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Fine Dining in Malaysia and Singapore


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When is Cilantro re-opening? Micasa is under renovation until mid-2009 but would Cilantro be operational before that? I would like to go at the end of this month or possibly in mid May.

If it's closed, any other suggestions?

I heard from the manager in December last year that they were looking to re-open in the Gardens at Mid-Valley with the same chef and crew pending the MiCasa re-opening. I can't find any information on the Gardens website though.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Thanks for the quick reply, Julian.

What would your 2nd choice be?

Would be nice if the meal is RM200 or less per person but don't mind spending up to RM300 per person.

If I can't find anything better,we will just go to Frangipani , Cochine, Lafite,Oggi or that Le Buchon place everyone is talking about;) Decisions decisions... Lafite looks very expensive and I can't see to find a price indication online.

We once had the most delightful meal at this lovely place called Entre Parentheses (incidently Chef Wan was sitting at the next table) but it closed down almost immediately. There was only one chef (the owner+waiter ) who was trained in Belgium and Paris. It wasn't exactly fine,fine dining but he used good quality ingredients and the price was very reasonable (somewhere in the RM60 range for a set meal with 3 courses).

Edited by yunnermeier (log)
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Hajime, which is on Jalan Damai, parallel to Jalan Ampang in KL, is very very good. Try to aim for a Friday night when they get deliveries of fresh fish.

Sit at the sushi bar, ask for omakase sashimi, then let them take care of the menu. Good sake too, and very refined Japanese food, but sometimes a bit heavy on the mayo, which you can tell them to hold off. Best hand rolls I've ever had.

They have a website somewhere, www.hajime.com.my or without the .my

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I can't personally vouch for any of these, but I have heard good things about:

Lafite at Shangri-La: they had a chef change sometime last year and the classical Alain Ducasse-inspired food has now been replaced with molecular cuisine. Some writers in Malaysia have lauded it to the skies, though I'm unsure as to the context of the writers' experience with this type of cooking or whether it's just the big new trend. God knows, every aspiring international city needs at least one elBulli clone.

Third Floor at J W Marriott - the original chef at Cilantro who made its name now cooks here.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Thanks Julian. Had a look at Lafite's April menu and it seemed more interesting (except for the dessert) than Third Floor . Have decided to go to Lafite and splurge. I guess it just surprised me that eating out in KL can be so expensive as for just twice the price, you can dine at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in The Netherlands

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Yunner, it's all hype. Pricing for 'high-end' food in KL and Singapore are plainly ridiculous.

Edit to add: But we pay, because we're gluttons and suckers for punishment! :biggrin: Third Floor looks interesting.

Edited by PCL (log)

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 1 month later...

Saint Pierre, Central Mall, 3 Magazine Road, Singapore

Saint Pierre is one of Singapore’s top-ranked restaurants, regardless of cuisine or category. Emmanuel Stroobant, the striking chef-proprietor, is arguably the most well-known face in the Singapore culinary scene. Yes, he has the standard celebrity chef accoutrements such as a restaurant empire (San Marco at The Lighthouse, the Italian fine diner at the top of the Fullerton Hotel; Brussels Sprouts, a mussels and biere joint; and Picotin, a casual French bistro), a range of cookbooks and a television show on the Asian Food Channel titled “Chef in Black.” But he has also crossed the line into mainstream celebrity – if I recall, he has graced the pages of Tatler (which, in my defence, I only ever read when I am burning time in dentists’ waiting rooms) and lifestyle programs on Singaporean television which have nothing to do with food.

So much for the publicity fluff. Now, let’s see if Stroobant can cook.

I had lunch here a couple of weeks ago. Walking into the ground floor of Central Mall, I am diverted into a small side room. Immediately, I think – Siberia! Well no. The main dining room has been booked for a large sit-down function (around 45 covers from a quick glance) by a multinational cosmetics company.

Saint Pierre was inducted into the ranks of Relais & Chateaux last year, making it the only restaurant in Singapore to qualify for the honour. I don’t t exactly know what one needs to be eligible for this group, but in honesty, the room is not the most luxurious I have seen. The cushion on my seat is actually worn down from overuse. And it’s not the only one – a cursory check of some other seats in the dining room yields the same result.

Saint Pierre offers three options at lunch – the set lunch menu (if I remember right, S$30 for 2 courses, S$45 for three, and S$55 for 4), the Executive Set Lunch Menu (S$85 for five courses and coffee) and a la carte. The Executive Set Lunch follows a changing monthly theme, and this month’s is chocolate. I am left without any real option.

