Bu Pun Su

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  1. Gastronomy in Germany … it’s known for to have the most 3-star restaurants in Europe after France; there are 10 of them. In the Fall of 2008, I went to eat the creations of Dieter Muller and Joachim Wissler (Vendome was excellent) – then, didn’t know why, I just never return to Germany until last month. Although initially, I intended to visit the black forest area, the logistic of the biz trip made it easier for me to go to the “upper” Germany and this how I ended up having dinner at Aqua, the first 3-star Michelin in the Northern region. Aqua’s location is unique, inside the Ritz Carlton hotel that was situated in the Volkswagen autostadt ‘theme park’. It was not too secluded and can be reached quite easily by a fast train from a major city like Berlin. It was a small restaurant whose capacity was only around 30 people and it was very busy that evening. Surprisingly (or not?), there were plenty of French people occupying 3 different tables. I liked the minimal décor creating a relaxing atmosphere and there’s full windows providing views of old factory, water and the lawn. The table was big and widely spaced between tables. Nearly all of the German top restaurants have strong French influence in their cooking and in fact all of the head chefs are skillful in executing French cuisine technique. For the case of chef Sven Elverfeld, he belongs to the “young” chefs of the New German school. Additionally, his cooking was playful, and full of surprises. He likes deconstructing and distinctly re-interpreting traditional dishes in modern ways. These can be seen from many of his creations. For this dinner, I ordered the middle option of the grand journey menu. Some memorable dishes were: -velvety and scrumptious ‘chilled’ foie gras was balanced by grapes’ tartness, ice cream & goat cream cheese. The crunchy walnut was in contrast to the creamy liver. An outstanding beginning and awesome foie gras dish especially coming for someone who arguably never ordered any foie gras dish from the a la carte menu ever -the kitchen prepared 4 different fish dishes that evening (unfortunately with zero seafood item) and I had 3 of them. Among these, my favorite was a superb Brittany Sole that was carefully executed and covered with tasty pistachio-hazelnut butter. The salsify, with its vague oyster flavor, nicely supported the fish flavor -my main course was a wonderful local saddle of wild Venison (covered with thin ‘crumbs/batter’). It was slowly cooked at low temperature resulting in succulent and delicious meat without any unpleasant gamey smell / taste. The jus was also flavorful and the venison was served with cabbage, mustard and berries. It seemed that Germany may have different (and longer) hunting period than France There were plenty of innovative and tasty dishes that readers could see from the link below. Moreover, at the beginning, we’re given 5 small snacks and at the end, the pastry team delivered 3 mini sweets after the dessert. Service has been friendly, charming and almost flawless. My waiting staff was always ready to do his job yet often not visible to ensure guest’s comfort and ‘privacy’. Food and service were at high levels and very precise – a typical of German engineering finesse. Aqua, along with restaurant Vendome, easily becomes my best restaurant in Germany and the 3-star award was not surprising at all More detailed review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/06/aqua-sven-elverfeld.html Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157682545862183
  2. Le Cinq in the George Cinq

    Le Cinq is a new but old (experience) for me. Even though I’ve been visiting Paris every other year recently, I have never visited this grand restaurant. Yet, as I entered the restaurant, I’m familiar with some aspects: I ate at Christian Le Squer’s Ledoyen before, in fact twice - hence, I also somewhat recognized nearly half of the dishes in the menu. Moreover, I saw Patrick Simiand (a former restaurant director of Ledoyen) leading the dining room that evening. Initially, I was convinced that I would order the degustation menu here. Unlike in Ledoyen, the tasting menu is not exclusively about Le Squer’s classic all the time such as langoustine with ‘mayo’, turbot with potato, sweetbread as well as the grapefruit dessert. Somehow, as I reached the restaurant, I did not feel too hungry and was a bit tired. Thus, I went for a la carte. After learning the menu, I could not find new stuffs I really wanted to try. I went for relatively safe choices and they turned out well -Being a Breton chef, Chef Le Squer was really good in cooking seafood. So, for my ‘appetizer’, I had blue lobster with creamy coral emulsion. The well-executed lobster was tender and flavorful. The creamy sauce was somewhat tangy and lingering pleasantly in my palate. This dish also had some vegetables on the side. I wish the staff would pour only half of the sauce, and put the rest on the table (see the picture, then you will understand what I mean) -I hardly repeat having any dish especially for an a la carte when dining at a high end restaurant. But since I could not see any appealing new dishes by Le Squer, so I ordered his signature dish again: Spaghetti timbale with ham and morels. It has always been a superb dish and that night was no exception! Delicious ingredients, impressive sauce (black truffle + veal reduction), and beautiful presentation. Everything simply worked together in harmony. I think this spaghetti nest was one of the best dishes in the entire Parisian world of haute cuisine Dessert and (pre-dessert) was also really good here but the mises en bouche were forgettable. The hospitality was professional though nothing truly special about what I experienced. However, I was impressed with how my maître d’ handled diners next to me. Although based on my observation and how I saw the husband’s expression, the staff was not really wrong – he never blamed the madame and did his best to communicate with the kitchen to solve the issue and fulfil her wishes. Too long to tell all; essentially the wife wanted to create her own tasting menu in which for each serving is half portion divided by 2 (yes, you’re right if you think it was ¼ portion or smaller per person) Do I need to say about the opulent dining room? Well, plenty has been said and you can see a picture with the description below. While my meal here might not reach the high of the previous meals at Ledoyen, given that Le Cinq opens 7 days a week and Sunday is Christian’s off day, it’s a very satisfying meal. My 2 a la carte dishes were fantastic. I think I will return here … someday Pictures of the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157682233271833/with/35303633516/
  3. Taillevent vs. Grand Vefour

