Thursday, July 17, 2014

Immanuel Tee of Immanuel French Kitchen - The Promise of a New Generation of Great Singapore Young Chefs

Immanuel Tee was working hard in the kitchen on that Saturday morning when we visited Two Wings. What struck me then was that his was the only stall that was working, way before service time.

He is still a young lad, but he has already apprenticed under Andre during his stint at Jaan, and having worked at Guy Savoy and Keystone as well, Immanuel has certainly picked up a thing or two from such reputable kitchens.

Armed with such highly valued culinary skills, Immanuel has started his own food establishment, albeit in a refurbished coffeeshop, aptly named Immanuel French Kitchen.

So, you would be expecting French classics to be served here and you would not be wrong. For the most part, Immanuel has opted for a safer route and not gone all eclectic with his menu. There are some twists here and there, and the cuisine here is modern French at coffeeshop prices.

Modern French Cuisine

There are the standard duck confits and rillettes, and a touch of sous vide here and there. The menu is kept simple, a trio of appetizers, mains and desserts to provide the bare essentials of a modern French cuisine selection. With less than 20 items, Immanuel and his team can focus on delivering quality.

Everything is made from scratch, and despite the limitations of a smaller kitchen and less premium ingredients, the presentation of the plates more than make up for the restricted resources.

Let's start with the not so positives first.

Saute Frog with Garlic, Butter and Parsley

It is a simple dish and to do it justice, it has to be executed right on the money. It was still a good dish, but the frog was slightly overcooked and the seasoning was weak. Yet, I could detect that Immanuel probably basted it with butter as there was a rich, buttery fragrance on the protein.

Duck Rillette with Gherkin

The duck rillette with gherkin was more than satisfactory. The pate like quality packed a lot of flavors and had a good amount of seasoning. While the rillette's flavor could do with a bit of balancing, I found myself coming back to it quite religiously after a few bites, especially when served with the gherkin and the simple toast on the side.

Duck Confit with Potato Mash

The duck confit was done the simple classic fashion. The skin could do with a bit more crisp, but the seasoning on it was exemplary. The duck meat too was perfectly cooked and rendered of all fat, and yet there was still a flavorsome, tender texture underneath.

The potato mash had a deliberate graininess to it, and it had a perfect balance of buttery richness to compliment that starchy element of the mash. As classics go, and for the price you are getting here, this was utterly brilliant.

Foie Gras with Black Miso and Dashi and Daikon Noodles

As for creativity, Immanuel offered up this refreshing take on foie gras. Using duck liver can be quite challenging, but thankfully the final dish offered up a lot of positives.

The light oriental broth was not what you would expect when you partake in duck livers, but somehow it all made sense. A slight sweetness to slash through the richness of the fat, and paired with the daikon noodles, it was a perfect accompaniment and a great way to conclude the dish.

Despite the liver being less rich in flavor, the overall dish worked in terms of flavors and originality. One can only fathom how this dish would have been if we had goose liver, but than again for the price you are paying here, one should not really complain.

Kakuni Pork Belly with Potato Foam

Finally, this dish probably marks Immanuel as a great future chef in the making. From the visual to the texture to the taste, this is an almost faultless dish.

Beautifully cooked pork belly that was toothpick tender, and infused with an intensity of braised pork flavors, and served on top of a rich and creamy potato foam. Completed with a soft boiled egg lurking underneath and topped off with some bacon bits, the dish was just beautiful from start to finish.

Immanuel French Kitchen

Serving classic french fare in kopitiam is not new, and though many have tried, very few have actually succeeded. They are usually very pale and simplistic replications of traditional french cuisine.

Immanuel French Kitchen transcends above its competition by having a focused menu that mixes a bit of the old with the modern. Beyond that, Immanuel Tee exhibits a sense of humility that is both endearing to this food blogger, and also essential in succeeding in the longer term.

His eye for beauty and elegance is perhaps not yet matched by his palate, which is quite youthful as of now. But given a few more years, and as his taste evolves and matures, that refinement will be ultimately reflected in his cooking.

For now, Immanuel French Kitchen is the birth of a new promise. A promise of a new generation of great Singapore young chefs.

Immanuel French Kitchen
119 Bukit Merah Lane 1

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