Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Glutton's Adventure in Alsace (Part 1) - A Short List of Good Casual Restaurants

I just returned from a few days back in Alsace, that beautiful strip of France which lies between the Vosges and the Rhine.  Alsace is one of France's truly unique gastronomic destinations, producing wonderfully aromatic white wines of various styles (sparkling, dry, off-dry, sweet...) and a culinary heritage that combines Rhenish tradition with the gourmandise of the French.

In a region like this, one drinks fantastically well and eats just as splendidly, although there are (as anywhere) ordinary restaurants out to fleece the unsuspecting tourist, and which do a mighty fine line in thawing out ready-made frozen meals for your satisfaction.  To help the first-time visitor navigate the traps, here is a small selection of casual eateries which impressed me on my recent trip, and which won't break the bank.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Gaig Restaurant Singapore - Better than La Ventana

Many of my readers would be familiar with the Spanish restaurant La Ventana in Dempsey, which opened in 2015 at the height of the Singaporean tapas craze.  Since its opening, its owners had roped in renowned Catalan chef Carles Gaig, who owns the one Michelin-starred Restaurant Gaig in Barcelona, as its consultant.  With the expiry of his consultancy contract earlier this year, Gaig opened Restaurant Gaig in a quiet little strip of Stanley Street.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Review of Checkers, Damansara Heights - A Trip Down Memory Lane

I was back in KL last week after a long absence, and to catch up with my friend, KL's premier straight-talking food blogger Brian Mack.  It was hard to believe that I hadn't seen Brian since December last year.  Ever the inveterate traveller, he had done something like three separate European trips since our last encounter (I lost count), and both of us were looking for some old-fashioned comfort food.  His choice?  Checkers Restaurant at Damansara Heights.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Welcome Back, and An Apology

Hello Readers

First of all, my sincerest thanks for continuing to follow this blog.  I know I have been rather on-off in my recent efforts and I wanted to apologise to those of you who have allowed me, whether or not on a regular basis, a few minutes of your precious time over the last five years.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Voyage to Portugal (Part 4): The Douro Boys and Casa Anadia

I stood at the banks of the Douro River as the mists lifted in the nascent sunlight.  A circuitous 3 km route through the sparse riverine forest brought me right to waters' edge, where the once-wild river (it is now dammed in 15 places, five in Spain and ten in Portugal) lapped gently against the muddy shore, nuzzling the soles of my shoe like an affectionate puppy.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Review of the Nadodi-DC "Four Hands" Dinner: A Liveblog

I was invited to the opening night of the collaboration between Darren Chin (DC Restaurant, which I believe is far and away the best "Western" restaurant in KL today) and Nadodi, the pioneers of South Indian avant-garde cuisine.  Collaborative dinners are very much in vogue these days, and a joint effort between a classically French-trained chef and South Indian cuisine specialists is guaranteed to be intriguing if nothing else.

I thought I would try something different this time, and "liveblog" this dinner, blow-by-blow, from 7pm this evening. As a story teller, I like to think, rethink, buff, shine, plane, reconsider and reshine my posts, for personal pride as much as anything else.  But just as some of the best traditional wines are unfiltered, maybe an "unfiltered" review might give the reader a better sense of place, of action, and my immediate, gutfelt, honest response to the meal as it unfolds. And this would be an ideal experience for this: if you want drama, if you love foul-ups, if you like a bit of slapstick mixed in with a bit of Kitchen Nightmares, what better occasion is than "Opening Night?"

So there you go.  I will be back at 7 pm this evening, I hope you can join me.


7.00 pm - In my Uber now. Traffic is surprisingly reasonable (relatively speaking, of course; this is KL in peak hour).  Reflecting on my meal at Nadodi a couple of months ago, which I didn't write up because they were still in soft opening mode. The teething problems then were real, including struggling to source decent quality seafood and a progression which was as puzzling as it was unsatisfying. But their Monsoon Remedy tomato soup was excellent, as was their three-tier biryani, two dishes which have left a mark on my taste memory. I'm hoping that with the passage of a few months, they have solved their sourcing issues and can deliver an amazing meal tonight.

7.30 pm - Destroyed staple (rice cracker coloured with edible charcoal, topped with yoghurt powder and pla la aioli) and Sour Cloud, a tart meringue filled with cinnamon and yuzu kosho. Destroyed Staple is surprisingly mild, Cloud is evanescent, leaving behind the barest hint of spice. A confident if understated beginning.

