Embark on the “Journey to the West” in Jiang-Nan Chun, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
This is one of the most impressive meal I have this year. Last year when Jiang-Nan Chun had the “Dream of the Red Chamber” (红楼梦) menu, I felt angry with myself for missing it as I was not in town. This year, when I was informed that they are having another year‐end dining masterpiece “Journey to the West” (西游记) from December 5, 2013 till January 5, 2014, I am full of anticipation and can’t wait to try it!
Authored by Wu Cheng’en during 16th century Ming Dynasty, “Journey to the West” masterpiece is also known as “The Legend of the Monkey God”. Based on select chapters from the 100‐chapter tome, Chef Alan Chan and Restaurant Manager Ng Chong Kim created a six‐course menu that depicts the pilgrimage Buddhist monk Xuan Zang and his disciples ‐ Sun Wu Kong, Zhu Ba Jie, Sha Wu Jing and the White Dragon Horse ‐ took in search of the sutras in India.
The first course highlights the events from chapters one to three, in which Sun Wu Kong trained his troop of monkeys into a formidable army with weapons obtained from the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea.
Drawing inspiration from the myriad of colours in the underwater world of treasures, sea life and sea warriors, the Seafood Combination Platter of Alaska Crab, Slow‐cooked Lobster with Passion Fruit Sauce and Chilled Abalone (东海龙宫，奇珍异宝) was created. Known as the queen of the sea, the abalone is marinated with sake and miso for 2 days.
Based on the playful exploits of Sun Wu Kong and the other monkeys frolicking at the waterfall, Chef
Chan made the second course a nourishing broth in the form of Double‐boiled Monkey Head Mushroom Soup with Chicken, Fig and Sea Coconut (花果山孙猴泡汤乐). When boiled in soups, the Monkey Head Mushrooms are spongy and prized for their texture.
As the pages are turned from chapters five to seven, Sun Wu Kong found out that he was not invited to the Peach Banquet by the Queen Mother. He then went to the Jade Pool where the peach banquet was held and ate all the exotic delicacies and drank all the peach wine.
In his drunken stupor, he staggered and found himself at Tushita Heavenly Palace where Lord Lao Zi (太上老君) reigned. Lord Lao Zi was not around and Sun Wu Kong found 5 gourds of his imoortal pills. Sun Wu Kong ate all the 5 gourd of immortal pills.
Inspired by that, chef created the third course of Braised Seafood Ball in Rich Carrot Broth (太上老君的炼丹炉), presented in a gourd arising from the five gourds of immortal pills consumed by Sun Wu Kong. But of course, I am not as greedy as Sun Wu Kong, I only ate one “immportal pill” which is a huge seafood dumpling.
And the story continues… Sun Wu Kong went to “Cai Yun Shan”, where Princess Iron Fan lives, to try and get her plantain fan. This is the only fan that can extinguish fire. Sun Wu Kong uses magical trick to get the fan and he is successful on the thrid attempt. Princess Iron Fan’s husband, Bull Demon King, transforms himself into Pig disciple and retrives the dan. Sun Wu Kong is so angry that he uses his gold-banded cudgel to hit the Bull Demon King on his head.
Tadeh! Here you have it, Sous‐vide Short Rib with Chef’s Sauce (金箍棒怒打牛魔王). The fall-off-the-bone tender beef, representing Bull Demon King, has been cooked sous vide for hours to ensure it retains its juiciness and covered with a thick savoury sauce. And the spring roll that garnishes the dish signifies the gold-banded cudgel.
In a seemingly harmonious turn of affairs as the four disciples continued their journey to Jin Ping
Town in Tian Zhu County, the celebration of abundant harvest, good weather and three Buddhas’
blessings is mirrored in the Steamed Mixed Grain Rice with Cod and Spanish Chorizo (金平府的五谷丰登) wrapped in Bamboo Leaf. Reflecting Chef Chan’s innovative approach through nuanced flavours, the Spanish
chorizo enriches the flavour of this dish.
As the last course unveils an account rife with temptation faced by Xuan Zang, Pastry Chef Audrey
Yee’s Warm Almond Cake with Red Peach Soup and Vanilla Bread Pudding Ice‐Cream (盘丝洞的迷情诱惑) is a metaphor for Xuan Zang’s seduction by the Spider Demons (蜘蛛精).
The dessert’s alluring colours, flavour and crystallised sugar ball allude to the intricacy of the spider web spun to deter the advance by Xuan Zang and his disciples.
Each dish is a combined expression of culinary and literary art. I am very sure this didn’t come easy. The restaurant manager said he was already planning for this when they launched “Dream of the Red Chamber” menu last year. It is heartening to see the restaurant getting involved in this big project. From the handwritten calligraphy, to designing of the posters, to creating the dishes and cocktails, all these details are done by different staffs in Jiang-Nan Chun. Very commendable! Now, I am looking forward to what they will be showcasing next year!
“Journey to the West” six‐course menu is priced at $138++ per person. It is available from Monday to Saturday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Dinner 6 to 10:30 p.m. And Sundays Dinner only: 6 to 10:30 p.m.
Address: 2F, Four Seasons Hotel, 190 Orchard Boulevard
For reservations, please call 6831 7220 or email [email protected]