Who knew you could see so far from seventy floors up? Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows frame the panoramic views as twilight falls. Marina Bay and its star attractions stretch out before me, lights twinkling. Tankers, container and cargo ships are haphazardly queued in the Singapore Strait, awaiting a berth in the world’s second-busiest port. Is that Indonesia in the far distance, or simply my imagination? Surely, that’s possible as I am standing at the top of one of Southeast Asia’s tallest hotels?
My bird’s-eye vista is from the serene and refined setting of the two Michelin-starred restaurant, JAAN by Kirk Westaway, in Singapore’s emblematic Swissôtel The Stamford. Every seat in this intimate 35-seat dining room has aspects of that million-dollar panorama. The restaurant’s décor, gradient shades of blue, sandy tones, and warm bronze hues pay homage to the shores of Chef Kirk’s home region of Devon in Southwest England.
Crisp table linen, curated bespoke tableware, and specially designed furniture add to the refined ambience. And making its way across the ceiling – a tree-like sculpture inspired by hawthorns. Each large dangling leaf is hand-blown Murano glass. These now reconfigured glass pieces are from the restaurant’s original chandelier, valued at over a million dollars when installed some 20 years ago. JAAN’s current design results from an extensive three-month renovation completed in late 2022.
When his mentor and boss, Chef Julien Royer, left JAAN in 2015 to open the now three-Michelin-starred Odette in the National Gallery Singapore, Chef Kirk took the reins as Executive Chef, earning JAAN its first Michelin star in 2016. Over time, Chef Kirk has shifted the focus from fine-dining French to Modern British cuisine. A trend he has spearheaded on the international stage. This change and the team’s dedication saw JAAN receive its second Michelin Star in late 2021. It was also named Tatler Dining’s Restaurant of the Year for 2023.
JAAN offers a four or five-course set menu for lunch and an eight-course tasting menu of an evening, presenting elegant, refined and vegetable-forward dishes celebrating the best quality produce. Menus are seasonal and anchored on the quality produce of Chef’s hometown in Southwest England. Chef Kirk credits his mother as a strong inspiration, having helped her cook for the family from a young age. She could take a few simple ingredients – mainly from their kitchen garden – and create something so delicious and nourishing. Theirs was a vegetarian household, and where his fascination with vegetables began.
My JAAN food journey showcased their seasonal Summer menu, which, for Chef Kirk, is all about the abundance of crisp vegetables and zesty citrus notes. Fresh produce, brimming with vibrant intensity and invigorating wholesomeness. At the top of my personalised menu is the hashtag #Simple Yet Complex, and as I was about to discover, this phrase proved to be the perfect descriptor.
First, a selection of bite-sized British-inspired snacks like ‘Fish and Chips’ featuring a wafer-thin potato case and a filling of fresh cod puree with lemon juice and fresh herbs. A skewed ‘Alaskan King Crab’ leg morsel marinated in brown butter, soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and spices. ‘Goose Mousse’ is presented in a petit pastry cup with rich chicken liver parfait sweet red onion marmalade, with a lid of chestnut mushrooms and alyssum flowers. Lastly, JAAN’s much-loved ‘Cheddar Pancake’ is a crispy puff topped with caviar and features cheddar from a farm just 10 miles from Chef Kirk’s home.
Rounding out that diverse selection of snacks, a ‘Burnt Leek and Potato Soup’ arrives in custom-designed tableware. A fusion of two beloved British staples, melding the smoky notes of charred leek served over a macadamia nut base with hints of mushroom and truffle topped with a potato foam, resulting in a robust and deep broth. The bread course is served tableside: a duo featuring a rustic, homemade dark rye Batard loaf and a delicate, crispy Brioche crafted from sourdough alongside a quenelle of traditional Devon butter adorned with a bouquet of fresh lemon thyme.
Next ‘Summer Tomato’. Creamy Burrata cheese and a house-made pesto, both delightfully fresh and delicate. Embellishing this base is a medley of tomatoes of diverse flavours, hues, and textures, along with a translucent jelly composed of blended tomatoes, basil stalks, shallots, thyme, and garlic. As a final touch, olive crumb and a quenelle of basil sorbet. Chef’s take on Egg and Soldier sees a soft-boiled hen egg encased in herbaceous stinging nettle paste and cheese fingers of Cornish yarg (semi-hard cheese).
‘Violin Courgette’. A summer fresh courgette blanched, trimmed, chargrilled and accompanied by Scottish razor clams. Utilising the same courgette, additional slices are placed atop with the finishing touch of lemon purée and farm flowers from the hotel’s on-site Aquaponics farm. This light, bright, fresh dish was followed by ‘Langoustine’ – barbecued pieces with a bisque-like langoustine sauce accompanying summer beans.
‘Guinea Fowl’ is Chef Kirk’s modern take on this Christmas poultry, comprising tenderly brined breast topped with a guinea fowl leg confit and baked until succulent. The rich dish is garnished with a sprinkle of guinea fowl skin crisps and served with a sauce from poultry trimmings.
A palate cleanser simply titled ‘Clementine’ arrives to mark the move from savoury to sweet. A clementine sorbet shaped into a segment of the fruit atop pieces of fresh citrus. The summer menu dessert is Lemon Pie, inspired by Chef’s recent visit to Italy’s Amalfi coast. Created in collaboration with Krug Champagne, a shortbread base cradles layers of lemon meringue and lemon curd and adorned with a scoop of fresh yoghurt ice cream. An elevated dessert thanks to the Amalfi lemons—finely chopped and blanched in Champagne vinegar, extracting bitterness and accentuating their sweet-tart notes.
There I was, reflecting on my JAAN food journey, when my server arrived with another sweet surprise. A selection of Petit Fors – Apple Crumble, Coffee Chocolate, Toffee Pudding, and Chef’s latest creation, Devon Cream Tea. In this creation, a sablé biscuit envelops clotted cream and raspberry jam, enrobed in a white cream glaze and raspberry jelly. What a fitting end to my JAAN experience.
Service at JAAN is overseen by Restaurant Manager Guiseppe Farinotti, and service is as slick and polished as the restaurant’s food offering. A wine pairing to accompany the evening tasting is available at an additional cost. To ensure a connection between the artisans and diners, Chef Kirk and his Head Chef, Ng Guo Lun, individually visit tables as the evening unfolds, checking in on them and how the menu is being received.
From my visit, I now understand the many plaudits JAAN by Kirk Westaway has received are indeed well deserved. The restaurant is atop Singapore’s iconic Swissôtel The Stamford, and reservations are essential. For more details, visit https://www.jaan.sg/