The husband and I are huge fans of Top Chef and Masterchef. We watch the programmes to get inspiration for our cooking, and eating, of course.
Because we catch the various seasons of these programmes quite regularly, food looking like this…
And chefs using this odd-looking cannister to pump out foam like this…
…are not sights uncommon to us. Just that we’ve never had the opportunity to try food cooked this way, or have them plated like such and put on our tables.
Then our chance came one Saturday ago.
We were invited by E’spuma Lab, a new casual diner that aims to bring innovative culinary techniques like espuma and sous vide out of Michelin-star restaurants and into the casual dining scene in Singapore at wallet-friendly prices. I was informed that all the dishes for the tasting session would be foamed, espuma-style and that every item on the menu would be something that would fill me up and satisfy children and adults alike. I have seen chefs on TV making sauces and desserts using the steel-like cannister (which is called the espuma siphon, I later found out) and was genuinely curious how anything prepared by this technique would taste like.
Most of all, I wanted to see how cooking techniques so atas would finally be revealed and prepared to be tasted by commoners like me and my family.
For the uninitiated, espuma is Spanish for foam or froth, and is a culinary technique in which an espuma siphon is used to infuse air into the food, creating an airily light texture. This technique adds a very interesting dimension to natural ingredients, especially those that have been mashed, pureed or juiced.
Sous vide is a culinary technique in which food is cooked in a vacuum at a constant temperature, using a thermal circulator. This technique ensures perfectly cooked eggs and evenly cooked meat.
So this, ladies and gents, this was the food plated and prepared for us that evening. But atas no more, I tell you, because E’spuma Lab’s sole mission is to make haute cuisine totally accessible and affordable to people like you – and me.
I hear there’s also espuma-ed mushroom soup, espuma battered fish and chips and new items on the menu every time Chef gets inspiration! Happy times, people, these are happy times.
And believe me, that evening I was really happy. Really, really happy. I loved everything I tasted, and I am not saying this just because I got a free meal. I would gladly pay every cent (and maybe more) for whatever I ate (and they were really priced reasonably – just look at each portion and respective price!) I especially loved, loved, loved the curry chicken dish; it was so light and satisfying. There was absolutely no flavour overdose (also known as jelat, in localspeak) because the curry foam was so airily delightful. Every sauce that came espuma-ed was a hit with the kids, Fatherkao and me.
No cloying texture, no starchy heaviness. Only pure foam heaven.
And just so you know, for our desserts we had durian fritters – which were so not-oily that you could pop a whole bunch in your mouth and have a good loud durian burp at the end of it.
As we did.
Now I can finally tell myself that I’ve come close to what the judges were tasting in Top Chef and Masterchef. Take that, Padma Lakshmi. By the way, just so you know, Chef Teo Yeow Siang, the brain behind E’spuma’s innovative dishes, has 13 years of experience and has won many international awards; so technically he’s better than any Top Chef alum any time. I’m wishing that E’spuma Lab would expand their operations soon and be found in a mall near me. Good on the working crowd for now, since it’s the only one and only at Pomo Mall (formerly Paradiz Centre at Selegie Road) but if I’m there and need a meal, I wouldn’t even need to think once.
E’spuma Lab is at 1 Selegie Road, Pomo Mall, #01-20/21 Singapore 1883306.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm
Contact number: 8222 1113 (Why need contact number huh, you ask. Because if you are near, you can cater! Durian fritters to go!)
… … … …
And just so you get to try what I did, I’m giving away my $10 voucher (yes, the one which the folks gave me in my press kit) to you so you can go check out E’spuma Lab! (FYI, their set meals cost only $8.80!)
If you want to win it, simply LIKE E’spuma’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you might like to try!
Giveaway ends 30 July 2014. I’ll mail the voucher to the winner after the random draw!
Winner announcement: CONGRATS to Samantha! The list randomiser picked you and you’ll be eating at E’spuma Lab soon!
Disclosure: My family and I were invited by E’spuma Lab for a food tasting session. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are my own, with input from the big and little tasters.
UPDATE AS OF 22 OCT 2015: I was told that they’ve since ceased operations at POMO. Which makes me very sad. So very, very sad.