Who’ll get the Michelin Man’s thumbs up in Singapore?
When it comes to the Michelin Guide and Asia, anything is possible, just look at the Hong Kong edition. But here’s who we’d like to see gain stars in the inaugural Singapore red book published on July 21st:
Shinji by Kaneska at Raffles Hotel
This menu-less, omakase (“I’ll leave the choice up to you”) restaurant is surely a shoo-in for three Michelin stars. It’s the brainchild of renowned Tokyo chef Shinji Kanesaka, as the name suggests.
In Singapore, a team of Japanese chefs work under the watchful eye of master chef Koichiro Oshino who has been with Shinji for over 20 years. They work behind a wooden counter carved in a single piece from a 220 year old hinoki or Japanese Cypress tree which is as stunning as the food they prepare.
Only fish and seafood is served but not just sushi and sashimi there’s plenty of grilled dishes too.
Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673
[UPDATE: Shinji at Raffles is now closed while Raffles Arcade undergoes refurbishment]
Gunther Hubrechsen doesn’t get as much glory as the showier chefs in Singapore which is a travesty because his food (modern European) is superb and his eponymous restaurant makes a refreshing change from the shopping mall and hotel set ups in the Lion City.
Instead, Gunther’s is based in a converted shop-house on an historic side-street. A tiny but cute belle époque-esqe bar leads to a surprisingly modern dining area.
Star attraction is the vast tray of impressive raw ingredients, including live seafood, shown to each diner at the start of the meal and testament that produce is king here. Signature dish is cold angel hair pasta with caviar.
That the customers are overwhelmingly regulars is proof of Gunther’s appeal.
36 Purvis Street
Exclusive has become an over used word but it’s a fitting description for Waku Ghin. There are just 25 covers, dotted among four private rooms each with a chef preparing a 10 course tasting menu on a teppanyaki grill.
This is Sydney-based chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s first foray outside of Australia and is an extremely hot ticket in Singapore – especially since it zoomed into the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2012 (it’s currently the highest ranking Singapore restaurant in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants).
To start is raw seafood, maybe sea urchin and abalone, followed by “salads” such as scallops with daikon and oyster. Standout dish is the marinated shrimp with sea urchin and caviar.
The the real magic begins as your private chef cooks a succession of fish and meat dishes such as crab legs steamed on a salt bed and wagyu beef with grated wasabi. It’s part theatre, part cooking lesson.
All dishes can be expertly paired with wines or sake from biodynamic Sancerre to an Australian chardonnay produced especially for the chef.
Casino level 2, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
A long time darling of Singa’s fine dining scene, Saint Pierre has recently moved to a new location in a heritage buildings overlooking the Marina – perhaps with an eye to a Michelin star or two.
Whatever the reason, chef Emmanuel Stroobant’s fancy fare sits better in this table clothed, chandeliered setting though the vibe is modern rather than stuffy. Stroobant combines French techniques with tip top Japanese ingredients with wonderful results. The service is top notch too.
Tasting menu only for dinner (six or ten courses, meat or vegetarian) plus there’s a spectacular French cheese cart and a post dessert trolley. More affordable set lunches during the week. Try to arrive for 7pm to catch the jaw dropping sunset reflected in the Marina Bay Sands spectacular across the bay.
1 Fullerton Road
#02-02B One Fullerton
The Tippling Club
Chef Ryan Clift’s inventive tasting menus include dizzying roll call of ingredients and techniques, many gleaned from Japan, and are cleverly paired with craft cocktails. The tasting menu kicks off with a round of amuse bouche that may include jamon iberico with freeze dried tomato and olive oil gel; and puffed beef tendon with margarita pizza seasoning.
Then on to seafood such as snow crab, kyoho grapes from Yamanashi prefecture, nasturtiums, and fruit tomato heart; and meat such as Mangalica pork collar brined then slow cooked for 19 hours at 72 degrees, miso and yuzu pudding, nuka carrot and cucumber, nori cracker and cinnamon-infused dash.
Spanning three shop houses in Tanjong Pagar, the mod meets retro design mixing metro tiles, statement lighting and bold wallpaper gives a fashionable feel to the cosy converted shophouse. Book a seat at a counter to watch your dishes being assembled.
38 Tanjong Pagar Road.
Former Fat Duck chef Ivan Brehm has at last got the restaurant he deserves in the new Bacchanalia venue on gentrified Hong Kong Street. Gone is the moody lighting and lounge bar setting, refreshingly replaced by an airy, open space that’s like eating in someone’s (very expensive) kitchen.
