New Chef New Menu
We recently enjoyed a delightful degustation meal at BAM!, which had just celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a revamped menu. Readers familiar with the restaurant may recall Catalonian Chef Pepe Moncayo’s Spanish-Japanese cuisine. Chef Pepe, formerly the chef-de-cuisine of the now-defunct Michelin-starred Santi’s Restaurant, brought a significant Spanish influence to BAM!’s menu.
Chef Pepe has since relocated to the US and is currently showcasing his “Spanish Kaiseki” concept at the Crane Restaurant in Washington DC. In February last year, he opened Jiwa Singapura where he presents classic Singaporean dishes such as Chilli Crabs and Salted Egg Squid with a Catalonian flair.
Filling in the shoes of Moncayo is Chef Shang Jhi, who has gradually transformed the menu into his blend of contemporary European cuisine. The focal point of the updated menu is the introduction of two meticulously crafted dégustation experiences: a six-course Tasting Menu and a seven-course Experience Menu where diners can opt for a sake or wine pairing. Besides the tasting menus, BAM! also provides an à la carte menu for those seeking a more customizable dining experience.
Revew of Tasting Menu
Here is our review of the Tasting Menu ($178++)
One of the things I love about degustation menus is the Amuse Bouche which are the “bonus” little bites that are not counted as one of the courses. You get an indication of how passionate the chef is by the amount of effort he puts into these tasty little snacks. Our trio of little bites told us in no uncertain terms that we were in for a treat.
Just when we thought we were about to start on the first course, we were presented with another Amuse Bouche that was made of corn purée, grilled kernels, popcorn, and Uni. The corn purée was full of buttery corn flavour which went really well with the Uni.
We started the course proper with Chef’s rendition of cold angel hair pasta. This dish continues to be one of the most popular dishes served at fine dining establishments as a cold starter. No surprises here, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
Our next course of hand-dived Scottish scallops served in its shell, accompanied by cauliflower puree, candied walnuts, couscous, and a yellow wine sauce was a little more interesting with an unusual pairing of cauliflower purée with a perfectly sautéed scallop.
The true display of Chef Shang’s culinary skill came with the third course – a pork head and chestnut terrine. The slow-cooked pork head terrine, paired with crispy croutons fried in pork fat and Jerusalem artichoke purée, came as quite an unassuming gastronomic surprise!
The highlight of our fish dish wasn’t the Spanish seabass but the accompanying side dish of leek compote which was topped with bonus slivers of tender live abalone. Our experience with abalone has always been of the rubbery kind but Chef managed to cook the mollusk till it was marvelously tender. He explained that the secret to cooking live abalone is not to shock the unsuspecting shellfish but to place it in cold water and slowly raise the temperature. It was quite a revelation for me, but unfortunately, I only get to work with the canned variety during Chinese New Year!
For the main course, we got a choice of either the Miyazaki A4 Wagyu or the Lamb rack. As typical Singaporeans, we chose one of each, of course! Wagyu is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a fine dining meal but is always predictable. The best way to enjoy it is as a simple steak that is nicely seared on the outside, medium rare in the middle, and sliced thin. The accompanying sides of nicely charred vegetables and a whole braised morel mushroom make it a little more special.
Their lamb rack featuring New Zealand Lumina Lamb (formerly known as Te Mana Lamb), was excellent. This ‘wagyu lamb’ as it is often referred to lived up to its reputation as a luxury ingredient, The delectable meat is served alongside a Japanese eggplant sandwich, consisting of eggplant tempura and house-made eggplant caviar infused with a subtle hint of curry powder. The curry flavor was a little offbeat in my opinion, but otherwise, the dish was very well executed.
The pastry department is headed by pastry Chef Sisi Zheng, who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time disguising her desserts as the main course. We were served our first palate cleanser of blood orange jelly which at first glance looked like a slice of salmon sashimi.
The main dessert featured a chestnut mousse on a meringue resembling a forest mushroom, accompanied by matcha chiffon mimicking moss on the forest floor. While visually stunning, it was not something I’d choose based on taste alone. Then again, this is what fine dining is all about because if it is just something sweet you want, a nice salted caramel gelato would do the trick!
Enhancing the dégustation menus, BAM! provides alcoholic pairings, such as the Tasting Menu sake pairing (S$88++) and wine pairing (S$98++), along with the Experience Menu sake pairing (S$78++) and wine pairing (S$88++).
BAM! Is one of those restaurants that have been around for quite a while and remains quite understated. Having experienced the degustation menu, we look forward to a return visit to experience Chef Shang’s other dishes. Special mention must be made to the excellent service staff, quite a few of whom were part of the original crew at Santi.
This was a media invite. The meal was provided but the opinions are entirely our own.