MILLIE: Singapore’s top celebrity chef Justin Quek returns to Solaire with his Franco-Asian culinary creations. Karla and I spent a rainy afternoon at Oasis delighting in his unique sweet and savory delights for high tea. But first, a glass of chilled semi-dry Riesling from Schloss Vollrads in Rheingau, Germany, to set the mood.
We were served truffle-infused xiao long bao, which I instantly popped into my mouth and had to beg the server with a wink for a second morsel. It came with siu mei stuffed with molten quail egg. Chef Justin’s spicy prawns with two kinds of noodle soup were tasty and perfect for a rainy day.
KARLA: Chef Justin’s sweet and savory creations came arranged in a tiered high-tea set, by order of recommended consumption. We first had the house-made seaweed crackers and the truffle croque monsieur with thinly sliced sourdough bread.
Next were the durian puffs in a choux pastry. Though I am not an avid durian fan, this paired beautifully with the Riesling.
Odeh Odeh is a traditional Malay and Peranakan kueh. They are glutinous rice balls infused with pandan, stuffed with gula melaka and rolled in grated coconut. Chef Justin’s version was a teacake made of pandan sponge cake layered with plum juice sugar and sprinkled with grated coconut.
Next was the chendol crème brulee and one of my favorites, the jasmine tea jelly with lychee and Osmanthus flower.
MILLIE: Something that caught my eye was the house-made seaweed crackers, so ideal to munch on. The sweet treats were perfect and I truly enjoyed the salted almond tuile, the freshly baked miniature financiers, the bite-sized calamansi tart and the unique Kampot black pepper praline! Kampot pepper is grown in Cambodia and is the most expensive variety. I actually went back for high tea a few days later with friends Jun and Evelyn but it was no longer available. We were offered the durian craquelin choux instead and my friends were ecstatic, as they were both durian lovers!
KARLA: Chef Justin Quek also came out with a lunch special for Red Lantern featuring a number of his signature dim sum and main courses. Upon seating, we were immediately served with more of the Schloss Vollrad Riseling from Rheingau, Germany. It is apparently from chef’s collection. The winery has exclusively bottled this label for the chef, which he serves at his restaurant in Singapore. It is from one of the oldest wineries in Germany, about 800 years old. The character of the wine’s minerality is from the foundation of six bedrocks, which perfectly complements stone fruits, honey and most of the featured elements on chef Justin Quek’s featured menu: Kampot pepper, durian, and truffle.
MILLIE: Lunch with chef Justin took almost four hours, as he prepared all the dishes himself, from starters to mains and even desserts. I enjoyed the smoked mackerel parfait topped with superior Oscietra caviar and gold leaf to start with. Next came pan-roasted Japanese sea-bass fillet called suzuki served with flower clams and herb fondue. Next came the much-awaited truffle xiao long bao served with salted pork belly, abalone and a silky truffle-abalone sauce.
KARLA: For the main course, it was a surf-and-turf dish with charcoal-grilled wagyu tenderloin and wok-fried lobster in Kampot black pepper, served with mashed potatoes and orange and red bell peppers.
And for dessert, the chef served a deconstructed lemon tart with crispy meringue and a Limoncello sabayon.
Other items on chef’s featured menu at Red Lantern are his uni and scallop har gao, Singapore chili crab dumplings, crispy prawn roll, plum and kaffir lime dressing, pan-roasted pave of salmon, cauliflower puree, hazelnut oil and aged balsamic, sautéed satay pork and Shao Xing chicken casserole with buttered rice and wild mushrooms.
Mom and I had the pleasure of meeting chef Justin Quek three years ago when Solaire first brought him in. Chef calls his style “Franco-Asian cuisine,” which is a fusion of Asian flavors using Chinese cooking techniques and French techniques, together with the discipline of being particular about using good-quality ingredients.
We are confident this won’t be his last time in Manila and hopefully will have a longer run next time.
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Solaire’s Culinary Masters series aims to bring in celebrity and Michelin-star chefs for a unique #SolaireExperience. Stay tuned to their Instagram and website www.solaireresort.com for future Culinary Masters announcements.