additional S$20++ to each set meal) - bourbon truffle ice cream, bread sticks, dried fruits
I'm usually a sucker for cheese, so I decided to give this a try. Problematic server did not explain this properly, so I didn't know I ordered a truffled cheese! Now I wouldn't if I'd known, cause I'm not a huge fan of truffles and I've had my share of them throughout the meal. Service and truffles aside, the cheese was creamy and decadent, very yummy indeed. Lucky for me I couldn't taste much of the truffle in the ice cream so that was barely acceptable.
'Exotic' - pineapple, banana, cheesecake
Refreshing to say the least, this tart dessert made for a good end to the meal. Banana and cheesecake balanced the citrus components really well, and the toasted crushed nuts were a nice touch. As you probably can tell, I'm running out of words to describe the food at JAAN. Every dish was superb, and there simply is nothing lesser to say about it. Suffice to say it was a pretty exceptional dessert.
Pear 'Gourmandise' - gingerbread, Tonka bean, caramel
Gingerbread is such a unique pairing to pears. It gave the dessert and earthy warm spiciness, which was balanced very well by the creamy caramel sauce. I also love how the 2 different kinds of pears were used (William and Comice). A spoonful of Tonka bean ice cream, a cube of pear, one gingerbread sponge, and a dab of caramel - lovely.
'Choconuts Tart' - tastes and textures
Of course all that talk about refreshing, light ends to a meal goes into the bin when faced with chocolate. Chocolate is never a wrong choice, as proven at JAAN. I can't find a better adjective for this, but to settle for Mary Poppins' "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". Absolutely, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Buttery tart base, holding an amazing mixture of caramel and chocolate sauces, meringues, sponges, and a creamy, decadent, chocolate mousse. I would gladly have this day and night, err day.
When you think that you're almost just done, JAAN turns up with yet another surprise: a pre-dessert and petit fours. We had an elderflower sorbet that day, before these petit fours were served. Once again not as elaborate as those we had at Joel Robuchon, but the dedication to presentation and quality more than makes up for it.
Putting it all into perspective, what seemed to be a 3-course meal ended up being 7 with the complimentary bites. That should be more than sufficient to fill your belly; if not there's always the delicious breads. While S$68++ may seem steep for a meal, considering the quality and quantity of food JAAN is offering, I'd go as far as to say it's a steal. For that, for now, JAAN will remain my favourite place for a treat. Still that's not to say they shouldn't improve their service standards.
But I think I've said enough. You'd have to try it to understand; and trust me you wouldn't want to miss it.
2 Stamford Road
Swissotel The Stamford
Mondays to Saturdays: 12pm-2.30pm; 7pm-11pm
Sundays: 11am-2.30pm; 7pm-11pm