When I think back to my school days, the food is definitely not one of my fondest memories. At SAAM, a little restaurant on Graham Street that serves ‘global cuisine,’ the current menu in place is inspired by school food, yet clearly much better school food than I ever had!
Chef Patrick Dang was born in Hong Kong, raised in Australia and has worked all over the world, collecting ideas along the way. SAAM, which means ‘together’ in Afrikaans, reflects all of these influences and brings them together, offering themed tasting menus that change every two months.
The space is small and intimate. Save for the brightly coloured artwork on the walls, the décor is very simple, allowing guests’ attention to be drawn to the small open kitchen at the back of the room, and subsequently to the food that comes out of it.
The menu for September and October is called ‘A School Day’, incorporating Chef Patrick’s childhood favourites from growing up in Australia, yet offering these with totally unexpected twists and elevating them to a more fine dining experience.
After an amuse bouche of a beautifully presented and delicious oyster (not sure how this fits into the school food theme!) the first course was “Nutella & Toast”. Admittedly, as the very fussy child that I was, if someone had served me truffle panna cotta on toast with raw scallops and hazelnuts instead of Nutella when I was little, I would have been very upset. Thankfully my palate has somewhat matured and I absolutely loved this dish. The truffle wasn’t overpowering, but complemented the fresh scallop beautifully.
Next came “Cereal & Yoghurt”, which actually consisted of foie gras parfait topped with almond yoghurt, savoury granola and peppered pineapple. This was certainly a rich dish, yet the textures and the flavours were sensational.
The “Sausage & Egg” was perhaps one of my favourite dishes. You may have started to notice a theme here – the title of each dish really had very little to do with the actual dish. Here, therefore, there was neither sausage nor egg present, but instead a kind of deconstructed lobster curry!
Fish and chips were a standard Friday dish at my school. Chef Patrick’s “Fish & Chip” was once again creative and better than any school fish and chips. The turbot was not deep-fried, but poached, and sat on a bed of wonderfully textured mushy peas. The deep-fried tartar sauce was fantastic, whilst the crispy vinegar-infused crisps tied it all together.
The “Gluten-free Noodle Soup” was a play on the chicken instant noodles we all would have had growing up. Here, however, the noodles were actually thin strips of chicken and the broth was enriched with abalone. It was a very comforting dish, yet since I’m not overly keen on abalone, I found it a little too intense for my liking.
Last of the savoury dishes was the “School Roast Dinner”. I remember roasts at school being dry, overcooked and disappointing. This one, however, was quite the opposite. The slow-cooked Wagyu short-rib was deliciously tender and I loved the ‘one potato fry’, which was actually cheesy mashed potato under a crispy outer layer.
For dessert, Chef Patrick created his version of “PB&J”, consisting of peanut butter parfait with banana pudding and an assortment of different grapes and grape-flavoured bits and bobs. I have a slight obsession with peanut butter, so I loved the parfait, but found the banana pudding a little too sweet for my taste.
The 7-course tasting menu of A School Day costs $788 per person and is available until 31st October. I was really impressed by SAAM and and Chef Patrick’s creativity. I’m intrigued to see what he’ll come up with next!
G/F, 51D Graham Street
Tel: +852 2645 9828