    Taillevent is a dining landmark in Paris and has been respected for years, even now. However, people hardly talk about it anymore ever since this iconic restaurant lost Michelin’s 3rd star about a decade ago, albeit it’s still quite reputable and managed to maintain the 2-star awards. I visited Taillevent, located not too far from Champs-Elysses, last May. The restaurant used to be a private mansion and it has a classy entrance and elegant dining room design. I was seated at the Lamennais dining room – the one with plenty of wooden panels and some modern artworks. The atmosphere was comfortable and soothing; the dining room was only half filled and I was seated in the sofa during my lunch. I was told that it was the last week of morels season and I decided to order a seasonal tasting menu focusing on asparagus and morel mushrooms ingredients. They did not seem to be too ‘heavy’ as there was no meat course. I was impressed with: -Anjou green asparagus (crisp yet tender and delectable) served on acidic verjus jelly (like a fine ‘vinegar sauce’) and with briny caviars. The presentation was exquisite -My main course was a perfectly executed turbot. The fish was cooked by keeping the middle bone and fat; this way added unique and delicious flavors. The sauce was also tasty, made of white wine & fish bone. As expected, the side dishes were asparagus and morels but the Turbot simply outshone them -I also liked the gougeres served at the beginning. Possibly the best one I’ve eaten since the old days of L’Ambroisie The food was generally very good although Alain Soliveres was not in the kitchen that day. The 2-star is certainly well deserved. It may get 3-star one day if the Michelin inspectors were in good moods during their secretive visit … The service was smooth, respectful and polished. The staffs, all gentlemen, were always around whenever you need something; most of them spoke good English. More detailed review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/06/taillevent-alain-soliveres.html Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157682059513233/with/35223664866/
  4. Kashiwaya, Hong Kong

    This will be the last part of my HK short trip in Nov last year. I had a lunch (by having a dinner set menu) at Kashiwaya, a relatively new Japanese restaurant. Followers of Japan kaiseki should immediately recognize the name – it’s indeed the first overseas outlet of the Kashiwaya Senriyama, one of a few 3-star Michelin restaurants in Osaka. The reservation was a bit challenging: to guarantee it, guests had to fill in the form and give your CC numbers / pictures as well as your signature. I was a bit lucky to make it here because the day before (Hideaki Matsuo, the chef-patron had an event in Macau so he brought his HK team along) and the day after (Jun Takahashi, the executive chef of Kashiwaya HK would attend a Michelin ‘party’) my lunch, Kashiwaya was apparently closed. I perceived it that the restaurant wanted to make sure whenever they open, they would serve the best food to their customers by having the full team around. Kashiwaya is located on the 8th floor at the On Lan Street, Central (the same building as Arcane and ON dining kitchen). The restaurant is carefully decorated and the interior was designed as if you’re transported to Japan – from the karakami sliding doors to walls painted by Japanese artists etc. The atmosphere was elegant, comfortable and discreetly ‘lavish’. I was the first customer to arrive and there were 2 others seated at the counter. However, the main dining hall was full – occupied by more than 10 people from mainland China (how did I know? From their Mandarin and accent of course; they’re also loud and carried plenty of shopping bags J). Thus, for the relatively new dining places with minimal marketing, Kashiwaya HK seemed to do quite well. Upon making a booking, the restaurant would ask you which menu to have as the kitchen got to prepare the ingredients a few days in advance. I picked the middle menu with 10 courses. Like any other overseas branches of Japanese restaurants in HK, the price here was expensive. Jun Takahashi and his team worked hard to “compensate” for it. All of the dishes were labor-intensive and carefully prepared by using premium, fresh and seasonal ingredients. Presentations were generally beautiful and the taste was delicious. I might not eat any spectacular dishes, but they’re consistently good and served at the high level. If I had to pick my favorite, a few of them were: -Nimonowan: The Amadai was carefully sake steamed resulting in tasty and tender fish; the Matsutake was meaty and delicious. The most important part was the perfectly balanced dashi with clean & umami flavor that held all elements (sweet potato, carrot and green vegetables) together. An awesome soup! -Yakimono: The grilled & marinated Ibodai was juicy, rich and delicious. The sweet potato, surprisingly, complemented the fish well. At first, I suspected they would be too strong when consumed together; the portion was also nice -Kae: 2 small dishes served concurrently. The first one - The sweet soy stewed Ayu fish and Uni brought richer tastes; they're balanced by rather mild mozzarella cheese and wasabi. The second part - The marinated Maguro was good; they're integrated by creamy ‘wild’ avocado, radish and uni as well as firm Shiitake mushroom. The dishes were meticulously executed using premium ingredients and they were satisfying For those who want to know more about what I ate, you could check out the links below. I noticed that at least half of the kitchen and dining room staffs were Japanese (including the lady manager); to ensure authenticity and the experience delivered at the high level. My hot ocha was constantly re-filled and anytime I need something, it was not difficult to find helpful staffs. The junior cooks plated many dishes at the counter, so asking any question about the food was not difficult when you’re seated at the counter. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. I very much liked my Autumn tasting menu though I cannot say for sure that I will definitely return here on my next visit to Hong Kong due to its steep price and the fact that the island had ample of dining options. I think the 2-star Michelin awarded to Kashiwaya is a well-deserved one. More comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/04/kashiwaya-hong-kong.html Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157679096852003
  5. The name Les Amis among foodies in Singapore (and those who’re familiar with the island’s dining scene) is identical with an old and respectable fine dining institution. Desmond Lim, with a few capable friends such as Justin Quek and Ignatius Chan, started it as a ‘lone’ gastronomy restaurant more than 20 years ago – a period when haute cuisine was not common in Singapore. Now, Les Amis group have grown as regional dining empire. Yet, the flagship Les Amis still stands tall, if not stronger than ever. Since the time when Chef Gunther was Les Amis’ executive chef, roughly I have been coming here for lunch or dinner roughly every 2-3 years. The last one took place in Nov ’16; this was also the 2nd time (if not mistaken) I ate in which Chef Sebastien Lepinoy leading the kitchen. Lepinoy was very particular about outsourcing his ingredients; he wanted the best produce (from Europe mostly) and has had a good relationship with elite supplier from his native country, France including the access to Le Ponclet butter. Some of the highlights of my degustation menu that evening were: -Pan seared of Erquy (Brittany) scallop was of high quality, plump and perfectly executed – the chef managed to keep its sublime texture and flavor. It was served with juicy clams, balanced scallion sauce and briny caviar. A very good dish -I also liked the Roasted Sea bass: tasty, meaty yet rather delicate; served with baby leeks, sweet muscat grapes and versatile sauce. The verjus du perigord sauce was mildly acidic and fruity. It worked well with the fish and its side dishes. A well prepared French cuisine -Eating a decent game dish in Singapore was a rare opportunity. Firstly, Asians usually were not too keen on the “hunting animal’s” smell, and then AVA was very strict about importing it. I was surprised and pleased when I saw Chef Lepinoy served game pie in the menu. It was a small one containing (chopped) foie gras, pheasant and served with its jus. The tourte was crisp and buttery with intense flavors of the duck liver and the bird’s meat. It was alright until I ate them together with sipping a red Burgundy (Puligny-Montrachet ‘07); the