First, an appetiser which has nothing to do with chocolate:

Amuse bouche: Seared tuna with parmesan, scrambled egg, caper, anchovy, parmesan

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We got off to a pretty nightmarish start. Our young French waiter presents the rectangular platter and whispers “Your amuse bouche, sir.” Yeah, I didn’t know that. Can you please tell me what’s in it? He stares at the dish as intently as I do, trying to discern its contents. “Errr…smoked tuna, parmigiaan (sic), anchovy…errr…I’m sorry, sir, I’m French and my English isn’t very good.” Well, I haven’t been studying French for nothing, so I relent. “En français, sil vous plait.” He continues, “Errr…filet de thon… parmigiaan (some things sounds the same in French as in American)…oeuf brouillé… errr…tomate…je suis desolée, monsieur...” Moi aussi.

Oh, the food, sorry. Look, it was not unpleasant. I liked the concept of applying different varieties of saltiness to the mildly seasoned tuna, like the parmesan, the anchovy, the caper and the marinated tomato. The tuna was not the best quality cut I’ve had and it’s a pretty chunky serving for an amuse. And the tuna was seared, not smoked, as a cursory visual inspection would have told you. But now we’re on to the main event – the chocolate menu!

First Entrée: Wild salmon sweet gravlax, kalamansi sorbet scented with cinnamon and clove, black radish poached in syrup and pepper-infused vanilla bitter chocolate chantilly

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The salmon is from Scotland, and is a very pleasant starter. The sorbet (not pictured) adds zing and sweet-spicy complexity from the cinnamons and cloves. The chantilly is mildly sweet with the textural and flavour contrast of bitter chocolate shards. It’s not the kind of dish that will get you in raptures, but it is a welcome respite from my earlier amusing service encounter.

Second Entrée: Cocoa butter seared king scallop with oba leaves, tomato salsa, pinenut and sweet summer beet foam

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The king scallop is seared with Mycryo, the innovative cocoa butter product proudly brought to you by Cacao Barry. According to Stroobant, Mycryo and cocoa butter have a higher burning point than normal butter and produce a creamy mouthfeel without the dairy flavour and lactose content, thereby producing a cleaner emphasis on the primary ingredient. Unfortunately, this is all a little overshadowed by the accompaniments, which I am not the biggest fan of. I suspect the tomato salsa had been pre-prepared quite a while ago, as a little puddle of water broke from it at the base of my plate. The scallop, though not overcooked, was cooked more than I would have liked. A leaf of filo pastry lolls out limply like a nonagenarian’s tongue, adding nothing to the composition.

Third Entrée: Homemade smoked foie gras terrine with caramelised mango, blanc satin chocolate emulsion and crispy pain d’epice

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At this point, I am not too sure what to make of the meal, so thank God it’s foie gras time. Saint Pierre is renowned for its foie gras preparations, and this, friends, is why people continue to flock here from across the island. This is foie gras in its purest and best state – three generous slabs of smoked liver terrine (made from whole lobes of the good stuff, no mixing with forcemeat or other adulteratives here), that deliver livery flavour in socking great helpings. The two white knobbly looking things are cylinders of very creamy white chocolate and butter emulsion, so I will need to get a comprehensive health check-up shortly. I call for more of the excellent warm raisin loaf and spread it thickly with the terrine. I lean back, take a mouthful and exhale, satisfied; all is well with the world again. No, scratch that, everything is suddenly supremely bloody good!!! This is indisputably the best foie gras I’ve had since Jean-Francois Piège’s cassoulet-smoked terrine at Les Ambassadeurs. If you come here and order just one dish, look no further than Stroobant’s foie gras[/i} terrine.

Main Course: Black miso cod tempura, lobster bisque emulsion, warm leek terrine scented with home-smoked bacon and seaweed roasted rice pearl with chocolate

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Again, another masterful dish. Wonderfully fresh Atlantic cod (I’ve had superlative cod at three restaurants in Singapore recently, so obviously, some local importer has the inside track). The tempura batter is light and not oily, the “roasted rice pearls” in reality are sago pearls cooked in the style of the risotto. Stroobant used cocoa butter as a base instead of butter and olive oil to prepare the sago, so there is no flavour of chocolate here, just the more desirable cooking properties of the cocoa butter.

