Table 66 - Modern European cuisine the sous vide way
A friend told me about a restaurant that is using sous vide (pronounced soo-veed) techniques. I was curious about this method of cooking and, of course, there I was, one hot afternoon at Table 66 located at Tras Street, off Tanjong Pagar Road.
Sous vide (soo-VEED) is French for “under vacuum”. In cooking terms it is a technique whereby fish or meat is vacuum sealed and cooked at a low, controlled temperature in a water bath. The resulting dish is moist, tender and full of flavor. This is due to the fact that it retains the juices that would normally evaporate into the air as the dish cooks. When a meat is cooked sous vide the juices stay in the bag while the meat is cooking. Sous-vide cooking method has found a home in some of the world’s best restaurants and also in Singapore, but it is no means a new concept.
Former Chef de Cuisine/Owner owner of the award-winning restaurant My Dining Room and the Executive Chef of the The Scarlet Hotel, Chef Vincent Teng and his business partner, Celine Tan owns Table 66. Table 66 is a very simple, unpretentious, cozy looking restaurant with natural sunlight from the skylight into the restaurant. Acrylic chairs with olive green cushions and dark brown tables give an added ambience. There is a private room for up to 10 guests and the main restaurant can seat about 30 persons. This restaurant is an ideal place to host corporate events, birthday parties and other smaller events.
Chef Vincent said “Table 66 serves Modern European cuisine with the Japanese touch. Our food is simple, no frills, best of food quality and wholesome. I used sous vide techniques in the preparation of most of the meat and fish dishes here to retain the original flavor and color”.
The restaurant has a good wine list; some of the wines are from boutique wineries. The restaurant was packed during lunch time with working professionals and service was prompt and attentive. There was a Set Lunch in the menu that was very popular with the office crowd and was good value for money. Set lunch is 2- or 3- course ($22++/$26++, additional $3++ for main instead of pasta) with a wide selection on the menu, inclusive of tea/coffee. After a quick look around at the other diners, I realized that food portions were generous.
The onion bread served to us was warm, crusty on the outside and soft and fragrant inside and unique and on asking Chef Vincent, I was told that it was custom-made by another bakery. The Sashimi and Capelini, a cold dish of seared tuna and salmon on cold vermicelli with lemon dressing was interesting and refreshing. It tasted like a Tom Yum noodle, but yet had the light flavor of Chinese sesame oil. The choice of pasta complemented the dressing.
The Sous Vide Egg Benedict – soft poached egg on grilled Portobello, spinach and sun dried tomato salad gratinated with truffle hollandaise gave me a mixed feeling. On one hand, I am thinking “this is no big deal to do this dish” and on the other hand, I had to tell myself, “this is done sous vide style”. I am not a soft poached egg person and therefore cannot tell much difference from the ones sold at Ya Kun. Protein becomes white on cooking – that was my understanding. Having said all that, I must say that the egg looked nicely poached and wobbly and an egg lover will finish it at one go. The Portobello was nicely grilled and still juicy and the truffle hollandaise sauce made it taste even better. The Hollandaise sauce with that wee bite of truffle was well-balanced with vinegar and butter. By far, this is one of the better hollandaise sauce that I have tried so far.
Nest I tried the Beef Tartare with truffle Miso marinated egg yolk, spring onion and Japanese Mayo. I don’t like raw meat so much, especially, beef tartare but over at Table 66, the beef tartare was served differently. The minced meat is made into a thick patty and seared quickly on the outside but the inside was still raw. Purists may not like this style but I liked it. Chef Vincent taught me how to eat it. First you need to break up and mix the patty and mix in the tasty and intensely truffle and miso flavoured sous vide yolk , the dab of mayonnaise and the spring onions with the fork…like one would mix a rojak. The flavor was awesome.
Next I tried the Duo of Sous Vide Pork Belly – pork belly cooked two ways –braised in balsamic and roasted with crackling skin served with sauted apple mustard sauce. I finally understood the hullabaloos over the sous vide technique – the pork meat was smoothly textured, evenly rare and slightly chewy, flavorful but with a relatively light taste. It was not just meaty but somehow fleshy, as if it were at once uncooked and cooked perfectly. It was like eating the essence of meat!! The roasted version had a very good crackling skin and the apple mustard sauce was a good match.
The Duck Breasts and Confit of Leg - smoked seared duck breast and sous vide duck leg served with broccoli and water chestnut in butter orange juice. The duck meat had been marinated and sous vide and had excellent smooth texture. The use of water chestnut was a surprise to me but it tasted great with a bath of butter orange juice!
I finished off all the above with a soft, foamy Hazelnut Mousse and Vittoria coffee. I left Table 66, feeling happy and satisfied – not about the food alone but with the fact that I learnt that chefs should not just cook but also apply the latest techniques to stay up there!
66 Tras Street