pairing was excellent. The wine cut through some ‘fat’ and enhanced the dish overall flavor -The main course was a tender and flavorful Aubrac veal tenderloin, served with mashed potatoes and caramelized onion. -Cheryl Koh was a creative and talented head pastry chef of Les Amis. Her desserts were consistently good and tasty but somehow I’ve never overblown by them. For the evening, I quite enjoyed the poached Williams pear – beautifully arranged. Inside the pear, there were caramel custard and thin biscuits The rests of the dishes (not mentioned here) were also solid and pleasant in general, but not as good as the ones described above. You can see those dishes at the link below. Similar to my meals here in early 2014, I find the food to be well executed, rather conventional, and tasty by using top products. However, I hardly experienced “wow” / memorable dishes that made me long to return here more often. Anyway, consistent with my previous dinner, this meal was at 2 ¼* level. Thus, I think the Michelin 2-star was justified but I’m not sure if it could go to the 3rd one anytime soon – certainly not in my notes I almost forgot to mention that Les Amis underwent major renovation a few years ago, especially a big ‘face lift’ at the kitchen: the customized Charvet island made the kitchen safer and more efficient (a very not-so-elaborate explanation). The dining room could fit in more people, thanks to the additional and bigger private rooms. The main dining room takes advantage of the high ceiling and well-spaced tables arrangement. The service has always been professional and amiable though sometimes mechanical when explaining the dishes especially when done by ‘junior’ staffs Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157680875546676/with/32826562550/
  6. Often claimed as the best Italian restaurant outside Italy and the fact that it was November (meaning the season of white truffle) – these were adequate “excuses” for me to have a dinner at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo when I was in Hong Kong last year. Actually, I visited this place several years ago for a quick lunch; ordering a few a la carte dishes and I thought they were tasty and well executed though I didn’t think the kitchen delivered 3-star level of food. It was a dinner on Wednesday evening and the restaurant was packed (Otto e Mezzo has been doing very well to fill their 55 seats daily). Probably, that’s why the reservation process was easy – via email and they did not ask for any CC for guarantee. I arrived nearly 8 PM and most of the diners were already there. I was determined to have a couple of dishes with white truffle at first, but ended up ordering more. Given how generous the managers and their assistant when shaving the precious fungus, I did not regret my decision. My meal started with good focaccia bread served with high quality extra virgin olive oil and not-so strong balsamic vinegar (per my request). The amuse-bouche already had white truffle in it: warm and creamy potato soup with wild mushrooms. After that, my first appetizer was roasted Hokkaido scallop; the bigger one was pan seared and the smaller one was lightly battered. Scallops were tender and sweet. I also liked the crunchy raw porcini on top, the mushroom sauce was pleasant. Now for the Alba truffle parts: In line with Chef Bombana’s principle to prepare dishes in such a way that they will highlight the intensity of the truffle’s flavor and aroma, I ordered one egg dish and one pasta dish. -Organic taiyouran egg was naturally sweet with its pretty bright orange yolk. The egg’s delicate flavor went well with the generous sliced of earthy and garlicky “fragrance” of the white truffle -Homemade tagliolini, cooked al dente, was served in the butter and parmesan sauce (the pasta nicely absorbed the not-so-strong sauce). Again, a simple dish would make the Alba truffle’s pungent smell and unique flavor shine. Another classic matching Despite the busy schedule (entertaining the media and ready to go for the HK Michelin ’17 ‘party’ in the night), chef-owner Umberto Bombana spent some times visiting and talking to diners. I had a short discussion with him regarding which main course to order. For the meat, he recommended the Fassone veal. Initially, I thought because it was part of white truffle dish but it turned out that the veal itself was indeed superb. The thinly coated Piemontese (breed) tenderloin, though relatively lean, was very tender, delicious with lingering flavor. The clean taste of the meat was integrated by more intense truffle. Lastly, for the dessert, I ordered truffle gelato with some crisp, sweet and creamy things found in Chantilly, nougat and chestnuts. The gelato’s flavor was not intense but there were plenty of sliced white truffles (again). The petit fours were also well prepared and with good variety Unlike the classic design of Toscana (Chef Bombana’s previous restaurant), the décor of Otto e Mezzo was modern, chic and sleek. There was a bar with a few tables and as you walked further, you would reach the main dining room with long windows panel, some mirrors, and some paintings. The tables and their distances were quite spacous. Asians were, unfortunately, not known to be fantastic maître d’. Here, the restaurant (in addition to the manager) employs a few others Italians (I noticed 2) to run and serve at the dining room. Generally, the service was relaxed, friendly and attentive. Some of them made effort to have a chat with me who dined solo. I was very pleased with this meal and as I saw my notes, I gave 96/100 for the food (2¾ *). This apparently ranked as the best meal I’ve ever had in HK/Macau – better than my meals at Sushi Shikon, Robuchon au Dome or Lung King Heen. I certainly would not mind returning here especially during the Fall / Winter season More comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/02/8-otto-e-mezzo-hong-kong.html Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157679964086015
  7. Bo Innovation

    One of the foodie paradise cities, Hong Kong currently has 6 restaurants with 3-michelin star. Among them, Bo Innovation is one of the most ‘popular’ places but not necessarily because of the undisputed quality of its food. Instead for different reasons such as: the chef-owner Alvin Leung (a British born, former engineer and a self-taught chef) is the master of marketing - be it from his eccentric appearance, the bombastic mantra of X-treme Chinese cuisine with molecular stuffs and other unusual things you don’t usually find at the ‘more normal’ Michelin elite places. The main reason that brought me here was because I want to treat my aunt and cousin that I’ve known since I was really young (I used to stay at their places when visiting HK during the 90’s). The tricky part was that my aunt could only eat Chinese food without any dairy products while my cousin preferred dining something more contemporary and innovative. Thus, I thought the restaurant that might satisfy both requirements was Bo Innovation – well, I want to bring them to somewhere fancy too As you entered the restaurant, Bo Innovation was indeed very different – a bit dark, with hardwood floor and no fancy / luxurious décor. Some wall papers were a bit unique depicting Hong Kong. However, the basic things in the fine dining restaurants were still there: friendly staffs, a few of them such as the manager speaking good English, spacious table covered with good linen; overall, we felt comfortable. It was a busy evening, only about 20 guests were there. Chef Leung himself was not available since he had an engagement in Macau that day There were 2 tasting menu and all of us ordered the shorter one (the red menu HK