Having opened in December 2015, Alexandra’s Horizon Bistronomy restaurant pride themselves at using French cooking techniques together with world flavours, serving gastronomical dishes at affordable prices and within a casual yet fine-dining setting.
Said Chris Fong, 27, restaurant chef and owner, “We market ourselves as an affordable fine dining restaurant, with most of our main courses under $30. But that means we are sometimes restricted by the ingredients that we can use in our dishes.”
Alexandra outlet has opened for seven months
Horizon Bistronomy has two outlets in Singapore – the one at Alexandra, which I had been recently invited for a food tasting and which this article is based on, and another one at Punggol – that I had reviewed earlier.
Said Chris, “We opened our Alexandra outlet in December 2015. So this means that we have been here for seven months now.”
He added, “Our dishes here are not the same as our Punggol branch though – this branch is marketed as being more funky because it is near to the Central Business District. But the Punggol branch is more family friendly because it is in a residential neighbourhood area.”
Some dishes that Chris highlighted as being new, funky additions to the Alexandra branch, includes an Orange Soba pasta-like dessert and a Tomato Consommé soup served with salmon.
Media given a sneak preview of the upcoming July menu
For the food tasting session, bloggers and members of the media were given a sneak preview of Horizon Bistronomy Alexandra’s new July menu. Said Chris, “We are still improving the dishes, but I think that we are happy with what we had served today.”
I went to the media tasting session together with my dad.
At the session, we were served a variety of appetisers, main courses and desserts, each one having been prepared with different French style cooking methods and techniques. The dishes that we had, were as follows.
We were served four different starters and these are as follows.
Curry Chicken Rilettes
This is curry chicken prepared with Sakura shrimps, Rillettes, Thai Basil pesto, curry leaves and brioche.
According to Chris, he grew up eating curry chicken, so this dish represents his heritage. At the same time, curry chicken, a very Asian dish, represents the philosophy and concept of Horizon Bistronomy – of cooking with French techniques and using world flavours.
I liked the toasted brioche as it gave the dish a nice crunch. As for the curry flavour, this was quite mild and as such would suit those who can’t take strong spices.
Agreed dad, “The curry taste was mild. The crispy brioche was also interesting as it gave the dish some character.”
Horizon’s Angel Hair ($9.90)
This dish comprised of chilled angel hair, spanner crab, Tobiko, Ikura and Chorizo oil.
Said Chris, “This dish had been brought over from the Punggol branch; it was our identity there.”
According to Chris, about 500 portion of angel hair are neatly rolled up per month, and intense effort and passion is needed to replicate each and every portion perfectly.
However the main difference that I tasted in the Punggol and Alexandra versions was the truffle. While I had recalled that the Punggol version had a strong truffle flavour during my media tasting there, this had not been not the case in the Alexandra angel hair dish that I had been served.
That aside though, this is still an interesting and complex dish with a combination of textures – the crunchy Tobiko salmon fish roe, together with the soft, stringy angel hair pasta. The variety of textures and flavours was like nothing I had tasted before.
Added dad, “The dish has a complex taste. When you bite into the salmon roe, I thought that it has a little fishy flavour with some crispiness too. What I really like about this dish though, was the interesting presentation.”
Egg 63 ($8.90)
This is a Sous Vide egg prepared with potato puree, Enoki mushroom threads, Larons, Cous Cous and herb jus.
This dish, according to Chris, is an in-house restaurant challenge, to use only “simple” readily available products and nothing that is hard to buy. So not exquisite ingredients like truffle or caviar are used. Instead an egg was chosen as the star of the dish due to its accessibility. In fact 80 per cent of the items used in this dish, had been bought from NTUC FairPrice.
Added Chris, “We created this dish about a month ago. We are still improving on it but our regulars really love it. The dish is based on a simple idea – to create a nest and have something that rests in the middle of it. We chose an egg.”
I must admit that this probably was my favourite appetiser and I thoroughly enjoyed eating it. The egg was perfectly soft boiled and I liked how it was broken over the Enoki mushroom and the lardons. The Cous Cous also completed the dish nicely, with its slightly rough texture.
Added dad, “I like the way the egg was done. The crispiness of the Enoki made it interesting, and I enjoyed the truffle taste in the potato puree. This dish came together really nicely.”
Tomato Consomme ($14.90)
This dish comprised of home-cooked salmon confit with prawns, peas, carrots, baby zucchini and a tomato consommé soup.
This showcased a salmon confit that melted in the mouth and a clarified tomato consommé, which required eight hours of preparation. Clarification is generally one of the most common techniques used in French cooking.
