Back in 2009, we were contemplating between dining at Joël Robuchon (currently the chef with the most Michelin stars to his name - 25 stars) or Guy Savoy in Paris and ended up choosing the latter. 6 years on, we finally stepped foot into Joël Robuchon's first foray into Singapore, the eponymous Joël Robuchon Restaurant (opened in April 2011), for lunch. Gosh, what a long time coming.
If you enter by the main entrance, turning right after the door will bring you to Joël Robuchon Restaurant (left brings you to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, the more casual outfit). The main dining area strikes one as posh and sombre, with a beautiful chandelier as the centerpiece. The adjourning indoor winter garden strikes a stark contrast with a classy yet cheery appeal, sporting a glass roof to allow plenty of natural light in.
There is a smart elegant dress code but I guess it's not strictly enforced (I spotted some guys wearing t shirts and shorts).
Amuse Bouche - A calamansi jelly flavoured with vanilla, topped with anisette cream; a little too tart for my liking.
Complimentary Homemade Bread - All the bread is homemade and pretty good in my humble opinion, especially the viennoiserie; buttery yet light rolls that reminded me of croissant sans the flakiness. The baguette came across as crusty and went very well with the smooth butter. We were so enamoured with the bread that we jumped at the chance for a second helping. And thankfully we did.
Le King Crabe - Seasoned king crab meat, avocado and crunchy vegetables on tomato coulis. A very well thought out dish with the avocado providing a nice smoothness to the crunchy vegetables and the lightly tart tomato coulis and green apple cubes playing counterpoint to the delightful crustacean sweetness of the king crab. Excellent!
Le Thé de Crevette - "Botan" shrimp in fresh coriander and turmeric infusion. I'm usually adverse to turmeric (or any plant in the ginger family for that matter) but this soup was surprisingly light, mildly sweet yet spicy at the same time and accentuated the sweetness of the crunchy botan shrimp chunks.
La Noix de Saint-Jacques - Pan-fried Hokkaido scallop with spelt risotto and coral emulsion. Undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of the afternoon; a lightly spicy, savoury, creamy sauce base coupled with al dente spelt and a huge, perfectly cooked scallop that was oh so sweet. A pity portion sizes were oh so small.
Le Boeuf "Wagyu" - Wagyu beef hanging tender grilled with medley of aromates and shallots marmalade. Done to a perfect medium rare - tender and juicy. Topped with caramalised shallots for a rather strong sweetness. Good but portions are really small and I personally prefer huge slabs of steak of the salted variant. Served with JR's famous mashed potatoes. Incredibly delicious; silky smooth without coming across as overly dry or moist and with a buttery aftertaste to boot. One of the best "traditional" mashed potatoes I've eaten to date.
Le Minty - And on to desserts. Flowing chocolate Araguani with icy mint sorbet. First impression, it looked more like a layer of cream twirl decorated with a chocolate ring than a molten chocolate cake. But looks can be deceiving because dig beneath that layer of cream to find a scoop of light mint sorbet and a layer of chocolate fondant, complete with a mildly crisp shell and oozing chocolate. Although I don't quite fancy mint but this was quite a treat!
La Pavlova - Lychee lightness, lemongrass mousseline and "Mara de Bois" strawberry. The pavlova was crisp on the outside yet soft and gooey on the inside (like a marshmallow) and carried a pleasantly light lychee flavour and sweetness. Generously adorned with an assortment of berries, including the "Mara de Bois" strawberry (apparently very highly sought after for its flavour and fragrance) to juxtapose the sweetness of the meringue. Very good.
Petit Fours - We ended off with petit fours, which provided an additional sweet ending to our meal. Nothing was memorable here and I did find the raspberry macaron a little lacking in tartness and its shell a wee bit too moist.
Our wonderful lunch for two cost ~ $254 which is definitely at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. However food quality is undeniable and we enjoyed it quite a bit. Service could be a little more personable though.
Remember the mention about being thankful for the second serving of bread earlier on? I kid you not but we had to rely on the bread to fill our tummies because of the tiny portions (my set had an appetiser, a soup, two mains and a dessert by the way). French haute cuisine indeed but very unlike my experience at Guy Savoy Paris. However, having said that, we have already made plans for a return trip in the coming weeks ;)
Having patronised one of the 3 different Liang Kee outlets in Singapore on a relatively regular basis, we decided to venture out of our comfort zone and drop by Mu Liang Zai Liang Kee (literally translates to son of Bak Liang) which, as the name suggests, is run by the son (fifth) of the founder, Ng Bak Liang.