story). Some comments about the dishes: -Xtreme “xiao long bao” was arguably Bo’s most famous dish. It looked like an ‘egg yolk’ with some liquid that managed to integrate (all of) the original xiao long bao flavors including the vinegar and ginger except it did not have the texture of its traditional version -Smoked quail egg with caviar and crispy taro was also well-known here and it’s quite good. The briny caviar and egg went fine; could’ve been better had the quail egg yolk been runny IMO There were plenty of dishes in which the kitchen combined HK’s ‘ancient sauces’ to the dishes and applied modern technique with contemporary presentation. For instance: -Sweet raw spot prawn covered by chili soy sauce powder accompanied by umami noodles cooked in “har mi” oil -Smooth and tasty pan fried duck liver with “chu yeh ching” miso accompanied by charcoal mantou filled with crunchy bamboo shoots -Shredded hairy crab in generous portion put inside ‘baby food container’ served with aged “Chin kiang” vinegar -“Pat chun” tomatoes in candied form with Chinese olives “lam kok” mayo etc. I did appreciate this original effort to utilize and respect the old days ‘ingredients’. While I was not particularly impressed with their flavors, but overall they worked relatively well. Even, my aunt and cousin (who are HK-ers) were surprised that such produced would still be applied in the present-day fine dining The dishes that I liked the most here happened to be the main courses. We all ordered the organic Long Jiang chicken with its super crispy skin served in spherical form. Inside, the meat was moist, in contrast to more chewy and earthy mushrooms. As the side dishes, we’re given tasty chicken rice (using high quality Acquerello rice) mixed with chicken stock. I was also curious with Bo’s suckling pig and decided to order an additional main course. The skin was crackling / crispy with tasty meat (and decent porky smells/tastes). The dark sauce was rather intense with some peppercorn in it and there was roasted Sichuan pineapples generating some sweet & sour flavor – it did not disappoint at all. Following my habit when dining at Chinese restaurant, instead of having any alcohol/wine, I chose to drink a tea. I had a fragrant & calming Jasmine blossoms tea supplied by Yu teahouse. Given plenty of negative reviews about this place … I thought my meal was quite good (I certainly had a great time catching up with my relatives). For me, the meal was not worth 3-star but I had no problem rewarding this place a score equivalent to 2-star by Michelin standard in my personal notes. Initially, I was afraid that my meal at Bo Innovation might have taken the place of my lunch at Le Bernardin (lunch) or dinner at De Karmeliet as the least impressive dining experiences I’ve ever had at the 3-star level. Apparently, the kitchen at Bo performed better than those 2 places even when Alvin was not around. Will I return here? Unlikely … it’s just one of those tick-the-box restaurants at the 3 star-level Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157675451645983/with/31458866313/
  8. Finally … The famous and respectable (French) red guide book came to Singapore and shared their verdicts in the middle of 2016. Although it’s not perfect, but compared to other resources, generally I trust the judgement of Michelin the most. It’s possibly the main reason I allowed myself to have dinner at Shoukouwa (2-star) – I don’t usually visit a new high-end restaurant until it’s already operated for a year. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited the island’s ‘latest’ elite sushi-yas such as Ashino, Hashida, Mieda, Ichi & Mitsuya for their full lunch omakase but still not convinced to go all the way for their dinner. It might be ironic since after a couple of visits, I was not too fond of Ginza sushi ichi whereas Shoukouwa was supposedly its more refined version. Anyway, the booking was quite troublesome. It’s one of those places that would require guest’s CC and the restaurant really checked whether your card worked – there’s some charge to your CC but it would be removed a few days later. Andre is another restaurant I can think of that’s more detailed – you need to purchase a ticket (cost a certain fraction of your meal) thus it would discourage any lukewarm diners. I think it’s understandable for Shoukouwa to do such things given the size of sushi-ya: 8 people at the counter and 6 in the private room. And similar to Waku Ghin, it did 2 seating during dinner and I went for the later one. I arrived about 8:15 PM that Sunday and the other 7 guests were already in; in fact a local couple on my left was almost half way. The other 5 people belong to a group of Mexican businessmen/women. I would consider myself lucky to be seated almost at the center in my first visit here. You would get more chef’s attention, easier to communicate as well as enjoy lots of Masa-san’s skills live and his detailed actions Some of the highlights/notes of my meal (note that all guests ordered a bigger omakase on that evening): “Appetizers” … - Lightly seared fresh Nodoguro (medium-rare) was tender and delicious with some of its crisp skin still intact. But I found the mixed of chopped vegetables below the fish was too strong -Seasonal Hokkaido hairy crab was splendid with meaty, fresh and naturally sweet flesh -The traditional and simple ‘snack’ like persimmons in tofu sauce was surprisingly really good. The sauce was versatile and balanced while the kaki was tasty and somewhat crunchy -Deep-fried crab croquette was one of the dishes that often appeared at Shoukouwa. The crust was light yet crisp but the inside was too dense & rich with muddy crab flesh; not that suitable for my taste -Thick and tender Chiba abalone (steamed for several hours) was splendid. The sauce containing awabi’s liver, miso etc. was very flavorful with a hint of bitter tea taste. It was served with sushi rice that I used to wipe out any leftover green sauce “Sushi” … Chef Masa made an extra effort by preparing 2 kinds of rice: one with white vinegar for white or lighter fish/seafood whiles the red vinegar used for more flavorful morsels. The rice to fish ration was just right; shari cooked ‘al dente’ and not too packed (can still comfortably taste rice grains). About every half an hour, new shari was brought in to ensure the sushi rice was served optimally all the time Some pieces I liked a lot: -Buri in 2 ways (smoky in sashimi style and oily & delectable in sushi form) -Succulent and luscious chutoro, aged for 10 days -Shimofuri? This cut (between chu & o toro) was refined and smooth with the right texture & temperature -Sayori was delightful, rather soft and clean -A bowl of ikura and uni with shari. The salmon roes were generously served; they covered the whole surface of the rice. It was very decadent indeed when combined with plenty of creamy and sweet sea urchin … Service delivered by a couple of gentlemen dressed in grey suits. They’re attentive, observant yet unobtrusive. Masa-san spoke fluent English and never hesitated to speak and learn more about his guests. The “worst” part was probably the restaurant’s atmosphere – very simple, a bit crammed, no windows with minimal décor. But, it’s no big deal since you would focus on the food most of the time. It would be very rare to wait more than 5 min. without any food in front of you. Overall, it was a very good meal and Shoukouwa thoroughly deserved its 2 star. I would more likely to choose this place over Andre, JR restaurant or Les Amis assuming money’s never been an issue … More comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/01/shoukouwa-singapore.html Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157675603191763
