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Julian Teoh

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Everything posted by Julian Teoh

  1. Gary, I had a very similar menu at Hedone last week. Will report in more detail with photos but I disagree with you on one aspect. On food alone, I reckon it's on a two-star level already. Certainly, if you use Darroze at the Connaught as a yardstick (I'm not sure I can but there you go), the food at Hedone showed a lot more thought in execution and progression, and was also far more enjoyable.
  2. Bugger. I've been blogging about cookbooks for a whole two months now and not been offered one freebie of note! Not even a copy of Jamie's Fifteen Minute Meals. Am clearly not doing enough to make myself notable! ;-p Jon and David, You really should come out to Asia. Here in Singapore, it's part of the standard marketing routine to have a pack of bloggers (credible or otherwise) visit within a fortnight of opening, even at restaurants with world-famous chef-proprietors who really should know better. Back on-topic, while I find the chefs' behaviour in this instance utterly repugnant and OTT, equally I find Isherwood's words and actions rather odd. 1. Re his excuse that he was on a date, he spoke to Bosi only after the meal, and he only had problems with one starter out of a "more than pleasant meal". Is this really the stuff that ruins dates? 2. His complaints about the sommelier are not very clear. If the sommelier sends you wine you didn't ask for, don't assume it's on the house, drink it and gripe about it afterwards when you get charged for it. Clarify the situation or send the wine back. If there's too much wine, tell the sommelier you've had enough. 3. If you are going to pre-announce yourself and ask for an interview, think of how you are coming across. You are announcing to the staff that you care about your dining experience (whether it's true or not) and that by God you're going to write about it. The chef, not unreasonably, may want to know what you think and you should be prepared to honestly interact with him. Tell him one starter wasn't to your taste. Tell him you found the wine service pushy. It's called a conversation. It doesn't sound like Isherwood is a very experienced diner, but at the same time, these are points of commonsense, not the sacraments of some elitist cult.
  3. If you are driving through Reims, do try to fit in a lunch at L'Assiette Champenoise. Arnaud Lallement does an excellent and ridiculously generous four-course lunch for 65 euros. And of course, there is a great selection of champagnes if you care for a glass or two. The default seems to be Les Crayeres but I opted for L'Assiette instead on a day trip and have never regretted it.
  4. For Beaune, I would add Loiseau des Vignes (casual food but still great ingredients and technique with some modern touches, plus a great selection of almost 100 wines by the glass) and Caveau des Arches (trencherman's fare in an old cellar) to your list, although I understand Caveau is closed until 28 August.
  5. I would have suggested Edelweiss for the gewurz/muscat-like grape (it sounds foreign and close enough to edelzwicker, the wine blended from Alsace grape varieties). Shame it's already been taken, by a table grape of all things.
  6. I didn't get confirmation from the staff but I suspect that like most international level restaurants here, most of the produce would be brought in from France, Japan and Australia. Local sourcing, and by that I include regional SE Asia, will be quite limited as they don't produce the ingredients typically required for French cooking, and the warm climate can play havoc with the quality of the seafood. On the oysters, I was told they came from Brittany - I couldn't quite decipher the staff's pronunciation of the variety (French pronunciation in Singapore generally is pretty atrocious) so cannot help further on that point. Spices do play a prominent role in the cuisine here, however, and I am sure that those would be sourced "locally". It's an odd thing about the dairy, though. While the Singapore branch sources its cheese from Antony, I understand that the Paris branch gets its supply from Quatrehomme. It may well be that Antony already has an importer here and Savoy thought it made sense cost-wise to tag his order on. Also, there is the effect of labels - there is a general worldview (to which I don't necessarily subscribe) that Antony is better than Quatrehomme, and people may start comparing etc., especially when Savoy's local rivals, such as Robuchon, Les Amis, Andre, just to name a few, stock Antony. On the other hand, Bordier butter, which is No. 1 for foodie snob value, is similarly getting overexposed here, yet Savoy chooses to use Echire, instead of the Bordier that he uses back in Paris. Might just be a mix of happenstance, convenience and pre-existing relationships that his personnel here may have?