Added Chris, “A lot of technical skills and techniques went into making the tomato consommé; in fact it is the most difficult soup to make in French cuisine so it is a true show case of skills.”
He added, “As for the salmon confit, it is actually a French dish but we presented it in a Japanese tea pot style to keep it simple.” Probably this could have been why the dish had reminded me more of an Asian rather than a French style dish.
I would definitely agree that the salmon was really quite tender, literally melting in the mouth and reminding me of the Japanese style sashimi. It balanced out quite well with the soup, which has an acidic flavour.
Added dad, “This was an interesting dish. The way that the salmon was prepared was really nice. The soup was a bit acidic, but it combined with the fish really well. The prawns were good too.”
We were served two mains. These are as follows.
This is a dish prepared with fresh Halibut, cauliflower puree, Daikon, cauliflowers, burnt onions and white asparagus.
The dish emphasises on freshness – according to Chris, freshness of ingredients is one of the most important aspects of cooking. Halibut was selected because this is a fish that can be seasoned and eaten with nothing but salt & pepper.
Said Chris, “We also named this dish blanc, which is French for white – to represent a chef’s jacket.”
Upon trying this dish, I’ll say that the fish, which had been pan fried, was quite delicious despite only a little seasoning and spices that were used in the flavouring process. Unfortunately the texture of the fish had been a little drier than I had liked – but the cauliflower puree, which reminded me a little of mashed potatoes, was moist and it had helped to moisten the fish.
Pork Belly Two-Ways ($27.90)
This dish comprised of 24-hour sous vide pork, crispy pork belly confit, carrot puree, baby carrots, caramel apple, green asparagus and pork jus.
This is a complicated pork dish to make, due to the great amount of skill needed in the preparation process. Two days was spent in order to cook it to perfection, in fact. The pork is first cured with spices and salt for 12 hours before cooking it for another 18 hours. Then the pork belly is cooled and pressed in the fridge for a day before portioning it.
Added Chris, “This is a very elaborate dish and is more about the technicalities in the cooking process rather than the freshness of the product. But due to the cooking process, we have limited quantities each day, and if we are sold out of the dish, that means we are done with it for the day.”
I have had a similar dish before at Punggol’s Horizon Bistronomy outlet, but I felt that this version is an improvement. The sous vide pork was really soft and tender and full of flavour which exploded in my mouth – in fact I had really enjoyed it and it was probably one of the best dishes of the evening.
The crispy pork belly though, was unfortunately a little on the dry side, but the flavourful pork jus that had been served at the side helped to add some moisture as well as bring out the taste of the pork. Fortunately the crispy skin was really crunchy – and had been cooked to perfection.
I also liked the carrot puree at the side – the carrot flavour was not too overwhelming and the toffee apple added a sweet note to the dish too, for an extra burst of flavour.
Added dad, “I really loved the sous vide pork. The asparagus and the carrot puree was also nice and tasty. And overall I thought that the ingredients in this dish had balanced out well together.”
We were served five desserts and these were as follows.
Deconstructed Yuzu Cheese Cake ($10.90)
This dessert was prepared with Yuzu curd, whipped cheese mousse, truffle popcorn, matcha (green tea) chocolate and cinnamon soil.
According to Chris, most people would expect a slice of cheesecake to look like one. So he and his team at Horizon Bistronomy then decided to present a deconstructed cheesecake because they wanted to create a fancy looking one that didn’t resemble the typical cheesecake.
Japanese flavours such as Matcha and Yuzu were also chosen for this dish – in order to fall in line with the ‘world flavours’ theme at the restaurant.
Added Chris, “At Punggol we had a deconstructed lemon parfait dessert. When we came here, we wanted something more than lemon, so we chose to work on Japanese flavours as we thought it would be unique and different.”
What I liked the best about the dish was the Yuzu flavour. It was extremely refreshing and cool to my senses. The cheese cream was also good – it wasn’t overwhelmingly rich and did not overpower the senses. Unfortunately the truffle popcorn had been a little soft, but when mixed together with the Yuzu and cheese flavours, the sweet and slightly savoury flavour combinations were nevertheless quite enjoyable.
Added dad, “I liked the refreshing taste of this dessert. It was tasty and satisfying without being too rich.”
This is indeed a rather cool and refreshing dessert that I would probably order again, if I return to Horizon Bistronomy for a meal.
Peanut Butter 2016 ($10.90)
This is a peanut butter themed dish… but it does not comprise of any peanut butter in the ingredients. Instead it is made using vanilla Chiboust, beurre noisettes, apple puree, aged pickle apple, chorizo caramel and brioche.
The theme of this dessert, according to Chris, was to construct something that feels like peanut butter without actually using peanut butter as an ingredient.
