Thursday, October 1, 2015

Seattle Pike Chowder @ Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris

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Only a few people are aware of the F&B establishments within the vicinity of Fort Canning Park. However, the newly refurbished Fort Canning Arts Centre not only holds the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris but a cafe that serves highly acclaimed, award winning chowders.

Seattle Pike Chowder which originates from the famed Pike Place Chowder has finally landed in Singapore for us to try and savour thanks to a partnership between Giojio Concepts and Larry Mellum, Owner and Founder of Pike Place Chowder. Chef Mellum has been serving chowders for almost 25 years and his experience definitely paid off. His New England Clam Chowder was named, “Nation’s Best Chowder” for three consecutive years and was subsequently retired to be inducted into the Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall-of-Fame. If it’s that good, I’ve got to try it.

Seattle Pike Chowder is situated in a small indoor cafe with the shopfront titled “Giovanni L.”, an award-winning gelateria, also brought in by Giojio Concepts. The cafe is quite elegant and modest-sized,  an ideal place to have catchup/meetings with two or three friends/colleagues over a meal. (I could actually sit here, read or write all day with some chowder, coffee and gelato in between.)

There are six different chowder flavours, which are New England, Seafood Bisque, Smoked Salmon, Manhattan, Alaskan, and Scallop. Out of the six flavours, I managed to try four of them.

You might be asking, “What’s the difference between New England Chowder and Manhattan Chowder? Aren’t they all clam chowders?”

It’s pretty much like asking what’s the difference between curry laksa and asam laksa. They’re both similar dishes but with different ingredients which lead to very contrasting flavours. The Manhattan Chowder has a tomato and vegetable base instead of New England’s milk or cream base.

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First up was Seattle’s world-famous New England Chowder ($12.90). I had it served in a lovely warm bread bowl. I had just one spoonful and I was hooked. There was no need to add any pepper or salt. The chowder was definitely cut out for being America’s favourite. The ocean clams and the clam sauce felt and tasted fresh, the potatoes and onions added texture and depth to a seemingly simple soup. I actually finished the bowl’s contents and started eating away and the bread bowl which had absorbed all that creamy buttery goodness. I had to stop myself so I could continue trying the other flavours.

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Second, I had the Seafood Bisque($9.90). It was packed with a combination of seafood ingredients such as cod, crab, salmon, bay shrimp. I really enjoyed the balance between the tanginess of the tomato-basil-cream soup and the umami taste of the shellfish stock.

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Next, I had the Smoked Salmon Chowder($9.90). I liked the texture of this soup best. It was silky and velvety but still had those chunky ingredients that add a bit of viscosity to the overall dish. The flavour of the smoked salmon and vegetables diffused across the soup to get a well balanced smoky and sweet taste.

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To conclude, I had the Scallop Chowder($10.90). To my disappointment, it was too sour for my liking. Maybe it is an acquired taste that I have yet to get used to.

Prices vary slightly between flavours. The price for the small sizes range from $8.90 to $10.90 with an additional $3 upsize to medium and $6 to large. Also, the bread bowl versions range from $12.90 to $14.90 (which I really enjoy!)

So besides the Scallop Chowder, the other three were top hits with me. I guess when it comes to soups, everyone has a preferred taste. Some prefer tomato-based soups to milk- and cream-based soups and vice versa. My recommendation would be the tried-and-tested New England Chowder and their other award-winning soup, the Seafood Bisque. I can’t remember the last time a soup managed to engage all my senses (except hearing, of course.)

*This was a media tasting.

 Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris
Fort Canning Arts Centre
5 Cox Avenue #01-01
Singapore 179620
Daily: 10am - 7:30pm


Love, Kenneth

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