  7. I popped in to Guy Savoy for lunch over the weekend. Executive Chef Eric Bost, who previously earned two Michelin stars at Guy Savoy in Caesars Palace, Vegas, helms the local operation. Guy Savoy offers a TGV menu, four courses for S$150++ (around US$140), with two choices for each course. It's called the TGV because they can serve it to you "express" within 90 minutes, presumably as a draw to potential business clients. However, 4 courses plus trimmings within 90 minutes kind of misses the point of a restaurant like this, so we opted to "go slow" and had a leisurely 3.5 hour gastronomic journey instead. If you are on a limited budget, the lunchtime TGV is a great way to sample some of Savoy's signature dishes, such as the crispy seabass with spices and artichoke and black truffle soup. Food was excellent, with a genuine sense of playfulness and humour. I had the following dishes with my TGV menu: First Entree: Oyster "Two" Ways Oops, sorry, that was three. But the afternoon was replete with various surprises. Gelee didn't do much for me, but the oyster puree set off the very fresh vegetables, and the dashi broth added a nice umami touch to the third preparation. Second Entree: Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup I didn't photograph the soup, but soup is never much to look at in the best of times. The brioche is very good, and the servers present you with a second piece just as you finish your first. As they say, "one piece is never enough". Main Course: Crispy Seabass with Spices Seabass is beautifully cooked, and the scales, still on, are fried until they are crisp and edible. The dish is on the verge of feeling a little "wet", but is rescued by crunchy batons of Swiss chard. Afters: Cheeses by Bernard Antony The cheese is in good condition, but due to the extreme heat and humidity here, they need more refrigeration, so they aren't as oozingly ripe as some might be used to in Europe. They are very good, however, and are accompanied by an apricot-rosemary and raspberry-cassis conserve. I chose a two-year old comte, brie de Meaux, pont l'eveque, fourme d'Ambert and mimolette. Coffee and Mignardises Guy Savoy does not present the dessert trolley at lunchtime. Instead, a perfect little selection of five mignardises is presented: poached egg white with strawberry coulis, lemon and yuzu macaron, praline of raspberry and coconut, apricot caramel bonbon and mascarpone coated with dark chocolate and almonds. Overall, an excellent experience. Lunch is served only on Fridays and Saturdays, and when we were there, only three tables were filled. Guy Savoy got some bad reviews at the start, particularly in relation to tobacco smoke and the noises of poker machines drifting up from the gaming floor. I'm happy to report that none of these problems were evident as of the date of my visit, and you could do much, much worse if you were looking for a decadent Saturday lunch. More photos and commentary at: http://julianteoh.bl...-singapore.html RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY 10 Bayfront Avenue #02-01, Casino Level 2 Marina Bay Sands Singapore Tel: +65 6688 8513 Email: guy.savoy@marinabaysands.com URL: http://www.marinabay...hefs/Guy-Savoy/
  8. Oh no, it's not the service I care about so much, but there is a difference between a poor service issue and being actively mistreated by restaurant staff, which is where I draw the line. Danny, for example, is infamous for refusing to serve certain customers for some perceived slight.
  9. Glad you enjoyed Lai Huat. I was just there a couple of days ago and last night's dinner was some sambal sole leftovers (gorgeous!), so we were probably eating the same thing at the same time! Very glad that Danny was well-behaved. I've never been to Sin Huat myself; I am prepared to be abused (or run the risk of being abused) for good, cheap food, or to be charged a lot for good food and service. I haven't yet made the conceptual leap to paying a lot for good food and getting abused. That said, your bill is not unreasonable for what you had.
