Many different words used to describe the different feelings sparked by love are related to taste: when emotions are felt deeply, they kindle physical sensations. In this way, love leaves traces not just in your heart and mind, but also in your body. This Valentine’s Day, celebrate these traces of love and create a new memory at the world’s highest urban microbrewery LeVeL33.
The Valentine’s Day menu by chef ArChan are an expression and a concretisation of a parallel between flavours and feelings engendered by love in all its forms, no matter if it is an intimate romance or a bone-deep piety. Pithily described in Chinese as 甜酸苦辣 or sweet, sour, bitter & spicy, the menu spotlights and explores each flavour in its own course. Aptly, the meal is designed to be shared.
Starting with a little snack or amuse-bouche meant to imitate the little thrill of excitement at the start of any connection, the menu really starts revving up at the first course which brings “sweet” to the forefront. Fresh sweet raw scallops are served in a dressing made from lovage, a herb available only during this season as well as Japanese pickled ginger, fish sauce, rice wine and a little sugar.
The idea of ‘sour’ is explored, surprisingly, with a fresh cool salad of raw heirloom tomatoes and a tangy dressing of tamarind, palm sugar and soy. Crispy malt puffs add texture and a contrasting touch of sweetness. By layering these differing types and degrees of sourness one over the other and supporting with a plethora of textures, the dish comes together as a mini culinary snapshot of this piquant flavour.
An assay into “bitter” comes courtesy of a broth starring bitter gourd. The clear savour of LeVeL33’s house-made katsuoboshi and wheat beer dashi is transformed with a touch of astringency from bitter gourd. Paired with a fresh ‘meaty’ portion of poached locally sourced seabass and the juicy crunch from radishes and turnips lightly cooked in the same dashi, the bitterness slides over the palate – a gossamer presence anchored by umami and a very slight fruitiness from LeVeL33’s wheat beer.
The choice of bitter gourd is deliberate: another name for it in Chinese is “half-life melon” or “半生瓜” because its flavours are only understood and appreciated by a more mature crowd who’ve already experienced life and love in all its glory. In line with this inspiration, the dashi is a component of the dish that the diner can choose to experience in full or leave behind; and this dish is served as an individual portion.
The menu returns to sharing portions with the “spicy” course. Generous servings of short ribs – marinated overnight and sous-vide before being grilled – are served alongside with fermented leeks dusted with a spicy seasoning made in-house and a piquant pepper sauce, and accompanied by garlic shoots served with lager pickled chillies.
The meaning behind creating a spicy main course goes beyond the usual connotation of ‘sensuality’.In truth,spiciness is not a taste. It’s a physical sensation of pain that that the brain translates as flavour. Furthermore, this pain causes your body to generate a flood of endorphins and dopamine, the same “happy” chemicals the feeling of love generates. As a metaphor for love, ‘spicy’ could not be more apropos.
Fittingly, the menu returns to ‘sweet’ with a generous slice of sweet rich Honey Cake for the grand finale.
Diners with sharp palates might have noticed that a thread of sweetness has been woven throughout the menu even in the sour and bitter courses, albeit much more subtly. It’s a special salute from the team at LeVeL33: may your life and love be much like this meal –with a thread of sweetness even in hard times.
DETAILS AT A GLANCE
LeVeL33 Valentine’s Day 2019
Time: From 6pm
Price: $148++per person
To note: • A glass of champagne will be offered to each guest dining on the Valentine’s Day menu, complimentsof LeVeL33 •
This menu is only available in limited portions each night • The a-la-carte menu remains available during this time
8 MarinaBoulevard #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower1 Singapore 018981
Underground car park at MarinaBay LinkMall and MBFCTowers 1,2 and 3.
Reservations: +65 6834 3133