After an illustrious few decades serving fine Japanese cuisine from the ground floor space of Shangri-la Hotel Singapore, Nadaman closed its doors in early 2017 and re-opened as Nami on the 24th floor of the hotel in mid 2017.
In its former space sits the Origin Grill & Bar (“Origin”), which opened immediately after the Christmas of 2017. Long time in the making, Origin offers two distinct spaces, both of which take their design cues from a train station. In the restaurant, table tops are crafted like a chessboard and curved rectangular benches made of wood and burgundy leather while the adjacent bar is shaped like a train ticketing box framed with silk velvet curtains.
Origin is described in the press release as being “inspired by the origin of flavours, travel adventures and Singapore’s illustrious history”. At the bar, this translates into an easy-to-read cocktail menu categorised by the iconic places of Singapore – like Orchard Road and Little India.
The philosophy gets a little lost in translation on the restaurant side, which is essentially a grill house built on sustainable ingredients sourced from various origins. Here, the menu features sharing plates, seafood and meats, the headline being the array of steaks (think grass and grain-fed beef; pure, crossbred and full- blooded Angus; as well as wagyu cattle from Australia, Ireland and Japan). Notwithstanding the weak link concept-wise, the modern European cooking by Australian chef de cuisine, Hiedi Flanagan, is as accomplished as it gets.
Slivers of raw Filipino tuna ($26) make an appearance on a seeds-studded crisp flatbread almost buried in an avalanche of ingredients including avocado puree, jalapeno cream, edamame, toasted sheets of salty nori as well as folds of thinly-sliced cucumber. Even with the load of ingredients, you will be rewarded with the fresh and crisp flavours of each component with every bite you take.
The light start gets a kick of Thai-inspired exuberance with the salad of pan-seared Hokkaido scallops ($32), which arrive topped with lashings of holy basil, wing beans, pomelo pulp and crushed peanuts. To bring it all together, the salad is accompanied by a chilli jam that has none of the spiciness of chilli. Instead, the robust, slightly sweet and almost nutty flavour, aided in part by the addition of peanuts, comes to the fore. With a jam so addictive, one wouldn’t mind eating the salad neat, sans the scallops.
If you’ve tried every pasta imaginable, Origin comes to the rescue with house-made trofie ($24), a short twisted pasta from Genoa, Liguria, that we rarely see in Singapore. Tossed in pesto sauce with pine nuts, French beans, tiny cubes of potatoes and Parmesan crisps, it’s light and curiously refreshing, but not in a way that you’d expect. But its greatest gift is in the pasta’s unusual texture – a discovery of great bite that is positively firm without being chewy. In a word – al dente.
While you could well opt for New Zealand line-caught wild blue cod glazed with miso butter ($38) or grass fed Australian lamb rack with labna cheese and honey vinaigrette ($48), Origin’s greatest pride is its array of steaks and the three pages of menu dedicated to a section titled “beef” is proof. But this generosity of choice could come across as being confusing for the beef novice. Should you find it cumbersome to sieve out the various options, just order the Origin beef tasting platter ($198), which comes with four different cuts from four different cattle farms: 100g of Rangers’ Valley black angus rump MS5+, 100g of Williams River cross bred tenderloin MS5/6, 100g of Mayura Station full blood wagyu ribeye MS8+and 100g of snow-aged full blood wagyu striploin A4. If push comes to shove and we have to pick a favourite, it would be the ribeye from Mayura Station. Fed on a diet consisting of chocolate, the Mayura Station ribeye yields a mildly sweet flavour underscored by nuttiness, a flavour that you will appreciate even if chocolates are your nemesis. But if Japanese wagyu is your meat of choice, the snow-aged full blood striploin ($168 for 200g) is buttery as one would expect but it’s hardly our favourite.
At a time when hotel F&Bs are working hard at creating an identity, Origin has found a niche that balances the dining needs of hotel guests and local foodies. Its prices are non-threatening, the cooking execution on-point and menu options varied. What’s not to like?
Definitely, don’t leave without a night cap at the next-door bar.
22 Orange Grove Road, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, Lobby Level, Tower Wing; Singapore 258 350 | +65-6737 3644 | shangri-la.com/singapore
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.