More often than not, we come across food that looks good but a disappointment when it comes to taste. It's never easy to find a place that combines both elements together well until I found 'the stash'. The Rabbit Stash started at an old shop house within a condominium in 2011, and recently relocated to a new hideout on the rooftop of WANGZ Hotel at Tiong Bahru.
With the restaurant named after his Chinese Zodiac, Chef-owner Matthew is a master degree holder in building construction management but decided to pursue his passion by starting as a private chef. I was impressed by the consummate culinary skills and accolades he obtained as he was trained locally at At-Sunrise GlobalChef Academy with no prior experience in any Michelin-starred restaurant or any apprenticeship with local or overseas celebrity chefs. Unlike some chefs who garner culinary inspirations by visiting popular restaurants, he acquires ideas by travelling around the world.
A combination of classic French techniques along with a touch of Asian and Singaporean flavours, the creation of menu is inspired by 7 notions of 'ENSOPHI': Exotic, Nostalgia, Soil, Ocean, Pristine, Heritage and Impression. With each element representing a poetic and artistic expression of Chef Matthew's dish, his cooking philosophy was originally developed when he started in 2011 but only recently did he put it in words and poetic form for his guests to understand.
"The uniqueness of each soil connects differently the greatness of our land endowing pristine flavours. It is true that heritage carries a familiar scent from the roots while the ocean reveals impressions of exotic beauty bringing back waves of nostalgia at every dawning moment." - Chef Matthew.
The degustation dinner menu which changes quarterly is priced at 7-course S$148+ / 5-course S$108+ / 4-course S$90+; and lunch menu is priced at 2-course S$36+ / 3-course S$54+.
Started off with some warm delicate cheese bread served with butter
Chef Matthew is not just a cook, he is also an artist and carpenter with a flair for creativity. The two rabbit sketches on top left were drawn by him and the woodwork below he crafted to present his dishes.
A trunk to sleeve in butter discs pairing with lime mayonnaise, with some puffs, pastries and yam jam lying on a base of soil made of bread crumbs
Inspired by what soil has to offer, Chef Matthew selects the best of the seasonal produce and marries the earthy flavours on one plate. Comprising snippets of everything, you could taste all forms of textures such as the jelly-like asparagus blob, melt-in-your-mouth beetroot sorbet with mushroom bits, gentle basil and olive crumbs, as well as crunchy meringue. I could only describe that every mouthful was a surprise and got me thinking what I was actually consuming, and this was just the start of the degustation menu.
More wows to the second dish, pristine, everything on the plate was at its purest form without alteration. So you would start questioning how could a dish be complete without any seasoning? Apparently the fresh local organic ingredients sourced daily imparted the intrinsic flavours to the dish, such as the natural sweetness from the slight pan-seared langoustine, cabbage dashi, first born egg that a hen laid and crunchy brown rice, as well as the saltiness from the bacon bits. I couldn't help but immediately sliced into the wobbly orangey creamy slow cooked egg, taking the centrepiece, it magically amalgamated all the ingredients together.
This rosé wine was to pair with the dish above, perhaps to give it an acidic note. House crafted cocktails are also designed around the 7 core themes, so do ask for recommendations shall you want to elevate your dining experience with wine pairing!
An interpretation of chef's love for the ocean, I liked how this dish was demonstrated on a crystallised plate. Indulging in the moment, it almost felt as I was sharing Chef Matthew's scuba diving experience where one can expect to be greeted with various types of seafood such as the scallop, smoked trout, shrimp and oceanic greens such as coral, sea lettuce and stone moss. Loved everything on the plate especially the fried shrimp sat atop mashed banana, the smoky scallop with anchovy sauce and the elastic greens and algae. Last but not least, the most interesting element on the plate, for a second I thought it's fat choy (black moss) or dried seaweed, but it's actually squid ink sponge, how amazing that the visual appearance has actually tricked us!
People often discuss and think fondly of enjoyable food experiences. With an intention to reconnect diners with memories of dishes, Chef Matthew created nostalgia. A comfort delicacy with handmade noodles immersed in lobster broth topped with purple crab and black roe. The only complaint was the portion could be more!
This creation is based on his impression of food, people and culture from the encounters of his travels abroad. An unpretentious painting with vibrant colours assembled by berkshire pork pairing with the never-go-wrong granny smith applesauce, sitting on a beetroot potato "mud", complemented by watermelon with vodka and the must-have pork crackling slightly leaning against the protein. The two-part technique of compression then braised justified the berkshire pork with its tenderness and it was an interesting experience to enjoy the dish with the refreshing yet bitter watermelon cylinder.
The second last course traces back to Chef Matthew's heritage, as a Peranakan. Reinventing Nonya dishes, he recreates with the various ingredients he grew up eating. Beef jowl was braised in soy sauce that infused in port wine and red date for 48 hours, which explained the sweet, succulent, fall-off-the-bone kind of texture flesh. The chewy barley porridge was cooked in capsicum and pumpkin sauce, where the sesame cracker has added a crunch factor to complete the dish.
Loved the madeleine in petite fours (background)!
In an attempt to create unique flavour pairing with exotic ingredients from around the world, this unimaginable dessert stayed true to its name. Enlightened by the common union of Thai mango salad and green curry, the green curry gelato sat atop the light, moist mango fromage blanc and complemented with wine poached snow pear. You may not see the connection between both components, but I was surprised that the green curry in fact did not overpower the layered cake. Though I would prefer to have both together in one bite rather than eating the gelato alone, nonetheless, the meal successfully ended with an unforgettable note.
Photo Credit: The Rabbit Stash
30-seater indoor dining with floor to ceiling glass facing a 180° view of city
Do enjoy their happy hour specials everyday from 4pm to 9pm, and live music at the rooftop bar from Thursday to Saturday, 7.30pm to 10.30pm.
Every theme came with a pleasant surprise with numerous quality ingredients used and elements committed on each plate. It clearly exhibited the heedful and passionate side of the chef in projecting his life journey over the seven dishes. Tantalising our five senses, we liked that the cuisine offered a notch more. In my opinion, it truly encapsulates the essence of fine dining which goes beyond the quality of food as the cuisine is appreciated like a piece of art. Providing diners with scrumptious artworks and a sensational dining experience, it left me with food for thought on relating each theme to the course tried.
What deserves exceptional recognition is the extraordinary service staff who explained every dish upon service to the diners, a rare find in Singapore's F&B industry nowadays indeed.
Overall Verdict: 8.5/10
The Rabbit Stash
Rooftop of WANGZ Hotel
231 Outram Road, Level R
Tel: +65 98588607 / 65951380
P.S. Photos were taken with Nikon D4S, special thanks to Nikon Singapore.
P.P.S. Special thanks to Melody for the invitation and Rabbit Stash for having us!
, by tmcy