Saturday, 15 October 2016

Review of Whitegrass, Singapore - Dude, Where's My Star(s)?

It has been a sloooow 12 months on the Singapore dining scene.  The economy is not exactly going gangbusters at the moment and the ambition of new restaurant openings is noticeably modest.  Even Gordon Ramsay, that temperamental purveyor of chilli crabs and Katong laksa, decided to open only the very mid-range Bread Street Kitchen at Marina Bay Sands.

Now I care a lot about my food; you don't keep a food blog running for four-and-a-half years if you don't care about your subject matter.  But I have found more in the way of exciting new openings in our northern neighbour than here, and I was beginning to get rather disillusioned with the local dining scene.

And then I went to Whitegrass.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Review of Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant, Carlton Hotel Singapore - Zero Michelin Stars, Zero F--ks Given

From the many to choose from, one of the most egregious shortcomings of the inaugural "Michelin" Guide Singapore was its harsh treatment of Singapore's excellent Cantonese restaurants.  The idea that classic stayers such as Cherry Garden, Hua Ting, Hai Tien Lo, Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck (amongst others) were not worthy of any recognition, while Forest (owned by the major sponsors of the "Michelin" Guide, Resorts World Sentosa) and Shisen Hanten deserved one and two stars respectively, is questionable if not downright laughable.   Indeed, according to the geniuses at "Michelin",  Singapore's best Chinese restaurant is a Szechuanese restaurant adapted to Japanese tastes.  Go figure.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Casual Eats - Reviews of French Feast, Non-Entree Dessert Cafe, Pacamara, Skillet @ 163, Clinton Street Baking Company and The Study

As Singapore's dining scene is in the throes of casualisation, diners have a larger than ever selection of accessible venues than ever before.  Prices are being slashed (God forbid, even three Michelin-starred Joel Robuchon's poshest tasting menu is now 20% cheaper compared to its opening back in 2011), name chefs are now opening outlets from their more "downmarket" brands (Gordon Ramsay with his Bread Street Kitchen, David Thompson with Long Chim), even the Michelin Man, in a bizarre mix of populism and condescension, gave a star to a bak chor mee joint.

The problem with greater choice, unfortunately, is that you have to sift through a lot more of the rubble to get to the good stuff.  Here are the results of my gold-panning efforts in recent weeks.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Alsace Crus et Terroirs (ACT) - A Renaissance in the Rhine?

There I was, perhaps the happiest man in the world at that very moment.  After a fantastic morning tasting the new vintage's wines at Domaine Weinbach, I was in Catherine Faller's kitchen feasting on the most sensational baeckeoffe I had ever tasted ("You should never order this dish in restaurants," Catherine sagely advised while ladling out my fourth helping of the stuff, "because they never add enough wine to it!"), when one of the other guests mentioned something called "ACT".

The Chateau de Kaysersberg

Thursday, 7 July 2016

List of BYO Restaurants in KL and the Klang Valley, Malaysia - Corkage-Free or Otherwise

(Last updated on 18 April 2017)

Do you love your wine?  More specifically, do you love taking your own wine to restaurants, whether to ensure you have a wine you like with your meal, or to simply avoid getting ripped off by avaricious sommeliers and restaurant owners?

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Review of Corner House, Singapore - My Sweet Lord!

I don't normally do requests.  The beauty of the blog format is that I am not accountable to anyone, I can write what I choose and I leave it to the audience whether or not they wish to read it.  A couple of months ago, a reader named Marcus asked me in the comments section whether I had tried Corner House, and what I thought of it.  I hadn't, so he made a "request", as if this was some late night radio show.  But I thought, Corner House was ranked Asia's 17th Best Restaurant, has been receiving rave reviews, and was where PM Lee brought President Xi Jinping for lunch during the latter's state visit to Singapore in November last year.  PM Lee is my MP in Ang Mo Kio GRC, and if it's good enough for PM Lee and PRC President Xi, it's good enough for me (with apologies to Dr Seuss).

Monday, 20 June 2016

Review of Auberge de l'Ill, Illhaeusern - A Three-Star Legend

This was a very difficult review to write, and I had to have a good hard think about whether I should indeed write it.  You see, I was meant to have lunch here, at the beautiful Auberge de l' Ill, with winemaker Etienne Hugel and his wife Kaoru on the 16th of April.  Etienne left us the week before, and at the entrance to the Protestant Church of Ste Marguerite in Riquewihr, I saw a monumental wreath in the signature "Maggi yellow" of Famille Hugel, from the Haeberlin-Baumann family, the founders and custodians since 1878 of the Auberge de l'Ill and its predecessor the Arbre Vert.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Review of Maison Troisgros, Roanne: Evolution and Tradition

What does it mean to have three Michelin stars?  The Little Red Book, ahem forgive me, the Red Guide, states that a three-star meal must boast "(e)xceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".  During my Lyonnais detour, I put that boast to the test at Maison Troisgros, where the Troisgros family have reputedly been serving such a cuisine since 1968.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Review of Paul Bocuse - Fifty-One Years of Three Michelin Stars, and Still Going Strong

After the tragic events of last month, I needed to tear myself away from Alsace, if only for a few days.  So I jumped on the slow train to Lyon, another of France's reputed gastronomic capitals.  Here was one of my "bucket list" restaurants, the Auberge du Pont de Collonges of the legendary chef Paul Bocuse.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Etienne Hugel - The Loss of Another Wine Titan

I have gotten to know quite a few winemakers over the last few years.  but very few would I genuinely call "friend".  Etienne Hugel, the formidable 12th generation co-owner of Famille Hugel of Riquewihr, Alsace, was one such.