  9. Petrus, Caprice or Amber?

    Several years ago, Four Seasons hotel HK boasted itself as the only hotel with two 3-star Michelin restaurants: Caprice and Lung King Heen. Nearly a decade ago (prior to HK Michelin era), I had a good dinner at Caprice under the former Le Cinq chef, Vincent Thierry. Probably because it was not overly impressive and the fact that I don’t come to HK that often, I have not returned there until last month. In terms of “hard” materials, nothing really changes here. The 2-tier dining room is lavish and spacious with crystal chandeliers, plush carpets, central open kitchen and leather arm chairs. I was seated at the corner of the lower level in which I could take advantage of the always pleasant harbor view during this lunch. Now, I noticed Caprice also has a bar where guests can enjoy its famous cheese as well as plenty other small dishes. Given its location at the heart of Hong Kong financial district, it should not be surprising that it’s filled with lots of people doing business lunch; nearly ¾ of the tables were occupied. As I perused the menu, I noticed that there’s (finally) white truffle menu – somehow I was told via e-mail that the restaurant did not serve any Alba truffle yet even in late October. I find the white truffle promotion of 5-course set menu during lunch reasonably priced (only slightly above HKD 1,000 including coffee/tea). As a comparison, the a la carte pasta course at Gaddi’s under Chef Boyer would cost more than HKD 1,300++. Hence, I decided to go for it. Bordier butter seemed to have invaded numerous fine dining places around the world and Caprice was no exception. I quite liked their olive and seaweed bread. The amuse of (a rather tasteless) tuna belly with cucumber and its cream was average. -The real deal started with the usual winning formula of egg + white truffle. The nicely farm poached egg with luscious béchamel sauce, salty ham, and spinach leaves was flavorful. The truffle made it more decadent. -The next 2 courses were fine but not too memorable: soft poached foie gras with bitter daikon and double boiled consommé – the clear soup was the best part. Followed by Monalisa gnocchis (not airy and quite dense) with walnut and parmesan cream; the white truffle improved this ‘normal’ dish. -The kitchen raised the bar for the main course: perfectly cooked milk-fed veal fillet (succulent and delicious, simply divine). It was accompanied by tagliatelle pasta, cooked al dente, with girolle and shaved white truffle. The combination was seamless. Even I think that the pasta could be served as its own dish. It was a dish executed and tasted at 2.5-3 star level -Lastly, I requested for the restaurant signature’s dessert, La Framboise (having a highly aesthetic presentation). It’s a very suitable dessert for those who liked not-so-sweet things. Inside the giant and delicate confit of raspberry, there were lemon sponge cake, smooth mousse, and crisp almond biscuit. The 2 real raspberries on the sides was not so sweet either Fabrice Vulin was not available in the kitchen during my visit, but I think overall his kitchen brigade performed well at the 2-star level (about Les Amis’ / Gunther’s level in Singapore but slightly inferior to Amber @ Oriental Landmark). The service was impressive – attentive, friendly, and efficient. Near the end, as I about to leave, I wanted to pour the last glass of my sparkling water myself. One staff noticed it and rushed to my table, insisted to do it for me. It showed the strong hospitality commitment from the beginning until the end. I was taken care of by Timothy most of the time; he’s been with the restaurant since ‘05 Lunch meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157673912761714/with/31508275012/
  10. Wagyu Takumi, Hong Kong

    It has been more than 3 years that I have not visited HK and staying there for more than 2 nights to have some proper meals in the area. This was a solo trip and it usually meant I hardly had any meal at Chinese restaurant. I kicked off with a dinner at Wagyu Takumi – a high end Teppanyaki style restaurant in which the chef skillfully and effectively blending the elements of French and Japanese cuisine. Plenty of top produce from France and Japan was scattered throughout the night. It was my first visit here last month and current head chef named Daisuke Mori (the restaurant has been identical with Mitsuru Konishi who will be a culinary director of a more casual dining place serving contemporary Italian in his new project). Chef Mori has been with Wagyu Takumi for a couple of years and both Mori-san and Konishi-san used to work at the Paris legendary restaurant, Taillevent. For dinner, there’s only one menu available: 8-course tasting menu (there were 3 main courses to choose from) and as with many other top restaurants, guests were welcome and encouraged to mention any allergy or dietary restrictions. Wagyu Takumi’s concept reminded me of Waku Ghin in which the chefs would put a show and cooking most of the dishes in front of you. There were several dishes that I thought were very good and even exceptional: -Tako (massaged for several hours) cooked with butter and red wine. The octopus’ tender texture and delicious flavor was not inferior to the tako at top sushi place such as Yoshitake. It was served with fluffy & rather sweet pumpkin espuma, slightly acidic grape as well as truffle foam. I was offered Alba truffle shaving for an extra HKD 250 that I declined -Wagyu Takumi had 2 signature dishes: the first one was a slowly pan-fried ‘mini’ NZ abalone (tasty and pleasantly chewy) put on top of French barley creamy risotto, prepared al dente and thoroughly absorbed the abalone stock. The celery foam was refreshing – an option to have it bigger than a tasting portion would be nice. The chef did not use Japanese abalone because it’s too tender and I was told that Hong Kongese preferred a chewier awabi. -Another famous dish as the restaurant’s name suggested: Japanese wagyu beef. For my case, the well-seasoned beef was Hida wagyu tenderloin (100-120 grams) – slowly grilled over Wakayama charcoal. Although it’s ‘tenderloin’, it was still very marbled, succulent, flavorful and not overly oily. I could still comfortably taste the beef’s meat – each byte was truly heavenly. The hida wagyu was accompanied by komatsuna puree, garlic, shallot and endives. Excellent! I would be satisfied in general of having 3 items above. However, at the beginning of the meal, I decided to order an additional main course as I could not refuse the temptation of having Brittany blue lobster which was also the restaurant’s specialty. I thought I made a right decision -The superb and live blue lobster (nearly impossible to find one in Singapore) was slowly cooked and perfectly executed. The result was a juicy creature retaining its sweet and original flavor; texture wise, it’s a bit firm yet still relatively tender – really loved both the meaty tail and plump claw. The sauce was also flavorful and balanced – a mixture of lemon grass, coriander and lobster bisque. The side dishes were seasonal vegetables consisting of turnip, carrot and caramelized onion In general, I am very pleased with the food. My rating was probably ‘elevated’ because I ordered the Brittany lobster that happened to be really good. I heard that someone even had all the 3 main courses in the past. All of the four dishes described above comfortably performed at the level of 2.5-3* by Michelin standard. The rest of the dishes not mentioned here was a bit uneven at times. The dining room’s décor and atmosphere was far from the lavish and expansive one at Waku Ghin; here the L-shaped counter was quite small and ‘intimate’. My seat was not good, near the back-kitchen. However, the staffs worked hard to make you feel comfortable. The restaurant manager (Don Kwok) was around; busy serving the dishes as well as having some conversations with diners. Near the end of the meal, finally Chef Mori became more relaxed and I had a chat with him as well. Consistent to Japanese culture, Mori-san and Don sent me off until the restaurant’s entrance as I left the restaurant. I really don’t mind returning here should I have another chance in the future. More comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2016/12/wagyu-takumi-hong-kong.html Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157675238235521
