Forenote: C.Y., my guest blogger, dined here as a guest of Novus.
Last week, I was invited to Novus to try out their new Menu – The Summer Truffle Creations. Seriously, I would say, this has got to be one of the nicest tasting event that I’ve been invited to (It’s truffles, after all). Novus is located in the recently refurbished National Museum. It spots a stylish main dining area, a quaint courtyard, a swanky cafe and a super cool looking bar with a 14foot long bartop.
This Summer Truffle menu is one of Austrian-born Executive Chef Stephan Zoisl‘s creations. Amongst his many works are the beautifully themed “The Elements of Life” to celebrate Earth Day 2011 and the most recent “White Asparagus” Set Menu.
Let’s cut to the chase and go right down to the food.
This taster menu featured 4 courses – A Starter, a 2nd Course, a Main and a Dessert, each course with a variety of 2 to 5 different dishes.
We were introduced to 3 starters – Heirloom Tomato & Prawn Tempura, Beef Carpaccio and Foie Gras Parfait Treated like Salad.
This was my first time having Beef Carpaccio. I was not much of fan for raw beef before this, but this Beef Carpaccio made a fan out of me. The thinly sliced beef, combined with the earthy flavours of the truffles and the poached egg yolk was a real surprise because I was expecting a very strong taste from the beef, but all that was in my mouth was this balanced combination of the different tastes.
The Heirloom Mushrooms and Prawn Tempura was a good intrepretation on fusion (or rather my interpretation on this dish). To me, it was nothing to blare about other than the fact that the prawns are very tender. The avocado puree was a special addition to this salad, something different from the conventional Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.
The Foie Gras Parfait Treated Like Salad looked like a lot of fun (come on, the name “Treated Like Salad”?); The name alone sounded like fun. The Foie Gras Parfait tasted really strong just by itself, but when combined with the sweetness of the strawberries and the vanilla grapes, it balanced out real well.
Next up was the 2nd Course, there was Duck Tea and Summer Truffle Ravioli.
The presentation of Duck Tea was really interesting. It was one of the most memorable dish of the night. The dish came without the Duck Consomme, the consomme was only poured in once the dish arrives in front of you. This is a really comforting dish, the taste of the consomme was light but flavourful. The duck breast was tender too.
Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese, the Ravioli tasted really good with the parsley sauce and the Truffle shavings really made a real difference to this dish.
Next up on the menu is the the Main Course. We were given 5 different dishes – Ocean Trout and Summer Truffle, Snow Cod and Zucchini Flower, Organic Chicken and Truffle, Crispy Duck Confit (Which I was looking forward to the whole night) and Black Angus Beef Meets Summer Truffle (Another highlight that I was looking forward to)
The temperature to cooking a piece of fish is a really tricky element to grasp. It is a real hard feat to achieve since to cook a piece of fish and have it remain tender and juicy. Chef Stephan was able to hit that right on spot. The trout was really tender. The potato sabayon was an interesting take. Sabayon is usually made as a dessert and in this case, it was a complimentary component in this dish.
I think the Snow Cod and Zucchinei is a piece of art just by itself. The presentation and detailing in this dish is impeccable. Something very special about this Cod is that it was prepared Sous Vide. Sous Vide is cooking method of cooking the cod in an airtight plastic bag submerged in a hot water bath. This method cooks the cod in a low temperature and the fact that it was placed in an airtight bag, all the flavours and juices were retained which would usually be lost in other conventional cooking methods. How brilliant.
Coming back, this is my first time that I was introduced to Molecular Gastronomy. The Potato and Saffron Creme was rather interesting. The Shellfish foam was a very good addition to the cod, it holds its own in this dish but it doesn’t outshines cod in terms of taste.
I was kinda surprised when I had the Organic Chicken and Truffles. The chicken was remarkably tender, and the stuffing inside the chicken was really refreshing.
The Potato Gratin that came with the chicken wasn’t something I would go for. It felt disconnected with the chicken dish, I wasn’t very sure if it were to compliment the dish or as a side. But by itself, it was pretty good, although not something I would want to eat by itself. It was just really rich with all the cream, cheese and potato going on, luckily it came in an appropriately small portion.
