Stellar at 1-Altitude is going Tajima wagyu strong these days!
There’s something to be said for chefs who really get down and dirty with their produce. No, I am not referring to them whispering sweet nothings into a cow’s ears (though who am I to judge), and neither am I talking about rolling around gleefully on a bed of lavender (though I would really like to see that happen).
I’m talking about expanding the passion for the finest ingredients to taking ownership of the production process. That’s mighty sexy, if you ask me. You’ll know every teeny detail to satiate smart-ass journos and present dishes that have employed the best cooking method for that ingredient
In Stellar’s case, we’re talking about rearing its own wagyu beef. Not just any wagyu, but the Tajima cross-breed, which is reputed to be the best among the 4 wagyu breeds available. The farm is in Tiana Park in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia.
It’s a first in Singapore for a restaurant to be breeding its own cattle. I was curious about whether this was really true, because what about all that fine beef I’ve been eating at Japanese restaurants? Apparently, they order from fine foods importers, but don’t actually breed their own cattle.
Now, you might already have tried Tajima wagyu in Singapore, but most probably it would have been the popular ribeye, tenderloin or sirloin cuts. At Stellar, breeding the cattle means entire ownership of the cow, allowing Executive Chef Christopher Millar to play with various lesser-known cuts like the oyster blade, tri-tip and chuck ribs.
I was introduced to these cuts at a recent tasting session, where I went through a 7-course menu of delicious treats.
Kicking off the night with seared Hokkaido Scallops is always a fail-safe and at Stellar, the scallop was sweet and succulent. What was exciting though was the usage of morcilla – blood sausage – normally I would have been apprehensive but it was presented as crumbs and that was a beautiful substitute for the plain old bacon crumbs that usually accompany scallops.
There was a Belon oyster in the dish – but as Belons are prized for their intense mineral taste and long, rather “gamey” finish, they are best for “advanced” oyster lovers who enjoy strong flavours in their oysters.
Then, the 1st of the 3 special Tajima cuts at Stellar – the Wood-fired Tri-Tip. The tri-tip is found as part of the bottom sirloin and as its name implies, is a triangular cut, one that is lean but with good fat marbling, that’s perfect for quick-fire grilling.
Josper-grilled to pink perfection, I’d describe the cut as tender with bite. Some chew required which true beef connoisseurs would certainly enjoy. The sweet carrot puree and piquant shimeji mushrooms added more flavour to the dish.
It seemed like we oscillated between seafood and meat throughout the meal – which was not a bad thing at all, because it allowed for the palate to prep for the next round of meats while “taking a break” with lighter seafood options.
Following the tri-tip was the Carbinero Prawns done three ways – the head and its roe tempura batter-fried, the body on a bed of prawn consommé cooked quinoa and the tail dehydrated to a crisp.
I believe that when an ingredient is so compelling on its own, you don’t really have to do all that much to it and this is how I feel about carabinero prawns. The best way I have ever had them was just plain old, sashimi style. You can fully appreciate the glorious sweetness of the prawn that way. Call it the perfect dish for a lazy chef.
Stellar’s dish is a “hardworking” version of that, and all said, I definitely appreciate the effort made in presenting us with different styles of preparing the prawn.
The second unique beef cut at Stellar was a twist on the more common beef short ribs. This was the Chuck Rib, brined in pink salt for 7 days then braised in a red wine coffee sauce, the beef was everything a lover of braised beef would enjoy. So tender, so rich, along with the wagyu-fat roasted potato, this was my favourite beef dish of the night.
We moved back to seafood next, this time a line-caught Dutch Brill. Wrapped in bark paper from the eucalyptus tree and baked with a slathering of furikake butter, I enjoyed the flaky, sweet fish.
Finally, to cap off the meat trio pre-dessert, we had the Oyster Blade (marbling score 7-8) cut. This is part of the shoulder blade of the cow, and recognized for its versatility – you can grill, flash fry, roast and stew it.
At Stellar, it’s served thinly sliced – hence benefitting from the gentle initial sous vide, then a quick grill on the Josper grill. It’s smoother than the tri-tip and more tender, so perhaps a good option for those looking for an alternative to a tenderloin.
Dinner ended with a fantastic presentation of dessert – like an artist, Stellar’s dessert chef splashed, dolloped and gingerly placed various ingredients onto a black canvas of a plate. The various elements included an adorable “egg” filled with sheep’s milk mousseline cradling an elderflower honey yolk. And as yuzu is in season now, they introduced a yuzu sorbet which I must say stole the show for me!
The Tajima wagyu cuts are featured in Stellar’s 6-course ($130) and 8-course ($190) Constellations menus.
Stellar’s stunning locale, up high in the sky, is where I normally bring visiting guests, especially for sunset drinks at the rooftop, but it’s one to save for that next special date too!
Stellar at 1-Altitude:
Address: Level 62, 1 Raffles Place, 048616
Contact: 6438 0410 or email@example.com
Lunch (Monday to Friday) 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Dinner (Monday to Friday) 6:30-10:00pm
Dinner (Saturday) 6:00-10:00pm
Dinner (Sunday) 6:00-9:00pm