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Joel Robuchon Restaurant, Singapore


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#1 Bu Pun Su

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:43 AM

McD and KFC are arguably the most popular fast-food chain in the world consistently delivering their food that tastes pretty much the same wherever you are. Is it possible to do the same in the high-end dining? In the mid-level, we may know Cheesecake Factory. Joel Robuchon, the most decorated chef, has shown that it’s do-able to open fine dining franchise with his L’Atelier. Even more amazing is that Chef Robuchon doing that with his gastronomy place – Joel Robuchon restaurant (there are currently 4 of them world wide – the latest just opened last year in Singapore). His step has been followed by Pierre Gagnaire whereas Alain Ducasse only does the same with his chic Spoon and bistro Benoit

Food (and wine) – 95/100

Having been to all Robuchon’s fine dining places, it’s known that all of these places serving > 50% of exactly the same dishes. His latest restaurant, located in Resort world sentosa, is lead by a Japanese chef called Tomonori Danzaki. His resume includes working with Robuchon for nearly 20 years as well as becoming Chef de cuisine at Robuchon mansion in Vegas. With this, I know I will be in good hand when having my meal here.

I was a bit picky with the tasting menu since I would like to try as many new dishes as possible. The staffs were helpful and the chef was flexible to accommodate my request in advance. If you often read my review, you can expect that I will order the long degustation menu (14-course), don’t worry most dishes were quite small actually, Below is the short summary on what I ate,

The top dishes for my meals were
(Crispy soft boiled egg served with smoked salmon and oscetra caviar) - One of Robuchon's signature dishes. The warm and runny egg-yolk was 'absorbed & balanced' by the salty salmon and briny caviar (served in generous portion). The crunchy pastry also soaked up the soft egg and the cauliflower cream below.
(Homemade spaghetti served with soft poached eggs and shaved Alba white truffle) - An excellent dish. It seemed straightforward yet impressive. The al dente spaghetti was around the poached egg. To make the most out of it: break the egg yolk and mixed it together with the pasta, cream sauce and the white truffle. Then enjoy this delicious dish and its texture and temperature contrast. The stronger the truffle, the better the dish

The other dishes with caviar and Alba truffle were alright, but not as spectacular as above. I referred to sweet and chilled corn veloute with sour cream and caviar (Robuchon has done much better caviar-based dish). Also, I quite enjoyed the combination of earthy potato, rich foie gras carpaccio and shaved truffle. In addition, I also had ‘repeated’ dishes (I had them at other Robuchon before) such as scallop with fregola in coral emulsion – the ‘sauce’ is consistently good, but the US scallop was not that sweet and inferior to Hokkaido/Brittany version. The chef also prepared sole with lemongrass and citrus. Normally, this dish will be prepared with sea bass (more flavorful and better texture) and indeed Le Bar > Le Sole for this kind of preparation. For the main course, I had a perfectly cook Wagyu beef cooked on rock salt. The beef was delicious except the skin part a bit too salty – I was told that the rib-eye was cook on top of bacon.

The desserts a Robuchon are generally very good; these were not exceptions. I had Smooth passion fruit served with dark rum granite and light coconut foam - A great tropical dessert showcasing different flavors: sour passion fruit cream, sweet coconut and bitter rum granite. Overall, it's very refreshing AND Chuao chocolate served with sesame seeds biscuit and Sicilia pistachio - The chuao cocoa (from Venezuela) was awesome combined well with the biscuit below. Eat the pistachio ice cream before it quickly melted. I had a few glasses of wine for the pairing, but the Sommelier was kind enough to give me one extra glass free of charge.

Eating lots of courses can be quite tricky at times. The more dishes you have, the more ‘mistakes’ the kitchen is likely to make. Well, there wasn’t any disaster dish I ate but not many of them were that fantastic – they’re consistently good and tasty. Although chef Danzaki could be the least experience chef compared to chef Verzeroli, Semblat and Le Tohic, I confidently say that the meal at Robuchon Singapore is every bit as good as at other Robuchon establishments. However, I don’t yet experience my meals at Robuchon reaching the level of Ledoyen or Le Meurice, let alone compared to Gagnaire Paris/L’Arpege … Nevertheless, I gave this place 95 pts (equivalent of 2 ½* by Michelin guide)

Service (and ambiance) – 95/100

If there’s one thing that Robuchon Singapore is more superior than the other Robuchon’s places I’ve visited, it will be its hospitality. The staffs are professional, friendly and enthusiastic – they never forget to replace my napkin or refill my water. The Filipino maitre d’ that attended my table was excellent; unlike other Filipinos I’ve encountered in Singapore, this young gentleman is passionate, informative and sincere. He used to work at hotel’s F&B (Raffles Singapore and Burj Al Arab) prior to coming here, too bad that I didn’t ask his name. Since the restaurant was rather empty, I was often served by the manager and the sommelier themselves – both are from France. I wasn’t really sure why, but in terms of restaurant service, French-style hospitality is the best. Possibly they’re not only professional, but also loved fine cuisine themselves. Moreover, they’ve dined at many top Michelin places in France and Europe and thus know how to deliver top notch service themselves.

