Review: Guilt-free Pleasures At Origin Grill
Access to some of the finest sustainable foods on Singapore’s increasingly global table has seldom been an issue for gourmands here. Fact is, you don’t have to look further than Origin Grill to find hearty choices for lunch, from the award-winning 35-day dry-aged grass-fed John Stone Irish beef to 300g of the Ranger’s Valley Black Market Black Angus rump, 300 days grain-fed—if I may be so inclined to take advantage of the two- or three-course express lunch menu of the newly minted restaurant at the revamped Tower Wing of Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore.
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And even when I dared to start the meal with some wild tuna, I was kindly reassured that the fish is line-caught from somewhere close by, like the Philippines. It may not be the top choice for green warriors— particularly those who struggle to name more than two sources for tuna—but it made for a flavourful and not too fatty raw fish appetiser, served on house-made seed flat bread with a little avocado and jalapeno cream, some edamame and nori flavoured salt. This was a light but toothsome start to the meal and a dish that complemented the restaurant’s light-filled and relaxed interior.
And while it didn’t exactly hint at a particular culinary style Australian chef de cuisine Heidi Flanagan prefers, I liked that it showcased an inclination for and capacity to exploit influences from different corners of the globe.
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If I were to compare the cuisine at Origin Grill to a more familiar style, I would describe it as comfort food with a mild Mediterranean flair, reimagined for the affluent and cosmopolitan diner. I also imagine the same folks would relish another winning appetiser: wild-caught Fremantle octopus charred with smoked paprika and served with a delightfully piquant spiced tomato jam, and some eggplant puree and fava beans to temper the saltiness.
It may seem trivial, but I was glad to find the restaurant’s commitment to more conscious choices clearly affirmed on the printed menu. For instance, one of the main courses, the wild blue cod, is line-caught off the coast of New Zealand and a certified Friend of the Sea. On the palate, it is hard to fault the choice to serve it glazed with miso-butter, with a simple side of sauteed greens, charred broccolini and soy-glazed shishito peppers for added sweetness.
There is a nod to simplicity here—the dishes I tried were uncomplicated yet you are never left wanting more. This was particularly evident when it came to the plating of its big stars—a bespoke line-up of award-winning beef that includes two exclusive cuts from Australia and Japan. While the fact that all the meats at Origin Grill are sustainably farmed, and are hormone-, antibiotic- and cruelty-free must be commended, the complex revelry of flavours in cuts such as the 500-day “Japanese diet-fed” Shiro Kin Wagyu (marble score of 9) from Queensland in Australia, deserves separate mention. As does the snow-aged full-blood Wagyu (A4) from Niigata in Japan. The latter, a striploin I had for lunch recently, was expertly grilled to retain all its wonderful juices. And yes, despite having been aged for 30 to 40 days, it remained extremely luscious.
This is due to its unique ageing process, which maintains a consistent internal temperature of between 0 to 5°C, whatever the external weather condition. This allows the meat to keep most of its moisture during this tenderising process, so the lean cut boasted an amazing concentration of flavours as well as a lovely balance of delicious fats.