Monday, January 20, 2014

Dining from Snout to Butt

The fearless lion wanted a gutsy end to his year. Ever the adventurous gourmand, he recalled the opening of Wolf in town that showcases and serves every part of an animal's body, leaving no scraps to the bin. This is not new territory for a Chinese man well-versed in the art of offal-ish eating. But having not had the opportunity of dining at the esteemed nose-to-tail London pioneer, St John, he wanted a feel of how refined all this Western style gut-hearts-and-all dining could get. But hmm...he could not stomach all these alone and his squeamish lioness was not entirely enthusiastic about it. Undaunted, he managed to get his business associates, Mr LHP and Mr Stevie Wonder, to come along for the ride. He wanted to give Mr Stevie Wonder a jolly good slap on the back as the good-natured guy was equally squeamish about such stuff but open to uncharted waters.
With its dark timber tables, leather banquettes and
fine dining setting, the lion could only wonder whether Wolf was
going to be a tame affair. He was more familiar with his usual kuay chap
at the hawker centre. Eating offals and such used to be considered
a rather 'peasant' thing to do. So much for all that snobbery.
And I will huff and puff and blow the restaurant down!
If the lion was not wrong, these helplessly adorable animals
are here to assist the ladies carry their bags.
You have very helpful chickens here!
If pigs fly... ... their wings will be served here!
Tame starter of bread. How civilised!
Seared Hokkaido Scallops was one of the few seafood items
on the menu. Just in case, you do have friends who are not so
keen on innards and spare parts, these are the options to
keep them happy. The scallops were plump, fresh and nicely
seared. But come on, Mr Wonder Stevie, you've got to
toughen up that belly!
And here is the Chicken Liver Parfait.
Although the pate came in what seemed like a ridiculously small portion,
it was so intense and rich that 3 grown men were hard-pressed trying
to polish it off. The pate went very well with the bread, herb salad and
cornichons.  Smooth, creamy and palatable; it ended off with a slight tinge of
bitterness. Mr LHP and Lion gave thumbs up for this, while Mr Stevie could
not stomach a second bite. Not for the uninitiated.
Pig's Head and Trotter Brawn. This reminded the lion of the gelatinous
Teochew Pork Trotter Jelly (zu jiao dong) but it was a lot meatier. Tender trotter
meat and flesh from the pig's head is set in aspic (jelly made from meat stock or
consomme). The lion and Mr LHP's verdict? A very well-done terrine worth
savouring again, especially with the ingenious side of Pommery mustard.
Mr Stevie's verdict? Alright, but he will not order it. Holler!  
The two men decided to cut the now-withering-under-pressure
Mr Stevie some slack and went for the tender Pork Collar with fried capers and
Go for the excellent wood-smoked Kurobuta Pork Chop instead.
Pinkish to retain its tenderness; it was cooked according to the chef's
recommended doneness. This sizable slab is juicy and succulent with
the right amount of tasty fats.
Now for something that's more hardcore - the Grilled Ox Tongue!
Having tried ox tongue at a number of places, the lion considers himself a
 connoisseur of sorts in this department. Most tongues tend to be a little on the
tough side due to the muscles. What a well-used organ! However, the grilled
ox tongue at Wolf was so decadently tender, it was very much like tucking into
lean meat! You will not have difficulty cutting into this. No weird gaminess at all.
The herb butter also went well with the tongue, giving it the added creaminess.
Mr LHP and the lion's verdict? Definitely worth another try.
Mr Stevie's verdict? Not too bad but the thought of it puts him off.
He will not reject a few pieces offered to him though. Hooray!
Finally after all those indomitable meat dishes, it was time to settle
for something sweet. The Ginger Rice Pudding Brulee was rather
straightforward and ordinary with just a slight hint of spicy ginger.
The lion wished he had ordered something else instead.
Mr Stevie took comfort in the Eton Mess. Chantilly cream, meringue, pistachios
and... black pepper marinated strawberries! Wow! A stickily sweet mess but the
taste of black pepper seemed to be lost somewhere. Overall, an interesting dessert.
Mr LHP took the Pear Tarte Tatin and it did not disappoint.
Apart from the generous serving, the pears were poached soft
and caramelised sweet.
A latte to end off the wonderful meal.
The lion has heard that Wolf, nose to tail dining, would be slowly introducing more unconventional cuts for intrepid eaters.  Feedback from fellow foodie, Mr Business Times, was that it was an admirable effort but paled in comparison to the experience at St John. Overall, the lion really enjoyed his time here. It fed the cravings of hardcore offal fans, like Mr LHP, and offered a non-threatening platform, with tamer buffer dishes, for the more squeamish who are just curious as to how far they can push the limits of tolerance for gutsy dishes like these. The lion suspect it's more psychological rather than a matter of taste.

Wolf, Nose to Tail Dining
18 Gemmill Lane
Singapore 069255

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