Inside Chef Jason Tan’s Soon-To-Open Restaurant Euphoria
In a matter of days, Singapore’s endlessly enthusiastic dining crowd will have a new fine dining restaurant to throng to. And this one’s been a long time coming. Singaporean son Jason Tan will open his much-anticipated Restaurant Euphoria with business partner Arissa Wang as soon as the last touches are finely finished by their contractors who had to put down their tools earlier this year when the coronavirus hurled a spanner in their works.
The intimate earth-toned space could not be more different than Corner House at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Tan’s former place of work, which he helped earn its Michelin star. Set on the ground floor of a beautifully restored shophouse along Tras Street, the 26-seater Restaurant Euphoria is warm, sinuous and kissed with gilded accents that impart stylish modernity to its tropical vibe.
While Tan will continue to purvey his brand of “gastro-botanica”, expect nothing of the food he used to serve at Corner House. As he explains, the concept of gastro-botanica stemmed not from Corner House’s location within the Botanic Gardens as popularly thought, but from his love for vegetables. “That has always been part of my personal style, but I am further developing and evolving the cuisine at Restaurant Euphoria because I know I have a lot more to offer,” he explains.
To that end, Euphoria’s dishes are underpinned by four “essences” made only from vegetables. Where traditional French restaurants are rooted in rich mother sauces such as béchamel, veloute, espagnole and hollandaise, Tan chose to create the likes of demi-glace and vin blanc using only botanical produce. “Many people don’t realise that vegetables can provide great complexity of flavour,” he says. “In some ways, it’s a challenge to myself since I have a new restaurant and I want to offer a new facet of my cuisine to my diners.”
To be sure, Restaurant Euphoria is not a vegetarian restaurant. “I love my vegetables, but that doesn’t mean I want to only eat vegetables,” chirps the jovial chef. As before, his cuisine highlights humble plants as the dishes’ stars.
To wit, a carrot is slivered ever so thinly that it may be twirled into a tight pinwheel then brined and slow-cooked in a house-blend of five spice, olive oil and brown butter. This is served with a saffron sauce made from one of his base sauces, legumes vin blanc, which itself takes an entire day to prepare. To accompany the carrot is a simply torched lobster tail.
Between The Layers
The only dish that Tan has brought from Corner House to his new digs is his famous My Favourite Vegetable, which celebrates his love for the humble onion and is inextricably linked to his oeuvre. Even then, Tan and Wang have devised a new presentation that continues to highlight the ingredient in three exquisite ways.
The onion is so much a part of Tan’s brand DNA that the entire restaurant is quietly designed around its form. Consider the curves and flutes of the restaurant’s décor and you’ll notice the subtle nods to the pungent bulb. Even the restaurant’s logo features linear strokes that bring to mind the layers of an onion.
Tan’s Favourite Vegetable dish aside, everything else at Restaurant Euphoria is brand spanking new, including his team. Without the backing of a larger company, Tan is only able to employ Singaporeans, itself a well-known challenge in an industry that depends heavily on foreign labour.
That, however, compelled him to look at sources he would not otherwise have considered and Tan happily notes that his front of house team now includes passionate individuals with culinary training. “A few of them trained at CIA (Culinary Institute of America’s Singapore campus), which as it turns out is useful since some of the service requires a bit of intricacy, like spooning caviar onto a dish at the table, for example,” he adds.
Also among the new touches is sake pairings and a showcase of younger, more innovative winemakers on the drinks list. That said, what we are most looking forward to for the moment is the brilliant-sounding bread course that features a “mochishire”, which Tan describes as a cross between mochi bread, such as the sticky, chewy Brazilian pao de queijo, and a Yorkshire pudding (or “popover” to those more familiar with its American name).
“It will be gluten-free, light and chewy. The centre will have the texture of a canelé and it will have a crisp crust,” he says. “It will be served with a dip made of caramelised onions and inspired by French onion soup.”
Consider us sold.
Restaurant Euphoria is slated to open in the first week of November, and when it does, will only serve dinner for a start. Prices start from $208 for a six-course dinner and $258 for eight courses. Reservations open today (29 October) on Chope.