Dessert: Hugues Pouget Duo: Exotic fruit coulis with Cuba chocolate rice pudding and Szechuan tea / jelly with papouasie chocolate chantilly

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Hugues Pouget is a Chef Patissier at Cacao Barry, and also the former pastry chef at three-Michelin-starred Guy Savoy and Champion de France des Desserts in 2003. He is also a good friend of Stroobant’s, which explains this collaboration. Through the varying degrees of bitterness and the mouthfeel of the two chocolate toppings, you can appreciate the fine palate that Pouget and Stroobant bring to their chocolate dessert. In the accompaniments, you see how sensitive they are to bringing out the unique aspects of the chocolate they are using. It was a very great pity, then, that the chocolate toppings were placed in the wrong glasses. Funnily enough, the chantilly-fruit coulis pairing works fine, the sweetness of the chantilly cut by the acid streak of tropical fruits. However, the bitter richness of the Cuban chocolate pudding amplifies the tannins in the tea, and it tastes rather unpleasant. I remark on this to the waiter, who apologises and takes the tea jelly away practically untouched. I hear nothing back from him.

Petits Fours – Chocolate tart, chocolate cookie, chocolate meringue

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All told, this was a good – very good meal. The service, while generally good, was not as well-versed as one would like or expect at a restaurant of this calibre. I hated the dessert mix-up more for the missed potential than the actual result. But along with these misses, there were some truly remarkable highs. I also spied a cheese trolley stocked with cheeses from Philippe Olivier and Herve Mons, with a particularly good selection of goat and blue. I couldn’t fit in any but they all looked like they were in excellent condition.

Stroobant sat down for a good chat and he kindly brought out a tasting dish of assorted chocolate buttons which he used in the dishes, which he talked me through while sharing a few chocolate-tasting tips. These were all sublime, with a few from Cuba (apparently a finite and rapidly diminishing supply due to trade embargoes) and single estates from Venezuela – very varying body and degrees of bitterness and sweetness, but divine one and all. Stroobant himself is a very charming individual, clearly passionate about his food and able to articulate this. I liked that despite his growing name, he was still here on a weekday lunchtime, cooking and working the room. Saint Pierre is a stalwart and the quality leaves you in no doubt as to why.

Edited by Julian Teoh (log)
Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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  • 6 months later...

Sage Restaurant, The Gardens Residences, Mid-Valley City, Kuala Lumpur

CILANTRO IS BACK!!!

Actually, not really, but this is the closest you are going to get for a while yet.

Chef Takashi Kimura quietly opened Sage at The Gardens Residences in September 2008. The Cilantro team are here in all but name, serving the Franco-Japanese fusion food that made Cilantro KL's choice for top-class food. I never had the pleasure of dining at Cilantro, so my impressions here are those of an outsider looking in, a novice monk training in the rigours of the temple. I do not have any attachments to things such as truffle butter (the absence of which apparently continues to be a source of grief for many regulars). I am only here to eat and analyse.

This is a pretty big space; I calculated that it must seat at least one hundred, though on the night that I was there, it seated more like ten, with half of them turning up just as I was about to leave. Kimura directs operations from his open kitchen, with a team of at least twelve cooks. The room has very high-ceilings, which gives the impression of spaciousness and freedom. Service is attentive and formal in a Les Amis kind of way, so you won't catch waiters here going "cheers" or anything vaguely slang-y like that, but they are suitably knowledgeable, warm and friendly.

Sage offers a la carte options as well as a three-course menu with free choice from the carte, a four-course menu (three courses as above with a daily changing chef's special) for an extra twenty ringgit, and a seven-course chef's table for RM265, where you sit at the counter and the chefs prepare your food in front of you.

Bread – decent selection. I'm unsure why you would start with a fried bread liberally laced with garlic. I mean, it's good as a greasy snack to accompany your drinks, but it doesn't exactly hone your palate for what's to come.

EntréeFeuillete of foie gras and anago, with mushroom duxelles and potato mousseline

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I will admit this is the first time I've had anago. According to our friends at Wikipedia, anago is a saltwater eel with flesh less rich and oily as its more renowned cousin, unagi. Look, I'm pretty sure you could tell without actually tasting this dish that anything with pastry, foie gras and eel is going to taste pretty good, right? Well, yes, but it is the interaction of the mushroom duxelles and the potato that really gets me excited. It's almost as if, and please bollock me if this sounds unbearably pretentious, these two ingredients, true expressions of the soil, match up with a kind of elemental synergy of terroirs. I find myself lusting for more of that potato-ey fungal goodness, well after my appetite for fatty livers and eels has been sated.

