Zafferano presents New Dishes by Chef Emanuele Faggi

If there is anything more alluring about dining at Zafferano, is the fact that the new Head Chef Emanuele Faggi possesses the same charisma, in and out of the kitchen - both to bedazzle your tastebuds and to charm your socks off when he out working the dining room.

The young budding talent is a Tuscan native, who interned at the famed L'Albereta Resort led by legendary late Chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Following that, his culinary journeys whisked him away to 2-Michelin starred Cracco Ristorante where he honed his skills for five years under the wings of Chef Carlo Cracco. One precious value that is heavily emulated through the meal is the conscious effort to reduce food wastage, with various food discards or "trash" reappearing on dishes such as carrot skin powder and onion skin powder repurposed as flavouring agents. Meaningful, and I might add, brilliant all at once.

Perhaps one of the highlights at Zafferano has to be their amuse bouche.

The young Chef Emanuele doesn't take himself too seriously and that's well demonstrated in the trio of one-bite wonders. There's bottarga mayo on rice puffs that draws the same gasps of wonderment one derives from kewpie mayo (guilty as charged) whilst the amaretti biscuit scattered with coffee powder, grounds its luscious filling of chicken liver pâté. Then finallly a macaron shell laminated with a cloud of mortaella mousse is crowned with orange orbs of salmon roe - it's quizzical combination, strange to say, works miracles, even for the less adventurous palate.

A painters palette of ruby red sunsets and rolling hills greets us in the next dish of Marinated Salmon in beetroot juice ($28) and is listed to come with anchovy, basil and lime salsa verde with a slight pop and crackle (nahhh..) of quinoa chips. The two seem to bask in each others warm glory, bickering in differential notes of earthiness and tanginess till it builds an almost transient experience.

I'm obsessing over the Raw Hokkaido Scallops ($32) sprinkled with dried capers powder, topped with avurga caviar with little meanderings of saffron sauce - it's an age old formula that sports a whole new coat from the novelty of pungent saffron. At the last minute, crispy tendrils of sliced green pea make their appearance, providing crunch to the dish.

There are heads to be inhaled, but my palate is taken aback by its assertive seaworthy characteristics. Raw Red Prawns from Mazara ($32) are splayed out on dashes of warm ricotta, cocktail sauce espuma and rivulents of verdent basil oil. It's all a little jarringly flaccid, but I can see how some seafood aficiandos will come to love this dish.

Gnudo ($26), as I've learnt for the first time, is a staple dish in the city of Siena, Tuscany. What is is? - is essentially gnocchi like dumplings sans the pasta element. Just picture huge balls of ricotta cheese filling, mixed with parmesan, spinach and egg white before being boiled.

It's slightly peasant roots, increasing its rustic and homey appeal. But of course Chef Emanuele had to go one step further, to sauté it in squid with sage oil to finish. Contributing a certain peculiarity that will pique the taste buds of the intrepid.

Crafted with a bit of 'forbidden love' constitution, veal, in a most serendipitous moment, meets oysters. And it's magic.

Bottoni ($38) parcels filled with tender braised veal tongue and salsa verde is enveloped in swirls of aromatic veal stock laced with oyster jus, which further revel in the merriment of this unlikely union.

Then comes the Super Fino Carnaroli Acquerello Risotto ($32), a tribute to the the late Chef Gualtiero Marchesi with whom Chef Faggi learnt this dish from under his tutelage. Savour the succulent grains, plump from vegetable stock enlivened with white vinegar, bone marrow and saffron. I found the partially cooked grains perturbing and there was much too residual liquids on the dish to epitomise flawless execution.  It's not jaw-dropping, but nonetheless, the crinkled sheet of 24-karat gold does tickle the pleasure sensors.

Where mains are concerned, the Oven Baked Black Cod ($58) and the Roasted 'Bresse' Pigeon ($68) are the exclamation points. The proverbial fish dish edges into fresh grounds with a pairing of Asparagus sautéed in vanilla pod and butter which imparts a floral sweetness. There is also coarsely mashed red skin potatoes luxuriating in lashings of cream that fulfils dreams of nourishing comfort.

For those of you who just need your meat fix, there's the Queensland farm Lamb Rack ($55): Coffee powder and roasted eggplant, the best kind of wallflower to the gamey lamb. The 150-day grain fed Black Angus Beef Tenderloin ($58) as well as its crust of capers and liquorice powder are respectable and form a queer if not unexpected marriage of flavours.

This was the last course to grace our table, and by then, our stomaches were distended from the feeding attempts by young Chef Emanuele Faggi who had lived up to his title of 'Powder King' -  engaging us in flavour callisthenics from start to finish.

Aside from keeping us guessing about what unorthodox relationships he had fostered between ingredients (cue oysters and veal), he keeps us engaged with his immaculate contemporary plating. The Roasted 'Bresse' Pigeon Legs and Breasts ($68), mixed berries compote splattered to Jackson Pollock effect are accompanied with discs of tender rosemary smoked white turnips. The pretty-as-a-picture dish, screaming 'LOOK AT ME NOW'!

Happy endings? It is a promise delivered: all fluffy, cloud like mascarpone, and shredded sponge infused with saffron. There is also the Chocolate Cremino ($16); Valrhona 65% chocolate creameux sided by a quenelle of watermelon sorbet that is a class act on its own.

10 Collyer Quay
Level 43
Ocean Financial Centre
Reservations: CHOPE

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