Ever since my experience at Whisk in Hong Kong, Duck Confit has been one of my favorite posh nosh. Chef Stephan’s Crisp Duck Confit was definitely very different, as a whole, as compared to the one I had in Whisk. The soft texture of the quinoa was a stark contrast to crispy and fragrant Duck Confit, but paired together went really well.
I am not a very big fan of rare beef, albeit the fact that Chef Stephan made me a fan of Beef Carpaccio, but the rareness of the Black Angus Beef didn’t really quite hit it on with me. Though I would say the Black Angus Beef was really tender, still, I prefer my beef just abit below Medium Rare. In terms of taste, the earthy flavours of the Truffles was a unique combination with the beef.
The Black Angus Beef Meets Summer Truffle (Another one of Chef Stephan’s creative names) came with a side of Triple Cooked French Fries. If my memory serves me right, the potato is first steamed, then frozen, then fried to get the crust, frozen again and then fried again just before serving. Such efforts to make a common comfort food really special.
The last course was something that I was looking forward to as well. We were given 5 different desserts – Summer Feelings, Snowball and White Peach Sorbet, Valhorna Chocolate Test and Verrine of Nectarine, Green Tea and Sauternes.
Summer Feelings is a symphony of fruits, sorbet and ice cream. Some of the fruits are unique to tropical climates, like Lychee, Rambutan and Mangosteen. Apart from that, various berries are littered among them. And hidden below the fruit party is a bed of chocolate crumble.
I really like the Snowball with White Peach Sorbet. It may look like an ordinary fried crust on the outside, but actually there was a scoop of Pistachio Ice Cream hidden within it. While the White Peach Sorbet tasted great by itself, I didn’t like the combination of the tart bitterness of the Pomelo. Other than that, this dessert was creative and beautiful at the same time. I find it hard to convince myself to break open the crispy crust.
By far the best and most comprehensive chocolate dessert I have came across. Bye Bye Lady Godiva, Adieu Laurent Bernard, say hello to Chef Stephan’s Valhorna’s Chocolate Test. This dessert is made up of 5 different chocolate dessert made with 5 different percentage of cocoa. I for one LOVED the Souffle with 55% Cocoa. The 38% Cocoa Mousse tasted too light, while the 66% Creme Anglaise was abit too rich for me to like. The 72% Cocoa Truffle was good and the 85% Cocoa Sorbet tasted pretty heavy, but I like that rich cocoa taste it offers. But no matter what, I still love this, its Chocolates. Who doesn’t love Chocolates?
The Verrine of Nectarine, Green Tea and Sauternes was good, but in contrast to the Snowball and the Chocolate Test, it fell short of being impressive. Nevertheless, the combination of the flavours – the lushness of the nectarines, the nutty and earthy combination of the green tea panna cotta and the sweetness of the Sauternes all combined well together.
Chef Stephan Zoisl’s creativeness in his dishes amazed me, his interpretation on his dishes are unique. But somehow, with so many choices, there are bound to be dishes that will outshine the others. Nevertheless, Chef Stephan’s Summer Truffle menu is impeccable and exquisite.
Go ahead and try the Summer Truffle Menu! Novus is offering a Black Summer Truffle Set Lunch Menu that is going at $32*++ (2-course) and $40*++ (3-course). That is not just all to it, if you crave for a more exquisite taste, there is a pricey-er degustation menu at $128*++ (without wine pairing / supplement of $88*++ with wine pairing) that features a 6-course menu.
Better clear your calendar for a date with Novus because this menu is only available from July 5th to August 31st.
*all prices quoted per person
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road #01-02.
Written by CY. I apologise for the disparity in quality for some of the photos. Photographs which are lower in quality were taken with an iPhone 4.
Lil’ Bit about the Author
C.Y. (Pronounced as See Why) believes the soul of the Singapore food cultures lies in the many hawker centers hidden in the heartlands. He often seeks for the best Bak Chor Mee (has yet to found one in the West) or the best hawker food. Though he usually goes for the cheap food, he doesn’t actually mind the occasional posh nosh.