MainMuscovy duck confit with shallots and (ahem) foie gras

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Back with more foie gras. No, it was not listed on the menu and I wish someone had told me about it as I probably would not have ordered this dish otherwise. But all that doesn't stop me from scarfing it all down, you understand. Classic technique, well-cooked, no complaints. The one good thing about the foie gras repetition is that it enables me to appreciate the integrity and the perfectionist streak that marks this restaurant. Both times, the foie came all lovely and caramelised on both sides, texturally changing to a moist and creamy heart. A little digression; I was most disappointed when I recently returned to Saint Pierre and was persuaded by an enthusiastically upselling waitress to order what was apparently Saint Pierre's signature dish, the "classic pan-fried foie gras with old port sauce." I did my old trick and lifted the slab of liver to find that it had only been seared on the up-facing side. Whether that was deliberate is anyone’s guess, though it smacked to me of a short-cut. The sauce had as about as much harmony as a flushing toilet punctuated by nails dragging on a blackboard. People say cooking foie gras is simple but some continue to take liberties for reasons unknown. Sage happens to cook its foie extremely well and I am very glad they do so.

Dessert Roasted kougyoku apple with vanilla ice-cream

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When I asked them to recommend a dessert, I was gobsmacked that they would recommend a mere roasted half apple with vanilla ice-cream. I mean, this is the stuff that I used to cook up on a frigid winter's night when I curled up in front of the telly. Of course, I didn't have access to kougyoku apples and didn't make my own ice-cream from scratch, which apparently makes all the difference. When roasted, the apple takes on the texture of a hot steamed pudding, and the ice-cream melts into the black cast iron Staub pot to form the perfect sauce. Good stuff.

Petits fours - Pistachio macarons

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My friend Duncan Markham a.k.a. eGullet's Lamington or Le Seigneur des Macarons, may not dignify these with the title of "macaron" given their lack of frilly feet and his perfectionist obsession with the little confections (see www.syrupandtang.com for more). These taste perfectly fine and crumble neatly, so perhaps they are nearer to "macaroons", which Duncan, bless his tolerant heart, will grudgingly accept (after a suitably long pause, of course). They go well with a good strong coffee, regardless.

I apprehend that this is more to this place than can be gleaned from one visit, and it's the kind of food that you can devour voraciously on the night and think about for a while afterwards. I get the impression that there is a bit of a fine balancing act going on when you are producing such highly-tuned fusion food. Apart from the combination of French techniques with the mild influence of Asian flavours, Kimura also works interesting textural contrasts in each plate.

This is not fusion for the sake of cramming in as many terms from as many different languages as you can, showing how well-travelled and sophisticated the chef is. Each element is there and contributing to the overall finish of the dish. I cannot pronounce a verdict on how close this place is to Cilantro, but I can highly recommend it on its own merits. I will be back, sooner rather than later.

PS In a fit of pique back in 2006, I started this thread with a bollocking review of Villa Danieli at the Sheraton Imperial, Kuala Lumpur. I still stand by what I said then, but regardless, I have always believed that Villa Danieli, an actual free-standing Tuscan-style villa built by the poolside, is a beautiful space and deserved much better than the tarnished experience that I had to suffer.

I am happy to report that Villa Danieli is now a dining destination truly worthy of praise. Manager Irwan Ismail has brought some much-needed polish and charm to the floor and glides around stylishly, meeting and greeting guests. Executive sous chef Rajesh Kanna is also cooking excellent food, using the restaurant's facilities to make his own breads and pastas. His food is perhaps not of the same regional bent that marks the cuisine of a native-born Italian; in the same way, he eschews much of the theatricality that marked the old menu. However, he delivers boatloads of flavour with sensible use of quality ingredients. Try the tomato and basil soup with rocket oil, classic and simple like the greatest of Italian food, or the fettuccine aglio olio with tiger prawns. I was once told that to fare la scarpetta ("to make a shoe" to mop up the juices from your plate) in a restaurant was intolerably bad form. But with olive oil and chilli mingling delightfully with the juices from two tiger prawns the size of Barack Obama's election fund, I am happy to fare my scarpetta all night.

The only downside in the entire experience was that they were serving Anchor unsalted butter in hotel service packets, a legacy of its location and association with the Sheraton Imperial. But it is such a pleasure to be bitching about the little things to give you a semblance of impartiality, when the overall experience is just so darned good.

