Young talented Icelandic chef Gíslì Matt brought a taste of his homeland to Test Kitchen’s recent nine-course dinner pop-up, featuring unfamiliar Nordic produce and oozing nostalgic flavours.
Words Iris Wong
We are no strangers to Test Kitchen’s industrial-chic interior, the open kitchen where you can marvel at chefs working their culinary magic, and the genuine hospitality displayed by founder Vincent Mui and the service team. And this time, we even find ourselves greeting familiar faces from previous pop-ups, as Test Kitchen has accumulated a loyal following of fans that will excuse themselves from work early to join this dinner without second thought.
To put it simply, Matt’s dishes are all hits. There is a sense of warm rusticity that emanates throughout the meal – from the first three “snack” courses to be eaten with our hands, to the herbaceous halibut soup made from a traditional recipe by his grandma, to picking meat directly from a whole cod head on the table – which left our bellies full and hearts warm.
The umami and earthy flavours are perfectly balanced in the winter vegetables (carrots and radishes) dish served with a herbaceous oyster emulsion. The sprinkle of rye crumble adds a different crunch to that of the super fresh root vegetables. The Icelandic trout smoked in sheep’s dung is an eye opener: the uniquely intense smokiness of the trout has us wanting more, while the horseradish adds zing and lifts the natural flavours of the fish. We adore the homely yet refined halibut soup with dried fruits and dill. The thin, creamy fish broth is elevated with sweetness from the fruits, the distinct aroma of dill, and the umami of the mussels and halibut chunks. Matt’s desserts, with the Skyr in particular, are memorable to say the least. The Icelandic non-fat cheese, which isn’t as tart as yogurt but even more milky and airy, is topped with caramelised oats and a sugared sorrel crisp. We are ready to eat that every day.
Test Kitchen’s pop-ups are always fun, but this one takes it to the next level. Matt allows each ingredient to sing, while combining them masterfully for a harmonious dish loaded with pleasant surprises. We’re already thinking of paying a visit to Matt’s family restaurant Slipurrinn, where he works throughout summer.
Spending: $1,380pp (includes wine pairing)
Highlights: halibut soup, Skyr with oats and sorrel
What else: the welcome cocktail (Brennivín, stone bramble berries, arctic thyme) and Corney & Barrow’s wine pairings are lovely
Shop 3, 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun