The Singapore restaurant with its head in the clouds
One of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, JAAN by Kirk Westaway, has had a makeover.
Words by Ute Junker
First published in Traveller
You would never mistake JAAN by Kirk Westaway, the two Michelin-starred restaurant where diners enjoy birds-eye views of the Singapore skyline, for a British pub. Yet when we settle in our tasting menu, one of the first things we are served is a dish found in pubs throughout England: pate and pickles.
Not that this is your typical pub grub. Westaway’s take, which he has christened “goose mousse”, requires complex preparation. After soaking the goose liver in milk overnight to remove impurities, he poaches it in a marinade of port wine, madeira, shallots and thyme reduction, then whips it until fluffy and tucks it into a crispy pie case, served with a side of red wine shallots and topped with a single leaf from a Brussel sprout.
It is a lot of work for a bite-sized amuse-bouche, but Westaway is justifiably proud of the end result. “It’s one of my favourite dishes,” he says.
Westaway has a knack for reinvention. Taking over the kitchen at JAAN in 2015, he declared his intention transform one of Singapore’s most revered French restaurants, already anointed with a Michelin star, into a flagship for new British cuisine. Plenty of people were dubious as to whether this young chef could pull it off.
“I took that as fuel for my engine,” Westaway says. He proved his doubters wrong by winning not just acclaim but also a second Michelin star in 2021. At the end of last year, he undertook another reinvention, overseeing a transformation of the restaurant’s interiors into an homage to the English country of Devon, his childhood home.
This elegant dining room on the 70th floor of the Swissotel Sir Stamford is now a shimmering space with a carpet shading from blue to grey, evoking Devon’s coastal cliffs, while an eye-catching light installation of Murano glass leaves hangs from the ceiling. Inspired by the trembling leaves of the hawthorn tree, each leaf has been upcycled from the giant chandelier that used to hang here.
The redesign had long been a dream for Westaway, who says that a dining experience is about a lot more than what is on the plate. He carefully calibrates every detail from the playlist (all British, and kept to an unintrusive volume) to the choice of cutlery (the Sheffield steak knives have handles made of ethically-sourced deer antler.)
Then there is the custom-designed crockery, which includes a giant ceramic eggshell in which one of the courses is served. Simply described on the menu as “hen’s egg, Cornish yarg”, the course turns out to be something of a showstopper.