mind you, the patrons at wild rocket at mount emily most certainly did not just chance upon the restaurant located to the side of the lobby of a cosy, contemporary hostel called hangout at the top of mount emily. the place is truly tucked away, and the restaurant seemingly doesnt even bother to, say.. place a signage or such at the roadside to indicate its presence, so much so that i initially did a double take when we drove into the hangout hotel carpark and wondered if i had gotten the wrong address.
but people do come, which i suppose tells you something about the food here. but lets first talk about the ambience – simple contemporary, with use of soothing green elements to exude a tropical, calming feel. the restaurant almost feels like a cafe (i suspect a portion is used for breakfast buffet by patrons at the hotel), as the interior of the restaurant is in full view from patrons of the lobby. but owing to the fact that the hangout hotel feels like some chic-contemporary hostel, you dont get much nuisance, and the environment is well suited for a lazy saturday lunch session. and mind you, methinks lunch here is a steal — the executive lunch set is priced at $35++, of which you can choose any appetizer and any dessert within the menu paired with 5 possible choices of entree. and mind you, when a single entree can cost $35 and appetizers/desserts go at around $18 – $20, the lunch set is too good to be missed. let’s serve em’ up
salmon carpaccio with bonito flakes and red rice
an instant winner. the presentation and initial aroma wafting from the wooden receptacle left one salivating. i quickly realized that wild rocket served what you call mod Singaporean food – updating Singaporean sauces and flavors with western concepts, ingredients and serving styles in a creative and intelligent manner. its something familiar paired with something new. this dish probably took its roots from japanese origins, using classical japanese ingredients like bonito flakes, fish roe and salmon sashimi but serving the salmon carpaccio style (thinly sliced, raw) and then presenting it on a bed of delicious, savoury red rice (which is healthier than white rice for that matter), topped with drizzles of mayo to complete the taste. the mixture of flavors – western and eastern, someone came together perfectly and was a fantastic appetizer.
honestly, its cool to be at a restaurant where the chef joyfully plays with his food creations and infuses his experiences of both eastern and western cultures to create truly creative and delicious masterpieces. (hear that, 2am dessert bar) this dish brought back memories of eating chwee kueh with chai poh (salted turnip) at ghim moh during my JC days. the seabass was masterfully cooked — flaky and full of flavor and counterbalanced the saltiness of the chai poh perfectly whilst the congee served as a background base to elevate the taste of both foods. you know how you sometimes need rice in order to fully appreciate the sauces involved in some chinese dishes? i think this was what was achieved in this case. delicious, a little small, but with a smart choice of appetizer (like mine above), this was perfect.
hmm, leave the desserts to the french? this was a case where i couldn’t detect much of a mod sing feel of the food as there wasn’t nary of an asian influence to the dessert. in essence, the strawberry cheescake was a deconstructed version of your cheesecake, served up in a martini glass. we have a generous dollop of philly cheese (though i wish it was mascarpone), followed by walnut ice cream (to masquerade as the cream?) then garnished with syrup-infused strawberries and graham-cracker bits to complete the feel. maybe i don’t get deconstruction, but in trying to reconstruct the cheesecake by combining the elements within a single scoop, i didn’t feel any particular innovation or new tastes that evolved. hmm.
all in all, this place is quite the hidden find, and really, a perfect place for a cozy chill out session with your atas friends and the likes. drive there though, the midday sun can be quite oppressive if you need to walk up mount emily. 7.5/10
wild rocket at mount emily | hangout hotel, 10a upper wilkie road, s228119 | contemporary, fusion, western, mod sing