Sitting amidst a row of shops along Beo Crescent, MLZ sits along the same stretch as another restaurant bearing a similar name, G7 Liang Kee, which is managed by a Taiwanese former partner. The place isn't big and is reminiscent of a typical air conditioned cze char place, nothing too fanciful.
Teochew Braised Duck - Thickly sliced but tender, the braised duck was decent but I did find the gravy a tad too sweet for my liking. Accompanying beancurd was decent too. Portions are a tad small though.
Stir Fried Broccoli - Though the broccoli was nice and crunchy, it lacked wok hei. I did appreciate the saltiness and mild crunchiness of the ti po (dried sole fish) though.
Beancurd with Minced Meat - MLZ's signature beancurd with minced meat; crisp on the outside whilst smooth and quivery on the inside with a nice savoury taste. I did find the minced meat gravy a little too runny but overall still pretty good.
Silverfish Egg - A simple yet well executed dish, the fried egg came across as fluffy and moist with a nice saltiness (from the silverfish) and wok hei.
Pumpkin Yam Paste - The orh nee came looking like a mess but was surprisingly decent; smooth and fragrant but a wee bit too sweet for my liking. Still, I had two bowls to end off the evening.
A rather filling dinner for the four of us came up to $58.50, which is relatively inexpensive considering the quality and quantity of food. However, having said that, I personally still prefer the food at Liang Kee @ Whampoa. Besides, it's alot nearer to home.
We were at Orchard Road running some errands one weekend morning and decided to drop by Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar for brunch since it was in the vicinity.
Nestled within Tanglin Post Office and just behind Swiss Butchery, Nassim Hill's parking is sorely limited. There is the option of "free" parking (< 10 lots) right in front of the eatery but it's park at your own risk (so scramble if you see a warden) or the tiny carpark at the basement of the building (~10 lots) that leaves you stranded on a steep slope should the barrier refuse to lift when the carpark is full. So take public transport if you can, or park somewhere else.
Once you sort out the transportation issues, getting a seat is relatively easy as there are plenty of tables around. The vibe is rather cafe-ish and the abundance of natural light streaming through the full length windows lent the place a certain cheerfulness.
Chilli Crab Pasta - The chilli crab pasta came in 2 portion sizes; half or full. We opted for the former as the plan was to have waffles (lots of carbohydrates!) as well. And I'm glad we did as the half portion was big enough to feed an average eater. Al dente spaghetti coupled with a relatively rich yet mildly sweet and spicy sauce that featured chunks of crab meat and garlic for that additional kick. Very decent in my humble opinion.
Nassim Hill Double Decker Burger - Nassim Hill's namesake burger wasn't impressive to say the least. Although it featured a double patty, both patties lacked a firm texture, a discernible beefy taste and relied on the seasoning and herbs to give it flavour (onion rings added a mild sweetness as well). The bread, all soft and slathered in mayonnaise, could do with time on the griddle whilst the accompanying shoestring fries were a tad hard but pretty decent. Average at best.
Banana Chocolate Waffles - This was meant to be dessert but somehow got served together with our burger and pasta with no offer to take it back and re-serve it later. A bit of a boo boo I must say but seeing that most of the wait staff seemed to be rather green (mostly students I assume), I guess I don't really blame them. But it did prove to be rather annoying as the ice cream was melting rapidly and we had to alternate between mouthfuls of sweet cold dessert and warm burger/pasta at an accelerated pace (we certainly didn't want the waffles swimming in an ice cream puddle).
Grievances aside, I personally liked the waffles quite a fair bit. Lightly crisp along the edges with a rather chewy center and topped with banana slices, sweet chocolate sauce and a huge scoop of real vanilla bean ice cream (as evidenced by the black spots). It's rather pricey at $18 though, especially with only four small waffle rectangles to show for it.
A somewhat decent brunch for the both of us cost almost $59, which is still somewhat acceptable considering the overall quality of food and location of the eatery. Service needs a little polishing and I'll probably drop by again if I'm in the vicinity to try out some other items on the menu.
Spring Court has the honour of being one of the, if not the oldest Chinese restaurant in Singapore. Founded in 1929, it used to be located at Great World Amusement Park (大世界) before finally settling at its current location at Upper Cross Street sometime in 2004.
