Culinary Adventure at 2am:Lab

2am lab-001

I ate a lot of delicious street food when I was in Singapore last June but one of my most memorable experiences was the amazing lunch we had at 2am:lab. Chef Janice Wong wowed us with her molecular gastronomy using familiar Singaporean flavors. 

2am lab-002

2am lab-003

 2am:lab is a sanctuary created for chefs and artists to create, experiment and discover the undiscovered. A school not just of thought but technique and practise as well, it is all the product of local dessert chef Janice Wong’s innate passion for all things gastronomic. With the goal of pushing the boundaries of Singapore’s food culture, creating new techniques, textures and flavours for present and future generations, 2am:lab is certainly the place where your senses will be pleasantly treated. source

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 Don’t let her looks fool you. Chef Janice Wong may look young but she knows what’s she’s doing. I was simply amazed with her creativity and ingenuity. 
2am lab- Chef Janice Wong

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 It was my first time to see the Thermomix live in action. Thermomix is an all-in-one kitchen machine. It’s a food processor that weighs, blends , grinds, kneads, steams and cooks. 

Vitamix and Thermomix

Vitamix and Thermomix

 

I loved the plastic spoons.
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 Chef Janice welcomed us with some appetizers. They look like kropek (shrimp cracker) and it had the same crunch but it was made with tapioca flour. The mild flavor of the tapioca puffs was the perfect vessel for the strong drops of sate sauce and crunchy, spicy rendang flavored chicken strips. I was quietly eating and enjoying puff after puff while pondering what other surprises our meal will bring. 

tapioca puffs with sate sauce and rendang flavored chicken skin strips

tapioca puffs with sate sauce and rendang flavored chicken skin strips

 

2 plates of filled with blue colored substances were on our table. I didn’t dare try them until Chef Janice told us what they were. Imagine my shock when I tasted sweet, sour and spicy flavors. Tom yam flavors were turned into a solid mixture and then crushed into a fine sugar. The sugar was then used to make cotton candy. 

tom yum sugar

tom yam sugar

 

What? Tom Yum cotton candy? Yes you read it right. A childhood treat transformed into a shock of fluffy sweet and spicy confection.

tom yum cotton candy

tom yam cotton candy

 

I’m sure you’re familiar with Listerine mint strips, well lo and behold, these are the laksa version. 
2am lab- laksa paper-001

It was surreal having a gel like substance melting on your tongue that tasted like coconut, curry and lemongrass. 

laksa paper

laksa paper

Here’s a video I shot on how the laksa paper was made.

 

2am lab - pandan pop

The next treat was a semi-soft ball of creamy kaya goodness. I love Singapore’s version of coconut jam flavored with pandan and this kaya pop was intensely flavored. No need for toast and butter. 

pandan pop

pandan pop

Finally I got to see how the cute spoons were used.  

2am lab- pandan gula melaka

Gula melaka or palm sugar is a popular ingredient in Asian desserts. Here it was used to flavor this smooth and creamy dessert made with coconut cream and fresh pandan essence. The flavor was intense just like everything else I’ve tried so far. Chef showed us how she made the pandan essence by grinding fresh pandan leaves with water in the Vitamix until it pureed and then strained. The liquid was then used and transformed into this delightful mixture. 

pandan gula melaka

pandan gula melaka

 

Our tastes buds were teased more than enough. It was finally time for the main course. 

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Bubur chacha is a popular Singaporean dessert similar to our own ginataan. Chef Janice drew inspiration and created this cold salad made with green mango–coconut cream, banana flower, chestnut, aloe vera, enoki, wheat grass and sago. First I tried the grassy ice crystals then sour flavors and earthy mushroom. The whole dish was too exotic for me and admitedlly it was the single dish I didn’t enjoy. 

bubur chacha inspired salad

bubur chacha inspired salad

 

Laksa is one of my favorite Singaporean dishes but it’s usually too rich and laden with hidden fat. This version was very light but there was no scrimping on flavor. Only thick rice noodles and some bean sprouts were the other components. 

laksa

laksa

 

 It was my first time to try quail and there was a strong taste that even the delicious laksa paste and laksa sauce couldn’t mask. I didn’t finish the quail but I simply loved the tomato garlic puree which was sweet and tangy and laksa leaf dumpling. I wanted to ask for seconds and thirds.  

quail marinated in laksa for 36 hours

quail marinated in laksa paste for 36 hours

2am lab- Chef Janice Wong 

Our meal ended with a plate of kaya textures including pistachio cake, coconut meringue, kaya yogurt, kaya ice cream and pistachio crisp. This plate held a unified flavor of kaya expressed in a multitude of textures that played around my mouth.  Fanfreakintastic!!

Our whole table was quiet at this point with only a hush of oohs and aahs clearly audible. My seatmates and I were clamoring for a refill but the staff wisely ignored us. 

kaya yogurt kaya ice cream 

kaya yogurt kaya ice cream

Chef Janice Wong with Alya and Monique

Chef Janice Wong with Alya and Monique

 

After lunch I walked around the kitchen to take more pictures. I was fascinated with the chair made of cardboard. One of the staff demonstrated the strength of the cardboard couch. He told me once a group of 10 people sat on it.

cardboard couch

cardboard couch

 

They also had beautiful shelving with jars of all kinds of ingredients. It’s probably their wall of inspiration.

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2am lab-029

Chef Janice has succeeded in blurring the boundaries between sweet and savory, hot and cold.  She pushed the limits on how we perceive flavors and textures. I was totally blown away by this meal. Watch out for the name Janice Wong, a rising star in the culinary world. 

You can also enjoy her dessert creations at 2am:dessert bar which I hope to try on my next visit to Singapore. 

2am:lab
1 Fusionopolis Way,
#02-13 Connexis North Tower
Singapore, Singapore 138632
telephone: +65 6467 4066
website
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2am:dessertbar
21a Lorong Liput, Holland Village, Singapore 277733
website
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