The restaurant’s ambiance is greatly influenced by Robuchon Vegas except it’s much more spacious. You will find the black and white marble checkerboard at its foyer, rest rooms as well as kitchen. There’s also a more private section called “winter garden” with a giant tree in the middle, but don’t worry it’s not an open space. The attention to details extends to its meticulous décor of the guest’s tables. The best part was that everything was brand new. Overall, it’s a satisfying 4-hour dinner experience. By using Michelin lenient standard in Asia ex Japan/Europe, this place should easily get 3-star accolade should the red guide decide to come to Singapore in the future.

More detailed reviews: Robuchon Sgpr winter '11 review

Pictures of the dishes: Robuchon winter pictures

#2 Julian Teoh

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 09:35 PM

Was here for dinner back in April and here are some of my thoughts.


I was going to do a blow-by-blow but couldn't work out how to post photos on the new system. Until I do (and sincerest apologies as this is normally not my style), I have posted a course-by-course with photos here: http://julianteoh.bl...nt-sentosa.html.


Food: Very good. Technique and quality of produce is amazing, with a very sharp focus on the seasons. Executive Chef Tomonori Danzaki won three stars at the MGM Grande in Las Vegas and it shows in the food. Stand-outs from the tasting menu were an ethereal daikon soup with port-marinated cubes of foie gras, a frogs' leg beignet with tempura watercress and soya shoots, a lobster and sea urchin risotto dish, baby vegetables simmered in semolina (les racines maraicheres) and veal chop with teriyaki glaze and vegetable "taglierinis" - ribbons of cucumber and zucchini lightly blanched and tossed in a pesto to convey a very light "idea" of pasta.


You would have noticed the Japanese influence in these dishes, which would not be a surprise to Robuchon followers, but even the progression appeared to be heavily influenced by Japan, e.g. omitting red meat, finishing the savoury courses on a light vegetable and semolina dish - the famous Robuchon pommes puree do not make an appearance on the tasting menu (although they are served with the main courses in the prix fixe and a la carte options), and I suspect this was deliberately done to provide a lighter experience for the guest. Danzaki told me later that his thinking was inspired by Japanese kaiseki menus, where the savoury courses typically finish with a light rice or noodle dish. He loves to showcase ingredients without too much playing around; with access to ingredients of such supreme quality, who can blame him? There is nothing mind-bendingly complex about the composition of the dishes (technique is a different issue), typically restricted to three of four major components or flavours, but the flavours are pure. Indeed, I actually feel fresh and rejuvenated after eleven decent-sized courses.


The meal is replete with classic gestures of hospitality, so the bread cart rolls over with an offer to have your choices re-heated, butter (Bordier, scraped from a cylinder the size of a water jug), cheese (from affineur Bernard Antony, of which Anglade recommended a two-year old gruyere) and mignardises (as many as you can handle) are also delivered by trolley, and a lovely lemon cake is presented to you on the way out.


Menus: Robuchon offers three dining options: pure a la carte, a selection of prix fixe menus ranging from S$160++ to S$320++ based on number of courses and with limited choice of dishes, and an 11-course degustation priced at S$565++. The a la carte is priced such that unless you are content with a single course, the prix fixe and tasting options look like much better value for money. Six courses (appetiser, soup, two mains and cheese) plus amuses and the mignardises cart cost around S$375 including taxes and service, which is pretty much ballpark for a top-end European restaurant in Singapore.


Service: As reported above by Bu Pun Su, service here is excellent, led by the very charming maitre d' Guillaume Anglade. However, the knowledge and capability filters across the entire hierarchy of service staff, and our waitress Rebecca took really good care of us. One of the best service experiences in Singapore at the moment. Many people give the casinos credit for bringing the big names into Singapore, but they don't focus enough on the fact that the "celebrity chefs" are bringing in top-calibre managers from other parts of their empire to train up the staff. DB Bistro Moderne is another "celebrity" restaurant staffed by supremely competent personnel, although of course the tenor of service is very different and appropriate to the very different restaurants that they are.