Housed in a four storey heritage shophouse just opposite Chinatown Point, Spring Court spots white washed walls adorned with pictures and warm lighting, very much typical of a Chinese restaurant. The place is bustling when we arrive, a testament to the popularity of the place I guess?
Braised Beancurd With Scallop - I used to think that serving up beancurd dishes by weight or individual portions were the purview of upmarket Chinese restaurants but clearly, Spring Court has decided to buck that trend. It would have worked if the dish tasted great but unfortunately, it was anything but. The beancurd lacked smoothness and the savouriness that I personally like. Topped with a small piece of scallop and draped over with a mildly starchy meat sauce that had bits of chilli in it. Average.
Deep Fried Prawns With Salted Egg Yolk - The small portion had about 10 prawns or so (charged by weight) and came across as crunchy with a mild egg yolk taste (would have preferred something more pronounced actually). While decent, it lacked that savoury saltiness that is the hallmark of any good egg yolk prawn in my humble opinion.
Stir Fried Broccoli - Cooked just right, the broccoli was neither too hard not soft but could do with some wok hei. Nonetheless, greens are always welcome as they help break the monotony of rich foods.
Roasted Chicken - Mildly crisp skin coupled with moist meat and a good pinch of saltiness; a respectably tasty dish of roasted chicken.
Peking Duck - As part of a tie in with a credit card, a Peking duck was offered to us for a mere 85 cents (with minimum $85 expenditure). We opted to have the meat chopped up and served ($5 extra) over frying it with noodles ($12 extra) and to be honest, it was probably one of the worst Peking ducks I've had in a long while, on par with the sub $20 ones that go for sale at the Ubi area. The skin was mildly crisp but came wrapped in limp and dry crepes whilst the chopped up meat was rather oily and had a strong fowl taste to it amidst flittering hints of herbs. We gave up on it after a while.
Lotus Leaf Rice - Apparently a signature dish of Spring Court and one that required pre-booking, the lotus leaf rice or 荷叶饭 had a slight waxiness to it (which was good) with bits of dried sausage, egg and shrimp. However I did find it a little lacking in fragrance and flavour, coming across as bland and nothing like the delicious 荷叶饭 at Peony Jade Clarke Quay.
Dinner for the 6 of us was a rather inexpensive affair, at just over $190 or ~ $32/pax with decent service. However food quality was average at best as a whole and I really don't understand the hype or seeming popularity (yet another Red Star?) of the place. Sure, Spring Court has a long history but I don't see how that's going to bring it into the future.
We were on a burger eating binge and ended up at Omakase Burger one weekend morning. Apparently OM serves up one of the best burgers in Singapore, as evidenced from the frequent citations in various media sources.
The place works (and looks) very much like a cafe. Prices are displayed overhead as well as at the counter where you place your order and make payment. Your food will be delivered to your seat. The interior is rather chirpy through the use of bright colours and bright lights (part of the lighting comes from the mall).
Omakase Chicken Sandwich Combo - We had the truffle fries with our chicken sandwich and it was unevenly splashed in truffle oil, which meant some portions of the fries bucket were dry whilst others were glistening with oil. Real classy.
And we thought that perhaps the chicken burger would do wonders. But we overestimated its potential. The chicken fillet was deep fried to a crisp but could do with a little more moisture (not oil) and seasoning to bring out the flavours. Read. Bland and oily. And I never thought I would ever say this but the batter was way too crispy for my liking and it unceremoniously left a few puncture wounds in my mouth. Almost fifteen bucks for the sandwich alone, seriously? Did I mention that the sandwich was small? Think the golden arches' fillet o fish size, maybe a whisker larger.
Applewood Smoked Bacon Cheeseburger Combo - And in continuing the tradition of small burgers, the bacon cheeseburger was, well, small, by many accounts. However it did taste much better than it's friend, the chicken burger. The patty was done to medium but came across as more oily than juicy whilst the bun, though soft, was bland. The highlight of the burger was definitely the applewood smoked bacon; crisp without coming across as too dry, imbued with a nice smokiness and saltiness.
Available only on weekends, the signature beef tallow fries were pretty good; golden brown exterior with a lingering bovine aftertaste. Think McD's fries on a good day. The fries could do with a little more moisture though.
Both our burger combos came up to almost $53 which was quite pricey considering the size and quality of the burgers. In short, Omakase Burger was a let down and is nowhere near Suprette's offering, neither in size nor in taste.