A confluence of Spanish and Japanese ingredients and techniques for omakase seems like a pretty bizarre gastronomic proposition, but Bam! will prove naysayers wrong with vibrant flavours and lots of sass.
Formally a Japanese-styled sake-and-tapas bar, three-year-old Bam! has just rebranded into an omakase-only concept, starting from $98 for a four-course affair (technically, it’s about eight when you count the amuse bouche and dessert items). But here again, Bam! has a very progressive approach to its omakase offerings: Besides sake pairings (from $58 for a four-part parade), you can also opt for a vegetarian omakase (from $78), or indulge that sweet tooth with a dessert omakase ($48).
The unlikely executive chef of this unlikely concept is Pepe Moncayo, a Spanish man whose previous gig was at the Marina Bay Sands’ now-defunct Santi. On a recent visit, a cunningly presented shiso leaf tempura ─ in actual fact, there were two shiso leaves, with a thin smear of tomato tartare between them ─ laid testament to chef Pepe’s ingenuity in bridging the two cultures. The crisp batter and herbal sweetness were decidedly Japanese, and that bright tomato tartare brought a sun-kissed Mediterranean appeal.
Chef Pepe is also a fan of the “modern Shudo” idea: That sake, having been brewed from rice, has an umami character that makes it superior to wine when playing to the savoury qualities in food. A comforting dish of chorizo rice with free-range toretama egg proved that wisdom.
Given the briny smokiness of the chorizo rice and the creamy richness of the soft-cooked egg, a standard wine pairing might pick a vino with higher acidity and tannins for contrast, rein in the heaviness.The sake pairing went the other way; yet the deeply aromatic, lush sweetness of the selected rice wine allowed the food’s bold flavours to play out freely, while holding its own with grace.
Bam!, 38 Tras Street, tel: 6226-0500
This article first appeared on www.asiaone.com