Apart from the variety, Executive Sous Chef Stefan Beer of Mezza9, shared with us that the selling point of Mezza9 lies in the simplicity of the dishes and the personality of the restaurant. He prides that the best and simplest ingredients are treated as minimal as possible to retain the natural flavour. Among all the stations, the Western kitchen steals the limelight for its daily seafood counter and the fierce fire action happening at the wood-fire ovens, rotisserie and western open grills. Apart from steaks and seafood, one can also expect popular items such as Parma Ham, Foie Gras, Oysters, Salads and Smoked Salmon at this station. In general, there is no crazy combinations but simiplicity to offer a diner to feel like he is eating in his favourite restaurant back home.
During our conversation with Chef Stefan, we touched on an interesting point. While Mezza9's niche lies in its multi-national varieties, Yuan was curious why Mezza9 chooses to focus on Japanese, Chinese, Western and Thai dishes but not other cuisines such as Indian, Korean, etc. Apparently this concept of Mezza9 is 14 years old and Chef Stefan felt that having being in Asia for 5 years, it is of no doubt that all nations have a great cuisine. However, it is the Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisines that are more talk-about outside of Asia and more commonly found in other parts of the world. He added that most international diners would have a certain knowledge about these 3 cuisines and are more acceptable to them as compared to the other Asian cuisines.
Starting off the meal, we were presented with a refreshing starter, yam som o. This spicy pomelo salad is served with Thai pink pomelo, shredded chicken breast meat, chili padi and a special sauce that is prepared with hours of simmering. A seemingly simple dish but the bulk of the preparatory work goes to making the sauce where the tamarind paste is boiled and cooked with palm sugar for about 4-5 hours before serving with roasted dried coconut, peanut, deep fried shallot and dashes of Thai fresh lime.
Japanese Head Chef Jems Bong wows us with his sashimi and sushi platter for both the cut and the freshness. On the platter, there were sashimi prepared from Yellow Tail belly, Tuna belly, Salmon belly and Flounder fin; and also sushi served with raw tuna and salmon and roasted yellow tail and swordtail. We were surprised how crunchy and springy the Flounder fin sashimi are and the rich, fatty tuna belly that simply sublime on our palette. According to Chef Jems, tamanishiki rice is used for Mezza9's sushi as it is smaller and tastier than regular sushi rice.
Spring roll (bo biat thot) may sound simple among the dishes served in Mezza9 but this is specially created by Mezza9's resident Thai Head Chef Sitichok Panchuk using ingredients imported from Thailand. What we like about the spring rolls is the skin itself. While the exterior is crisp, the second layer is springy and chewy. With such a distinctive texture among the layers, it is not overly thick, allowing one to feel the crunchiness filling of vegetables, not forgetting the home-made sweet chili dip cooked with Thai vinegar and fresh pineapple. These spring rolls also comes in two version, chicken or vegetarian.
Deep fried Soon Hock (marbled goby) with soy sauce is highly recommended by Master Chef Lee Kuan Seng for its simplicity and the special sauce he prepared. The soft tender meat is so lightly marinated that the natural sweetness of the fish is felt in every bite.
On the other hand, the sitr-fry New Zealand tenderloin beef with celery and onion is memorable for the special sauce that is carefully blended with tomatoes, carrot, garlic and onions.
Slow roast pork ribs, highly recommended for its tender meat that is so soft that one does not need a knife to cut. This signature dish of Chef Stefan adopts 24-hours slow cooking with the ribs sealed in vacuum. Traditionally, pork ribs are cooked too hot, where the meat shrinks and loses its tenderness, resulting in a tough and dry texture. To make sure the pork ribs is so tender that it just fall off from the bone, the ribs are portioned, marinated with salt and pepper, grilled and cooled before vacuum packed with stock, butter, thyme leaf. This is then cooked for 24 hours at a temperature which allows the meat to relax without the fats moving out of the meat.
Spätzle, though looks simple, reminded us greatly of the Hungarian noodles we had when we were in Budapest. These Swiss dumpings is made of flour, egg, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg and using a sieve-like apparatus with big holes, the dough is pressed through and straight into boiling water. This is subsequently pan-fried in butter. With a hint of nutmeg in the spätzle, there is a slight sweetness and according to Chef Stefan, nutmeg is often added to potato dishes and spätzle to round up the flavour and this addition is very common in Swiss cuisine.
Signature dessert platter, consists of a selection of 4 desserts, specially prepared by award-winning Master Pastry Chef Gottfried Schuetzenberger. The combination of Apple Crumble Tart, Butter Lemon Pudding, Chocolate Pudding with Coffee Sauce and a selection of ice-cream allows one to try a diverse flavours, textures and temperatures all in a dish.
In our opinion, the most outstanding dessert among the 4 would be the butter lemon pudding. Apart from the slight tang and the sugary bits, the pudding has a very light texture that is just slightly denser than a souffle. The overall texture is fluffy and light, deserving a mention. Yuan's least favourite, happens to be my favourite among the 4, the apple crumble tart served with vanilla sauce. Unlike the regular apple crumble tart that has the crumbles on top, a puff pastry forms the cap and the crumbles is mixed in the apple and raisin filling, giving a sugary crunch with mouthful of apple chunks. Chocolate Pudding with Coffee Sauce caught Yuan's attention for the decadent oozing core and the proportion between the cake and molten core is just right. As for the Strawberry, Mango and Chocolate Ice-cream, these are made in-house with a rich fruity punch for both the strawberry and mango, pairing nicely with the butter lemon pudding.
We are not afraid to admit that this would be a painful meal for our pocket should this not be an invited tasting. However, having said that, we were glad to be able to have a dining experience in Mezza9 as it does give us an option for a special occassion. As what Chef Stefan pointed out, to enjoy various cuisines in the same place gives this restaurant a niche over most eateries and restaurants in Singapore. What was served for the night are very common dishes that are served in restaurants and what makes this meal truly enjoyable is not only the open kitchen concept but the freshness of the food and the simplicity of the ingredients used. I am definitely looking forward to my next visit and I have already thought of an occassion to get my hands on the tender pork ribs. Apart from the selection of food from the various cuisine, the martini bar and wine cellar with over 500 types of wine, gives more excuses to unwind after work. Cheers!
Heartfelt thanks to assistant manager for public relations, Ms Melissa Tan for the invitation and warm hospitality. Also, many thanks to Executive Sous Chef Stefan Beer of Mezza9 for his time to prepare such a fabulous meal. Last but not least, thank you very much to Massimo, manager of Mezza9 and all the head chefs and service staffs to make us feel so comfortable and welcome for the tasting.
Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Road
Tel: 6732 1234
Lunch: Noon to 2:30pm (Mon to Sat)
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm
Sunday Brunch: 11:30am to 3pm