In Japan, the unfurling of delicately hued pink petals signals the awakening of spring – a season of fresh beginnings to be savoured at Lewin Terrace. The Singapore-based Japanese-French fusion fine-dining restaurant has launched specially-crafted 5 and 7-course Spring Menus, distilling the ephemeral beauty of springtime into a host of exquisite offerings perfumed with seasonal touches such as dried cherry blossoms.
Executive Chef Keisuke Matsumoto brings guests on an exploration of the menus’ central theme: bitterness. Of the 5 basic tastes the human palate can detect–sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami – the Japanese most strongly associate bitterness with the flavour of spring. This can be attributed to mountain vegetables, or sansai, that begin to sprout in the early days of the season, bringing to tables astringent properties that are believed to flush out toxins accumulated during the rich diets of the winter months.
Pronounced with sharp overtones, bitterness is also most quickly picked up on of all five basic tastes, even when consumed in small amounts.Through his spring creations, Chef Matsumotore interprets bitterness– also regarded as the world’s most dangerous and perhaps enigmatic flavour–to present a sumptuous gastronomic experience inspired by the season that would encourage guests to rethink their preconceived notions of bitter foods.
The Sakuradai dish, for example, features sea bream harvested only during the Cherry Blossom season. Its element of bitterness, supplied by slivers of lightly-pickled yama udo, or Japanese mountain root, is nuanced through a quick pickling process with a touch of bright acidity, while an ode to Singapore’s vibrant food culture takes the form of a mitsuba(Japanese parsley) and pandan-infused sauce. Dried sakura blossoms, artfully scattered over the entire composition, perfume the dish with their delicate fragrance.
Another flavour deeply resonant in the spring menu is that of umami,particularly prominent in the Lobster. The dish’s focus, domyoji mochi, sits poised atop a luxurious bisque exploding with flavour from an exquisite bounty of lobster and tarragon. The domyoji, a type of traditional wagashi or Japanese confection once lauded as a traveller’s staple due to ease of storage, is now commonly enjoyed during flower viewing parties in spring.