7.40 pm - Fallen Leaf, a tempura of parsnip leaf leaves one lasting impression, a not-very-mild sweetness which is disconcerting at this stage of the meal.  Cho-cho, a chayote parcel stuffed with a mash of lentils and ginger, has a delayed but pronounced kick, the spice lingering on your palate like the lengthy finish of a fine wine.

7.48 pm - Aphrodisiac, a French oyster topped with a passionfruit foam, isn't really turning me on because of its incredibly modest proportions.  I know, I know, it's not all about size but in this case it is; there wasn't anything substantial to bite on, and the only lasting taste memory is passionfruit.  A poori stuffed with bafun uni is better, but the poori is quite large to take in a single bite as recommended, and a bit more uni would have been welcome.

There ends the first six miles of our Fifteen Mile Journey. And bugger me senseless but this room is frickin cold!!!

7.59 pm - Foie gras with garam masala and tualang honey, with a garam masala brioche. Very good, the Viognier of Stéphane Ogier has the body to carry the richness of the liver, and floral hints which accord beautifully with the honey. The garam masala, unfortunately, is lost amidst the morass of decadence.

8.11 pm - DC's Galician octopus is up next, paired with a mango curry sauce from Nadodi. The whole thing works a treat: the octopus is superbly handled, tender yet more-ish, the pennywort salad adds crunch and acidity, while the fruity, spicy notes of the mango sauce complete the ensemble. Superb, the best dish of the night by quite a way, and the first preparation which realises the wonderful potential of this cross-pollination of concepts and ideas.

8.21 pm - An assortment of organic veg from Cameron Highlands, cooked and treated individually in the manner of Michel Bras' gargouillou. The spices here tend to overwhelm the flavour of the veg, unfortunately, but not a bad effort.

8.37 pm - The Monsoon tomato soup is as heartwarming and delicious as ever, but what are these soggy wisps in the soup?  Somen?  They don't really add anything to the soup and to the extent that they are meant to represent something of DC's signature somen dish, they are about as impactful as a 

I'm also starting to think the sequencing of this middle phase is a bit jumbled. I would have gone with the soup to signify the start of a new leg in the journey (and warm up my poor old bones in this icebox), then the veg to tantalise with its colour and texture, the foie gras then the octopus with its rich texture and flavour.

9.00 pm - A series of two signature dishes. First, DC's signature lamb rack with a croquette of smoked jackfruit seeds. It's good, and the suitably concentrated jus has a delightful peppery kick, but it isn't as good as I recall from my various visits to DC. I suspect this is largely due to the fact that the lamb has the same-same grey doneness throughout which is a hallmark of sous vide cooking, and not the enchanting smokiness and caramelisation of a good spell over the charcoal grill, which Chin usually executes to perfection himself.  But he has to work with what he has in an unfamiliar kitchen.  The struggle may be real, but the guests paying six hundred bucks each may not be able to sympathise.

9.30 pm - The signature Nadodi biryani, as good as before. A yoghurt spherification with pickled onions and a delicious brûléed eggplant with a three-nut puree accompany it to perfection. Excellent.

10.10 pm - A dessert of rose ice-cream with dehydrated rose petals and raspberry marmalade is set before me. I adore the ice-cream, delightfully creamy and with a very restrained and judicious dose of rose flavour, not plumbing the depths of cheap boudoir perfume as is the everpresent risk. The acidity of the marmalade balances the dish out nicely, although it smothers and murders the well-meaning Vajra Moscato d'Asti. I hate to belabor the point, but Moscato d'Asti is NOT a dessert wine, and no self-respecting Italian would ever use it as such. Sadly, and totally without any intention to condescend, rookie wine errors such as these are not uncommon in this market.

10.21 pm - Meringue and cashew  dome filled with pineapple kesari, a traditional Indian sweet (i.e. it is VERY sweet) of semolina, cinammon and cardamom. It is a good dessert, but if I thought the Moscato was murdered by the ice-cream, here it is utterly hung, drawn, quartered, massacred, obliterated and blasted into outer space by the kesari. A nice, hot cup of a strong tannic Chinese tea would have been ideal here.