  10. Kenneth (and others), I mentioned Old Lai Huat in an earlier post upthread. Well, I was here for a wine pairing lunch earlier today and the food was as good as ever. It always amazes me that this place is always quiet (except for weekend nights, when it is completely packed out). The sambal belacan pomfret or sole is a wonder to behold, and its deep, rich chilli crab is far superior to the insipid versions that you find at the famous chain outlets. Its sauce is truly worthy of mopping up with fried mantou buns. Sambal Pomfret Sambal Sole Yam ring is another must order, a very rustic but deliciously filling dish. Old Lai Huat is currently offering a 10% discount for lunch, including on weekends and public holidays. Definitely one to keep an eye on if you are looking out for an excellent seafood cze char. Wine tasting notes and photos are here: http://julianteoh.bl...singapores.html Old Lai Huat Seafood 223 Rangoon Road Singapore (off the CTE Rangoon Road turn-off)
  11. 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...
  12. Not wanting to appear too strident an advocate for my hometown, but I would really, seriously consider a detour to Ipoh for some ridiculously good old-school street food, pastries, Chinese food, etc. And if you do decide to go, drop me a line and I will gladly share some top spots with you to tide you over!
  13. I wouldn't if your primary reason was eating. If you wanted to burn a day / day and a half elsewhere, and I think it would be a good idea to break it up, I would hop on a plane to Ipoh or Penang, the local / street food meccas of Malaysia. Low cost carriers fly to both destinations multiple times a day (the MAS-owned Firefly has two flights daily back and forth to Ipoh). You could, for example, arrive at Ipoh in time for lunch, and have afternoon nibbles, dinner and supper on your first day, then have breakfast, morning tea, lunch and maybe an afternoon snack and fly back to Singapore in time for dinner.
  14. Nothing of the sort happening here in Singapore. More and more high-end places are opening here, the most recent notable arrivals being Jason Atherton's Pollen and (in July) a restaurant run by some ex-El Bulli crew. This after Robuchon, Savoy, Tetsuya, etc. piled into the casinos. There has been an sudden spike in the number of bistros, but quite a few of these have been opened by haute cuisine chefs "downsizing" for various reasons, such as the chance to own their own restaurant or lifestyle choices. Demand for these casual eateries is also on the increase, so I think we might be seeing the shift in mainstream consumer tastes much like we saw in Sydney in the early 2000s when bistro / brasserie was the buzz word. But short of a GFC repeat, demand for the high-end will always remain strong here, if nothing else due to the number of wealthy expatriates, the booming private banking sector and also the masses of overseas travellers barrelling in.
  15. Kenneth, just a small selection to start you off. I prefer the hawker food in Malaysia, particularly in Ipoh and Penang (only a 1.5 hour flight direct from Singapore, incidentally!), but the ones below don't stack up too badly. Rojak, a local salad of cucumber, pineapple, yambean / jicama, dough fritters, tofu and beansprouts in a fermented shrimp paste. One of the best versions is at Balestier Road Hoover Rojak, Whampoa Market (around 7 mins by taxi north of Orchard Road). There is also a famous oyster omelette stall at Whampoa, Ah Hock Fried Oyster Hougang, but it's too greasy and inconsistent for my taste (incidentally rates 2.5 chopsticks out of three in Makansutra). Prawn Noodles - Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles at Pek Kio Market at Cambridge Road, just off Rangoon Road. You can choose what "grade" you want, from $3 to $20 - the only difference is the size of prawns you get. Do as the name suggests and order the big prawns! Typically, the $15 and $20 sizes won't be available, but they have a good supply of $10 ones. The lady has always been nice to me (maybe that's because I always order the $10 size!), but I have heard many stories of grouchy non-service. Now don't take the following as gospel truth, but I've found the stock tastier around lunchtime. I can only surmise that as they cook the prawns to order in the stock, it becomes more concentrated as the day wears on, as well as reducing further. Nasi lemak - a classic Malay dish of rice cooked in coconut milk and served with spicy sambal, crunchy anchovies and other condiments. Try it at Golden Shoe Food Centre, not far from the Fullerton Hotel and Boat Quay. Again, not from the stall that Makansutra recommends, but one called Setia Jaya, which is on the second floor facing the staircase exit. The chicken wings and crunchy fried fish are excellent - ask for more sambal and also the sambal peanuts. The lady running the store is very friendly and helpful.
