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Butcher’s Block A Homage of The Hawai’ian Spirit

Butcher’s Block A Homage of The Hawai’ian Spirit

FoodieS Team
02 November 2023

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Experience the essence of Chef Jordan Keao's Hawai'ian heritage at Butcher's Block, where the art of butchery meets contemporary wood-fire cooking.

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Butcher’s Block brings together the art of butchery and mastery of contemporary wood-fire cooking in a seamless gastronomic journey. Drawing on the Hawai’ian heritage of Chef Jordan Keao, the restaurant is both timeless and timely.

Apportioning the complete animal in the kitchen, elevated by the primal use of wood-fire, Butcher’s Block speaks passionately to the elemental and ancient, and to the values of the Hawai’ians. By serving a vast array of meat, seafood, vegetable and fruit; by celebrating family and community; and by practising whole animal and zero-waste ideologies rooted in a deep respect for nature; Butcher’s Block touches the soul of today.

Chef Jordan and his team expertly wield the transformative heat of wood-fire to showcase fine seasonal ingredients in all their intrinsic fullness. Every creation is imbued with nuances of flavours, aromas, and textures, that can only be extolled with pure wood-fire. The newly unveiled tasting menu, IMUA – Hawai’ian for ‘moving forward with strength and spirit’ – highlights these intricacies in an elaborate display of the restaurant’s exceptional signatures and dishes of the season. The three-course set lunch, meanwhile, presents thoughtful choices for a mid-day indulgence; and a la carte options are ideal for variety and communal sharing.

As a perfect accompaniment to the meal, Butcher’s Block impresses with an impeccable wine list of close to 300 bottles – predominantly old-world, with a curation of new-world and minimal intervention wines. The resident sommelier would be pleased as well to apprise guests of a collection of rare wines and limited-edition classics; the restaurant’s pairings and flights; and its house-crafted cocktails. For a sweet round-off, the Digestif Trolley presents an international selection of postprandial drinks tableside. While a seat at the dedicated Sommelier’s Table, surrounded by the gleaming display racks of The Library, would certainly elevate the oenophilic experience.

The epicurean experience is replete with personable service, delivered to make guests feel a ‘part of the family’ as they retreat into the stylishly adorned interiors that spell a vibrant yet inviting sophistication.

Making of an Experience

Chef Jordan Keao was born in Hawai’i and grew up in a household where cooking, fishing, hunting, and farming were part of everyday life. It was a society of primeval bonds and relationships – values present in culture, identity, tradition, and customs – that were foundational and all-encompassing. Even today, Chef Jordan lives and breathes Aloha ʻĀina – translating to ‘love of the land’, central to Native Hawai’ian thought – and Mālama ʻĀina, meaning to care for the land and natural resources. These are manifested in his devotion to whole animal and zero-waste practices.

As a child, Jordan was taught to respect produce and prize self-sufficiency – taking only what one needed from the land, using all of it, and leaving nothing to waste. At eight years old, he was going out to sea, assisting his uncle, a fisherman and hunter. He would gut the catch, learning what was suitable for consumption by the family or to sell to the community; setting aside the remains for the next fishing expedition. His uncle also taught him to hunt; and he would observe the way an animal was reduced to different ‘cuts’ to be eaten immediately or preserved for later use.

These ancient ways and insights are woven into Chef Jordan’s cooking, as well as the captivating ambience of the restaurant. At Butcher’s Block, meat is hung and displayed – beef, duck, lamb, pork, fish and more – then butchered and broken down in-house, ensuring every part is used and not just the popular cuts. This sees ducks’ tongues deep- fried; and their bones simmered to make a jus. Beef fat trimmings are rendered and used as a coating to ‘seal’ meat during dry-aging. Fish bones are hung above the fire to dry, then added to konbu dashi to create a ponzu sauce while their scales are deep-fried for garnish. Whole vegetables are buried in embers to cook with their skin on. Herbs are dried and used for smoking or pulverised into powder for flavouring and garnishing. And at The Larder, a range of produce being dry-aged, fermented, and pickled, is showcased.

Jordan’s mother was too a chef who ran her own restaurant, and at home she cooked meals from scratch. Young Jordan would help her build fire from wood in their backyard, and these skills stayed with him; even today, he constructs the traditional outdoor Imu, a
layered pit yielding different temperatures, used for grand lūʻau feasts on special occasions. At Butcher’s Block, Chef Jordan manipulates the custom-built ovens and grills with finesse and precision to imbue depth of flavours and textures through a range of
cooking methods at varying levels of heat: smoking with wood or dried herbs, slow roasting, high heat grilling, burying with embers, grilling in baskets directly over embers, and hanging over coals.

Another enduring memory is of the monthly supper clubs that his mother hosted, where her close friends of different ethnicities would bring their native food. He was exposed to a multitude of cuisines and came to understand authenticity of flavours. Afterall, Hawai’i is a melting pot of cultures, rich in its history of migration; and its contemporary cuisine is a tapestry of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and Portuguese influences.

In this climate of inclusivity, Ohana or ‘family’ was thus another concept deeply embedded in the Hawai’ian ideology. Ohana refers not just to one’s own kin, but also an inner circle of close friends; and bears the meaning of loyalty, support, compassion, love, belonging, and largesse of spirit, especially in food.

At Butcher’s Block, ohana is lavished through service that is intuitive, warm and genuine, making guests feel ‘part of the family’. The interiors and ambience also resonate with an inviting and warm sophistication. And standing pride of place in the kitchen is the butcher’s block – emblem of the restaurant as a showcase of the finest. Assembled from carefully crafted pieces of wood, it is the very embodiment of Chef Jordan’s journey, because from the formative blocks of a unique life and career, something has coalesced that is whole, and magical – Butcher’s Block.

BUTCHER'S BLOCK

328 North Bridge Rd #02-02, Raffles Arcade S188719

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