And on that note, the Fifteen Mile Journey with DC and Nadodi comes to an end. Thanks for following me tonight, I'm now going to get out and get horrendously drunk, it's probably the only way I will ever get warm in this icy room...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Celebrity Chefs, Starf*cking, Name-Chasing and Other Unnatural Phenomena

I hate celebrity chefs.  More accurately, I hate celebrity chef-dom, and all the symptoms and pathologies which mark this insidious contagion.  Where do I start?  How about the industry shindigs where folks break their arms patting themselves on the back?  Or cynical marketing based on the individual's fame rather than the culinary merit which won that fame in the first place (a certain "integrated resort" and its so-called "celebrity restaurants" come to mind).  Four-hand dinners?  More like one-hand dinners, they are such a wank.  And so on...

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Portugal - My Voyage of Discovery (Part 3) - Porto, Penafiel, Douro Valley

I woke up.  I left the blinds up the night before and the skies were still pitch-dark.  My clock read 5:25 am.  Damn.  Sheer exhaustion and a lack of crying kids didn't help me sleep any better.  I got up, took a swig of the local mineral water and warmed up for my morning run.

I mentioned earlier in this series that our itinerary was jam-packed with nary any time for sightseeing or enjoying the vibe of the various towns and wine villages.  But as a writer, my job is to tell stories.  Not getting any context would seriously limit my perception of my surroundings, the people and, ultimately, even the wines I taste and therefore my final work product.  Do I take my writing too seriously?  Quite possibly, but I would rather that than not take it seriously enough.

It was around 10 degrees Celsius when I stepped outside, the kind of temperature that gets the adrenaline pumping without freezing my joints in.  The light marine breeze was still whistling down the river as the sun peeped over the horizon.  I retraced our footsteps along the esplanade, across the Dom Luis I Bridge and westward again past the shippers' lodges and towards where the mighty Douro finally emptied into the Atlantic.

It was around 2 pm in Singapore when I finished my run, so I logged on, did a couple of hours of work (the struggle is real, my friends), rubbed more toothpaste into my rapidly blackening teeth and headed downstairs for a rushed breakfast.   My first breakfast in Portugal, my first encounter with the famous pastéis de nata, the sinfully sweet, rich, crispy charred confections which bear zero resemblance to the "Portuguese egg tarts" which have become so trendy across Asia.  And my first encounter with the Portuguese sweet tooth, on which (a lot) more later.

Photos in this post are courtesy of Daisuke Kawai.

9:00 am: Portuguese Wine Masterclass, Palácio da Bolsa

After checking out out of the Pestana Palace, we set off on foot for the Palácio da Bolsa (the Stock Exchange Palace), where Vini Portugal has its Porto headquarters.

Now we are very lucky to be working in international Class A office buildings  in Singapore and you will never hear me complain about them.  But there is something about the idea of working in a beautiful, centuries-old, historical building like this (and there are a few such in Porto) which blows my mind.   I suspect the Portuense take this for granted, much as I took for granted my old digs with its stunning views of the Botanic Gardens and Sydney Harbour.  It is, after all, human nature to not appreciate what you have in the moment and pine longingly for it only after it is well and truly gone.

We are led to Vini Portugal's "open to the public" ground floor tasting room for our introductory Masterclass. to Portuguese wine.  This class was fascinating, and not just in a "historical trivia" kind of way.  To start with, the wines, exemplars from all of Portugal's major wine regions, were superb almost to the last.  I was especially impressed by the sparkling 2013 Campolargo Bruto which kicked off our tasting, and the 2011 Quinta do Sagrado Vintage Port which finished it.  The Sagrado, in particular, was an absolutely stunner, pure concentrated grapes and chocolate on the nose, rich layered black and blue fruits with incredible intensity on the palate, perfect balance with neither heat nor excessive tannin, and a sweet finish that just kept going.  Whoever said vintage port could not be drunk young had clearly never enjoyed the 2011 Sagrado at age 6.  I later asked Cátia how I could get a case or two of the stuff, and she shook her head, saying it was extremely expensive and rare (apparently only 225 cases produced, according to Roy Hersh's excellent For the Love of Port website).  I'm sure she's right, but she clearly had not come across Singaporean kiasuism, or the greed of Singaporean importers which has desensitised me to high prices.  That 2011 was, by many accounts, the greatest vintage ever in the Douro, only served to whet my appetite further.