  11. If I have to choose my favorite restaurants in the world, at this point, I would say: L’Arpege (though L’Ambroisie slowly creeps up to take over) and Kyo Aji. But, I’m thinking it’s always nice to have favored dining place near where I live. This choice happens to be Ki-sho. The (Japanese) food there was really good; the staffs and especially the head chef himself (Kazuhiro Hamamoto-san) always made me feel welcome and comfortable. The setting and ambiance is both lavish and relaxed, except the cost of the omakase meal, there’s hardly anything I could complain about this place. This will be another review about my last 2 dinner meals at Ki-sho: in Autumn ’15 as well as in early Summer ’16 I will try to make it a “relatively” short review here -The highlight from the Autumn meal will be dishes with white truffles such as Tai with Alba truffle (I saw the same dish served at Kadowaki) and Sukiyaki with white truffle (taking advantage of egg and truffle combination). There were a couple of items with shirako: in its milk form and tempura; the cod milt was smooth and milky but the flavor here was clean and not too intense. For me Ki-sho served the best “kai” sushi in the country: the mirugai and tsubugai were excellent whereas for the awabi, Chef Kazuhiro presented in different form (chopped crunchy raw abalone with its liver, uni and shari - awesome) -The summer meal served plenty of delicious cooked fish dishes such as Amadai soup, Nodoguro with white asparagus puree as well as simmered Amadai with awabi and kamo nasu. The torigai and akagai were spot on as well. Oh, the sashimi had the best combination including lightly grilled kinki, Tachiuo, shima aji etc. The usual dishes (in both meals) such as uni rice, uni jelly caviar, tuna in many different forms, and beef have always been consistently great. The service was professional, unobtrusive and friendly. The communication with Chef Hamamoto and sometimes with other guests was part of the fun and satisfying experience. Business wise, it seems they’re doing well – it was a full house affair (even the private room was packed, the chefs keep making dishes to be sent upstair) during a Friday night dinner; there were several sports car park outside. To cater the increasing demand, now Ki-sho opens for lunch too and Kazu-san added a chef who’s also allowed to make and serve nigiri sushi. I had 2 wonderful meals and it still stands as my favorite restaurant in Singapore. No Michelin star? No problem for me though I believe they deserve a 2-star award from the red guide IMHO. Please see the links below for more comprehensive reviews and pictures http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2016/10/ki-sho-singapore-3rd-4th-visit.html 3rd meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157669683417781/with/27909913785/ 4th meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157674497132075/with/29846158592/
  12. Iggy’s is one of the most awarded restaurants in Singapore (Miele, Asia restaurant magazine, Forbes etc.) something that honestly I am not fully convinced after having an ordinary meal several years ago when it’s still located in the FS Regent hotel. However, things changed for the better when sometimes last year I had a satisfying business lunch at iggy’s after it moved to the Hilton hotel. In fact, under the guidance of Chef Masahiro Isono, the ‘biggest’ lunch tasting menu was as good as Les amis’ (Sebastian Lepinoy as the head chef) seasonal lunch degustation menu. Because of this, I eventually decided to give another shot to have a full dinner menu at iggy’s in early summer this year When making the reservation, I noticed one thing: the restaurant no longer demanded diner to guarantee the booking with his/her credit card (plus its CVV code) – it’s another factor that deterred me to come here in the past. A few days before my dinner date, I found out that Isono-san already left iggy’s … perhaps, this should explain why they didn’t ask for my CC. Anyway, I decided to still go for it since Ignatius Chan, its owner-sommelier, probably get used to this kind of transitional situation. I picked for the 5-course gastronomic menu (excluding a few snacks and coffee/tea). The meal began with gluten-free bread – grain and cheese. Following that some snacks coming in a few successions: edible ‘stone’ (aka potato) with truffle mayonnaise, sea urchin & cauliflower cornet, fried oyster covered with squid ink, and cromesqui of duck liver with truffle – generally they were decent nibbles and can be consumed in one byte each. The real stuff started now: -Fresh and lightly sweet scallop carpaccio served with watermelon, mustard, edible flowers and dusted sesame. The plating was pretty and the pure scallop was the main star -For the 2nd course, the kitchen (led by the ‘permanent’ local chef de cuisine) showed its ability to execute a ‘complex’ sauce. The clean white asparagus having a pleasant texture was paired with a mixture of tarragon emulsion, truffle mayo and broken egg (aromatic, rich & slightly bitter sauce) -The idea of combining Spanish mackerel with crab miso risotto was not bad except it lacked in implementation here. I found the fish was a bit under seasoned though cooked decently while the risotto was mushy -I took a riskier choice for my main course. I ate a tasty wagyu beef during the lunch and also liked lamb in general. However, when the staff also mentioned Challan duck, I selected it as I rarely eat a good duck dish outside Europe (even Robuchon’s duck at RWS was not ‘perfect’). The 2 pieces of duck breast were beautifully presented and well-seasoned/flavorful. However, I found the texture to be the problem: the meat was not tender and somewhat dry (except the part near its skin) so half part was satisfying; the other half was very chewy. It’s served with wild asparagus and onion (so-so) The sweet items were probably better. I quite enjoyed the sweet jackfruit ice cream with bitter coffee crumble and sour chutney as the pre-dessert. For the main dessert, the “strawberry” shell had milk ice cream and tomato foam accompanied by shiso and strawberry fruits & compote. The pastry team displayed good skills in creating a dessert with flavor, texture and temperature variation. The mignardise (very sweet truffle macaron, dull short bread, jelly and peanut butter chocolate) was average. During this meal, I also drank and enjoyed a glass of 2011 Pernot belicard of Puligny Montrachet (buttery and not too powerful) While this dinner was better than my first visit of iggy’s, still it was inferior to my lunch (a low 2-star level) when Chef Isono was still around. The modern European cuisine served here had good concept but this time often came short in execution. Having a capable and experience head chef in charge daily in the kitchen actually matters and this has always been the challenge of any restaurateurs when the main chef has no ownership of the restaurant. This issue often happens in Singapore (another example will be Jaan). Food wise, overall, it’s still worth 1-1.5* Michelin star but I don’t really blame Michelin when they decide to give this place zero-star. Unlike the HK version, the Singapore Michelin was ‘more strict’ when giving 2-3 stars accolade. This situation possibly explained a slow evening during my dinner – including myself, only 7 people turned up. However, staffs still worked hard and showed enthusiasm in trying to please the diners. That being said, iggy’s obviously has a lot more work to do. And I don’t think I will return here in the next several years Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157672196982200/with/29340155832/
