To celebrate my birthday, I requested to check out Janice Wong’s newly opened restaurant at the National Museum. E and J kindly acquiesced. We visited the place on a Saturday evening. We were expecting it to be full, but surprisingly, empty tables were quite noticeable. Most of the customers seemed to be foreigners.
One thing that most people can agree on is that Janice Wong’s desserts are visually very appealing. She has certainly mastered the concept of “you eat with your eyes”. With the savoury menu collaboration with Chef Ma, I was very interested to find out if her restaurant could also deliver on the “taste” part
We agreed that we wanted to save most of our stomach space for dessert, so we did not order as many savoury dishes as we could have. This is what we had for savoury dishes:
Xiao Long Bao tasting platter ($20) – Foie gras pork cherry, whisky pork, truffle cheese chicken and Shrimp ebi kombu
The XLBs were nice, but did not have a wow factor in them. J commented that the whisky was rather non-evident in the whisky pork XLB. Nevertheless, we felt that the truffle cheese chicken and the foie gras pork cherry XLB were pretty tasty.
Mini pots (siew mai)($15). The one with a reddish/purple skin was the portobello rosemary with caviar, the green skin was filled with scallop and olive oil caviat, and the last one was filled shrimp and fish roe. Visually, it was very pretty. Taste wise, this dish also delivered. We were pretty stoked after having this.
E wanted to try their liquid egg “whimsical bun” ($4), so we got one of those. Looked and felt just like a lava bun… nothing too whimsical really.
For the mains, we each ordered one each. E got the spicy blackred duple noodles with braised beef and fried mushroom stems ($18). Again, another visually stunning dish. However, E didn’t really like the dish. The noodles were too soggy and lacked texture.
I had the crispy charcoal nest with pork belly, collagen broth and mushroom poem paper ($22). Think crispy chinese noodles a la fusion style.
J and E absolutely laughed at me as I attempted to eat this dish. It comes served with the crispy noodles and pork belly and you watch as the server pours the broth over the noodles. I assume that this when the noodles are supposed to soften, allowing you to dig in. Unfortunately, my crispy charcoal noodle nest remained sturdy as ever. It took several dunks and chopstick maneuvers before I finally got some noodle strands out of the nest. As for the broth, it felt like I was drinking campbell soup from the can. E readily concurred. As for the mushroom poem, I gave up reading it after a few lines.
I guess out of the 3 mains we ordered, this was the best one – Scallop somen ($24) which comes with fish roe, ebi, scallop, and salted egg yolk sauce. Loved the contrast of the bright fish roe against the somen and scallop. The somen was refreshing and light. Clearly, I should have just gone for the somen from the get go.
Finally, we were on to desserts. Between the 3 of us, we opted for the 8 course dessert degustation to share ($68). This is what we received in order:
First course: Lemon explosion (ivoire, lemon & peta zeta)
Second course: Popcorn – a strip of salty, sour and sweet, served with passionfruit sorbet and yuzu. Nice way of teasing our taste buds. We had a fun time trying the components on different ends of the strip for the salty, sour and sweet bites.
Third course: Mango bubble bath – sake ice cream, mango cream and spiced hazelnuts.
Everything was lost beneath the bubble. I didn’t really like eating foam.
Fourth course: Blood orange ice cream refresher. Yes, anything to take away that bubble bath.
Fifth course: Basil white chocolate – passionfruit fluff, coconut. Just to give you some perspective, that was how small the dessert was in proportion to the plate that they served it on. That said, it was a nice blend of tropical flavours.
sixth course: 2am: snickers – ginger flower ganache, peanut mousse, chocolate sorbet. Another tiny dessert, but this one we loved. Great combination with the peanut mousse and chocolate sorbet. Give me more!
seventh course: chilli chocolate – honey & peanut butter. Unfortunately, from that awesome snickers dish, we had to move on to the chilli chocolate, which went overboard with the chilli and left us with a stinging taste. Despite the small portion (again!), no one wanted to touch it after the first bite.
eighth course: pure imagination. They gave us kaffir lime chocolates, which totally went against the bubblegum colour scheme of the chocolates. I definitely got the kaffir lime taste and I kept asking E if she tasted “nasi goreng”.
So…. we weren’t exactly feeling very satisfied with the degustation course we ordered. What did we do next? We ordered an additional dessert – “Autumn Kyoto Garden”($24). Beet sponge, rose parfait, yoghurt shichimi 7 spice, rose ganache.
It was a very pretty dish. The spiral did remind us of those Japanese rock gardens in Kyoto. However, we felt that the ingredients did not really match up to the Autumn theme. We tasted hints of pineapple, ingredients that reminded us of summer, rather than autumn. Visually, it was autumn, but when we tasted it, it was summer. E (who is a Japanese by the way), commented that when the menu read “Autumn”, she was expecting to have chestnut, or perhaps even azuki. It was one of those dishes which just didn’t correlate with the concept. If they had used a green sponge, perhaps the concept would have worked out better?
I really did want to like Janice Wong, I really did. However, our evening there was full of hits and misses. Somehow I felt that it had more misses than hits. For the amount that was spent (we also ordered a bottle of sake along with our dinner), it’s quite difficult to justify coming back again. Consolation: we came away with several instagram worthy pictures from the dinner.
Add: National Museum, 93 Stamford Rd, 01-06