Beast and Butterflies: where culinary insurgence takes trip

I'm saying this only because of the Crispy Pork Knuckle, served with the most ridonkulous  Nam Jim  sauce that you'll just want to bottle and use at BBQs, with grilled chicken wings, etc... Okay, then maybe I'll also make leeway for the Scallop Carpaccio and the Yam Brulee -  a most ambrosial ramekin of orh nee blessed with a crackin' caramelised lid - both humble, but no less, better, incarnations of their original inspirators.

I visited Beast and the Butterflies not holding high expectations at all, but suffice to say, I walked out sated and all ready to trumpet the place for its new Asian fusion dishes, that I'm certain will put the Monday blues at bay.

Why 'Beast and Butterflies', you may ask? Easy. The menu is divided largely into two categories - Beast and Butterflies. The former featuring more hearty robust dishes such as the crispy pork knuckle and unctuous cod fish, while the latter shows more restraint with more emphasis on accentuating the natural flavours of its ingredients such as the Scallion soy barramundi and the Scallop Carpaccio.

Scallop Carpaccio
Executive Chef Bryce Li is a bright-eyed, towering giraffe of a chef whose presence in a room (and awkward smile) commands as much culinary creative juices as it does reverence. His food is built on the simplicity of many dishes found in the finest Cantonese restaurants down to the humble hawker stall. Modelled after the Chinese style raw fish mostly sold in Cantonese porridge stores, the Scallop Carpaccio ($26++) is unabashedly rich with yuzu and sesame. The confetti of scallions, crispy conpoy and bonito flakes sitting above the laser thin slices of Hokkaido scallop leaving a bright after taste to the umami mouthful.

One of my favourite dishes off the new menu has got to be the Scallion Soy Barramundi ($26++), featuring a generous slab of fish baked in claypot with spring onions. The fish's succulent flesh is redolent with ginger and this is finished with superior sauce, similar to those you'll find drenched over a regular Teochew style steamed fish. The results are felicitous for a cold and wet day, complete with a bowl of steamed white rice.

Scallion Soy Barramundi
A handsome wooden board sets the mood for the grand porcine affair and fat-laden implosions to come. The Crispy Pork Knuckle ($26++ for half/ $36++ for full) is good on its own, the bits of puffed up crackling leaving that desired oleaginous effect that one so strongly desires after a long hard day at work. This ubiquitous German 'party' dish has a markedly different vibe, contributed solely by the deep dish of Nam Jim sauce on the side. So addictive with a blasts of heat from chili to coax out its subtle acidity; I couldn't quite puzzle out its appeal. But whatever it was, I wanted to dredge it over everything - and trust me, I wasn't a solo act.
Crispy Pork Knuckle
The extravagant Lobster Porridge ($38++) finds its place in the new menu. The broth, steeped with intense umami goodness from crabs simmered in broth for hours on end, has lofty aims of conquering the heart. I would have loved some 'pao fan' or crispy fried rice to be thrown in the mix for a welcome contrast of textural - but that's too high an order. The addition of both half a lobster and abalone upping the ante, making for an extreme form of indulgence. Go ahead, you deserve it.

The only ruse in the meal being the Szechuan Lamb Steak ($38++), where the expected taste-obliterating Szechuan spices were completely absent in its marination. The braising techniques employed, copping out the provenance of that t-bone lamb altogether. Though I must admit that the streams of coconut cream meandering around soft sweet potato mash was a revelation in all its rights, the dish tasted every bit as insipid as how it looked splayed out on a dull white plate.

Szechuan Lamb Steak

Lamb Brulee
The Yam Brulee ($12++) will completely restore your faith - the somewhat clumsy roof of bruleed sugar working to its benefit in providing shard like pieces of smokiness that amps up the rich flavors of the yam paste studded with gingko nuts below. I don't have room to rhapsodise at this point, but if you pick this over the Instagram darling Chocoholic ($12++), I approve.

Was this experience any different from the countless other fusion dishes I have had the honor of wrapping my tongues around with lately? no. But Beast and the Butterflies does it with so much conviction that you'll refuse to induct the word 'fusion'. It's culinary insurgence at best, and even Charles Darwin himself would be delighted at the end results.

Beast and Butterflies
90 Robertson Quay
Level 1
Reservations: Chope

Operating Hours:
Mon - Sun: 7am - 11pm

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