Butcher’s Block | Wood-Fire Dining Experience @ Raffles Hotel
Butcher’s Block is located on the second floor of Raffles Hotel and specialises in wood-fire dining, using produce that has been specially curated. Helmed by Chef de Cuisine Jordan Keao, who was born and raised in Hawaii, the Summer Tour De Force menu spotlights seasonal produce sourced from around the world.
Every table will start out with a complimentary Hokkaido Milk Parker Roll with Konbu Seaweed Butter if the diners order the Tour De Force Lunch or Dinner Menu. Otherwise, it is available at $16++. You won’t regret the calories on this because the fluffy Asian-milk bun is elevated by unsalted french butter mixed with konbu seaweed and furikake seasoning.
For the snacks, the lightest flavoured (but no less tasty) was the Grilled Bouchot mussels topped with apple and fennel puree. The briny flavours from the mussels went well with the fruity flavours from the apple puree and slight smoky flavour from dried curry leaves.
My favourite snack of the 3 is the Wagyu Tartare Financier. Using a classic financier recipe but swapping butter for rendered beef fat, the financier has a more savoury edge to it. To make the wagyu tartare, trimmings from wagyu tenderloin and striploin are chopped very finely and seasoned with shallots, onion powder, mustard and olive oil. The miso-cured egg yolk puree and caviar adds to the indulgence but it is a bite of umami that leaves you wanting for more.
The last of the trio is a mexican-style black corn taco topped with grilled peppers, huilacoche (a type of corn fungus) aioli sauce, chopped pumpkin seeds and micro coriander. The staff shared that this snack is inspired by Chef Jordan’s 13 years working in California.
The next course is a smoked sashimi poke, very Hawaiian yes? Intended to recreate the ocean as water hits against the lava rocks, this dish is deliberately plated in such a fashion. This rendition of poke consists of sashimi, seaweed, puff rice, seaweed foam and herb dashi. When servers, this dish is covered with a cloche filled with smoke infused with house-dried dill and unveiled at the table – one of the more theatric dish of the night so get your cameras ready.
The salad came in the form of a “Summer Garden” – maitake mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, summer squash and mushroom dashi. The plating resembles that of a garden, with ingredients chosen to celebrate the season of summer. The mushroom dashi stock is served separately so you can sip on it in between bites of these greens.
The next course of western plains pork trio – prosciutto, “char siu”, pork loin and pork belly. There is also a swab of corn puree to cut through the meaty flavours. This trio is meant to showcase Chef’s mastery in butchery whole animals and presenting different cuts, each specially prepared with a chosen technique. The pork is sourced from Australia and my choice would be the “char siu” – tender pork neck in a well-marinated sauce, sous vide then grilled and glazed.
The misconception of Butcher’s Block is that it is a place that only does meat or that it is just a steakhouse. I also had such a pre-conceived notion, so I was pleasantly surprised when this dish turned out to be one of the most memorable. Grilled kinmedai is served with blanched prawn cake that is garnished with sorrel and accompanying Thai green curry sauce. This dish drew heavily on Thai influences, especially with the fragrant sauce. Fish is aged before grilled and popped into the wood fire oven for a heat blast. What you get is a crispy skin with tender meat.
By this time, my dining buddies were rather stuffed. But we had to soldier on when presented with the A5 Saga Beef chuck roll that is drizzled with beef jus and bone marrow potatoes. We were told that the beef was tied into a circular shape, tenderised with koji rice and hung for 5 – 6 hours above the fire to slow cook with ambient heat until the outside is caramelised. The beef is then flash grilled upon order.
The dessert is a bowl of watermelon and lychee shaved ice, topped with plum powder, fresh passionfruit and housemade honeycomb plus a condensed milk “snow cap”. Inspired by the local ice-kacang, this is definitely a refreshing end to the meal and it hits you with sweet, salty, sour notes all at once.
The petit fours were nothing exciting compared to the rest of the meal, with safe options like torched lime meringue with calamansi curd, chocolate bon bon and passionfruit pate de fruit. Hopefully our next visit will showcase more exciting petit fours. This Summer Tour De Force is expected to be available up till mid-October, subject to produce seasonality. As always, the hospitality at Raffles Hotel’s F&B outlets are top-notch so you won’t expect any less. Budget per person: $238++ (with additional wine-pairing at $158++)