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Chef interview: Michelin star restaurant Corner House

Having just earned a Michelin star and debuted at number 17 on the S. Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list, Corner House has been lauded in many circles as one of the best restaurants in Singapore since its opening in 2015. We caught up with Chef Jason Tan to hear about his signature cuisine style and some of the French dishes we can expect at the buzz- worthy, not to mention gorgeous, restaurant.

Michelin star restaurant chef Jason Tan
Chef Jason Tan from Michelin star restaurant Corner House

Located in a tranquil setting in the Botanic Gardens, Corner House occupies the two-storey, black-and-white heritage house in which British botanist EJH Corner lived from 1929 to 1945 when he served as Assistant Director of the Gardens.

Corner House and “GastroBotanica”

Though the house has been modernised to accommodate the restaurant, the main elements of its original architecture remain intact, making it an extra-special venue, matched by equally special menus of “GastroBotanica” fare; there are four different set dinner menus starting from $148, plus three set lunch menus starting from $58, and a four-course brunch menu for $78.

As the name suggests, Gastro-Botanica – a contemporary cuisine inspired by Jason’s own world travels and EJH Corner’s life – accentuates botanical elements like fruits and vegetables, giving equal weight to them and to proteins on the same plate.

“My cuisine is based on French cooking techniques with global flavour influences,” says Jason. “More importantly, vegetables are given a much fuller elaboration in terms of range and preparation.” Yet, by no means are the menus at Corner House vegetarian (though the restaurant is very vegetarian-friendly). Proteins include everything from Maine lobster and cod to wagyu beef and freerange chicken.

botanica dish corner house
Chef Jason’s Botanica

Culinary techniques

The Gastro-Botanica cuisine style also involves turning single ingredients into intricate dishes by using diverse culinary techniques – a tomato done multiple ways, for instance, as seen in Jason’s signature Carabinero Prawn dish (included in the eightcourse Discovery Menu Experience, $258).

The result? A cloud of soft tomato mousse with pearls of suspended olive oil, tomatoes marinated and poached two ways, a super-soft tomato skin swirl, and tomato sorbet – gastronomic artwork and multi-textural dishes with a real “wow” factor.

Meanwhile, in the Oignon doux des cévennes, a sweet onion is also given unique textural interpretations – from an onion tart, onion chip and onion broth to a roasted hollow onion shell filled with a sous vide egg covered in black truffle.

When it comes to dessert, Jason’s interpretation of Singaporean kaya toast – his “favourite childhood food memory” – is his speciality, made with pandan, coconut, gula melaka, muscovado sablé and pineapple. (The dessert is featured on the three-, four- and five-course lunch menus and, for dinner, as part of the five-course, $168 Menu Botanica, and the aforementioned Discovery menu.)

verandah corner house restaurant botanic gardens
The verandah at Corner House

Pair it with wine

Add in the restaurant’s massive wine list of over 600 labels – not to mention the largest restaurant collection of halfbottle choices in Singapore – and you’ve got yourself a special occasion-worthy spot. With such an innovative approach to cooking with herbs and other botanicals, and such a passion for his signature cuisine creation, it’s no wonder Jason was minted with a Michelin star this past July. “I feel extremely honoured and happy that the hard work has paid off,” he says. “It’s also a huge encouragement to the team.”

Corner House
EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road
6469 1000 | cornerhouse.com.sg

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