Atlantic cod barley risotto.
SINGAPORE - For a long time, "healthy food" was generally synonymous with "boring food", food that invariably comprised lots of sprouts and tofu, brown rice and raw veggies. But that was back in the '80s. Thanks to globalisation, quality seasonal produce is now easily available in most parts of the developed world. In turn, this bounty has inspired chefs everywhere, so it is increasingly easier to eat healthily and eat well, at the same time.
In Singapore, this is most recently evident at Waterfall Cafe, a new offering from Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore that serves a surprisingly splendid menu with a focus on organic and sustainable food.
Yes, there is a watermelon salad (S$16) in there (that seemingly requisite item on health food menus everywhere), but mercifully, there's not a cube of feta in it. Rather, the generous squares of sweet, juicy watermelon are paired with bitter rocket leaves, crunchy prawns, tangy sliced red onions and crisp Parmesan wafers, all brought together harmoniously by a zippy honey vinaigrette.
Coconut cream panna cotta.
This is one of those salads that will restore your faith in salads; a salad that might persuade you to have it as a main course, in which case, it would cost you S$24.
Few have ever called a creamy dish of porcini pasta healthy, but here, the fettucine with porcini, Parma ham and Parmesan foam (S$28) seems sensible enough. The creaminess is captured in the light Parmesan foam that, on its own, tasted like Cheezels. Tossed into the pasta, with the slivers of salty Parma ham and intensely earthy mushrooms, it evolved into a delicate sauce that anchored the dish well. I did wish that the fettucine were more al dente, though.
Barley risotto, a dish I last saw in the '80s, makes a worthy comeback here, cooked to a velvety and al dente finish in an ethereal Vadouvan spice sauce. The spice mix offered a haunting whisper of curry and was well matched by bits of sweet celery root and roasted vegetables (S$18). A heartier version of the dish, where is it topped with Atlantic cod, is available for S$38.
Certainly, it takes a consummate chef to dish out such restrained and imaginative fare that is full of flavour yet exquisitely light. Chef de cuisine Stephane Cocu's experience at Michelin-starred establishments such as Le Crayeres in Reims and Restaurant Daniel in New York shows in the food, and he has set the new benchmark for how utterly delicious healthy fare can be.
The exception, however, is in dessert. While our silky trio of chocolate mousse (S$8), and a lovely coconut cream panna cotta with strawberry confit and brown butter (S$8) were both divine, no matter which way you slice it, neither can be considered particularly healthy. Healthily indulgent? Perhaps.
Where: Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore Orange Grove Road
Telephone: 6213 4398
Opening hours: Daily 6.30am to 10.30pm, closed for dinner on Sunday