Tucking into steaks at 665°F at the Andaz Singapore is no run-of-the-mill experience. The steaks are specially cooked in a charcoal-fired Pira oven, a floor-to-ceiling structure in its open-concept kitchen (only one other restaurant uses the hybrid grill-oven in Singapore). Belying its fuss-free appearance, the steaks deliver maximum impact, teasing the palate with a melody of flavours. That’s the intention, of course. As sous chef Josephine Loke says, it’s “Simple, but flavour-packed.”
The name of the restaurant is based on the temperature of said Pira oven, burning with 665 degrees Fahrenheit of searing hot flames. “Imagine a charcoal grill in an oven,” muses executive chef Soren Lascelles. Thanks to the Pira oven’s unique construction, the heat radiates all around, cooking the meat incredibly evenly, with a seductive crust you won’t normally get from an open fire.
The contemporary steakhouse threw its doors open in December with Loke leading the team — a rare female chef at the helm. The 27-year-old’s fine dining background, including Pollen, Tippling Club and two Michelin-starred Odette, are not lost on 665°F. Unlike traditional steakhouses, which often serve heavy, creamed and buttered appetisers, she’s balanced the menu with lighter flavours and sustainable seafood starters, such as the scallop ceviche with ikura pearls and a sprinkle of vinaigrette.
Diners can catch the team at work, calm and orderly, in the show kitchen whilst Loke works the glowing grill herself. “When [the oven] is packed, I bring the charcoal to the top to get a quick colour,” Loke describes. “When the fire flares up, I close the valve to cut the oxygen. Exposure to carbon in the soot, will leave the meat with a bitter aftertaste.”
665°F is also halal-certified, which the team believes fulfils a demand in the local market. Despite plans to include Wagyu beef in the meat selection, they couldn’t obtain any from Japan with the Islamic food certification. Hence the chefs have been exploring other meat sources, such as Europe, US and Australia.
Chef Loke admits that doing away with pork, lard and alcohol entirely was daunting initially, but she overcame the challenge with substitute ingredients. Loke is the final taste tester for every sauce and condiment at the steakhouse, including peppercorn, salsa verde, hollandaise and truffle dressing, all freshly made every day. The lengthy process means the team starts prepping at noon every day, before the restaurant opens for service at 6pm.