Edited by Julian Teoh (log)
Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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Julian,

I dined at Sage a few weeks ago too, shortly after it had opened.

I was underwhelmed. I found the food smacking of overdone cliches such as the slabs of foie liberally strewn across the place, and to my palate, it wasn't very good foie either. Limpid and damp, not firm yet yielding.

The service had the undignified air of upmarket flatulence, with the senior staff behaving as if to dine there is an unqualified privilege. The only upside was that they had made a serious error in the wine list, and we scoffed two bottles of premier cru burgundy at bargain basement prices. I won't even go into the song and dance and accompanied the wine service. Completely overblown and camp to beyond belief.

Lafite, at the Shangri-la, on the other hand... quite sublime, with enough Ferran Aida references to make one wish one could afford a trip to Europe right now.

Cilantro, was better.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I greatly enjoyed reading this, Julian! And thanks for the mention of my macaronic affliction;) Those do, indeed, look like abominations. Hehe.

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

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"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

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Julian,

I dined at Sage a few weeks ago too, shortly after it had opened.

I was underwhelmed. I found the food smacking of overdone cliches such as the slabs of foie liberally strewn across the place, and to my palate, it wasn't very good foie either. Limpid and damp, not firm yet yielding.

The service had the undignified air of upmarket flatulence, with the senior staff behaving as if to dine there is an unqualified privilege. The only upside was that they had made a serious error in the wine list, and we scoffed two bottles of premier cru burgundy at bargain basement prices. I won't even go into the song and dance and accompanied the wine service. Completely overblown and camp to beyond belief.

Lafite, at the Shangri-la, on the other hand... quite sublime, with enough Ferran Aida references to make one wish one could afford a trip to Europe right now.

Cilantro, was better.

PCL,

Could you please go into the song and dance about the wine service? Did they prime the glasses with your premiers crus and bring out the candles? :raz:

I am sorry to hear about your experience, though I did not encounter the faults you describe during my visit. Yeah, I was a little frustrated at the unadvertised recurring foie gras, but as I pointed out, it was perfectly cooked on both occasions. It was a quiet night when I was there, and Jason Tan and his staff looked after me very well.

Lafite's chef has moved to BLU at Shangri-La, Singapore and is now plying his version of the art here. His replacement is French Laundry-trained; again, another great stylistic change at Lafite.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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  • 3 weeks later...

Happy New Year dudes.

Julian, the song and dance really isn't worth going into.

I had a second dinner at Lafite recently, and man, we should do a night there. Next time you're in KL, let me know. I'll tee up something with Damian and we can go to town in the kitchen and dining room. Would be good man. Seriously. Menu revamp is on it's way.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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But yeah, candles, decanters, the unsolicited swirling of glasses... what else? Leave my wine alone I say.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Didier Elena at Raffles Grill, featuring the wines of Jean Stodden , Raffles Hotel, 19 February 2009

I will be honest with you; I’ve never been the greatest fan of food festivals. We can never expect a chef to perform the same miracles away from his home turf, whether because he’s not with his normal kitchen team, he does not have access to his regular suppliers, and even a change in the dining room, where the normal accoutrements are missing and the wine list is not created with the chef’s food in mind.

I mentioned elsewhere that Pascal Barbot of three-starred L’Astrance was a very honourable exception when he visited Raffles Grill in late 2007. I was hoping that Didier Elena, the Alain Ducasse-trained two-starred chef at Les Crayeres in Reims would be able to replicate the feat.

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On arriving, we were greeted with a flute of The Widow. Non-vintage, of course. We are in a global recession after all.

The atmosphere at Raffles Grill is always magical, despite the various service lapses that have become customary here. There was a particularly spirited performance on the grand piano throughout lunch, which may or may not have been the eminent musician Jimmy McKissic (we were seated in the romantic alcove table and did not have a view of the “stage.”) It sure was good, though.

First entrée: Fondant potatoes, Jabugo ham, black truffles and mont d’or.

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Can you go wrong with truffled potato and jamon iberico? No. A very pleasant starter, though the mont d’or sauce (not pictured) was very assertive, overwhelming the nuances of the jamon and the truffles. To match it was a glass of:

1985 Veuve Clicquot Rosé

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Simply stunning. I’m no champagne expert but I remember very fondly the effect of torrefaction when I have had the (rare) pleasure of a properly aged champagne. This champagne, almost as old as yours truly, had none of that, but was so rich and meaty, almost truffle-y in fragrance and flavour.