  16. Kenneth, My favourite place for local seafood has always been Old Lai Huat on Rangoon Road. The must-order here is sambal belachan fish (pomfret or sole) - fish topped with a pungent fermented shrimp paste fried with chopped chillies and minced dried shrimp. The chilli crab here is also excellent, richer and spicier than you will find a the chain restaurants such as Jumbo. Ridiculously good value also - for a group of 4, we never manage to spend more than around US$12 a head for more food than you can finish (a large fish, meat dish, tofu, veg, rice and tea). It's also down the road from Little India (Serangoon Road and Race Course Road), so it could be a nice change from the myriad Indian restaurants in the area. If you are not so much into chilli heat and spices, Ming Kee Live Seafood on Macpherson Road is also a very good option (think bamboo clams steamed with garlic, crab braised with vermicelli, etc.) Just a word of warning on Singapore food bloggers in general. Singapore is one of the most connected countries in the world in terms of who has a fast internet connection and smartphones with internet connectivity. The PR machine here is very finely tuned to this, and they actively invite bloggers for comped meals to create online buzz for their clients, so be wary of any recommendations. There was a huge blow-up a couple of years ago with Lady Iron Chef over whether he should have to pay for his meal or not (I know...). Do also use the Makansutra app carefully - there are many dud recommendations within, which I think do not at all do justice to the vibrant local food scene. When I first arrived here, I followed a couple of their tips and was disappointed every time.
  17. Kit, This is perhaps going to be the most useless post in all of eG history (apart from the spammers). I don't think that is right about the Beaune bakers being mediocre, if only because I had some excellent freshly-baked croissants and pains au chcocolat in September last year, and they went down beautifully with a shot of espresso. That breakfast ritual before a hard day of work in the cellars was one of the events I really looked forward to each morning, and now remember with great nostalgia. But do I know where they were from? No, because our kind host brought a bagful of them in every morning and never took us to the source. Perhaps he was guarding a secret...
  18. Hi Kit, I don't know where Hess is from, but do NOT get me started about Alsace, or I will never stop. It is my favourite wine region, period.
  19. Hi Kit, I was in Beaune and surrounds in September last year. Restaurant-wise, I would definitely go to Ma Cuisine (Passage Ste-Helene); excellence all around, so I can't recommend any particular dishes, although we had skate in caper butter and a roast squab which were genuinely awesome. Also worth going to Loiseau de Vignes (31 rue Maufoux) in the historic centre, the one-star casual restaurant run by Dominique Loiseau; they have a selection of almost 100 wines by the glass (which you can order in half-glasses also), good for your selfish enjoyment if the BF doesn't drink wine. April should be warm enough for a lunch in the lovely hotel courtyard. Located in a vaulted cellar, the Caveau des Arches (10 Boulevard de Perpreuil) is also very good, and you can have a very worthy three-course lunch for under 25 euros, featuring dishes with a regional touch such as fresh pasta (should I call it pates fraiches to make it sound more authentic?) with chicken with epoisses and an excellent vanila ice cream with creme de cassis. Tasty trencherman's fare with smart service. If you want a splurge, Lameloise (36, place d'Armes, Chagny) now serves modern and elegant food in a grand old dining room. The lunch menu has flashes of brilliance (anything with pastry in it, such as a tart with herbs and vegetables), but in retrospect, I would have taken out a loan and gone a la carte for dinner instead. Fromagerie-wise, do check out Alain Hess (7 Place Carnot). He has an excellent range of regional specialities near the front of his shop, as well as a selection of spices, oils, condiments, etc. It's not cheap, but it's a very convenient one-stop gourmet shop. Hope this helps!