Decor: Luxe - purple and beige tones, chandeliers and Swarovski crystals; the place was designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, the dean of restaurant designers. Seats are very comfortable and lighting is appropriate.

Wine List: This is a casino, meaning it's priced for the whales. It's a very strong list, and well-balanced with some twenty wines by the glass. Trophy bottles at trophy prices are present (DRC, Coche-Dury Corton Charlemagne, Latour, etc.), but S$170++ for Domaine Rapet’s Aloxe-Corton village is enough to make your eyes water. For a comparison, Mr Rapet’s excellent 2009 Corton Grand Cru, one of my favourite burgundies (and a Burghound 93-pointer, incidentally) retailed locally for just over $85 a bottle.

Overall: great stuff, and very worth a visit. You will need advance bookings for Thursday-Saturday, but can chance your arm earlier in the week. And if it's full, there's always L'Atelier next door...

Edited by Julian Teoh, 05 July 2012 - 09:38 PM.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink

#3 Bu Pun Su

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 11:15 AM

As far as French gastronomy’s concerned, Joel Robuchon, among active chefs, is probably the most popular and respected in the world. Although, he’s certainly not the favorite of mine, somehow I happened to have dined at his fine dining restaurants several times. After absent for more than two years, I decided to return to Robuchon Sentosa last month. In Dec ’11, I ate there during the Piedmont white truffle season; this year was during the Perigord black truffle season. Excluding desserts, I was fortunate enough to have savored 40+ different dishes created by the French master chef. As I received the restaurant’s latest menu via e-mail, there were still lots of food I had not tried yet. So, I thought I had good “excuses” to return there. Well, also because I had a great time during my first visit – along with Chateau Robuchon Tokyo, this one was my favorite among Robuchon’s restaurants.

 

Nothing has changed regarding the place’s decor. I was greeted by the checkerboard tile at the lobby before entering the main dining room on the right side. Grand chandelier hanging at the ceiling, some crystals lying on table runners, and oversized vases were all in place and well kept. In contrast to the black and purple color in Las Vegas, here, the ambiance was dominated by black and beige/some gold. Menu wise, it seemed that the kitchen, led by talented and meticulous Chef Tomonori Danzaki, has settled down. Compared to my previous visits, I recall there were 50% more dishes these days. However, it didn’t matter that much for me as I had “designed” my own tasting menu (the long degustation menu with some modification) prior to my arrival. As I know it would be lots of food and a long gastronomy journey, I prohibited myself to eat plenty of bread. I began with 3 of them: bacon-mustard, cheese and saffron soft bun; it stayed that way until the end of my meal. The butter was still Bordier’s unsalted accompanied by good salt quality and Spanish olive oil.

 

Let’s go to the main substance: the food. Apparently, I ordered more than I thought ... Including amuse-bouche and mignardises, I consumed 20 courses. This time, several of the dishes were bigger than my previous experience (of course, I didn’t complain) especially during the “trio items” that were usually served in a very small portion, even by tasting menu standard. Since there were lots of food, I would not describe all of them – you can read them at my longer review (see the link at the bottom). In any Robuchon fine dining restaurants, it’s almost certain that you would have dishes with caviar and they’re not any “random” dishes with caviar on top. This time my favorites were:

- King crab duo (a combination of delicate Kamchatka crab and fine spider crab displaying texture and flavor contrast) with Imperial caviar and sea urchin on top. The crab's succulent taste matched perfectly with caviar's brininess as well as the uni’s sweet and creamy flavor.

- An exquisite salmon tartar with shiso and caviar. The luscious salmon tartare was fresh, tasty and perfectly seasoned; it's enhanced by top quality of shiny caviar (having sumptuous taste) and runny egg yolk wrapped in gold leaf. Every element here was just right; I truly enjoyed every single bite of this dish.

 

In addition to the caviar dish, you can expect a “trio” of seasonal items at Joel Robuchon. In the Winter, you can expect some black truffle dishes and I liked:

- Mille-feuille of unagi, foie gras and black truffle - an intense dish. The caramelized Japanese unagi was sweet and slightly firm while the smoked duck liver was delicate and rich, then the pungent truffle added an extra 'punch'. To balance any excessive flavor, there was bland whipped cream with black pepper as well as salad containing radish and onion  

- Arguably my best dish of the night: Perigord truffle tart with onion and bacon – they’re in perfect harmony. I could taste different flavors and textures but balanced; they're happily dancing in my mouth as I slowly savored this exceptional dish. Relates to execution and plating, it was just way better than a similar dish created by lepinoy at les amis

 

