Jaan has certainly come a long way from its early days as a nouvelle French restaurant once helmed by culinary luminaries Andre Chiang of now-defunct two-Michelin-starred Andre and Julien Royer of three-starred Odette. Today, it’s an upscale dining destination renamed Jaan by Kirk Westaway serving British-forward cuisine fronted by Westaway, who is responsible for earning the restaurant both its first and second Michelin stars in 2016 and 2021 respectively.
The 36-year-old Devon native began his journey at Jaan in 2011 as a sous chef and slowly ascended to become chef de cuisine in 2015 when Royer left to join Odette. Rather than uphold the restaurant’s legacy and retain its fine French menu, Westaway made the bold move to completely change it into something that hits closer to home by showcasing the best of modern English food, with signatures such as the Hens Egg, and Roast Leek and Potato Soup.
Westaway: It is my mission to present our guests with an unforgettable meal that evokes nostalgia through familiar yet elegant flavours of the finest seasonal produce
He has two culinary philosophies. The first is to always uphold the integrity of the produce and translate the best of each ingredient onto the plate. The second is that food should be comforting and form emotional connections. “It is my mission to present our guests with an unforgettable meal that evokes nostalgia through familiar yet elegant flavours of the finest seasonal produce the world has to offer,” he says.
In 2019, his “Reinventing British” branding was further strengthened with the renaming of Jaan to Jaan by Kirk Westaway — a title rightfully earned and one that he wears with humility. Judging by the numerous awards and accolades that Westaway has amassed over the years as the restaurant’s executive chef, it’s fair to say the man is doing very well for himself. The icing on the cake was receiving his second Michelin star just this September.
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“We were hopeful about retaining our star, so to earn a second star is a phenomenal outcome and encouragement amidst such trying times, given the unpredictable year we’ve had. This recognition is made much more meaningful as it marks our enduring commitment to putting a definitive mark on modern British cuisine,” says Westaway.
From developing his culinary direction and selecting the world’s best gourmet suppliers, to personalising bespoke tableware and curating specially designed furniture, these subtle shifts since the rebranding may have also contributed to Westaway’s big Michelin win this year.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Westaway has been hard at work planning for his year-end and festive menus to showcase the best of autumn’s produce, such as white beetroot, cabbage, leek and black truffle, imported from all over the world. He also incorporates herbs and leaves freshly plucked from a fully sustainable aquaponics garden located within Fairmont Singapore.
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The five-course autumn menu — which I sample while enjoying a bird’s eye view of Marina Bay from 70 floors up at Fairmont Singapore — starts with a quartet of savoury snacks inspired by British classics. They include Cucumber Meringue, an egg-shaped meringue topped with pickled cucumbers, fresh fennel and a fennel flower; Black Olive & Chickpea tapioca chip topped with a crispy black olive cracker; Buckwheat Waffle filled with soft cream cheese and topped with a spoonful of Kristal caviar; and the iconic Goose Moose tart of goose liver topped with red onion marmalade and black truffle slices.
Before freshly-baked sourdough arrives on a bed of hay and hot stones served with creamy English butter, I’m treated to the Jaan’s popular mainstay — Roast Leek & Potato Soup served with a waffle on the side that has a light and crispy croissant consistency. Velvety, creamy with a heady mushroom aroma, this belly-warming soup is a permanent fixture on Jaan’s menu.
Salt Baked White Beetroot with Kristal Caviar
The first course, Salt Baked White Beetroot with Kristal Caviar, is an invigorating cold dish that celebrates the humble white beetroot, baked in the oven for an hour and sliced into thin sheets, then rolled into little love letters containing delicious soft cheese. It’s beautifully garnished with pretty edible flowers and pearls of Kristal caviar, and served with a robust cream sauce with dill oil.
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To perfectly capture the spirit of the season, Westaway pairs a protein with a vegetable and rounds out the dish with a warming cream-based sauce or broth on the side. For example, the Cornish Seabass, which features a seafood symphony of black mussels, razor clams, king crab and poached seabass, is paired with sweet leeks and parsley that uplift all the beautiful flavours of the ocean.
Scottish Lobster with Hispi Cabbage and Brown Butter
Next up is the Scottish Lobster served with blanched Hispi cabbage roasted in rich brown butter and stuffed with lobster trimmings and onions. The subtle sweetness from both the lobster (sourced from Northern Scotland) and cabbage is comforting and refreshing.
Not always on the menu due to limited supply, the herb-crusted Guinea Fowl makes a welcome appearance on my table, served with herbed potato, salad leaves, a dollop of fig jam and light broth. Fowl is usually too dry and gamey for my liking (almost like turkey), but Westaway’s rendition of it has earned its place as my new favourite bird. Not only is it aromatic in all the right ways, it’s juicy and tender with just the right amount of bite.
Dark Chocolate with Coffee
For dessert, I sample the Dark Chocolate and Coffee cake, which is just as stunning to look at as it is to bite into. Artfully covered with armoured plates of light, medium and dark chocolate thins, the rich cake filling combines coffee crumble and caramel for more complexity and texture.
As the meal comes to a close, I’m treated to a final round of petit fours elegantly presented in a wooden tiffin carrier consisting of Devon Cream Tea cookie, a roasted Fig Tart, Coffee Chocolate and Almond Caramel. If you still have space for more, I strongly suggest sampling the restaurant’s cheeses (for an additional fee) sourced from small-batch farms all over England and served with an impressive array of jams, chutneys, dried figs, crackers and breads.
I appreciate that Westaway doesn’t overthink the presentation of his dishes but keeps them simple and straightforward with a focus on flavours and mouthfeel textures. He definitely hits all the right notes showcasing the warmth of autumn in his dishes, but more importantly, they exude comfort, nostalgia and the realness that represent the man behind the food, too.
Lunch at Jaan by Kirk Westaway starts from $138++ for 4 courses to $318++ for 6 courses; dinner tasting menu at $318++. Wine pairing starts from $80++ for three glasses.
JAAN BY KIRK WESTAWAY
2 Stamford Rd
Level 70, Swissôtel The Stamford
Tel: (65) 6874 1488
Email: [email protected]
Lunch: Monday to Saturday: 11:45 – 14:30
Dinner: Monday to Saturday: 18:30 – 22:30