I cannot, repeat, cannot recommend enough a session at the tasting rooms to anyone keen to learn more about Portuguese wine, especially at the start of your Portuguese trip.   In particular, I must give massive props to our instructor Daniela Costa, who is a true master (mistress?) of her subject matter and did a brilliant job treading the very fine line between technical knowledge and boredom.  The session gave me a solid framework within which I could fit in every single bit of knowledge I would come across over the next six days (and believe me, there were a lot of them!), about the wines being made across the country.  Now I'm not going to pretend that the tasting as we experienced it would be open to everyday tourists and passers-by, frankly because it isn't.  For a start, no one is going to serve you a glass of 2011 vintage port for 1 euro a glass (which I understand is the price to the general public).  But I am told there is a possibility of arranging a private session with some more serious wines by pre-appointment.  If you are in a big and enthusiastic enough group, I would strongly recommend you do that.

11:30 a.m. - Tasting at Sogrape Vinhos,Vila Nova de Gaia

Before we knew it, our presence was required across the river in Gaia, where Sogrape's head Douro winemaker Luis Sottomayor was awaiting our arrival.

View of the Ribeira from Sogrape's Tasting Room

This was originally down on our itinerary as lunch with George Sandeman, who wears two hats as the 7th generation chairman of the famous Sandeman Port house and head of Sogrape's Public Relations department (Sogrape, Portugal's largest family-owned winemaking concern and owners of the infamous Mateus brand, acquired the House of Sandeman from Canada's Seagram in 2002).  However, George was indisposed today so we were instead hosted by winemaker Sottomayor, who took over Sogrape's Douro portfolio in 2007.

This was an excellent introduction to the Douro, although perhaps from a more technical and commercial standpoint than I would have liked.   Sottomayor is a wonderful fount of technical knowledge, not so much the raconteur I was hoping and expecting George Sandeman to be.  At this stage of my Portuguese adventure, I would perhaps have preferred the latter, so I had some idea of the history and culture behind this stunning region before we got down to the business of tasting.

Sogrape's Douro portfolio derives from its 1987 purchase of the famous A A Ferreira Company, founded by the legendary businesswoman and philanthropist Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, known affectionately as A Ferreirinha.  Sogrape's Douro dry wine range is sold under the "Casa Ferreirinha" marque, in tribute to Dona Antonia, and it has of course expanded on the range of Ferreira's wines since acquisition.

The crown jewel of the Ferreira company, and now Sogrape, was the legendary Barca Velha, the first proof that the Douro Valley could produce great table wine and not just fortified wine.  As there was little by way of electricity in the Douro Valley in 1952 to control the temperature of fermentation,  Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, who invented the Barca Velha, shipped sawdust-coated ice from Porto for use in his double-walled fermentation vats, thereby maintaining the wine's freshness and bouquet and preventing the development of any volatile acidity.  The resultant masterpiece became the first Barca Velha, and only 17 vintages since then have been declared worthy of the name.  The latest, 2008, Sottomayor's first and only declared Barca Velha to date, was rated 100 points by the Wine Enthusiast.

A little bit of wine-football trivia for you: during the great Alex Ferguson - Jose Mourinho English Premier League rivalry, the two great managers and wine collectors would meet up after the game to share a couple of bottles from their cellars.  After one particularly heated battle between Manchester United and Chelsea, Ferguson apparently criticised Mourinho for reneging on his promise to bring a bottle of Barca Velha.  I mention this not to show that I know something about football, but just to illustrate that even worldly, wealthy grandees such as Sir Alex can get upset when denied a bottle of Barca Velha.

I digress.  So in the company of the punctilious white lab-coated Sottomayor and the lovely Inês Vaz from Sogrape's PR department, we tasted through the Casa Ferreirinha range, barring of course the Barca Velha and its deputy sheriff, the Reserva Especial, and a few tawny and LBV ports from Sandeman.  The dry wines were good without being impressive, and represent good value at their relatively low price points.  Sottomayor seemed particularly proud of the new Papa Figos range, named for the Portuguese golden oriole, which he introduced back in 2010.

We then stepped back out into the glorious sunshine and made our way to the Sandemans lodge for lunch.  Delicious as the wines were, and educational as the tasting was, it was such a pleasure to be back outdoors, watching the tourists basking in the sun and lapping up the atmosphere while sipping on white port cocktails.  The body language, the smiles, the animated conversation, you knew everyone was just having an amazing time.  There is a real, tangible magic in this place, and I will be back sooner rather than later.

