July 27, 2014
Immanuel French Kitchen @ Bukit Merah ~ Enjoy French Food In A Coffeeshop!
I was at Two Wings, enjoying one of the best chicken wings in Singapore when my attention momentarily drifted to another stall located at corner of the same Salute coffeeshop at Bukit Merah. The signage says "Immanuel French Kitchen", and instantaneously brought to my mind Saveur which planted their roots from a humble stall setting too, serving up French cuisine at affordable prices. There was this tall lad diligently at work, he is none other than the chef owner himself, Immanuel Tee.
Young-looking as he may be, Immanuel, a graduate of SunRice GlobalChef Academy, is anything but a noob when it comes to cooking. His credentials is in fact, very impressive for someone his age. We're taking about a guy who took the position of Keystone's Head Chef at young age of 25, and before that, had various stints across reputable restaurants such as Guy Savoy, Le Bistrot du Sommelier, JAAN Par André and Restaurant André in Singapore, as well as Pastorale Restaurant, a 2-Michelin Star restaurant in Belgium. Wow!
You can see it in a good or bad way, I prefer to see the good.
After Keystone closed its shutter due to an exorbitant rent hike, Immanuel decided to set up stall in a coffeeshop after attempts of opening a restaurant could not materalize because of financial constraints. It has benefited us consumers in a way, as we are able to experience a certain level of French cuisine without breaking our wallets.
Immanuel's years of experience and mastering of essential cooking techniques are translated into dishes which we now see on the menu. He makes his own charcuterie, and brings us the enjoyable Duck Rilette ($8.60) and Chicken Liver Pate with Port Wine ($7.90), both served with bread.
French delicacies like the buttery sautéed Frog Legs ($12.60), as well as popular entrées such as Burgundy Escargots ($12.90) and Foie Gras ($16.50) can also be found here. The half dozen of snails were baked with tomato fondue and garlic herb butter, resulting in a rich cheesy combination which you just have to dip those pieces of bread into.
I especially like the pan-fried foie gras. Immanuel gave it a Japanese twist, coating the lightly-charred duck liver with black miso and served it with a light flavorful dashi broth and thin crunchy strands of 'noodles' made from daikon (white radish). One can imagine how exceeding great this dish might turned out if premium goose liver is used instead, but for the price which I'm paying, I'm not complaining. This foie gras dish has overall provided much satisfaction.
Moving on to the mains, I thought the signature Pork Belly ($16.90) was another promising dish. Friends who also tried it (we went back on several occasions) concurred that the slices of pork belly could do with more tenderness. Braised kakuni-style (another show of Japanese flair), its savory flavors was definitely strong and distinctive, and cleverly balanced out by a velvety bed of light potato foam. The accompanying onsen egg flowing with creamy yolk was lovely, and the duxelle mushrooms elicited quite a lot of love from us too.
French Duck Leg Confit ($15.90) was done in classic style, first cured then cooked in its own fat. The cut itself looked a tad small, but when served with mash potato and braised cabbage, it still made quite a substantial main. Skin could do with a little more crispiness, but meat was sufficiently tender with agreeable level of saltiness. On the whole, I would say it's competently-executed.
When I decided to order the Sous Vide Chicken Breast ($13.60), it was as a 'challenge' to Immanuel if the dish can win over a chicken breast non-lover like me. The moment my knife cut through the beautiful seared meat, its tender yet slightly bouncy texture immediately excited me. True enough, every bite matched the initial impression, though the seasoning can be bolder. The creamy barley risotto and earthly flavors of mushrooms were the most delectable accompaniments.
This chicken breast dish is definitely a winner! When I complimented Immanuel on it, he attributed it to the modern sous vide technique of cooking it in a 62 degrees water bath for 50 minutes which yielded the desirous texture, rather than any brilliancy of execution on his part. Such a humble person. I like!
Just as one's past does not determine one's future, for now we can't tell what greater opportunities Immanuel's current potential might unleashed him to. But we can see the talented chef is already off to a good start.
Immanuel French Kitchen
Address: Blk 119, Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-40, Singapore 151119
Contact: +65 9297 3285
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 12pm-2.30pm (lunch) & 6pm-9.30pm (dinner) / Closed on Mon