Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Colin, the Ninja Chef

How do you create a menu using premium ingredients and yet keep your average price per dish at just under $20? One way is to cut away overhead and manpower costs.

That's exactly what my friend Colin did.

If one could get away with dragging some burners to the middle of the sidewalk and setting up shop, I'm half sure he would have done that, at least at the beginning. Instead, he moved into the premises of B Bakery on Bussorah Street. Serendipitously, B Bakery closes on Sundays and at 6pm on weekdays, giving Colin free reign over the kitchen for Sunday brunch and dinners from Monday to Wednesday.

He opened shop quite a while back and I've been meaning to head down but somehow never did. I finally made it a point to get my ass there for the half year anniversary of ZT and me. I should have gone sooner.

I first met Colin at the Brown Sugar Bistro. He was helping his friend Kelvin, the owner of the now closed Le Figue, for a private engagement. Kelvin was there as a favour to the owner Yuan who was having issues with his chef. That was back in 2007 and if I recall correctly, Colin stayed there for a while after and that's how we got to know each other. Some time later, I helped him for a lunch function at the now defunct Les Brasserie on Club Street. I burned his strawberries for dessert :(

After that, he got married and we only kept in touch via the odd text or facebook msg. We met again when he joined the spanking new Pamplemousse in Dempsey. Then he stepped away from a respectable position and went out on his own.

In his own words, moving to B Bakery was the right thing to do because he finally had a humble place to call his own and where he was free to express himself. Cooking is artisanal to him and I respect him tremendously for sticking to his guns. For the same reason, I think he wouldn't be too happy calling him a ninja rather than an artist. But that's what he is - a bad boy rebel who does things his own way.

Some days at B Bakery are better than others. Today, when I walked in, the 20 seat dining room was empty. The location and the lack of awareness is definitely a reason for this but it shouldn't be this way. IAmArtisan, is a gem of a find. I don't claim to be an authority on food but I have eaten quite a bit in my short life, to the point that I am rarely impressed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not playing his tune because he's my friend. I can foresee a whole host of problems if they got more than 3 tables simultaneously because it's just him in the kitchen and his wife Rose handling front of house. I also didn't like every single thing about the food. BUT what he let me experience today was a real and proper meal. Dining as it should be, leisurely and of excellent quality.

The menu changes weekly but I've observed that Colin keeps his favourite main ingredients on each edition of the menu. Look out for the beetroot salad which will change the way you think of this muddy root. He also brings in fresh sardines from Europe but as well executed as this dish was, I'm not a fan of fishy fish. What I thoroughly enjoyed was the Port Nicholson cheese and his rendition of carbonara.

Don't take my word for it. Go try it for yourselves and be wow-ed.

B Bakery
15 Bussorah Street

Tuesdays to Saturdays - Dinner
Sundays - Brunch

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