For the Japanese, the unfurling of delicately-hued pink petals signals the awakening of spring – a season of fresh beginnings to be savoured at Lewin Terrace. The Singapore-based Japanese-French fusion fine-dining restaurant has launched specially-crafted 5 and 7-course New Spring 2017 Menus, distilling the ephemeral beauty of springtime into a host of exquisite offerings perfumed with seasonal touches such as dried cherry blossoms.
Of the 5 basic tastes the human palate can detect – sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami – the Japanese most strongly associate bitterness with the flavour of spring. This can be attributed to mountain vegetables, or sansai, that begin to sprout in the early days of the season, bringing to tables astringent properties that are believed to flush out toxins accumulated during the rich diets of the winter months. Through his spring creations, Chef Matsumoto reinterprets bitterness – also regarded as the world’s most dangerous and perhaps enigmatic flavour – to present a sumptuous gastronomic experience inspired by the season that would encourage guests to rethink their preconceived notions of bitter foods.
The Sakuradai dish, for example, features sea bream harvested only during the Cherry Blossom season. Its element of bitterness, supplied by slivers of lightly-pickled yama udo, or Japanese mountain root, is nuanced through a quick pickling process with a touch of bright acidity, while an ode to Singapore’s vibrant food culture takes the form of a mitsuba (Japanese parsley) and pandan- infused sauce. Dried sakura blossoms, artfully scattered over the entire composition, perfume the dish with their delicate fragrance.
Another flavour deeply resonant in the spring menu is that of umami, particularly prominent in the Lobster. The dish’s focus, domyoji mochi, sits poised atop a luxurious bisque exploding with flavour from an exquisite bounty of lobster and tarragon. The domyoji, a type of traditional wagashi or Japanese confection once lauded as a traveller’s staple due to ease of storage, is now commonly enjoyed during flower viewing parties in spring. The glutinous rice dumpling, which traditionally encases a filling of azuki bean paste, was reinvented by Chef Matsumoto to yield a savoury rendition, in which its pliant exterior parts to reveal chunks of sweet, succulent lobster flesh. A single lime leaf crowns the dumpling in place of a cherry blossom leaf to lightly perfume the dish with a distinctly local aroma.
Other noteworthy dishes include Wagyu Meets Tiger, a wagyu brisket stew reminiscent of hearty winter fare but invigorated with Tiger beer in place of its richer counterpart – stout. Embellished with the bright sweetness of dried figs and apricots, the dish brings warmth to the palate like the gentle embrace of sunshine in spring, its spicy undertones supplied by a garnish Chef Matsumoto terms amaranth popcorn, flavoured with cardamom and white sesame.
Lewin Terrace’s Spring Menu will be available from 1 March 2017 to 31 May 2017. Please see the full menu below: