I haven't been back to Morsels ever since I first ate at their original premises at Little India. In hindsight, I can't imagine why. Because the food was pretty stellar. But I realized, during my second visit to Morsels, at its new home in Dempsey, the reason for my reticence in returning: the menu just isn't enticing enough.
Usually, when I read a menu, or one that is well-written at least, I wanna order everything coz everything sounds so tempting. However, Morsels' menu was so poorly written I found myself picking dishes by way of elimination. It's a waste that the menu doesn't do the food justice, because Morsels' food is truly outstanding. I attribute the pretentious drafting to the damn hipster movement, which detracts from how good the food at Morsels is.
Ideally, a menu should give you a flavour of the restaurant's food. But at Morsels, what the menu suggests is in stark contrast to what's actually served. A "sakura ebi daikon cake" turned out to be a Cantonese-styled pan-fried carrot cake, while regular risotto was referred to as "pearl rice", and a "pistachio nougat brittle" was really soft, not hard, nougat simply cut into small cubes.
Deficient menu aside, the food remained distinguished. The menu's been overhauled since my last visit, but the cooking remains imaginative and masterful. Foods are effortlessly fused, however unexpected the combinations, with finesse and polish.
A must-try was the Grilled Wild Sri Lankan Tiger Prawns ($24) paired with grilled okra, arugula, a Cantonese-style "carrot cake" dotted with sakura ebi. A nuanced tamarind miso sauce and sprinkle of calamansi furikake completed the sublime ensemble.
I wasn't particularly tantalised at the idea of Burnt Somen ($18), but I'm a sucker for anything-somen, so I ordered it anyway. This exceeded expectations, in a most delicious way, as the dish was evocative of our local 'sheng mian': the noodles were bundled up and crisp fried for a bit of crunch, and jazzed up with charred corn. sugar snap peas, fresh arugula, pickled woodear fungus, and a monkey head mushroom dashi gravy.
The Charred House Poached Octopus ($26), perfectly soft and chewy, was set atop a mound of squid ink risotto. The risotto's moreish notes made for a great foil to the salted egg yolk sauce, while tobiko provided a briny burst of flavour.
The Seared Slow Cooked Duck Breast ($35), gorgeous pink strips of sumptuousness, was redolent of the rich soy notes in the yuzu white chocolate sauce. A spicy-piquant fennel kimchi balanced the heft of the meat while a kale chips, scratchings and eryngii mushrooms lent texture.
The Jackfruit 3 Ways ($14) was more a confection of torn banana bread speckled with soft nougat pieces, pickled jackfruit "jerky", jackfruit cream, and pickled jackfruit compote, paired with a tangy homemade coconut yoghurt spinkled with brown butter crumble. Exquisite plating but not a memorable dish.
25 Dempsey Road #01-04
Tel: 6226 3822
Open Tuesdays to Thursdays from 12noon to 3pm; 6pm to 10.30pm;
Fridays from 12noon to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm;
Saturdays from 10.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm;
Sundays from 10.30am to 3pm;
Closed on Mondays