Emily, me, Etienne and Kaoru c. 2012

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Review of Taka by Sushi Saito, KL - "Three Star" Sushi in Malaysia

A Guest Post by Kenneth Tiong

Malaysia is not a country known for its fine-dining scene. Living in Singapore, my first thoughts of Malaysian food are nasi lemak, Sarawak laksa, KL hokkien mee, roti canai and fried carrot cake. So it was a big surprise to hear over lunch at Sushi Saito last year that Takashi Saito, probably the best sushi chef of his generation, had chosen Kuala Lumpur as the site of his first outpost worldwide, which would open in April. “Malaysia??” I wondered if I had misheard.  Malaysia was such a counterintuitive country for Saito to base his first outpost in. Singapore, or Hong Kong, or even Bangkok or China would have been much safer from an economic point of view.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Review of Odette, Singapore - A Rose By Any Other Name...

The day after Jaan at Swissotel the Stamford was named Asia's 11th Best Restaurant in 2015, its chef Julien Royer tendered his resignation, with the ambition of opening his own restaurant.  His trusty sous Kirk Westaway took his place on the 70th floor, and shocked everyone with the revelation that the Auvergne, where Jaan's Artisanal Cuisine apparently had its roots, was actually a suburb of Devon, England.  In late 2015, Royer opened Odette (named after his grandmother) at the National Gallery of Singapore in partnership with the Lo and Behold Group.

Courtesy Victoria Milner of

Monday, 28 March 2016

Dish of the Month March 2016 - Is This The World's Best Spring Roll?

I have refrained from doing standalone "Dish of the Month" posts for some time now, simply because  I found that much of the time, standalone dishes didn't really deserve the honour.  But having snuck in a sneaky trip back to Ipoh over the Good Friday long weekend, I proclaim a hundred times, nay a thousand times, "I have found a champion worthy of the name".

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Review of Bar-a-Thym, Singapore - French Omakase with Winemaker Marc Beyer

I first visited Bar-a-Thym during the dog days of the haze in September last year.  I never got around to writing a review of that meal, in part because I was lazy and mostly because the PSI reading that night was around 270.  Every time the sliding door slid open (which was more often than I would have liked), I caught a most unwelcome nostrilful of Sumatran arômes de fumée.  I did enjoy the evening despite all that, and the cooking of chef-owner Francois Mermilliod (ex-Absinthe and Flutes at the Fort) showed a lot of promise.  When my friend, the winegrower Marc Beyer of the renowned Maison Leon Beyer in Alsace said he was visiting Singapore, I decided a return visit was in order.

Marc Beyer and Wines at Bar-a-Thym (courtesy Kenneth Tiong)

Monday, 22 February 2016

Review of Dewakan, Shah Alam - But What if God Was One of Us?

2015 may well be remembered in Malaysian gastronomy as the Year of the Two Darrens.  In the red corner, we have Darren Chin, an exponent of classic French technique, with his DC Restaurant.  In the blue corner, Darren Teoh (no relation to me), a champion of local Malaysian flavours, plying his craft at the Kolej Damansara Utama-owned Dewakan, located at KDU's Glenmarie (Shah Alam) campus.

Darren Teoh and Team at the Pass

Monday, 15 February 2016

Alsace Wine Festival, Singapore - Saturday 5 March 2016

A gratuitous plug for the biggest Alsace wine and food event to hit Singaporean shores since, well, whenever...

Colmar, the capital of the Alsace route du vin

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review of Enfin by James Won - French Technique with an Asian Sensibility

A local chef who trained with Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, was part of Pierre Gagnaire's rue Balzac opening team, worked with Alain Ducasse at his original three-starred Parisian restaurant in the Sofitel Le Parc, and also worked as a stagiaire at Pierre Herme during his stint in the City of Lights.  Expectations raised enough yet?

Chef James Won of Enfin

Monday, 18 January 2016

Review of *** Auberge de l'Ill, Illhaeusern, Alsace - The Black Diamond in a Time Capsule

A post by guest writer Kenneth Tiong.

Classic old-school cuisine was what I wanted to experience on a recent Christmas trip to Alsace and the Black Forest, and for that, I went to the Auberge de l'Ill, the second-longest holder of three Michelin stars anywhere in the world (since 1967, losing out to the venerable Paul Bocuse by a mere year).   

In the bleak of winter, the Auberge sits on the banks of the River Ill

Monday, 11 January 2016

Review of Isadora Chai's Bistro à Table, PJ - Great Service, Shame about the Food

Before Christmas, I found myself back in KL, the land of fat policemen and overpriced wine, and once again in the company of my comrade-at-cutlery, renowned KL straight-talker and food blogger Brian Mack.  Our target that night was Bistro à Table in Petaling Jaya, the home of outspoken celebrity chef Isadora Chai.