There has never been a better time to savour the 'black gold' of fine dining

Caviar, which are essentially salt-cured sturgeon roe, is one of the oldest and most sumptuous delicacies in the food world, a privilege of aristocrats and royalty in the past. These days, thanks to the advanced technology that allows farmers to sustainably farm the varieties of sturgeon without sacrificing taste and quality, it's become more accessible to gourmands.

It still cost a pretty penny, but a surge in production in the face of a slow but steady rise in demand and appreciation has kept prices reasonable. More importantly, there are plenty of guilt-free options to take pleasure in. Here are just a few brands to make their mark on the world of fine dining and where in Singapore you can find them. 

1. Caviar Colony

The Singapore-founded company was born out of Benjamin Goh and Celine Tan’s desire to make premium caviar accessible to all. They offer five types of caviar from different sturgeon species, which are sustainably and responsibly raised at the 800-hectare farms in Yunnan, China.

Raised without antibiotics in pristine spring waters and harvested after 10 years to ensure the highest quality, the eggs are aged for two months and salted sparingly (3.2 to 3.5 per cent as compared to the industry standards of 5 to 8 per cent) to allow the pristine flavours to shine.

The best-selling variety so far has been the amur from the river sturgeon, characterised by its dark green pearls, light and buttery flavours, and long, briny finish. But for something more exclusive, it’s best to go for the Russian hybrid, bred using osetra and Siberian sturgeon. The taste is quite distinctive and somewhat sweet—like Kyoho grapes but with a nutty and creamy finish. These are available at 28 Wilkie, Alma, Meta, Nouri and Pollen.

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$ $ $ $

2. Calvisius Caviar

Established in 1977 in the northern province of Brescia, the brand is one of the oldest farmed caviar producers in Italy. The team, led by caviar expert Roman Schaetti, believe that the best way to make quality eggs is to raise the fish in their most natural environment.

Their fish thrives in spring water ponds within its 150-acre farm, and are only fed a healthy diet and without antibiotics. The producers follow a Russian technique called "malossol", which literally translates to "little salt". Similarly, only 3 to 5 per cent of salt is used in the ageing process, to ensure consumers taste the caviar's most pristine flavours.

In Singapore, Calvisius is exclusively available at Buona Terra, which is helmed by Brescia native Denis Lucchi, who has prepared a special menu starring this coveted delicacy. Six premium varieties are available, including oscietra royal from the Russian sturgeon, famed for its subtle fruity and nutty nuances; sevruga from the starry sturgeon, with its delicate yet refined flavours; and beluga, the rarest and most expensive caviar available.

Buona Terra

$ $ $ $

3. Royal Belgian Caviar

It’s a pioneer producer of this "black gold" of seafood in Belgium, despite having started its operations in 2002. And their caviar is a 100 per cent sustainable alternative. The brand uses the best eggs from the albino sterlet, Russian, Siberian and beluga sturgeon, and is able to boast quality that is akin to the traditional wild sturgeon caviar.

Like other quality producers, their sturgeons are raised for 10 years or more in their most natural environment. The eggs when harvested, are also aged using less salt than the industry standards. What is most interesting about the Royal Belgian Caviar is that it is packed and shipped upon order. The eggs are stored according to the customer’s requested amount and not the big tins that customers would then need to repack. This method locks in the freshness and taste for much longer.

The five caviar varieties produced are used to crown Stroobant's sumptuous creations, starting with the creamy Royal Belgian Caviar Gold label, which has a subtle after taste, crowning an ensemble of scallop sashimi and scallop tartare on a moat of milk laced with wasabi oil. You also have the Platinum caviar, its bouncy texture and strong, slightly nutty nuances complement the Spanish prawn baked on salt and adorned with lychee jelly. 

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Saint Pierre

Raffles Place
$ $ $ $

4. Sturia Caviar

The French producer has made quite a name for itself in the caviar world, having been in the industry for 20 years and being one of the pioneers of sustainable fish farming in France. Based in Bordeaux, the ponds are filled with natural spring water from Gironde and Charente maritime and the fish thrive on healthy feed directly sourced from local manufacturer Biomar, certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

In harvesting the eggs, the fish farmers still follow the traditional method of carefully sieving, rinsing the eggs in clean water, and maturing them in the maturation rooms to reveal their hazelnut flavours. The final stage is salting them lightly, according to the "malossol" method, before packing them in airtight tins to preserve the freshness.

The caviar house offers 11 selections ranging from classic baerii, classic osciètre to prestige baerii. But the most coveted variety is the beluga sturia, known for the large grains, melt in the mouth texture and long and refined finish. Some of the caviar varieties bedeck chef Chris Millar’s sumptuous dishes at Stellar @1-Altitude.

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5. Kaviari Caviar

Wild Iranian caviar from the Caspian sea is said to be one of the best in the world. While fishing has been banned due to the species being endangered, Kaviari Caviar’s artisanal producers have learned from the Iranian masters to prepare a range of alternatives in a sustainable way, and that tastes as close (if not the same) as the wild variety.

The house works closely with responsible caviar farmers, who source the beluga, sevruga, baeri and osetra eggs from countries like China, Italy, Germany, France, Bulgaria and Iran. These are then “refined” by caviar master Bruno Higos in the laboratories, before they’re stored in customised tins to preserve their buttery and iodine-like taste and fragrance.

There are seven selections to choose from, including white sturgeon caviar, young caviar with distinct notes of fresh nuts, as well as baeri royal caviar. The latter comes from the acipenser baeri sturgeon of the Russian variety and its eggs are smooth with a pleasant creamy finish. These are available at Culina at Como Dempsey, Restaurant Jag and at Jaan by Kirk Westaway.

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Jaan by Kirk Westaway

City Hall/ Bras Basah
$ $ $ $
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