Match at Pan Pacific Singapore lets diners assemble their own dishes or choose those planned by the chef
Match, which opened at the Pan Pacific Singapore early this month, looks and feels like a grill.
The dim dining room, furnished with heavy leather-bound chairs and sofas, gives the restaurant the masculine ambience of a grill room. At first glance, the menu seems to feature a lot of grilled meats and seafood.
But look more closely and you will find more options. Instead of just charcoal-grilling, you can have your meats pan-roasted and seafood pan-roasted, poached or steamed. You then get to choose a sauce out of five options, plus what vegetables and sides you want.
Letting the diner assemble his own dish makes it a lot more fun and is in tandem with the dining trend towards interactivity. And it might just help to get the chef off the hook if the result turns out less than appealing.
For those who are less experimental or totally lacking in cooking skills, however, there are sections of the menu in which dishes are planned by the chef.
On my first visit, I decided to focus on those as a better gauge of the chefs' creativity and sensibility. Then I returned for the mix-and-match dishes.
Both nights offered good and poor experiences.
My favourite dish on the first night is a starter of Pretzel-Crusted Blue Swimmer Crab And Prawn Cakes ($18). There are two large cakespacked with crabmeat. But it is the succulent pieces of prawn in them that make the dish shine. When you bite into a piece of prawn, you get a sudden burst of sweetness that is quite delightful.
The cakes come with a mango mustard mayonnaise that is light enough not to smother the seafood and shaved fennel to cut the richness.
The Crispy Confit Pork Belly ($16) is not as successful. While the layer of fat is nice and soft, the meat is too dry - which happens when pork is slow-cooked for too long without liquid.
My main of Brick-Flattened ½ Chicken ($28) is tender and very tasty, especially with the sherry pan gravy. But it does not look brick-flattened - a method in which you place a brick or a heat-resistant heavy object wrapped in foil on the bird while pan-roasting it so it is spread out and the skin gets crisp from contact with the hot pan.
The skin here does not have that dry, crisp texture. So, for me, it is just a good roast chicken.
My mix-and-match Charcoal-grilled Grain-fed Ribeye steak ($65 for 360g) the following night is a tad undercooked, turning out rare when I asked for medium rare. As it is, I cannot smell the charcoal in the meat and the fat does not get to sizzle into aromatic oils.
But the roasted jalapeno chimichurri sauce I choose to go with it has a nice tangy kick and I love the caramelised onion tart for the sweet bulbs.
My dining companion's Pan-roasted Wild-Caught Atlantic Cod ($36 for 180g), on the other hand, is overcooked, and the otherwise oily fish has turned dry and tough. But the squid-ink risotto cakes matched with it are interesting and delicious.
We both love the starter of Duck Bresaola ($18). The restaurant is generous with the slices of cured duck and the combination of pecorino cheese, fresh figs and a warm baby spinach salad goes well with it.
Desserts are good too. Chocolate lovers should go for the Bitter Chocolate Tart ($21), a dense confectionery sweetened with a dash of kumquat marmalade.
The Warm Pear & Pecan Brioche & Butter Pudding ($12) tastes good but is too rich for me to finish.
The generous portions here make the already decent prices even more attractive - which is a good incentive to dine here.
And while the food does not always turn out perfect, the mistakes are not things that cannot be fixed easily. Besides, I like how Match sets fire to the imagination by letting the diner compose his dish.
Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
SundayLife! paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.
Pan Pacific Singapore (ground level outside the hotel's main entrance), 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, tel: 6337-0800 Open: 6pm to 1am (Tuesday), 6pm to 3am (Wednesday and Thursday), 6pm to 4am (Friday and Saturday), closed on Sunday and Monday
Price: Budget from $80 a person
This article was first published on July 27, 2014.
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