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Posts tagged ‘Joel Robuchon’

Star Chefs on the Rise in Hong Kong

PG in Central (mid res)

Pierre Gagniere in Central, Hong Kong


[UPDATE: Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s will visit his Hong Kong restaurant from October 24th to 30th 2019 to Hong Kong to launch his autumn tasting menu. The five-course menu will be available for lunch and dinner from 24 to 30 October 2018 at HKD1,998 per person.]

Hong Kong is set for another influx of Western celebrity chefs as Yannick Alleno’s long awaited bistro, Terroir Parisien, is slated to open in Central this summer, Bjorn Frantzen has opened Frantzen’s Kitchen and Jean-Georges Vongerichten has returned to the city with Mercato. David Thompson and Wolfgang Puck are also thought to be searching for sites here. But Asian expansion doesn’t mean guaranteed success: Mario Batali’s Carnenvino has closed in Hong Kong, Gordon Ramsay shut his restaurant in Tokyo and both Guy Savoy and Jason Atherton shipped out of Singapore. So what makes some international restaurants thrive in foreign markets while others falter?

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Luxe for Less at Joel Robuchon Restaurant

A canny way of eating at Michelin starred restaurants in London and Paris has long been to opt for the set lunch. Now you can do the same in Singapore with Joel Robuchon Restaurant being awarded three Michelin stars.

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Some thoughts on the first Singapore Michelin Guide

Michelin announced the first selection of the MICHELIN guide Singapore 2016-2

The Michelin Star winners in Singapore

Before the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was launched on July 21st I was sure of two things: that at least one hawker stall would gain a star and that Joel Robuchon would be awarded three. The former because I could see the headlines about “the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant” pinging around the world (and so could Michelin, I’ll wager) and the latter because Robuchon tends to collect three Michelin stars around the globe as naturally as breathing.

And so, as you’ve probably heard, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle became the proud recipients of a Michelin star apiece while Joel Robuchon clocked up another three stars for his fine dining establishment in Singapore (read on for the full list). All announced, in a world first for Michelin, to much fanfare: a songstress in glitter crooning When You Wish Upon a Star and dancers in chefs uniforms waving giant forks and spoons. Even the three star reveal had some drama: director Michael Ellis teased us at first that not every location was worthy of three Michelin stars before announcing he did indeed have a red envelope and that it was not empty.

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Firm Friends – what is it about Les Amis?

Cheryl and Sebastien

Cheryl Koh and Sebastien Lepinoy at Les Amis, Singapore


[UPDATE: Les Amis was awarded two Michelin stars in the inaugural Singapore guide on July 21st 2016].

With Les Amis in Singapore listed as Asia’s 12th Best Restaurant last night and Cheryl Koh announced as Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016, here’s a look at the restaurant’s heritage:

Fans of French fine dining restaurant Cepage in Hong Kong will still be able to enjoy the cooking of head chef Sebastien Lepinoy and pastry chef Cheryl Koh even though the Michelin starred restaurant is now closed. They’ll just have to visit Singapore.

The culinary pair have been lured to the Lion City to head up Cepage’s sister establishment Les Amis. Both restaurants share the same enticing formula of sophisticated food and slick service mixed with an unstuffy atmosphere; a recipe that has made Les Amis as popular with food writers in the region as it is with regular customers.

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Stars and Spas in Macau

Robuchon restaurant at Hotel Lisboa, Macau


[UPDATE: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 will be held at the Wynn Macau on March 27th 2018.]

Something is stirring in Macau, the sleepy colonial backwater turned gaming mecca on the southern tip of the China mainland just a 40 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong. For amongst the glitz (and sometimes seediness) of the mammoth casinos and five star hotel complexes are some of the best restaurants and spas in the world.


Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Macau

While Macau, as a former Portuguese colony, offers any number of rustic bistros that Portugal can be proud of, it’s the fine dining that’s attracting attention.

