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Cooking showcase at Restaurant V
6 Scotts Road #03-13
Scotts Square Shopping Centre
Tel: 6950 4868
Open for lunch and dinner Wed to Sun: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 5.30pm to 9.30pm. Dinner only on Tues. Closed on Mon
WHY do we hate going to high-end kitchen appliance showrooms? Because they're a numbing reality check. In a luxury show flat setting, you lovingly run your fingers along the doors of shiny steel S$10,000 ovens. You imagine your wet market-purchased duck legs emerging from the built-in sous vide drawer like a slow-mo Salt Bae video - shimmery pink and tender, ready to be pan-seared to a golden crisp on a cooktop with intuitive heat controls. Just as you pull out your imaginary favourite ex-chateau Puligny-Montrachet from a 1,000 bottle-capacity wine chiller, your other half jabs you in the ribs and tells you it's time to go home - where your chiller-free, sous vide stick-equipped kitchen awaits.
Fortunately, you don't feel that kind of kitchen envy at the restaurant V - where Swiss appliance company V-Zug puts its appliances to work in a professional restaurant setting. It's located right next to its Scotts Square showroom (which we assiduously avoid), where a discreet entrance leads you through a short corridor that opens up into a full-blown dining room.
There's none of that cooking demo set up with a chef wired to a microphone preparing three dishes at once and passing out samples to those closest to him. Apart from a small wine fridge set into a wall cabinet and an undercounter fridge sitting discreetly in an obscure corner, there are no signs that this restaurant is anything but a place for upscale dining.
Giving it a boost of credibility is its collaboration with The Tippling Club's Ryan Clift - whose role as ambassador for V-Zug goes beyond saying nice things about the brand. He's conceptualised a proper menu and installed one of his own chefs, Lee Jing Peng, who pulls together an interesting, mixed bag of influences in V's six or nine-course dinner menus (priced at S$135/S$180).
At its core, it's simplified Tippling Club - a nod to chef Clift's penchant for envelope-pushing modernism that was avant garde in his time but now almost commonplace in kitchens of this ilk. You've got the foams, the jellies, fermentation, dehydration and textures all juggling in the air for each dish, all falling neatly into place in a mostly enjoyable performance.
Our nine course menu kicks off with a "consolation prize" laksa - a pretty emulsion of spicy gravy decorated with crispy crumbs of tau pok and shredded dried coconut and laksa leaves for texture. If you've taken a vow of carb-celibacy you'll be mad for this, but if not, it's a literal case of style with no substance.
It's part of a string of "snacks" which vary in size from a bite-sized, more hard-than-crunchy "air baguette" filled with manchego foam and a dot of truffle jelly, to a generous portion of wagyu tartare tossed in a house marinade with accents of ketchup, worcestershire and citrus. A wafer thin, glassy cracker makes an attractive topping and scoop for the tartare, with garlic aioli and crispy sakura ebi for added dimension. The snacks end with pretty little cones of crispy pork crackling topped with sweet apple jam and tucked amidst a forest of dill.
Thumbs up to V for making it a point to serve food hot - a welcome respite from tepid temperature cooking that's become the norm just about everywhere. The creamy watercress soup with potato espuma and a sous vide egg just ticks off all the boxes for comfort food - like a security blanket for the soul.
Hamachi - usually served sashimi-style, is perfectly steamed here - easily separating into slippery smooth chunks that you mix with a spot of green curry, coconut cream and puffed rice. It's also served hot, although it's ultimately too mild-mannered a dish to leave any strong impression.
Picking up the slack is the fork-tender sous vide pigeon wrapped in a farce of chicken meat that's bouncy and light, a perfect foil to the more assertive umami of intense truffle mousse and the lactic tang of fermented spinach. Get a bit of everything in one bite and let the flavours do their thing.
The desserts are pretty nondescript. A pre-dessert of baby souffle gets a bare sprinkling of chocolate and a boozy cherry on top; while the main dessert - textured tutti-frutti - has passion fruit, raspberry sorbet and pineapple duking it out with shards of freeze-dried meringue.
The cooking at V is solid on the whole. It's not groundbreaking and there's more foam than we care for, but it's starting off on a strong footing.
Since it's very new, don't expect a perfect experience in terms of hospitality and ambience, but there's enough going for it that makes it worth exploring. Of course, whether or not you decide to extend your dining experience with a visit to the showroom next door, well, you do that at your own risk . . .
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
Our review policy: The Business Times pays for all meals at restaurants reviewed on this page. Unless specified, the writer does not accept hosted meals prior to the review's publication.