FRENCH FARE

ON THE CHEAP
foodsnoop
1oss aside the fanoy outlery and oome in your tip-tops. Kenneth 0oh shows you
how to dig into lrenoh fare without burning a hole in your pooket.
loodstall No 3, Ali Baba Lating
¬ouse
125 Last Coast Road
0pening hours:
Mondays-3undays
12pm-2pm, 6.30pm-9pm
Closed on wednesday nights
and 3unday afternoons
website: www.
faoebook.oom/pages/
3aveur/101667346588431
227 upper 1homson Road
0pening hours:
1uesdays-3undays
11.30am-2.30pm,
5.30pm-9.30pm
Closed on Mondays
1el: 6459 0553
SAVEUR
LA PETITE CUISINE
INNOVATIVE: Instead of pan-frying the foie gras, chefs Dylan Ong and Joshua Khoo blow-torch it to give it a slight
caramelised taste, and retain most of the goose liver mass. PHOTOS | GOH CHAY TENG
THE likes of duck leg confit and
foie gras on the menu may give
the impression of being in a fine
dining restaurant. That is, until a
booming yell of “Teh-O!” shatters
the illusion. Saveur is a surprising
find in a down-to-earth kopitiam.
It serves French cuisine, but stays
true to its no-frills setting with
prices of less than $10 for all its
dishes.
Owners Mr Dylan Ong, 24, and
Mr Joshua Khoo, 27, want to dis-
solve the stereotype that French
food is only for the well-heeled. The
former SHATEC schoolmates pooled
their wealth of experience in French
cuisine, amassed from cooking
stints at Tetsuya’s in Australia, The
French Kitchen, and Guy Savoy, to
start this stall.
The affable duo, who cook in
white chef’s uniforms, transplanted
sous vide cooking styles, thermal
immersion circulators (which cook
food at precise temperatures in a
water bath) and salamanders (cu-
linary broilers)—once exclusive to
the kitchens of posh restaurants—to
a coffee shop.
To keep prices low, they employ
creative cooking methods to mini-
mise food wastage, and source most
of the ingredients locally, save for
foie gras and lentils, which they
import from France. They also
draw culinary ideas from Michelin-
starred chef Thomas Keller’s cook-
books and requests from customers.
The menu is modest, with just
five starters, including French
Onion Soup and Salmon Confit. Five
meat-based main dishes, such as the
Beef Medallion, round up the menu.
I started with a quintessential
French dish, foie gras ($7.90) .
Instead of pan-frying it, the chefs
cleverly blow-torched the thin 300g
slab to give it a slight caramelised
taste. This cooking method also
retains most of the goose liver mass.
The foie gras is served nestled in
a bed of mashed-up lentils, which
contrasts the silky smoothness of
the liver with its coarse texture.
Next, I picked the classic Duck
Leg Confit ($8.90), with fried skin
that is crispy and crackling, and
the duck meat fork-tender. The
meat glided effortlessly down my
throat, thanks to its smooth texture
achieved through precise sous vide
cooking at 82.2 degree Celsius after
being marinated for 12 hours.
The palm-sized duck leg sits on
a silky smooth mound of mashed
potato, and is accompanied by zesty
orange slices that balance the gami-
ness of the dish.
The other main I tried was the
Chicken Roulade ($8.90), which
the chefs give a luxurious update
by substituting the bacon stuffing
with foie gras. The chicken is done
sous vide to 70 degree Celsius so the
meat is succulent. It is served with
flavourful basmati rice (aromatic
long-grain rice from India), and
drizzled with a frothy Parmesan
emulsion.
Saveur offers a non-pretentious,
yet quality introduction into the
world of French cuisine, giving
French restaurants a run for their
money.
AT LA Petite Cuisine, do not expect
fancy tableware and elaborate ser-
vice to come with your French food.
Instead, you have to pay for your
food at the counter and help yourself
to water using plastic cups.
Co-owner Ms May Loke adopts
an “eat-and-go” concept in this ca-
sual eatery, which shows that French
food can be affordable and fuss-free.
This concept is also reflected in the
eatery’s straightforward mono-
chromatic décor—white-tiled walls
adorned with art pieces are offset
by a dramatic black ceiling.
True to its name (petite means
small in French), the eight-month-
old eatery is space-starved, with
a seating capacity of only 28. The
outdoor seating area, which is sur-
rounded with potted plants, is a
leafy enclave with four tables. Ms
Loke also owns another branch at
Serene Centre.
Despite importing French ingre-
dients, the bistro manages to keep
prices low as customers eat and
leave fast, so the table turnover rate
is high. Up to 110 customers visit the
restaurant for dinner on weekends,
which is its busiest period, said Ms
Loke.
Given its tiny premises, La Petite
Cuisine’s menu of 14 entrées and
UNEXPECTED STAR: The escargots are chewy, the croissant warm and buttery,
but the gravy, which has a strong umami taste, is the star of the dish.
main dishes is extensive. It consists
of seafood dishes, sausages and
pasta, on top of French classics like
foie gras and duck leg confit. It also
offers desserts and house wines.
I was pleasantly surprised when
my starter of escargots ($13.50)
arrived. Instead of being typically
drowned in melted butter and garlic,
six morsels of escargots are sand-
wiched in a warm croissant, which is
drenched in a flavourful gravy. Fried
with butter, garlic and tomatoes, the
sautéed escargots are chewy and
earthy. The intense buttery perfume
of the croissant enhances the rich-
ness and texture of the escargots.
The star of the dish, however, is
the gravy, which has a strong umami
taste. Made with tomatoes, parsley
and escargot essence, it is a savoury
mix of sweet and salty. It did not take
me long to mop my plate dry with
the croissant.
The escargots were served with
a forgettable salad, made with a
variety of leaves tossed in balsamic
vinaigrette and olive oil.
The sauce is also the highlight
of the pan-fried slab of dory fish,
served with white wine butter and
rice ($12.50). The beurreblanc (butter
sauce infused with white wine) im-
parts a light hint of fruitiness, which
pairs well with the creaminess of the
fish. The cone of butter rice, topped
with garlic, makes this dish quite a
substantial meal.
Each main course comes with
a complimentary serving of bread
roll and butter. It is advisable to skip
the butter, and use the bread roll to
wipe up the palatable sauce on the
plate instead.
INDULGENT: The Chicken Roulade is given a luxurious update with a foie gras
stuffing instead of traditional bacon.
LIFESTYLE 09
18
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CHRONICLE
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