Cutting a long story short, a delicious lunch (with even more Casa Ferreirinha wine) was served in the dining room at Sandemans, followed by a quick tour of their cellars.  Outside is our dark blue Mercedes Viano, and I dreaded the prospect of seeing Judas Iscariot at the wheel again. Thankfully, the forbidding, wizened visage has been replaced by a dark, robust forty-something with slicked curly greying hair named Julio.  Julio will be our driver for the rest of the week, Cátia tells us, to my intense relief.  Julio smiles and says hello, we hop in, and bid our fond farewells to Inês and to Porto.  What a city, what a buzz!

3:00 pm: A Visit to the Quinta da Aveleda, Penafiel

Half an hour later, we pull up at Quinta da Aveleda, founded in 1870 by Manuel Pedro Guedes and still owned by the Guedes family today.  I should mention that Sogrape's founder, Fernando van Zeller Guedes, was the grandson of Manuel Pedro, so Guedes is a very prominent family name in northern Portuguese wine country (as is Van Zeller, but that is a story for the next instalment).  

Aveleda is in Vinho Verde country.  Literally "green wine", Vinho Verde is an archetype of what Hugh Johnson would describe as "DYA": Drink Youngest Available.  I had a few chances to taste them over the week and loved them; they are great value wines full of charm and character, enough to bring a smile to anyone's face and to form a rapport with a simple, fresh seafood dish, but they will not change anyone's wine world.  There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, especially some of the Alvarinho-based wines of Monção and Melgaço, which have a complexity and substance to go with the freshness.

Another magical pathway in the Aveleda Gardens
But Aveleda is much more than a vineyard, and a stroll in the Gardens of Aveleda, a labour of love for the fourth generation of the Guedes family, is a leisurely waltz in a celestial Eden.  In one corner, you will see a giant gum tree (a massively nostalgic moment for an ex-Sydneysider like myself), in another, a little building made of rocks which houses a family of black goats, in yet another, a still, serene lake rippling only with the graceful fluttering of white swans.  It is magical, it is idyllic, it is stuff straight out of a fairy tale, and the contrast against the man-made bricks-and-mortar history of Porto could not be greater.  I walk around aimlessly, breathing in the pristine air and gawking at the fauna which inhabit the various nooks of this Elysium.   It's the kind of place, apparently, that inspires flights of fancy and ridiculously romantic gestures.  Cátia told me a very charming story of an American couple who met over a bottle of Aveleda's wine at a bar in the States, and felt compelled to visit the Gardens where they got engaged.  And of course, the Gardens also played host to their wedding a couple of years down the track.  I don't have a romantic bone in my body so was sceptical about the whole story, but the fairy dust was thick in the air that day so I just smiled and nodded.

The Main House at Quinta da Aveleda
After all that, what wine could match our moods and imaginations, taken flight after hours exulting in such serene beauty?  We were treated to a short flight of Aveleda's global best seller, the Casal Garcia Vinhos Verdes, lightly sweet, lightly spritzy, lightly alcoholic and totally frivolous, playful wines which, I am ashamed to say,  I thoroughly enjoyed.  I believe very strongly in enjoying wines which have something to say, and which perfectly match an occasion or a mood, and these were totally spot-on.  The very kind Aveleda crew then gave us a tour of their shop and treated us to a delicious traditional Portuguese feast: bacalhau (salted cod) croquettes, flaming chouriços, quiche and a chick pea salad with flaked bacalhau stand out in the memory.

9:45 pm: Arriving at the Six Senses Douro Valley, Peso da Régua

As the sun set, Julio commenced the drive to the Six Senses Douro Valley in the Cima Corgo (effectively the central Douro Valley), a treat specially organised by C.  After the incredible dreamland that was Aveleda, not to mention the fact that Julio took a couple of wrong turns and that we had been drinking pretty much non-stop since 9 am, I was starting to slow down badly.

I fumbled my way into my room.   Now I would be lying if I said I was thrilled at my first impression.  No view of the river, and the room, which was large and luxuriously-appointed, was no different to any of a myriad of similar Asian luxury brands which I had experienced.  The room amenities were all controlled by smartphone, which was rather off-putting.  I don't know, perhaps any other adventurer would have been utterly thrilled but that evening, in my mental state, I wasn't.  I honestly didn't know what to expect, but I couldn't control my disappointment.  I appreciate this doesn't exactly sound rational, but rationality clearly wasn't my strong suit that evening.

