Last 5th of April 2017, the Ukrainian Embassy in Singapore hosted a dinner reception in The Fullerton Hotel featuring delightful Ukrainian cuisine as part of the World Gourmet Summit. As with a gala event late last year, Masterchef Iurii Kovryzhenko from the Vintage Boutique Hotel in Lviv flew to the Lion City to delight guests with his creative interpretation of Ukrainian gastronomy – a cuisine which is rarely sampled in this part of the world. Since taking office in early 2016 as Ambassador of Ukraine in Singapore, His Excellency, Mr. Dmytro Senik has taken great strides to raise awareness about Ukraine in the Singapore market as a destination for tourism and investment.
I was invited for the dinner which immediately hearkened back to my fantastic time in Ukraine where I enjoyed the local borscht and vareniki immensely. Chef Iurii’s work can be classified as innovative. He uses Ukrainian staples such as beetroot, dumplings, cheese and liver but turns them into something that is appealing to both the eyes and the tummy.
Our dinner that night was termed as “Fleur Cuisine” due to the heavy usage of flowers, which add vibrant colors to the dishes.
We started off with Orange Pate as our amuse bouche. Pate is a popular starter in Ukrainian cuisine. I still remember my dinner at Kanapa in Kyiv where I had pheasant liver pate so it was interesting to see how pate tasted like with chicken liver. As the name suggests, the pate was shaped into an orange (complete with leaves as decor). The pate itself was very creamy and came with a distinctive flavor. It was good to eat on its own or with bread but I thought it would have been perfect with crackers.
Next came the delightful Crawfish Mousse which came in a silky texture that was not too dissimilar with French style Mash (Pomme Puree). The generous amount of crawfish on the mousse was evident with the wonderful crustacean flavor prominent from the first bite.
I love good beets and the ones that were underneath the Anchovy With Root Vegetables came excellently drizzled in a honey dressing. The anchovies were cured and salted which worked nicely with bread and provided for an interesting juxtaposition to the sweet (and colorful) vegetables.
I was immediately fascinated when one of Chef Iurii’s signature dishes – the plump and pinkish Cherry Dumplings With Madeira Sauce – was served to me. I still have fond memories of the Vareniki in Ukraine which comes in all sorts of fillings so I was curious as to what to expect here. Chef Iurii’s version is surprisingly light despite the presence of a sweet-sour filling within that had a distinctly more milky flavor than other cheeses I’ve had. The tartness of the cherries was a nice touch for variety.
Our main dish this time was the Duck With Apples and Greschotto (Buckwheat Risotto). A play on different textures and flavors, it was perfectly paired with the 2012 Pont des arts, saint emilion grand cru.
Our menu that evening only listed six dishes but we were served a surprise dish – Chef Iurii’s visually arresting signature Borscht. A staff member poured the soup right in front of me which caused the ingredients within to fizzle and burst into bubbles for a minute or two due to liquid nitrogen. After the spectacle, what you get is a very heartwarming bowl of Ukrainian Borscht generously flavored with refreshingly sweet beetroot and tomatoes.
We ended the meal with a Cheesecake that came with a slice of baked apple and some cherries on the side – a sweet ending which earned the approval from everyone in my table.
Thinking of visiting Ukraine? A couple of days ago, I wrote about the new visa regime in Ukraine where citizens from a number of countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India can now obtain a visa-on-arrival at any border crossing (including the international airports) in Ukraine. You can find out more about it HERE.