Added Chris, “The idea for this came about because peanut butter always reminds me of a nice caramel and sesame taste. So we figured that if we merge these together, then it would taste of peanut butter.”
While this was a pleasant dish, it unfortunately did not quite remind me of peanut butter. Instead I felt that I had tasted flavours of vanilla and caramel. Nevertheless the flavours and various textures had blended in together quite nicely, with the Chiboust cake being soft and moist and the chorizo caramel adding a nice savoury sweetness to the dish. The chorizo pork flavour in the caramel though was quite mild and I could not really taste a lot of the pork.
This is a dessert dish prepared with Cilantro pearls and Lemongrass Sabayon.
According to Chris, the dish that was famous in Punggol was the ‘Garden by the Bay’ which was a tiramisu cake that looked like a potted plant. So in the Alexandra branch the team wanted to do something deceiving as well – and settled on using an orange soba based dish because they wanted to create a cold soba in the form of a dessert.
Chris added, “This is a fun dessert that looks like a pasta but is not actually a pasta. We created it by accident – because we wanted to make something fun and quirky and so we thought of this.”
The presentation of this dish impressed me the most. It really looked like a pasta appetiser, not unlike the angel hair pasta dish that we had been served earlier. In fact when it came out, the service staff had introduced it as a “pasta” and this left me confused for a few short moments – before I realised what it actually was.
Flavour wise, the orange taste is immediately quite strong, though at the same time its flavour was quite refreshing. However after a few moments, the orange flavour in the mouth gives way to a subtle lemongrass taste, which makes this dessert quite interesting.
Added dad, “I thought the combination between the orange and the lemongrass taste was interesting. It was also a soft and tasty dessert and the pearls had a rather mild taste. Presentation was really attractive though.”
This dish had comprised of the familiar flavours of our childhood – Milo truffle, Kaya macaroon, Mango lollipop and a Peach pate de fruit.
According to Chris, he and his team used the familiar flavours of our childhood because they want the memories of Horizon Bistronomy to linger in our memories after we have left the restaurant. As childhood flavours are something that is dear to many people, he and his team thus selected these flavours to represent this idea.
Chris adds that this dish however, will not be on the restaurant’s upcoming menu but is instead usually served for special occasions and tasting menus.
He continued, “The four items in this dessert, are snacks that we want people to munch on after a meal. We have Milo and Kaya, and a peach flavoured gummy worm lolly based dessert that many Singaporeans will be familiar with.”
Out of these items, my favourite was definitely the Kaya macaroon – it tasted exactly like Kaya toast and the flavours had been replicated perfectly. I admit that I had been completely blown away by this version of Kaya toast – and in fact, I would not mind having it for my breakfast in the mornings!
The Mango lollipop was interesting, reminding me of a cold eclair and the Peach pate de fruit was not too sweet, which suited me nicely.
I love Milo, but I had been slightly disappointed with the Milo truffle though – while the chocolate was deliciously dark and rich, I unfortunately could not taste much of the Milo flavour. Having grown up on Milo since I was a child, I would have liked the Milo flavour to have been more prominent.
Lemon Thyme Meringue
As the name implies, these are meringues, prepared with lemon thyme flavour and they are served in a frying pan with lemon skin and thyme leaves on the side.
When the dish first arrived, I admit that I had thought something had been burning! But this was intentional according to Chris.
Said Chris, “We burnt it so that the smell would linger in the whole dining area after the meal. The idea is for it to smell burnt. For the first dish we tackled the taste buds; now we wanted to tackle the smell element.”
Added dad, “The thyme smell was really distinctive. Even after eating the meringues, I could smell the burnt thyme flavour. It gets the aroma right into your senses.”
Chris also pointed out that this was another dish that will not be on the restaurant’s regular menu, but is instead served on special occasions and tasting menus.
Upon tasting the meringues, I think that these will definitely appeal to those with a sweet tooth – it had been quite sweet, with a subtle lemon and herb flavour kicking in afterwards.
As a whole, I would say that this was a very interesting, informative and enjoyable food tasting session, with plenty of culinary skills having been showcased, to produce a meal with a myriad of flavours and textures. So, a place like Horizon Bistronomy may be good to bring guests to, in order to impress them.
Agreed dad, “It has been an interesting and unique meal that I would not usually find at most of the other restaurants.”
Thanks Horizon Bistronomy for the invite to the media food tasting session.
Horizon Bistronomy Alexandra is located at…
456 Alexandra road NOL building,
(Walking Distance from Labrador Park MRT, Circle Line)
+65 6274 3655
Monday – Friday
11am – 11pm
Click here for my review of Horizon Bistronomy Punggol.