August 17, 2017

It’s all about the Argentinian beef. Or is it really? Argentinian beef prized for its intense flavour from being fully grass fed is just the tip of the iceberg where the country’s cuisine is concerned. When questioned whether Singaporean palates are ready for the introduction of more South American cuisine, Chef/Owner Patron Diego Jacquet lets out a cackle of sneering merriment. “Maybe, not so much Argentinian cuisine per se, but a generalisation would be a better method of integrating the masses”, he replies, then quickly lauding the efforts of Chef Daniel Chavez with his most recent foray—Tono Cevicheria. Peruvian cuisine has definitely delineated from its queer housemate characteristics (perceptions which I’ve gathered from my past boarding experiences in Sydney) and acquired an almost hipsterish flair in Singaporean’s culinary context.

In his most recent visit to Singapore, Chef Diego Jacquet was quick to work the stoves and stir up the menu, introducing some new dishes that reflect more traditional practices and flavours. We were ushered to our counter seats installed specifically for a better theatrical view of the chef’s table experience. The sizzle of pans, fluster of dockets sent through the printer, the precision plating at the pass, scent of flame-grilled meat and the neat quenelles of cream doled out—an umbrian treat for the five senses. With every course presented for an up-close inspection, then lovingly seductively described; my heart said yay with an amplified proclamation as the night panned out.


For starters, there’s the Tomates, seasonal tomatoes and watermelon salad. A play on the classic summer salad, composed of watermelon marinated in watermelon juice for 48—gotta love the chef’s dedication to consistency. Buffalo Mozzarella, fresh basil and olives add to the pageantry of the dish. Even better was their Cangrejo, Patagonia-style mud crab salad sits atop a magic carpet of “humita norteña”—corn mousse on toast. There was a hint of citrus pine from marjoram and a pinch of acidity from pickled courgettes. It worked.


But the rockstar of the small dishes was the Crudo de Carne. Gleamingly fresh Argentinean beef fillet, tenderised with the aid of papaya, is dished out with raw white peaches, crudo, pickled mustard seeds and a hit of subtle pepper from aged pecorino. All suspicions of fruit and meat combos fled the moment this blissful bite met my lips. Chef Diego successfully introducing the dated and derivative South American technique of tropical fruits in meat marinades with minimal effort and a hundred fold impact, complete with endless head bobs, eyes wide open.


So far, the experience has been a bit overwhelming on the palate. Sod that. You’ve come here for you own personal Chef’s table moment, saying yes every time Chef Diego inquires whether you’re full. You are not, and you should say yes to the next dish until you pop. The debauchery continues in the form of Codorniz, grilled and confit quail leg and breast served with seasonal carrots, cherries and tarragon. The jewelled jus spilt over the leg, glorious and slick. Finally, we concluded the savoury courses with the quintessential Argentinian beef experience. Chef Diego Jacquet doesn’t reproduce or translate the cuisine, instead he builds a fantasy version of it, a skill evident in this single plate. 100% Grass fed beef is flanked by a neat square of classic flan layered with an assortment of cabbage derived from pickling to vinegar and fresh before being steamed for a carousel of textures. There was no contention as to why a whole block of the said flan wouldn’t make a fantastic side dish.


Dessert was my regular go-to; the Tres Leches Cake brings the party to the table with passion fruit sorbet offsetting the lavishness of the soaked cake. If you’re well behaved, there might even be a chance of honeycomb studded malbec ice cream.

So; a plethora of successful runs that illicit excitement for more mood fuel in the form of liquor. Top tip: The malbec selection at the Argentinian kitchen lends itself to the fantasies. You’ll be hard-pressed to refuse a second glass.

So what’s next for Chef Diego Jacquet? “Dishing out the same standards day after day to ensure my patrons are guaranteed a safe haven of flavours each time”; there’s also COMILONA NYC and we hear there are plans for a new restaurant in Sweden? Straddling 3 continents is definitely an impending challenge that we look forward to hearing more about in the new year.