[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he long-awaited Michelin Guide is said to have been long overdue in culinary capital Singapore. But overdue no more – here is the full list of Michelin-star recipients, awarded in the inaugural 2016 Red Guide.
3 Michelin-Starred Restaurants
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he most-starred chef in the world adds 3 more to his culinary constellation map.
Italian hand-made chandeliers, fancy silverware, and an impressive wine cellar carrying over a thousand labels. This is Joel Robuchon, one of the few establishments in Singapore where you can experience all the nuances of fine-dining, executed without a fault.
Here, the dishes are kept simple. No fancy elaborations on what elements to expect. Instead, it’s left to the diner to savour and figure out each carefully thought out ingredient that comes together to make the whole dish work. Highly decorated Michelin-star chef Robuchon takes pride in his signature dishes like the Le Turbot and Le Canard, and for good reason.
The Le Turbot comes out of the kitchen beautifully presented, with delicate slivers of wild mushrooms and pearl onions decorating the fork-tender roasted fish and lending an earthiness to the subtly sweet meat. The dish is reminiscent of the classic French fare that Robouchon does well, but what makes Joel the restaurant a diamond in the local culinary scene is its consistent standards of impeccable service and knowledgable staff.
Napkins are thoughtfully folded and placed back on the table to await your return from a short break. Service staffs take note of the dips in your conversation, recognising these as the right moments to interrupt with a new dish or more water. And when the sommelier is asked for a wine pairing recommendation, what is most impressive is his prior knowledge of the dishes we had already ordered without us saying a word – a mark of stellar service.
What truly seals the deal is the restaurant’s ability to shrug off stiff formalities so often associated with fine-dining outfits, and afford a little cheek. When asked for a recommendation for a wine pairing, for instance, the sommelier replies with a safe white wine as an option. A slight pause, then he daringly offers a bolder choice – “perhaps, if you are willing to be adventurous, this red Burgundy would go well with the turbot?” It’s an unusual bet to place, but the sommelier’s knowledge of the treasures in his trove is foolproof. The Burgundy works wonders to complement the flavours of the fish. At the end of the meal, a cheeky reprimand is issued to my dining companion for daring to let a lady pick up the cheque.
2 Michelin-Starred Restaurants
For Chiang, this accolade has been a long time coming. His dedication to precision has been his calling card since his days as chef de cuisine at JAAN, and his eponymous establishment at Bukit Pasoh Road, earmarked by the iconic olive tree, is associated immediately with the memory of a inimitable dining experience. We’re certain of one thing: Chiang won’t be resting on even these laurels – he’ll continue to push for that last star, and the boundaries of fine dining. For an unparalleled insight into the mind of Singapore’s freshly-minted Michelin-starred chef, read his Gourmet & Travel special edition where he took on the role of Guest Editor.
With expectations at an all-time high, thanks to Royer growing to prominence after winning accolades like “One to Watch” at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 and leading JAAN to a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list, patrons of the modern French restaurant might be let down to find signatures like the 55-degree smoked egg and heirloom beetroot variation reappearing here, even if the execution is flawless. But Royer reveals it’s just part of his opening act:
“These dishes are important to me and are representative of who I am as a chef and where I’ve come from. I believe that there is a natural progression as I evolve as a chef, and the dishes at Odette will also continue to evolve.” For now, Royer prefers teasing diners with just a couple of new dishes that hint at the promise of more to come. Hokkaido Uni, for instance, shows off the chef’s commitment to the best produce and finishing it off with his own ingenious touches. Here, fresh sea urchin and lobster are hidden under a white cloud of mussel cream and topped with a small dollop of caviar for an intense umami hit. There is also a more homespun quality to Royer’s dishes now, which comes through in the juniper-roasted venison saddle paired with mulled wine pear and a poivrade.
At this 22-year-old establishment, it’s not just the silver cloches covering your food during service that are polished to perfection. The space – which underwent a $1.5 million rejuvenation just in 2015 – is timelessly elegant; the service is smooth, suave yet friendly; the wine selection remains in a class of its own; and the food is almost faultless.
The injection of a suitable amount of quaint details – from the exclusive-to-Asia Le Ponclet butter served in fewer than 20 restaurants worldwide, to beautiful porcelain bowls with a perforated, lace-like rim handcrafted by German craftswoman Stefanie Hering – further elevates the meal to a truly luxurious treat for all senses. All components come together to create the refinement of this grand dame, and the effortless charm is made possible by a very competent and confident team in every area of the restaurant.
Executive chef Sebastien Lepinoy – previously of one-Michelin-star Cepage in Hong Kong – is the man pushing the enterprise forward. His meticulous style is displayed through the thoughtfulness of the various components on each plate.
Humble potatoes cooked just tender and cut into petals become the perfect vehicle for savouring caviar and silky creme fraiche: clean, simple, yet indulgent.
A lobster mousse enrobed in baby spinach and sitting in a shallow pool of fish bone broth comes served at just the perfect temperature – hot enough to warm one from the inside. A combination of pan seared foie gras from Vendee and French eel knocks one out with its unctuous richness, yet a side of piping hot dashi will revive and ready one for the next course.
The sommeliers are quick to make excellent recommendations based on your order, and are enthusiastic about sharing additions to their massive collection with aficionados.
And, unlike most restaurants where a server is attached to specific tables, the entire service team has eyes on every table in the room, ready to swoop in gracefully should there be a hint of anybody requiring assistance, be it simply to check on an order or to expound on the provenance of a certain ingredient on the plate. Yet, one never feels like he is being watched – just being watched over.
1 Michelin-Starred Restaurants
LIVE FROM THE GROUND: Mr Tang Chay Seng, owner of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, reacted to his newfound Michelin star: “I’m very excited – I never thought this would be possible… it’s business as usual tomorrow, however. Whatever we serve is very ordinary, and all the ingredients can be bought at the market!”