Under Japanese head chef, one could expect excellent seafood and fish dishes,

- Both langoustines courses were delicious. The first one was the famous scampi ravioli with foie gras sauce (not so strong this time, maybe due to plenty of rich dishes I had in the first half of my meal) and cabbage. The second one was new to me and even better than the 1st Dublin bay prawn. Danzaki-san served a fresh and succulent Alaskan langoustine with its own tasty juice. There were contrast in texture and color as displayed by orecchiette pasta, almond, and zucchini as side items

- I was glad that sauces at both fish courses were not too heavy. After eating plenty of dishes with black truffle or truffle-based sauce, I prefer to follow them with something cleaner and lighter. I enjoyed my pan seared Amadai with crispy scale. The fish was delicate, prepared with light saffron sauce with some sour notes in it. Following this, a firm yet supple piece of good Turbot accompanied by wild mushrooms and truffle jus.

 

My main course was a tender duck breast (a tad overcook and a bit dry for my taste) with the creamy duck liver and (fresh) cherries. Also, as expected, Robuchon’s legendary mashed potatoes. Since my Europe trip nearly 4 years ago, I don’t think since then I ever ate great French cheese. This time, I requested it to be part of the tasting menu. Although I was really full at that time, but I managed to sample goat cheese, comte, camembert and roquefort – all of them was nice. The desserts were up to Robuchon’s standard and you would get 2, one would contain some sour/acidic taste for palate cleanser and the next one was guaranteed to be sweet and generally chocolate-based. If you’re curious, welcome to see the pictures by clicking the link below.

 

I forgot to mention that compared to my initial visit, the price of a long tasting menu has been reduced to be SGD 40-50 cheaper. Because of this, I added 1-2 “extra” dishes utilizing winter black truffle. Overall, the execution was precise, the flavors were delicious and not monotonous, the presentation was artistic – an excellent feast for the senses. Robuchon’s dishes might not be too inspiring, but they’re not simple either. It’s one thing to know and understand the receipt, but it’s another thing to be able to execute it in such perfection. This meal convinced me that Tomonori Danzaki was the best among Robuchon’s chefs brigade. He not only was an expert in cooking, but he also genuinely cared about my dining experience. He actually felt that my tasting menu was too much/long. Half way through, he asked the staff to check whether I had been stuffed or if the food pace was alright – the kitchen had no problem to make some last minute adjustments if required. Unlike my previous visit when I had been invited to the kitchen, this time Chef Danzaki greeted me in the dining room. We had a nice chat for 10 minutes or so towards the end of the meal. He was very pleased and honored knowing that Robuchon Singapore was my best dining place among all of Robuchon gastronomy restaurants.

 

In addition to be the best in terms of food, the Robuchon RWS was also leading in terms of hospitality. The service was attentive, friendly and efficient during my dinner even though the restaurant, surprisingly, was very busy; there were more than 30 diners. The “pace” was nice, by 8 PM a group of 10 people occupying the private ‘winter garden’ left. Around 10 PM, there were only me and another table of four. Unlike my experience at fine dining restaurants in Asia, this time the main “service awards” belong to the Asian staffs named Sherika, a lady from Philipine, and Kohmalan, an Indian Singaporean gentleman. Both of them had very good knowledge about the food, restaurants, and Robuchon in general – they didn’t seem to simply memorize the information as I was talking with them. They were also sincere and had good personalities. Perhaps, it should not be too surprising when I learned later on that Sherika used to work at Robuchon Macau for a few years before moving to Singapore while Kohmalan has been with the team since the opening. More than one staff asked me how they were doing in terms of food and service. They’re more than willing to listen to my feedbacks and very eager to get better. IMHO, the service here was easily the best one I’ve ever experienced in Singapore.

 

For the first time outside Europe and Japan, I ever bestowed 97 pts (a convincing 3-star by Michelin standard) for food to any restaurant in Asia and US. As bizarre as it might sound, it means that my meal at Robuchon restaurant under Danzaki was better than my dinners at per se, Alinea, Urasawa etc. I am confident that the 4-star Forbes travel guide award the restaurant received early this year will be revised into 5-star within 2 years. I would love to return here again, but not so soon since it’s very expensive – probably in Spring/Summer 2016. It’s not unrealistic since the restaurant informed me that the Genting chairman had been very supportive and would like to ensure the existence of Joel Robuchon Singapore despite the fact that it has been losing money all this time.

 

The more comprehensive review can be found here, http://zhangyuqisfoo...-2nd-visit.html

Pictures, https://picasaweb.go...ngapore2ndVisit

 


Edited by Bu Pun Su, 11 March 2014 - 11:32 AM.

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