More importantly chef Brehm – and fellow Fat Duck alum Mark Ebbels – are able to focus on the food. Out with the a la carte burgers and fries, in with a tasting menu only that really lets the food shine.
Ivan will talk you through the mind blowing detail that went into each component of every dish. Produce-driven is becoming an overused phrase but Brehem and Ebbels seeks out the finest ingredients they can in nearby Cameron Highlands and also grow their own on the rooftop vegetable garden.
Left to his own devises, Ivan also brings in touches of Middle Eastern. Such as the lamb saddle and charred eggplant purees with harissa and kibbeh nay (a minced raw lamb on Arabic bread) – one of the best dishes Chopstix and tasted in Singapore this year.
It’s a relief to see that old favourites like the cold pressed coconut cream aged carnaroli risotto are still on the menu too.
Desserts such as marsala mousse, coffee ganache, cacao gel and blackcurrent sorbet are equally cleverly created and delectable.
You won’t want to miss out on the superb drinks pairings from sommelier Matthew Chan either.
39 Hong Kong Street, Singapore 059678
[UPDATE: Chefs Ivan and Mark have now left]
Owner JP was head chef of the renowned Fino and Barafina Spanish restaurants in London now he’s set up stall on the fringes of the CBD, a stone’s throw from the madness of Boat Quay.
Less fancy than Fino but not as casual as Barafina, Dehesa hits the right balance of relaxed dining in a cool, mostly communal seating, setting with open kitchen and counter space.
And the food is phenomenal. Offal is the speciality (order the crispy pig’s head. We bet it doesn’t look at all how you imagine and it’s incredibly modish) but if that’s not your bag, there are plenty of other Spanish stalwarts to choose from. Plus a good selection of Spanish wines and sherries.
12 North Canal Road
Sky on 57
Local enfant terrible Justin Quek trained with some of the best chefs in France and now mixes Singaporean Chinese flavours with classical French techniques and vice versa.
His impressive menu includes foie gras braised in soy sauce in the same style as Teochew braised duck and xiao long bao filled with foie gras and truffle consomee.
A particular triumph is JQ’s Beef Broth with Braised Tendon, Ribs & Slices of Wagyu. The chef says it’s inspired by Singaporeans eating Beef Noodles at hawker stalls at the end of a night out to avoid a hangover the next day. His version comes with a shot of Jack Daniel’s added.
Level 57, Sands Skypark Tower 1
Julien Royer, formerly head chef of the acclaimed Jaan, now has his own restaurant in the form of Odette, a bread roll’s throw away from his alma mater, within Singapore’s stunning new National Gallery.
At Odette, named in honour of his grandmother, Royer is continuing to mix classical French with modern techniques in his new home. Some of his greatest hits from Jaan are on the menu: Mushroom “tea”; 55 mins Onsen Egg; Heirloom Beetroot Variation; and Hay Smoked Pigeon.
In it’s new incarnation though the Pigeon is served two ways: the breast cooked sous vide then grilled and the leg cooked for six hours. And the Onsen Eggs are smoked on a bed of pines – foraged by the chef’s father and sent over from France (another family link).
Royer has also added some new creations such as the standouts Hokkaido Uni with Apple, Mussel and Caviar and Trout with Miso Glazed Kurobuta Pork.
The welcome champagne trolley includes Chartogne-Taillet rose, Henri Giraud for Odette and Krug – said to be Royer’s favourite.
Desserts, by pastry chef Nicolas Vergnole, are also impressive including Confit Victoria Pineapple (below): toasted coconut ice cream, banana cake, passionfruit coulis, tapioca and Kaffir lime.
Restaurants with a knock out view usually don’t bode well on the food front but that’s not the case with Jaan. Although the 70th floor vista of central Singapore will impress even the most spoilt and/or jaded traveller, the cuisine – and the service, also match it.
All tables at this compact restaurant are cleverly set up to enjoy the outlook overlooking the river, marina and beyond to the Straits sea.
The kitchen is in good hands with Kirk Westaway who recently became head chef after several years of being sous. Westaway has largely retained the contemporary take on classic French cuisine that Jaan is renowned for while introducing his own impressive creations including Heirloom Tomatoes with Aerated Tomato Consomee and Burrata; and John Dory with Chicken Wing and Jus – inspired by the wafer thin chicken skin which the entire dish was then designed around.
The chef has also brought in top ingredients from his home in the West of England. Not to mention witty takes on foodie memories such as canapés with the taste and texture of fish and chips or desserts reminiscent of a famous British chocolate bar, albeit with a sophisticated execution of course.
Level 70, Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road