At S$28.80/++ for a 5-course set lunch and S$38.80/++ for a 6-course set dinner, SET Contemporary Cuisine is value-for-money, considering each courses was calories-worthy, not to mention generous in portion size.
Photos by Chong Yap of Make Your Calories Count
Holding the fort at SET is Chef Erick Chun who endeavours to cook for his guests the way he cooks for his family. With more than a decade of culinary experience, Chef Erick started his culinary career by helping out at his uncle's chicken rice stall at a humble coffee shop. Passion and interest got the better of him as he refined his skills and grew with kitchen experiences at Tung Lok Signatures, Senso Ristorante & Bar and Feedlot Steakhouse. He is consistently seeking for new ways to improve and experiment with new techniques, which resulted in the contemporary spin to his dishes.
The uniqueness of the menu at SET is that only set menus are available. That means no ala carte dishes but one would enjoy the flexibility of choosing an item each from a choice of four to five for each course. For lunch menu, SET presently offers a five-course meal at S$28.80/++ while the dinner is offered in the form of a six-course meal at S$38.80/++. The key difference between the sets is the additional side dish, which we later learnt that is a must-try!
A dish that is almost impossible to resist, fresh toast was served alongside a bowl of bacon and cheese gratin. While this was a simple dish, it was by large a hearty starter with titillating flavours of savouriness from the melted cheese and bacon to match the crispness of the toast.
Quite easily, this was my favourite cold dish amongst the few tried as the fresh mozzarella beautifully rested on a slice of tomato. While it was almost melt-in-your-mouth, the sparingly bits of sea salt had the effect of an added dimension of texture with its grittiness. It not only provided texture but also isolated the freshness of the mozzarella, which was rich yet balanced by a mild level of acidity.
If you are looking for an interesting choice for your cold dish, the huai san caparccio could just be your pick. More commonly known as wild yam or Chinese yam, it is an ingredient believed to have medical functions such as improving one's digestive system, lower blood sugar and blood pressure. While the common types of huai san are the processed dried versions, it was rather unusual to try a fresh rendition on this occasion which carried a delectable crunch to each bite. Sliced thinly and uniformly, this has to be a highlight amongst the cold dishes.
Another dish which drew contemporary twists was the smoked duck breast. The smoking process was done in house, which left the red meat robust with flavours only to be cleansed by the light dressing with a citrus tangy dressing to harmoniously bring the dish together.
Interestingly, after trying a Chinese inspired cold dish such as the huai san, we were presented with something from the Scandinavian as gravlax is a classic Nordic dish comprising raw salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill. While this is a dish usually accompanied by some carbohydrates such as bread or potatoes, it was served on its alone, which allowed the brine to distinguish.
Available only for the 6-course set menu, I personally felt that this is a must-try! The mushrooms were cooked perfectly, retaining moisture with the right level of firmness. Drizzled with teriyaki sauce and mayonnaise, the supplementing white truffle foam made all the difference. While the teriyaki sauce provided the mild sweetness, the truffle foam added richness in flavours and scent with its distinctive aroma. What I enjoyed about the dish was the slightly charred bits to the mushroom which may or may not go too favourably for those who are critical about their food.
While this photograph does not come across as the most photogenic, it surely compensated with its robust flavours. If you are after some bold tastes, do give this a try as the mushroom soup received a boost in richness with a distinct peanut butter after taste. This surely added some twist to the conventional mushroom soup but as we are all subjective people, much left to be said about how palatable the soup was. While it did not suit my appetite, I felt that it would make a worthy try for the adventurous.
Compared to the mushroom soup, the flavours of this soup was milder though the richness still more than made up for it. It was a pity that the aroma and flavours of the truffle were masked by the pumpkin, which added a desired level of sweetness to the soup.
While I enjoyed the presentation of the soup, served just like how sake is typically served to diners at Japanese restaurants, I felt that the salinity of the miso soup masked the essence of sake, letting the latter down.
As a result, it came across more like a good shot of miso soup, which ticked all the right boxes such as the depth of the broth, richness and flavours.
Tasting the chicken broth for the first time just made everyone at the dining table reminisce about good old home-cooked soup which our mums or grandmas would tastefully prepare. Double-boiled just like how most authentic Cantonese soups should be, the ingredients rich soup was a clear favourite with just the right balance in sweetness and savouriness.
One of the signatures on the mains, one could hardly go wrong with the baby back ribs which were tender and fell-off-the-bone. Well marinated, there was a beautiful level of caramelisation that gave the lightly crisp crust coating the surface. On the inside, the meat was succulent and what I was really looking for at this point was some white rice to go with it!
Elegantly presented, the roasted chicken pullet was in fact a young hen, typically less than a year old, neatly tucked with stuffing on the inside. The roast was spot-on, leaving the inside moist and tender while giving the surface a thin layer of crispness to please. It came with the bold mushroom sauce, largely similar to that of the mushroom soup tried earlier, to complete the dish.
Like most of the other dishes served, the red meat was presented elegantly and that was indeed something quite unexpected as such plating would be more common for high-end fine dining restaurants rather than one which offers a casual ambience such as SET. While it was slightly above medium rare, which would be my preference, it was done medium and retained much of that pinkness. It was a beautiful cut which was tender and the brown gravy sent the dish home together with some beautiful roasted cloves which added an additional punch in flavours.
Individually portioned like the other mains, I loved the salsa relish that accompanied the grilled snapper! It imparted flavours and caramelised sweetness from the relish to the plainly grilled fish which remained succulent. No outright surprises but it was surely a comfort dish that could not quite possibly go wrong.
Among the mains, we were also served the marinated rack of lamb which I avoided due to allergy issues but it seemed to go quite well with the other diners at the table!
I found the chocolate-base cake to be quite standard though the desiccated coconut added a different dimension to it. Overall, a simple cake that would go well for most people.
This fondly reminded me of my first espresso creme brulee tried at JBM and while I was half-expecting the same explosion of espresso shot, I was assured that the rendition here is not quite the same. The distinctly bold flavours of caffeine were infused into the velvety creme brulee which similarly brought joys to the guests. With a cup of long black coffee to go along, this was surely decadence in its simplest form.
Having watched enough Masterchef series, you would learn that poached pear is one of the simplest looking yet difficult dessert to master. Poached with red wine, I gingerly sliced through the fruit to check its texture and on this occasion, it was spot on. It was soft but not overly mashy, hence retaining the desired level of firmness. While the gelato was decent, it was more of an accompaniment to the fruit that took centrepiece for this dish.
While we were scratching our heads trying to figure out what was the best way to describe this dessert of oriental influence, cheng tng jelly came to mind! Indeed, for the Singaporeans who know their local desserts well, this was a very close resemblance of jellified cheng tng and you would even expect Chinese ingredients such as white fungus, etc.
With a large dining hall, I like that the setting is classy yet not overly elaborate, allowing someone in his or her casual wear to still feel comfortable and not out of place. Perfect for a quiet date or even to impress your business associates, SET also offers private dining area at no minimum surcharge.
If you are looking to host a small private family event for celebrations or just an intimate evening session, SET surely has something to offer. On the other side of the restaurant, it also has a private dining room for up to 10 pax with a slightly more elaborate decoration such as chandelier lightings.
Overall Verdict: 7.5/10
SET Contemporary Cuisine
1 Selegie Road, POMO
Tel: (+65) 6337 7644