  13. Waku Ghin

    Waku Ghin was my favorite restaurant in Singapore in particular prior to 2014, so it’s natural that I’ve visited this place a few times. However, since the arrival of Kisho (my current top dining choice in the island), I’ve not returned to Waku Ghin for a full meal until Spring this year – I visited the bar near the end of ’15. The restaurant is really spacious (more than 700 m2) and comfrotable, considering the “teppanyaki” + private dining rooms would accommodate at most 30 people or so only. Waku Ghin is not a kind of restaurant that will change that much. I observed some blogs reviewing this place in the past few years, unless you express your preference to try something new, the menu served (regardless of the season) would likely be the same dishes (more than ¾ of them). I usually prefer to try new dishes and the restaurant graciously tried to fulfil my request. The other 2 teppan rooms were occupied by small groups. As the restaurant was also relatively quiet for the first seating, I was seated on the 3rd room by myself throughout the whole meal meal. The only 3 things I already ate in the past at Waku Ghin that would be repeated again were: uni botan ebi caviar, ohmi wagyu beef and gyokuro (slightly bitter with umami flavor served warm) – they’re, excellent, as always. A new dish I was truly impressed by: -Potato puree, poached egg, caviar and truffles. I ate this dish “twice”: 1st time as an a la carte order from the bar (with Alba truffle) and 2nd time, it was part of my degustation menu (with Perigord truffle). The ‘mashed’ potato was smooth and buttery, enhanced by silky & runny egg yolk as well as briny caviar. Lastly, the truffles completed the dish. The white one was more luxurious and pungent while the black one was more versatile, earthy and pleasant in my palates. It’s my new “must-have dish” at Waku Ghin Some other new good and interesting dishes I tried: If any of you dine here, abalone and lobster/prawn are something you can expect to have -For the abalone dish, the kitchen thinly sliced the steamed abalone (slow cook for 10 hours) and served it as a salad. The abalone was nicely prepared, very tender and naturally sweet but the side dishes and its ‘sauce’ were rather average -Instead of lobster, the chef (perfectly) cooked fresh NZ scampi – pure and refined. It’s prepared with Ceylon tea and the prawn head oil; flavorful They’re generally satisfying but I had to admit that the more conventional dishes’ preparation of Tasmanian abalone and Canadian lobster I had in the past were better -Gillardeau and Tsarkaya oysters with rice vinegar and ponzu dressing. Plump, fresh and delicious oysters – simple and very good; ordered at the bar The main course reminded me of a kaiseki meal: a rice dish. At the bar, I ordered a bowl of marinated Tonbo (tuna belly) with vinegared sticky rice & seaweed whereas for the degustation menu, I had aburi beef tenderloin with fluffy rice & sansho pepper. I enjoyed these delicious stuffs especially the high quality of cooked Japanese rice + the tuna/beef served in generous portion. The desserts and sweets were alright, but nothing memorable (you’re welcome to see the pictures at the link below) – the ghin cheesecake and chocolate mousse I had in the past were more superior The service staffs were professional and helpful. Since it’s not that busy, the maître d’ had more time to chat with me. It was a relaxed atmosphere to have the whole teppanyaki room all by myself. The only ‘downside’ was that my ‘chef’ who has been with the restaurant since the opening didn’t seem to be interested in talking with his customer. He did the minimal requirement: answer the necessary questions but did not seem to be that friendly and sincere. It’s not bad but sometimes you expected more when you paid a lot in such restaurant (Waku Ghin increased the tasting menu price this year by the way) Overall, it’s a very solid meal though among the weakest compared to my previous visits. That being said, I was still surprised when Michelin Singapore only gave 1-star to this place. Tatsuya Wakuda, I bet, would not be too happy and this probably could act as a wakeup call for the team to strive for the better. Personally, Waku Ghin should get 2-star and they should be able to get it in the next 2-3 years. It may be a while before I return to this elite restaurant again; Singapore is spoiled with numerous choices nowadays Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157669049517824/with/28104724263/
  14. Stockholm was another city (besides Copenhagen) in the Scandinavian region that my parents and I visited last March. The most common culinary destination in the Swedish capital would probably be Restaurant Frantzen. I was glad to be able to dine here since during our short stay in Stockholm, Thursday evening was the only time we had and we managed to secure the table (it was an Easter weekend holiday, thus the restaurant was also closed on Friday and weekend). Frantzen turned out to be our favorite restaurant cooking Nordic cuisine. The Far East/Japanese influence in Bjorn Frantzen’s cuisine was suitable to my parents’ palate. Moreover, the non-strict dress code and casual atmosphere made my parents at ease throughout the evening (sometimes they still feel intimidated by French-style formal service). There was only one tasting menu offered and guests were welcome to discuss their dietary concern. Some of our favorite dishes were: -Live Norwegian scallop was lightly seared on one side. The scallop was superb & sweet; it’s also perfectly cooked and accompanied by pine olive and aromatic spruce tips. After that the staff poured a clean and tasty Japanese dashi. An exquisite dish -“Langoustine sushi”. The fresh big prawn was deep fried for several seconds resulting in delicious langoustine with the right texture. For the rice, chef Frantzen used crispy dried rice to contrast the tender seafood. Lastly, the dipping sauce was a very flavorful butter mayonnaise mixed with dried herbs -My favorite dish was a small piece of French toast with onion, parmesan cream and strong Modena vinegar. Then the main star was: lots of Umbria truffle, pretty much covering the whole bread. The truffle had the pungent smell and distinct earthy mushroom taste, simply ethereal! -Satio tempestas is the restaurant’s signature dish. Essentially, it was a vegetable dish consisting of more than 30 different ingredients prepared separately and cooked in different ways (a few was raw). It generated beautiful interplay of color, textures, flavor and temperatures. Every byte was unique and it’s tasty. A well deserving iconic dish There were a few more delicious dishes; I will let you read them in my more comprehensive review (see the link below) For fairness - If I had to pick some items that’re less spectacular (by no means poor) compared to the above dishes … -Golden caviar with fermented split peas, rendered bacon and Smetana. It was surprising since I hardly criticize a dish with caviar – the quality was good with its briny flavor. But the ‘issue’ was that the other ingredients were a bit too intense that instead of complementing the caviar, they dominated it -The desserts were beautifully prepared, but the first one: the smoked ice cream with tar syrup