Media Tasting at The Masses
Tucked along the busy streets of Beach Road just opposite Shaw Towers is a casual and cosy restaurant serving affordable and innovative Franco-Asian food. Chef-Owner Dylan Ong (previously from Saveur) fuses modern techniques with local flavours and European classics and aspires to bring to these creations to the masses.
Since April 2016, Chef Dylan has been constantly thinking of new dishes to keep appeal to different crowds and also keep his regulars coming back. Enough about the restaurant’s background, we will let the photos do the talking, but be warned that the contents below are not for the hungry!
We were presented with two snacks whilst the chef busies himself with the preparation of our other food. The first was a savoury meringue; the meringue base lends slightly sweet overtones, but served with ikura for the umami, cucumber for a fresh flavour and topped off with yuzukoshu aioli and otak-otak powder for tartness and spice respectively. This small snack was satisfying on so many levels because of its complexity. Our only gripe was that this plate (usually served in a trio) should be for 1, instead of sharing amongst friends. We highly recommend you try this on your next visit there!
The other small bite was the infused ajitsuke tea egg. This is an amalgamation of the Japanese ramen egg and local tea leaf egg. Additional caviar and yellow ebiko is added to elevate this snack, both visually and in taste.
After the two snacks, we had high expectations of what is to come. The first starter we had was the pork trotter jelly. Inspired by the traditional Teochew dish Chef Dylan’s father made on one of his birthdays as a child, Chef attempted to re-create this but added his own spin to it. The jelly (served cold) is made with pork trotter, pig’s skin and pork belly and topped with crunchy chicharron. On the side, you will find a herb salad and a dollop of icy, spicy savoury sorbet that melts into a chilli sauce. For those with higher spice tolerance, you can eat this as a dessert, as we did since the spiciness is rather mild.
A constant in all 8 menus, the foie gras (i.e. goose liver) is deep-fried for the very first time. Seasoned with hoisin sauce, accompanied by mango and wrapped in a spring roll, this dish is deep-fried till golden then glazed with more hoisin sauce and served with hazelnuts, lemon rind and shallots. This is probably one of the most “fusion” food, given the commonality of foie gras in French cuisine and the quintessential Asian-ness in spring roll.
When Chef first introduced this dish, we were rather apprehensive because lamb can be quite gamey if not treated properly. However, this chargrilled char siew lamb rib had all but a faint hint of gameyness but highly similar to a char siew instead. The rib was sous vide for 36 hours, finished on the binchotan grill for char, crisp and smoke and completed with a refreshing mint and sour cream dip on the side.
We were excited for this grilled local fish cake, otak-otak inspired. The fish cake is slightly more refined than the ones you can get at hawker centres, with tobbiko and shredded crabmeat added to it. Instead of the usual mackerel, the Masses’ rendition features local golden pomfret mashed with otak-otak paste. We felt that this dish could be slightly spicier to bring out the flavours better.
These soft shell prawn meuniere were amazing. Deep fried to perfection, you can eat it whole. The accompanying seaweed and spinach puree was a great complement and we helped ourselves to more of the sauce even after we were done with the prawns.
Chef Dylan surprised us with this C&C&C&C (Crabmeat, Chorizo Crumble, Caviar, Confit Lemon) + Sea Urchin Pasta. A mainstay on all the menus and no wonder there because this is a dish we would not mind making a special trip here for. The al dente noodles, mixed with all the C&C&C&C and the briny sea urchin was an incredible combination.
On to the mains, Menu 8.0 sees a vegetarian main – ricotta gnocchi. Potato and ricotta are folded to form a gnocchi (i.e. potato dumpling) and served with root vegetables and sauteed mushrooms in miso butter roasted garlic potato sauce.
The Cantonese style of roasted chicken thigh was tender and served in vin jaune sauce made by saute-ing dried morel mushrooms and new potato with a yellow oxidised French wine. Parmigiano thyme chip is added for texture and acidity.
The last main we had was this merguez spiced lamb mapo tofu. Inspired by mala flavours, this dish is made with merguez minced lamb, spanish sofrito and a trio of tofu (silken tofu, taupok and taukwa). Sweet potato vermicelli is used to give a firmer bite.
Despite cleaning the above savoury plates, we had to find stomach for the sweets. And glad we did for the white chocolate mousse and the strawberry and rhubarb crumble were great. We especially liked the latter, for the creaminess of the ice-cream was a good complement to the tartness of the rhubarb. We left The Masses with full bellies and were making plans for a return visit, for the snacks, the C&C&C&C pasta and the crabmeat kueh pie tee (which we did not try this time!).
*Service charge(10%) and GST(7%) applicable.
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