“Why This Restaurant” is a short series of posts about the restaurants we work with – their cuisine, our wines, how and why they work together, and of course the people.
It wouldn’t have been much of a surprise if Eeling, Michael and Damian (the three owners) had named their gastrobar “Itinerant” rather than Immigrants, given Damian’s peripatetic ways: Robinson Road (Citrine Chocolat, European), Purvis Street (Soul Kitchen, Peranakan and Italian), Bedok and Holland Village (Big D’s Grill, meats and specials), and now heritage food at Joo Chiat. Normally, we would read such a CV with scepticism, but we are in extraordinary terrain with Damian, who cooks everything he puts his mind to with sensitivity and soul.
Almost everyone we send to Immigrants remarks on the spicing, but few notice the variety of chillis and sambals, each one sensitively tailored to a particular dish. Some have an acidic component (usually lime) to lift the dish, others have an intense umami punch from belachan (prawn paste), and our favourite is one which is pure essence of chilli padi – heat, of course, but also a natural, lingering sweetness which makes it clear that chillis are fruits. We like playing off the spiciness with off-dry wines, and both the François Pinon Vouvray Brut and 2011 Albert Boxler Pinot Gris Réserve have the acidity and density to pair with Damian’s dishes.
It is however another wine on the Immigrants list which we are proudest of, the 2010 Clos Roche Blanche Gamay, from the magical couple of Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet. Spicy and complex dishes, such as those at Immigrants, are very difficult to match well, with most settling for beer or a simple wine to wash down rather than complement the food. When asked how the Gamay and Damian’s food work together to create magic on the palate, we prefer the romantic explanation that both the wine and food are somehow alive, imbued with the souls of their creators.
With Immigrants, we think and hope that Damian’s found a home, somewhere to settle after his years of culinary wandering. We invite you to join us this week at Immigrants, a fitting finale to our August collaboration.
Address: 467 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427678
Phone: +65 8511 7322