Three years after emerging a champion from TV cooking competition show, MasterChef Asia, Woo Wai Leong, has hung up his white collar shirt in favour of chef’s whites with the debut of a shop house-based restaurant in North Canal Road that he co-owns with two others.
Named Restaurant Ibid (“Ibid”), which means “from the same source” in Latin, the 48-seat eatery serves a Nanyang-style contemporary Chinese cuisine influenced by both eastern and westerns elements that the 30-year-old law-trained foodie grew up with.
Only opened for dinner currently, Ibid offers diners a choice of prix fixe menus: four courses for $78++, six courses for $88++ and eight courses for $118++.
While the actual dining format is not firmed up yet (at the moment, you get a choice of dishes if you pick the four-course menu while the chef decides what you eat if you opt for the six or eight-course menu), all guests will receive the welcome snack of Shao Bing, pan fried yeasted dough stuffed with spring onions and mozzarella cheese, served alongside yeasted butter with laksa leaves.
From his opening menu, Woo serves Tea Egg, a savoury egg snack reinterpreted as slow-cooked egg yolk with fried gingko nuts and shiitake-decorated soubise (onion sauce) as backdrop, served in a pool of pu’er tea scented with tangerine peel and rock sugar.
Taking his inspiration from Szechuan spicy cumin lamb skewer, Woo also serves a generous quenelle of Lamb Tartare comprising an unusual mix of raw and charred hand-chopped lamb rump tossed with cumin, dried chillies and Szechuan peppercorns.
To demonstrate his versatility with angelica root, a traditional Chinese herb used for women’s health and cardiovascular conditions (amongst others), Woo serves slow-cooked Short Ribs on a blanket of black garlic puree with mashed potatoes in chicken jus scented with angelica root. On the side, he serves pickled black fungus and Chinese pears for a contrast of textures and flavours.
For carbs, Woo fields comfort food by way of steamed Lotus Rice. Instead of using just glutinous rice, he uses an equal part of short grain rice for texture. And as a finishing touch, he grates frozen preserved liver sausage and tops the mound with cubes of seared foie gras, so that you get the taste of nostalgia with a twist of foie.
You will feel right at home with the dessert the Hibiscus Dessert with tang yuan, except that the glutinous rice ball arrives with a purplish hue from the infusion of rosella. To complete the dish, you will find Chinese ginger sugar crumble, house made red bean jam, hibiscus jam and a scoop of yoghurt ice cream. It’s tang yuan at heart but with a deconstructed facade.
18 North Canal Road Singapore 048830; +65 9151 8698; restaurantibid.com