  20. Roosterchef21, amen to everything you said! I have never had a meal in Australia which would remotely approach in quality anything you would get at a "top tier" restaurant in Europe, particularly France. And I am talking about good two-star places, not even three starrers. Each dish was like an awakening, as if I had never properly eaten or tasted a particular ingredient before. The only time a meal in Australia ever elicited a vaguely similar reaction was a tasting menu at Rockpool back in early 2007. Am I the only one who thinks that comparisons between Sydney and London are far more valid? Incidentally, these are the cities that the local crits say are the "two food capitals of the world". It may well be a stylistic issue that invites the comparison because so many of Sydney's top modern European chefs have a pedigree that can be traced back to London (via the old Banc crew and others) but I see Sydney and London more on equal pegging for restaurant quality. However, comparisons between, for example, the great tables of Paris and Sydney/Melbourne three-hatters are completely inappropriate and are of themselves indicative of the incredible jingoism that infects our food press. And I am not talking about service, palaces, fittings, etc - I think most of us here are experienced enough eaters or confident enough in our opinions to be able to discount these factors. Purely based on the food, chefs like Piege and Briffard produce a far greater product than anything I've ever tasted in Australia. If this begs a classical French comparison, Guillaume Brahimi at his peak provides no contest. And on a personal level, while people continue to be critical of Michelin, the Good Food Guide editors clearly also have their favourites. Roosterchef21 is absolutely correct on this point. Tetsuya, for example, seems to be sacrosanct (or is "invictus" the word du jour these days?), with a recent dinner there consisting of multiple courses of lukewarm, baby food-textured pap more worthy of capital punishment than a single hat. As for Rockpool, if you believe the crits, there appears to be a problem with consistency. I have not been there enough to pronounce otherwise, but on a good night, Neil Perry's team must surely be one of Australia's finest yet they are still slogging away with two hats.
  21. Indeed, Edward J, of course you are correct; I did note that earlier in my post re the pork bones, though I was trying to think of a good reason why you couldn't claim chilli crabs. I did not think that claim would eventually be laid to bak kut teh for the pork content and the fact that some 60+ percent of the population would never get to taste it, though I think it has been added to the list recently? JustKay, thank you for the correction on the theological point.
  22. That was one of the (many) things I greatly appreciated about Le Gavroche, that they allow you to replace set menu courses with dishes from the carte. Sure, they charge you a supplement, but these are modest, and it is definitely worth it to sample their signature dishes if you are only passing by London like I was. Howard, you are spot on with the Soufflé Suissesse supplement - 11.99 on my tax invoice.
  23. Hi Fiona, We just got back from a trip to London. Ate at Gavroche (lunch) and The Square (dinner a la carte). While Gavroche was good (I had the prix fixe supplemented with dishes from the carte), I preferred The Square, if only for the fact that service has a lot more personality and it is a more fun experience overall. I've checked the Square menu online and it doesn't seem to have changed since I was there. If you are going a la carte, I can recommend the following: Lasagne of dorset crab Roast foie gras Slow-cooked turbot Loin of West Country Lamb Brillat-savarin cheesecake Peach melba souffle (amazing stuff) I would love to point out dishes that I disliked but every dish was a resounding success. Phil Howard (who was in the kitchen on the night) is such a skilled chef he could probably turn a dog turd into a gastronomic symphony. The only criticism I have is that they load you with so many freebies and the portions are very generous, so I was gasping by the time coffee and petits fours came out (or it may have been the fact that I was at Hibiscus for lunch a few hours earlier). Nevertheless, it is very, very good and I think more than a match for Gavroche. Enjoy!
  24. "Letting the produce speak for itself." So many chefs revert to cliche once their vocabulary runs out. Puts me in mind of the time when Rumpole was defending a restaurateur on charges of breach of hygiene when a mouse was found in the dining room. (As best as I can recall) The Judge said "But there was a mouse in the restaurant, Mr Rumpole, the thing speaks for itself." To which Rumpole replied "A talking mouse, how interesting."
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