Amidst Singapore’s bustling restaurant scene, Willow, under the leadership of acclaimed Chef Nicolas Tam, has firmly established itself as a coveted destination for epicurean connoisseurs over the past year, marking an impressive milestone for Ebb & Flow Group’s portfolio. Located at 39 Hongkong Street, diners can look forward to contemporary pan-Asian menus that are crafted daily based on the season’s best and chef Nicolas’ sustainable approach to the utilisation of each ingredient.
Stepping through the restaurant’s threshold, the hustle and bustle of the central business district are left behind and guests are greeted with a warm welcome into a cool sanctuary as if entering the home of your cool food-geek cousin. Nicolas, who has tenured in the kitchens of Esora, Robuchon, and Zen now comes to his own at Willow. He leads a team of young talents who bring their creative fresh perspectives to showcase simple ingredient-centric dishes cooked simply while employing the modern fine-dining techniques his training is grounded upon.
Guests at the 10-seater chef’s counter, get the best views of Nicolas and his team taming the binchotan in the Konro grill and plating up expertly executed dishes on glistening white Legle porcelain plates or one-of-a-kind ceramicware. Menus begin from $158++ for lunch and $228++ for dinner. A typical meal commences with 3-4 snacks such as artichokes and smoked Hokkaido scallop tartlet, akami (bluefin tuna) on a beetroot shell, and green asparagus with bafun uni, followed by the signature Pain au lait bread course which is flavoured with a trio of kombu, fresh and roasted nori alongside an ethereal katsuobushi sabayon.
Seafood courses that are feasts for the senses follow. Diners can expect to experience the allure of Willow’s classic smoked Sawara, artfully paired with a tangy umeboshi and rhubarb sauce, as well as savour the delicate firefly squid which is lightly grilled over the binchotan charcoal, elevated with a homemade caramelised onion chili jam that pays homage to Nicolas’ favourite local sambal ‘sotong’ supper dish.
Meat connoisseurs will enjoy the dry-aged duck that is perfectly roasted to reveal a juicy rosé centre, served with spiced miso and duck jus, buttery mashed potatoes, and dab of black and white garlic paste which adds a subtle brightness to the smoky and earthy dish.
Fans of Nicolas who are familiar with his cooking may hanker for his seasonal fish dishes. Drawing inspiration from the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms, he serves a steamed Sakuradai with salt-preserved sakura flower sauce made with clam and dashi. Complemented by lily bulb purée and canola blossoms, this harmonious blend of flavours reflect the spring season’s bountiful offerings.
While the Sakuradai may steal the spotlight, those in the know should ask for the special add-on of Nicolas’ crispy unagi, delicately paired with Sansho pepper and freshly grated wasabi. With its flavourful profile and expertly executed char from the binchotan, this dish is sure to delight diners looking to savour the bold and nuanced flavours of Nicolas’ culinary artistry.
Willow is a no-hold-barred exploration of premium quality ingredients and different cooking styles from across the globe, focusing on maximal flavours while respecting the properties and combination of seasonal ingredients. Like the resilience and adaptability that the namesake tree symbolises, geographical boundaries are deliberately blurred and harmoniously connecting various cooking techniques, ingredients and plating styles. Chef Nicolas Tam takes you on a journey of possibilities and surprises while staying true to the intent of tradition and innovation.
39 Hongkong Street, Singapore 059678
Tuesday – Saturday
Lunch: 12 PM – 4 PM (Friday and Saturday only)
Dinner: 6 PM – 11 PM