Big, brazen and bespoke…and bad.
The story of how Ryan Hong became from cook to chef runs with a Dickensian quality. The scion of a maritime dynasty trading in barges and tugs, he was brought up with an abberant upbringing, studying civil and hydrology engineering. While the graduate dabbled in the family business, and attempted to start several businesses, his seeming inability to commit to the long-term left him a jack of all trades, but master of none. There remained a constant throughout his extraneous life – his “interest” in cooking. One must, however assume that it might have been a necessity rather than actual preoccupation. He got his big break in Singapore, after guesting a charity dinner as chef. To put it on a pedestal, Ryan belongs to the casual school of culinary thought; relying on his experience and creativity to come up whatever he sees fit. In an interview with AsiaOne, the private chef and culinary consultant describes his food as “Franco-American”, a “no froth, no fuss…about layering”.
This afternoon, as generous as tech manufacturers go, Sony catered a private lunch after showcasing its brand new 84″ Bravia television at the V On Shenton condominium show house at Gateway East. The luxury apartment, located in the heart of the Shenton Way, boasts a plethora of facilities, including themed pools and outdoor activity areas at levels eight and thirty-four, a fully equipped gym at level thirty-five and Chef Ryan Hong’s first restaurant, Epicure at the twenty-fourth floor. In what must be a cross-marketing agreement between V On Shenton and Sony, Ryan Hong gave us a preview of what he has got planned for Epicure.
The teaser wasn’t satisfactory. Brash and infinitesimal, the three courses were neither appetizing, satisfying or filling. To think of heading to Macs for a burger less than halfway through the meal is probably the greatest insult to the chef, but that would be putting it likely just how bad it went. The first course, a subversion of the bruschetta, had the right idea but was executed without restraint. The ungrudging portion of garlic would have worked in a restaurant setting. Without any wine pairing nor any drizzle of olive oil to attempt to balance the acidity, it lingered in the taste buds. The thing about taking inspiration from French cuisine is the reliance of the freshest ingredients. If the chef doesn’t have access, the course quickly becomes total s**t. The salmon was not of the freshest quality: the skin had a metallic taste while the flesh was rubbery, and generally tasteless. When juxtaposed with the saltiness of the ikura and the lightness of the other ingredients, there was none of the depth that was intended and generally lacked character. The worst offender in this three course lineup was, the chocolate tart. The ridiculousness of arming diners with a spoon to slice such a tardy pastry was laughable.