and fudge was slightly too sweet for my taste. Despite a mixture of ingredients, the flavor was somewhat one dimensional and I though it lacked some bitter flavor from a chocolate Overall, it was an excellent meal. Bjorn Frantzen may not have any prestigious title such as Bocuse d’or, but I find his cooking was more delicious than, with all due respect, Rasmus Kofoed’s creations. As a matter of fact, for my case it’s also applicable for French cuisine. For instance, in Paris, I love the 3-star restaurants of Passard, Pacaud and Gagnaire but not so much of the top places ran by MOFs such as Pre Catelan and Epicure. Perhaps, it’s merely a matter of taste. In my notes, my meal at Frantzen was even (unexpectedly) better than my last meal at Astrance & Guy Savoy. The service standard was very high. Staffs took pride in what they're doing and they all seemed to be happy serving the customers; they generally were very knowledgeable and professional. Our main lady maitre d' could not be friendlier and more helpful during the whole evening. She's unpretentious and able to address all of our questions and concerns as well as adapted her style to make sure we're very comfortable and had a great time. Since there have been numerous guests visiting Frantzen from around the globe, the restaurant took pride of it and worked hard to satisfy every guest. Something I noticed here (except for the chef-patron Frantzen wearing white shirt with brown/beige apron): every staffs were dressed in the same way. Frantzen wanted the waiters, sommelier and chefs to blend smoothly and part of one team. The open kitchen (no boundary to the dining room) made this concept possible. This meant chefs often had to serve and answer diners’ questions too and Chef Frantzen, along with his team, can directly monitor guests’ meal and their pace to ensure everything is fine. Bravo Frantzen and good luck at the new place next year; I can expect a better dining place, more experimental cuisine/new dishes and of course delightful food. Pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157670404704931 Comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2016/07/restaurant-frantzen-stockholm.html
  15. L'Ambroisie

    L’Ambroisie is certainly a restaurant that will require little or no introduction. It’s widely considered as one of the best (pure) French restaurants in Paris. It’s also among the restaurants that I’ve reviewed the most after L’Arpege. It will be the last restaurant my parents and I visited during our Paris trip last March. At first, there’s a chance that our dinner plan might not become a reality this time. Not because it was crowded (though it’s fully booked again in the evening during our visit), but I was told that L’Ambroisie underwent a renovation for its dining room since early Feb. They didn’t know the exact date when it would open again. In early March, we tried to contact them again and managed to secure a reservation there – they coincidentally opened in the same week we’re in Paris. We’re gladly seated in the 2nd dining room with (surprisingly) a spacious round table. But I did not notice any significant upgrade in terms of its furniture or design Since I’ve been here a few times before, my aim for this meal, in addition to please my parents, was to try several new dishes. Following my ‘greedy’ habit, I ordered 2 appetizers and 1 main – all full course which later I thought I should’ve ordered half portion in one of them. This time, L’Ambroisie served kougelhoph with onion+olive along with its bread selection for the opening. After that, we’re given creamy butternut veloute with buttery foie gras as the amuse. Then the ‘real’ food came: For me, -Plump warm oysters with luxurious salty caviar and intense but not heavy watercress sabayon. There were 5 of them and really good -Thick, barely heated and sweet scallops (5 pieces) with pungent black truffle slices on top and earthy vegetable veloute (a mixture of truffle, leeks and potatoes); excellent -Restaurant director Pascal recommended me to try veal sweetbread in “financiere” sauce. A succulent ris de veau with flavorful sauce (not cloying) was balanced with a small bowl of mild ricotta cheese ravioli. It’s delicious but the portion was huge, I almost could not finish the last 10% of this dish For my parents, -Both of them ate the famous tender, tasty langoustine with refined and light curry sauce as the appetizer. They loved them -My mother ordered the most popular dish of the night (5-6 of these dishes were served in the middle dining room alone): divine Brittany lobster with mashed peas and (dark) wine sauce. She liked the lobster but could not finish the peas -My father had Sole in yellow wine sauce with Brussel sprout. These elements only were great, but he was not too fond of the sole flan and shaved black truffle. I tried a bit; I think the fresh truffle worked better on our nose but not so much on our palate. If the sauce had some black truffle in it, probably the flavor transition could’ve been better Dessert time: -As you might expect, my parents shared the airy yet intense chocolate tart with tasty vanilla ice cream. The restaurant game me half portion too – very delicious as always -My dessert was good, but not superb by L’Ambroisie’s high standard. I had caramelized crisp Arlette with sour & smooth lemon cream and slightly bitter crystallized citrus. Overall, it was a success. My parents loved the food and the fact that the a la carte dinner style did not last more than 3 hours. My last 2 meals here were probably better nevertheless this one still ranked very high (a convincing 3-star standard) A few comments: -I no longer saw Mathieu Pacaud’s name at the bottom of the menu. He should be busy with Hexagone / Histoires I suppose. It means Bernard Pacaud should be back in full time position at L’Ambroisie. I saw the legendary chef on the way leaving the restaurant. Mathieu, in his casual/stylish jacket, was also found talking with his friends & regulars during our dinner on Thursday night; perhaps he’s not always at his restaurants daily. - For the first time, I had a conversation with Madame Daniele in our table. She seemed to be proud of his son’s 2-star achievement and put a hint that he attained it on his own (without any help from Bernard). In the past we just exchanged smiles and bonjour near the door entrance -The service was impeccable and professional. Most of the dining room staffs did not change such as Pascal, Laurent, Joseph etc. Surprisingly I had a longer chat (and even some joke) with a couple of them; I still recalled a rigid and formal service from the same people during my first visit It seemed natural & logical that the hospitality you experience would be better when you visit the restaurant more. But I don’t want to take it for granted the sincere gesture and excellent service rendered by L’Ambroisie staffs. Another restaurant I also visited quite often in the past (for example: Gagnaire Balzac for 4 times) – until now even I still could not build any meaningful rapport with the restaurant. Maybe because Mr. Parmentier usually leads from behind (hardly talk to any guest or serve the dish) and the staffs often change. I also meet Chef Gagnaire himself only once. Not saying that the service there was not good, but sometimes you expect to be able to build some connection as you visit certain place more regularly. On the contrary, in L’Ambroisie, the husband-wife Pacaud have always been in the house and Pascal Veteaux is also there and would definitely (at least) take your order and talk to you More detailed reviews: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2016/07/lambroisie-bernard-pacaud-5th-visit.html Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157670560473065