Wild Rocket

wildrocket - 1After delighting ourselves with Malayan, Chinese and Indian influenced dishes on our first night in Singapore, in one of the famous Food Hawkers in Town (Satay by the Bay), on our second day we went to the Wild Rocket, the restaurant of the charismatic chef Willin Low, a lawyer that switched his profession for his hobby, over ten years ago. A hobby that several days after our visit would give him the entrance in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, on the 38th position.

The restaurant is installed on the top of Mount Emily, away from the typical bustle of the city and inside the Hangout Hotel (a budget design hotel). The renovated decoration of the space sends us to a modern Japan, with the entrance by a small bridge, sided by textured paper, while the room and the use of wood make us feel at a chashitsu (tea room) or a izakaya.

wildrocket - 2Chef ‘s table

But well, what brought us here was the food, not properly a decoration lesson or interior design. If the space takes us to Japan, Low is proud of introducing the “mod-Sin” concept, that being modern Singaporean cuisine – in a time when most of the fine dining restaurants in town were dedicated to the French and Japanese cuisines. His idea is to recreate some of the dishes he grew up with, flavours that normally are found at food hawkers, and elevating the quality of the ingredients, the technique and, of course, the presentation.

On to the table and what really matters. Already installed on a beautiful wood table, completely naked (the cutlery is kept on a strategically framed drawer), we are awarded with some small and tasty brioche bread accompanied with olive oil.

wildrocket - 3Grapefruit salad, tiger shrimp and ice coconut sauce  
This grapefruit salad is one of the iconic dishes of the menu, and it’s easy to know why, a combination that easily takes us to Thailand, in an interesting combo of temperatures, fresh and spicy notes, well matched with the sweetness of the shrimp and the coconut. A great start!

wildrocket - 4Veal Carpaccio with sesame and ginger puree  
A less Asian starter, but where the use of ginger and sesame instantly remind us of where we are. Excellent quality meat, with the right thickness (not a “transparent pellicle” so many restaurants like to serve) and good seasoning. A simple, but well accomplished dish.

wildrocket - 6Linguini with laksa pesto and giant prawn
Another key-dish of Willin Low’s menu, in which the presentation forwards us to Italy, but the flavours keep our feet in Asia. The laksa pesto is a wonder by itself, spicy but balanced and full of flavour, helped by a pasta on point and an excellent and succulent prawn of generous proportions. Delicious!

wildrocket - 7Spaghettini with crustacean oil and sakura ebi (a type of shrimp)
A dish of a more classic appearance, where the oil in which the thin pasta is sautéed is the main character, along with the nice sakura shrimps. High score to the seasoning, slightly spicy and to the garlic and seeds that help not only in flavour but also in texture.

wildrocket - 5Thai Pork Krapao, bee tai mak pasta and onsen egg
This last pasta dish was the best of the evening, a species of Asian Bolognese, with the ragu substituted by the Thai Krapao, made with pork and basil, and the tagliatelle replaced with the bee tai mak pasta, made with rice flour. All that finished with a perfect onsen egg (low temperature egg), involving the entire combo with its greasiness. A comfort dish, technically enhanced and full of flavour. Perfect!

wildrocket - 9Alabot with buah keluak pesto, roasted vegetables
This was the least interesting dish of the evening, not for a less accomplished cooking, but for the fish itself, without great flavour. High score to the Buah Keluak pesto (a type of nut), elevating the dish, also good the roasted vegetables.

wildrocket - 8Iberian Pork, Quinoa and mushrooms
The pork, cooked in a Char siu style, was succulent and melting apart, with an addictive flavour. The mushrooms and quinoa are good sides, balancing the flavours and the structure of the dish. The rice paper sheet covering the dish serves more as a decorative element than as an adding to the combination.

wildrocket - 11Strawberry Cheesecake
The desserts, with a less bold presentation than the main courses, don’t lose in flavour, and a good example of that is this cheesecake, with well macerated strawberries, a great cream cheese and good biscuits, of slightly caramelized flavour. A small delight!

wildrocket - 10Chocolate pie and pineapple sorbet
Singaporeans love desserts with pineapple and this one is no exception, a pie with thin pastry, great chocolate filling, nicely accompanied by the freshness of the sorbet. A well balance and well accomplished dessert.

wildrocket - 12Teh Tarik Panna cotta, black pearls
Another good expression of the way the chef incorporates the most famous elements of Singaporean street food in his menus, Teh Tarik is the famous tea with condensed milk, served in several spots in the city. Here preserved its flavour and became a silky panna cotta, elevated by the vanilla and well balanced by some black pearls, made with tapioca. Very good!

The wine list is short, with mainly French and Italian denominations, besides some wines of the new world, like the Pinot Noir of New Zealand, with which we accompanied our meal, The Nest from Lake Chalice. A wine with the classic aromas of the caste, medium structure and good acidity, harmonizing well with the generality of the dishes.

The Service is effective and well-coordinated, without rushes or pressures in a full house night.

Final Remarks
No doubt that Singapore is a Mecca for #foodies and gourmands, from the food hawkers to fine dining restaurants the options are many, and really the difficult thing must be to choose and eat badly. Willin Low knew that when around ten years ago he decided to open his restaurant, and bring to fine dining some elements that usually you find on the street or at typical restaurants. Nowadays his cuisine reflects creativity, especially for the locals who know the dishes and ingredients behind his creations, technique and a great domain of flavours, from the spicy to umami, all well accomplished and balanced.

Today, the charisma and talent of Willin Low were recognized with the 38th position on the most important top of Asian restaurants (Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants), if it’s really that one, probably not, but rankings are just that, numbers, and someone must occupy them. What is certain is that his cuisine captivates clients and surprises the most demanding palates, foreign or local.

Wild Rocket is, for sure, a great restaurant!

Wild Rocket
Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road – Singapore
+65 6339 9448

Versão Portuguesa 

 Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses

Flavors & Senses in Singapore with the support of  Samsonite and of Singapore Tourism Board – #YourSingapore.

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