Robuchon a Galera

Joel Robuchon has a new outpost there in the colourful Grand Lisboa hotel on the Macau peninsula. Newly unveiled as Robuchon au Dome – replacing Robuchon a Galera – the restaurant has just moved to an even flashier spot under the glass atrium at the top of the sky scraper hotel. With its Swarovski chandelier, Steinway piano and Baccarat crystal the place is almost a pastiche of a three Michelin starred restaurant (an honour it has secured four years running) but purists won’t be disappointed with the cooking. Under chef Francky Semblat [UPDATE: Chef Francky Semblat has been succeeded at Robuchon au Dome by Julien Tongourian] the bread and butter trollies and signature dishes such as caviar jelly with cauliflower cream all prevail. As well as new, Asian inspired creations.

Oriental jelly with spices and caramel

In Las Vegas – which Macau is often deemed an Asian version of – Robuchon sits alongside Thomas Keller and Nobu. Perhaps they will follow him to Macau but for now it’s the Chinese cuisine that really shines. Zin Yat Heen is one of a number of Cantonese restaurants with a deservingly high reputation. Tucked away within the Four Seasons on the Cotai Strip, a main drag for gaming and shopping, the two Michelin starred Zin Yat Heen is a tranquil haven away from the bling with laquered wall coverings and paper lanterns and a prominently displayed wine selection rather than the garish or downright dull décor that often comes with Cantonese dining rooms.

Zin Yat Heen

Chef Ho Pui Yung, originally from Hong Kong the heartland of Cantonese, specialises in seafood and the freshest of top quality ingredients for his exemplary cuisine. Diners flock here for the crab claw stuffed with shrimp and the crispy chicken in particular.

Wing Lei

And there are other contenders gaining credence. Over at the Wynn hotel back on the peninsula, fellow Cantonese restaurant Wing Lei has been elevated to two Michelin stars this year. Next door, Golden Flower at the Encore hotel has received its first star. What differentiates the Golden Flower is its emphasis on the elite Tan cuisine; created in Beijing and defined by detailed preparation and subtle flavours.

Golden Flower

Chef Liu Guo Zhu who moved from Beijing to Macau bringing seven apprentices with him says, “Tan cuisine is an exclusive school of cooking and hard to understand because of the labour intensive cooking methods involved.” In reality, that means dishes such as stewed fish maw in a rich chicken broth.

Tim’s Kitchen is another of the more interesting Michelin starred venues. Originally a private chef for HSBC executives, Tim Lai’s cooking is a sophisticated and contemporary take on Cantonese. Dishes such as simmered pomelo peel and goose meat roll practically have their own fan club.

While the Hong Kong branch is a chi chi affair in trendy Sheung Wan, Tim’s Kitchen Macau is found incongruously inside the Hotel Lisboa in the heart of the peninsula’s gaming area.

Mandarin Oriental Maca Vida Rica Bar

It’s no surprise that these fine dining establishments are housed within the casinos and hotels. Where the high rollers flock, it follows that high class restaurants will open. Though whether the gamblers are really interested in what they are eating is another matter. It’s not unheard of to see groups of women dining together while presumably their husbands are at tables of the gaming variety. At the Mandarin Oriental I saw a group of wives enjoying cocktails in the bar while at the hotel’s spa I saw a succession of well groomed young men. For spas are another draw for Macau – not just for WAGs but increasingly metrosexual mainland men (China is said to be the only country where men outspend women on beauty). As such the standards need to be high-roller high and many have scooped up awards.

Mandarin Oriental spa

Whoever the customers are, and whatever their tastes, their presence will continue to feed the trend for more high quality restaurant openings. The latest, Guincho a Galera, is the first foreign foray for a Portuguese Michelin starred restaurant. So perhaps Portugal will be landing on the map in Macau again very soon.

Hotel spas

The Mandarin Oriental – mercifully free of bling, boutique sized and without a casino attached. The compact spa is in keeping with the intimate size of the hotel and makes much of its view of the peninsula. Voted best spa for men but definitely will appeal to women too.

The Four Seasons

One of the largest spas in Macau, it has a botanical theme so really feels like an urban oasis in the middle of the mall madness. Large choice of treatments.


Emphasis is on exclusivity with eight private treatment rooms featuring their own steam, sauna and hydrotherapy as well as dressing room.

Banyan Tree

Incongruously located within the gargantuan Galaxy complex but including a massive spa. The Banyan Trees reputation for spas is huge and this one is no exception.


Robuchon au Dome

Zin Yat Heen

Wing Lei

Golden Flower

Tim’s Kitchen

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