Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes

February 2016

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky bar by Luke Mangan

Dining at Salt grill & Sky bar by Luke Mangan was a pleasurable treat for the senses. Perched on the highest point on Orchard Road, the restaurant and bar offer a setting that is stylish and welcoming, with quality food that is uniquely Mod Oz.

It felt like a scene in a Hollywood spy movie, where you had to walk down a quiet alley and utter a password before they let you through a nondescript door and usher you to another secret door, which, when opened, would leave you wide-eyed in awe.

In my case, the quiet alley was the fourth level of Ion Orchard and the not-so-nondescript door was the concierge desk at Ion Sky, with the name of the restaurant I was visiting emblazoned across its back. As I approached the desk, I was stopped by someone who asked, “Do you have a reservation, ma’am?”, to which I replied with the codeword “yes”. He let me through, but not before whispering into his earpiece.

Around the corner, another person clad in black stopped me and asked for the another codeword (“Michelle, from SingaporeBrides”), and nodded in affirmation as she led me into the pitch black elevator. I watched, enthralled, as the bright indicators on the elevator panel signalled my climb from level 4 to level 55.

I was wide-eyed when I arrived at Salt grill & Sky bar, helmed by Executive Chef Mathew Leighton and his team, not because I wasn’t expecting the scene—I have seen enough images of the restaurant to know what I would be in for—but that penthouse view, from the highest point in Orchard Road, was truly breathtaking.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barMain dining hall

The food, however, was what I was invited there for.

Chef Luke Mangan is a very busy man. He currently owns and operates 11 restaurants in Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Japan. He is also the consulting chef for Virgin Australia. While his restaurant empire consists casual to fine dining establishments, Luke Mangan’s philosophy remains unchanged, which is to source the finest and freshest local and Australian ingredients and present them with a modern twist.

I haven’t tried many tasting menus but this one has got to be one of my favourites. Luke Mangan trained in classic french cuisine but his menu is definitely Australian. From a glance, you see the emphasis on seafood and produce, very clean and straightforward.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barThe Degustation Menu

The first three items arrived in quick succession, and the homemade bread with Luke Mangan’s olive oil and dukkah came highly recommended. Dukkah is a traditional Egyptian of toasted nuts and seeds popularly served in Australian restaurants together with olive oil and crusty bread. It was my first time trying it, and it was highly addictive. The chips were a nice surprise, crisp and very light, though most unforgettable from these three was the Northern Italian bagna càuda dip that came with the red radish. The peppery zing from the raw radish could be a bit bitter for most people but the savoury, briny flavour from the anchovies in the dip got me crunching away.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barBread selection with Luke Mangan olive oil & dukkahModern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barRadish with Bagna Càuda

I’ve recently developed a taste for fish sauce, so that could explain my attraction to the bagna càuda. So with that umami taste still in my mouth, the next course came perfectly timed. I’ve had oysters with all types of dressing, but never with coconut and nam jim. Most prominent in nam jim, which is the spicy dipping sauce found in all Thai cuisine, are the fish sauce and lime. This light and refreshing concoction did not mask the sweetness from the oysters at all, and for someone who doesn’t usually eat oysters, I quite like it.

Next up were the appetisers. I wasn’t really expecting much from the vegetable dish, but the choice of greens, or the lack thereof, made it an interesting starter to the rest of the courses. The house-made curd, or dahi to the Indians, made a nice, tangy dip for the colourful platter of purple and golden beets. And those ginger bread crumbs! So much flavour packed into the tiny cubes.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barBaby vegetables, house made curd, ginger bread crumbs, black olive

As we were finishing our vegetables, a trolley holding the ‘glass’ Sydney crab omelette rolled up behind us. This dish is a signature from Luke Mangan’s glass brasserie in Sydney, hence the name. I was excited to try it, because it has crab, eggs, and miso in it. And it did not disappoint. The omelette was so moist, yet not runny. It felt like a really generous portion of mille crêpe with crab meat because of its texture and sweetness. But what completed this dish was the miso broth with a hint of mustard. The earthy aroma from the fermented beans and the sharpness from the mustard lingers in your nose, together with the sweetness of the omelette in your mouth, giving the dish a very layered flavour. This is a dish all Japanese cuisine lovers should try at least once.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky bar‘glass’ Sydney crab omelette, enoki mushroom & herb salad, miso mustard broth

And now we move to the mains. Salt grill’s version of crispy snapper and risotto came with squid ink! The creaminess of squid ink wrapped the risotto like a silk coat, bringing the saltiness of the sea to the dish. Because the flesh of the snapper is also firm and textured, this dish had a lot of bite, which is a great introduction to the main course. You would think the squid ink would stain our teeth. It didn’t.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barSnapper, squid ink risotto, tomato salsa

By this time, I could have called it a day; my palate was so fully satiated and stomach so heavy with goodness. Then the wagyu arrived, and I forgot all about my belly. The cut of the day was Kagoshima wagyu. It arrived medium rare and beautifully rested, so it was moist, tender and juicy. Kagoshima wagyu has a very mellow flavour due to its very fine marbling, unlike the richer, more unique flavour of the widely used Kobe wagyu. That precious sliver of Kagoshimya’s finest cattle practically melted in my mouth.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barWagyu cut of the day

After the richness of the main courses, I was longing for a refreshing dessert, and it came in the form of Liquorice 2016, an updated version of Luke Mangan’s most recognised signature Liquorice Parfait. It is a well-balanced dessert, rich and velvety, with a citrusy sting from freeze dried apples and lime slices. I’m not a big fan of liquorice but this was the perfect finish to a very flavourful sampling of Luke Mangan’s signature dishes.

Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky barLiquorice 2016, apple, liquorice cream, sambuca sponge, lime

I noted the careful selection of the dishes, paired with sauces and cooking styles from around the world, each with an unexpected, contemporary style, yet whole in its freshness and flavour. Modern Australian, or Mod Oz, is a relatively recent cuisine style brought about by chefs in multicultural Australia. This perhaps reflects and highlights Luke Mangan’s French classical training and Asian influences, as he travels around the world and creates a fusion of unique tastes with traditional techniques.

It was a truly pleasurable dining experience, and one I would recommend to everyone. In fact, you could get married here! Imagine a stylish and elegant wedding set against the backdrop of the breathtaking view of the Singapore skyline. They have two menus for weddings, the Wedding Menu ($150++ per person), and the Degustation Menu Premium ($250++ per person). The view in the evening must be stunning, and will create wonderful memories, not only in the hearts of the couple, but also for the guests.

Salt grill & Sky bar is available for wedding bookings, with a minimum spending of $10,000++ for lunch and $28,000++ for dinner, for food and beverage only. For more information, please email [email protected] or call (65) 65925118.

Salt grill & Sky bar is located at 2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard, #55-01 & #56-01 Singapore 238801.

Credits: Restaurant interior shots courtesy of Salt grill & Sky bar.

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Modern Australian Cuisine at Salt grill & Sky bar by Luke Mangan