Second entrée: Scallops, black truffles, leek vinaigrette

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I have never seen as much truffle on one plate, ever. Before this dish was served, I had asked for a truffle to be brought to my table, just to make sure they weren’t cutting any corners. I needn’t have worried. But you will see the translucent corner of foie gras in the photo. Not listed on the menu, not advertised. The PETA folk will be spewing on their carrot sticks. My wife’s foie was more red than Mao’s magnum opus, so we sent it back untouched. The maitre’d tried to reassure us that it was OK, but we weren’t falling for that old chestnut. The scallops were nice and meaty but they were not on par with those you would find in a good French restaurant (and hopefully not Les Crayeres!). We asked Mr Elena if he had brought any ingredients over, but he said no, when we have such “excellent suppliers” and he also likes working with the "local product". I could have told him that we had a couple of fish in Jurong, some lab-grown mushrooms and some eggs in Lim Chu Kang, but that’s about it! I know, he was just being polite.

Main Course: 36-hour slow-cooked beef parmentier, sauce civet, croutons

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This was rich, I recall many more complex flavour sensations, including the delightful iron-rich saltiness of the blood, but they all came back to the same conclusion: my God, it was rich! Our captain said there was foie gras in the sauce; I didn’t see it but a mouthful put a brick in my stomach, so I could certainly believe it. It was flavourful, but I couldn’t help feeling that this was a dish that I could have cooked, and I’m sure Mr Elena didn’t earn his stars by slow-cooking beef. Portionwise, I’m not sure this should have been served as a main course, especially not in our tropical climes. Did I mention this was very rich?

Final rant for the day: per the title, the lunch featured the wines of Jean Stodden, a German winemaker who specialises in pinot noir, or the “spatburgunder”, as our friends in Germany call it. This means that Mr Stodden’s wines will be featured, and let’s not worry whether the wine matches the food. Look, the wines (2005 Reserve and 2006 “Recher Herrenberg”) were nice; they certainly needed food, though I’m unsure whether it needed this food. I should have spotted the signs – when Mr Elena opened proceedings, he said “I like to match my food with champagnes.” When he was interviewed in the Straits Times the week before, he said “I like to match my food with champagne.” Hmmm, I don’t know about you, but do you think maybe he likes to match his food with champagne?

We spotted a friend across the dining room, who is one of Singapore’s top sommeliers. We chatted after the meal and he was in anguish. He had asked the F&B manager “Did you taste the food before you matched the wines?” and had received a rather non-committal response. I guess you couldn’t say yes, as if you did, you had just marked yourself out as having a numb palate. The truffled scallops were a perfect match with the 1985 Veuve, though much less so with the Stodden Reserve (the actual pairing!), and the Recher Herrenberg was massacred by the sauce civet. This was no subtle assassination; this was rampant rape and pillage, the likes of which have not been seen since the rise of the Mongols in the 13th Century. To be fair, no champagne could have stood up to this; a big full-bodied cabernet may have been up to the task. Incidentally, my friend visited Les Crayeres last year and said the food here was vastly different (read: inferior) to what he enjoyed. Boo.

Dessert: Fruit Exotique, Jurancon wine snow, coconut cookie

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No great shakes, I liked the wine snow, but the dessert was unbalanced in sourness, relying too much on the acid of the pineapple, grapefruit and passionfruit. The coconut cookie ameliorated the damage but it wasn’t enough. A pre-booking request to omit the citrus fruits for my wife was met with chunks of pink grapefruit. Petits fours were similarly unimpressive, having a bit of a factory-feel about them.

It’s hard to pronounce a verdict, because we started like a house on fire but found ourselves with nothing but ashes towards the end. Good marks for conceptualisation but the final execution was rather poor. I very much doubt we experienced his cuisine at its best, but I guess we were asking for it. During his rounds, Mr Elena invited us to look him up in Reims when we were next in France; I think we will have to take him up on the offer.

Julian's Eating - Tales of Food and Drink
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  • 9 months later...

We had dinner at Sage, The Gardens last week. Very reasonable, over flowing with foie, good service. Won't deny that I've had many better dinners but it wasn't bad at all plus the price was good! The Japanese chef did not cook for us though- we were told he is back with Cilantro (which will be opening in a few weeks). Can't wait to dine at Cilantro!

Pictures of our dinner @ Sage, can be found here: Sage

Edited by DeliciouslyLekker (log)

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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/

 

 

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