Taste Matters – 501 Bukit Timah Road, C;uny Court #02-19
While I'd never say no to dining in a massive, fancy, Michelin-starred restaurant; it's in the little eateries that my heart truly lies. These holes-in-the-wall and corner shops are where you see dedicated people with a true passion and zeal for their craft, unmarred by commercialism and untainted by the money-grubbingness that plagues the big names and their investors. Taste Matters at Cluny Court is one of these little gems, started by Chef Richard Ang and his wife Janelle.
He led me - by my taste buds - through an orchard where the fruits of his labour, dreams and experience from as far afield as Macau lay sweet and ripe. For $28.70, I received not only a meal but a heart-warming experience I won't soon forget.
(If you're sharp, you might spot the "No Photography" warning which I was kindly exempted from.)
First up was a complimentary tasting of his frozen confections which began with Lavender Ice Cream. This I adored so much that I ordered a full serving with French Tuile. Intensely flowery, creamy and rich, it highlighted the characteristic boldness of flavour that all the desserts here share. Even the buttery Tuile was not left out; it had a speckling of black sesame for a robust Asian twist. The marked absence of a purple hue reveals Chef Richard's sincere approach to everything; he states proudly that no artificial colouring is used.
Second on the list was Sea Salt & Caramel Ice Cream, this time the intensity came from the delicious Japanese sea salt ice cream which bordered on being savoury; utterly lovely stuff.
Refreshing and sweet, the South African Gala Apple Sorbet surprised me with the depth of its apple flavour. Departing from its afterthought status behind cinnamon and clove in apple pies or sauce, the fruit takes the spotlight with its crisp sweetness.
Finishing the quartet was Yuzu Ice Cream. That's right yuzu ice cream, NOT sorbet. It was a real symbiosis of the usually disparate elements of acid and dairy. Resplendent with yuzu's heady yet refreshing perfume, it was light, creamy and tart all at the same time; not unlike frozen yoghurt when I think about it.
Gleefully, Chef Richard passed us a Sablé Breton Cookie each, explaining its etymology as “Sands of Brittany" due to its fine, sand-like crumbs. Be warned, these rich, buttery shortbread cookies are extremely moreish!
I could not resist the Crème Brûlée with its lovingly crisped burnt-sugar crust and intoxicating aroma. Very light and surprisingly close to liquidity, it was a welcome change from the cloyingly-rich custards one typically encounters. This would likely be as close to guiltlessness as crème brûlée could possibly get.
Unable to get enough yuzu - as usual - I opted for a Yuzu Curd Tart (and bundled home a freshly-baked lemon one). Once again robustly floral and citrusy, the tangy curd was couched by a classic buttery short crust base.
My dining partner (who's a regular and recommended the place) sipped on a freshly brewed Latte and I on an Americano as we chatted with Chef Richard about his richly aromatic and balanced coffee. No cutting of corners here, it takes him about three minutes from grinding to filtering, turning pure Arabica beans into caffeine-infused elixir.