My room at the Six Senses Douro Valley
As I struggled valiantly but fruitlessly against the gremlin in the smartphone, I found myself spiralling into depressive depths again, and C suggested we grab a nightcap in the hotel's dedicated Wine Library.  I had been wined to death over the last 12 hours, and the idea of another glass was about as attractive as another tedious transcontinental teleconference with my finance department.  Thanks but no thanks.

My teeth were feeling furry and tingly after 60 hours of no brushing and repeated batterings from flights of rich, inky Douro red wines.  I called reception nervously and ask if they had a toothbrush and an ironing kit.  "Why, of course, Mr Teoh.  We will send them up in 15 minutes".   My teeth said a little prayer to the gods of the Douro, as did I.  I hoped that the morning would bring some sunshine and with it, some solace.  I badly needed it.

Related Posts:

Portugal - My Voyage of Discovery (Part 1) - Singapore
Portugal - My Voyage of Discovery (Part 2) - Porto
A Review of Alma by Henrique Sa Pessoa, Lisbon

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Portugal - My Voyage of Discovery (Part 2) - Porto

I was waiting at Porto's Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, pacing around in frustration and sheer bloody fatigue after enduring the worst 24 hours of travel in my life.  

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Portugal - My Voyage of Discovery (Part 1): Singapore

This is the first in a series of an as yet undetermined number of instalments, covering my trip to Portugal in early April.  A slight change of pace from the usual restaurant reviews  and scathing pieces of social commentary but I hope you enjoy them all the same.

Portugal's national epic, Os Lusíadas by Luís Vaz de Camões, is an grand poetic tribute to the Portuguese voyages of discovery of the 15th and 16th Centuries.  Those voyages were the foundation of the first of the great European maritime empires, their leaders bearing the names of legend: Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan...

Now I'm not suggesting for a moment that I should be mentioned in the same breath as Camões, just noting that this humble series of instalments takes me the other way.  Me, a native of one of the realms that Camões' contemporaries "discovered" for the glory of Empire, travelling in the reverse direction to discover for myself the land of the sons of Lusus, the descendants of Bacchus: Portugal.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review of Lafite, Kuala Lumpur - There's Life in the Old Lady Yet

Maybe it's because I'm still an insecure young whippersnapper, maybe it's because I was not born with a million-dollar trust fund, never in line to rule the world by birthright.   Whatever the reason, I never cease to be dazzled, if only for a second, when I walk into the grand lobby of the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur.  And much of that halo effect was derived from the hotel's long-time gastronomic crown jewel, the restaurant aptly named Lafite.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Review of Alma by Henrique Sá Pessoa, Lisbon - A True Star

I just got back on Sunday night from a week in Portuguese wine country.  I can't say too much about the trip for now as I am writing an article for Epicure's July edition.  But I need to share something with you, and that is the genius of the chef Henrique Sá Pessoa, who owns the one Michelin-starred Alma restaurant in the heart of Lisbon.

Owner-Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa at Alma's open kitchen

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Jaan and the Mysterious Case of the Heated Mineral Water

I was at Jaan for lunch the other day, my first visit since Julien Royer's departure and the ascension of his faithful sous Kirk Westaway to the top post.

I was expecting brilliance. After all, most of my previous meals at Jaan has coincided with Royer's periodic absences, and Westaway had proven himself numerous times to my delight.  Royer has since won two stars for Odette (while it is very good, I believe that one star would have been a more realistic assessment based on the standard applied by Michelin in France) and Westaway one at Jaan.  If nothing else, there was a forensic interest in seeing if the difference in ranking was justified.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Review of Alma by Juan Amador, Singapore - Good but Unfairly Burdened by Expectations?

What is in a name?  Are you, presumably a discerning diner, entitled to lofty expectations of a restaurant simply because it has a famous star-spangled name attached to it?  If so, can you then expect that the restaurant serves food which, even if it wasn't created by the famous chef, at least bears the same DNA as his (and it is almost always a "he") cooking?  Such were the questions / first world problems seething in my mind as I walked to lunch at Alma by Juan Amador.