Most Affordable, Mind-Blowing Fine-Dining

Jazz Hands with Chefs Bjorn Shen & Jason Jones!

We’re having lots of fun chatting with our new Makan Kakis from Taco Libre: The All-Star Taco Showdown happening at Lucha Loco on Duxton Hill. Chef Jason Jones is the Culinary Director of The Loco Group and host, if you will, of the Michelin-starred & celebrity chefs who’ve been invited to create their ultimate tacos in this Taco-Off!

Chef Bjorn Shen (of restaurants Artichoke & Bird Bird) was the first chef to kick off Taco Libre back in August, with his insane surf & turf Bacon & Crab taco. Since then, Chef Andrew Walsh of Cure, Chef Dave Pynt of Burnt Ends, Chef Rishi Naleendra of Cheek by Jowl, Chef Sam Aisbett of Whitegrass and Chef Clayton Wells of Blackwattle (his tacos are currently being served up at Lucha Loco) have also contributed their creative taco genius.

But don’t worry if you missed Chef Bjorn’s taco, you can head on over to Lucha Loco on 14th November for the Grand Finale Event and all SIX tacos will be on the menu! Best of all, part of the proceeds from this campaign will be donated to the Singapore’s Children Society.

Listen to our studio guests talk food and about the Taco Showdown by clicking the links below. Also, be sure to scroll down for Chef Jason’s recommendation for affordable, mind-blowing fine-dining you shouldn’t miss!

HEAR:

    • Click here for more about their restaurants, food philosophies and the Taco Showdown!
    • Click for a quick-fire round of random questions & what music these chefs listen to when they cook.

Click to watch Bjorn describe his surf & turf taco creation!

SEE:All it took was the humble frog for Chef Jason to fall head over heels for the food at Bistro November and he makes this week’s recommendation with the utmost urgency because this is one amazing restaurant with an expiry date. So named for when it closes, Bistro November occupies the former space taken by Restaurant Ember at Hotel 1929 on Keong Saik. The hotel is closing for major refurbishment come end November, that’s why you need to get over to the bistro while you still can!

So. FROG. From legs, to livers (see above) to blood, Chef JP is one of the most underrated chefs in Singapore and an innovative genius in the kitchen, passionate about using every part of his ingredients and squeezing every last drop of flavour from them to create mind-blowingly inventive dishes that not only look amazing but also taste fantastic. Even better, the prices are so reasonable, you might need to do a double take! Chef to Chef, Jason Jones finds himself challenged in delightful ways every time he returns for JP’s food. Chef JP goes to the market himself everyday, so his food is super fresh and super creative. He has such an interesting take on cooking and dining at Bistro November is never a dull affair.

Fromage de tête (frog head cheese). $12.

One dish that has stayed with Chef Jason long after the eating is Chef JP’s take on Boudin Noir. Traditionally, it’s a French-style blood sausage, or black pudding that is completely unavailable in Singapore because it’s illegal to import or sell blood sausage made from pig’s blood. That’s where the frogs come in. Chef JP uses frog blood to make his own version of Boudin Noir, something Chef Jason wasn’t keen on trying at first. After a little coaxing and a little taste, he was asking for more!

Dessert made from ingredients you’d might otherwise throw out: Potato skin ice cream with Shiitake mushroom stalk bits infused in honey & roasted malt flour, made from barley ferment leftovers. $16.

Bistro November needs to be put on the top of your must-try list, not just because it’s closing soon, but also because you’re going to get the freshest, best quality, most innovative dishes at unbelievable prices. The full JP Dinner is well worth your time and money, but he does lunches and also a wonderful Sunday Brunch as well. GO GO GO!

TASTE:
BISTRO NOVEMBER
50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089154
Open Daily: Breakfast 7:30 – 10:30am
Lunch by Chef JP Tuesday to Saturday 12 – 3pm, Dinner 6pm – late
Sunday Brunch 11am – 3pm
Cheese, Wine and Charcuterie all day.
Tel: +65 63471928

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3 Michelin Star Dining


HEAR:
Listen to Violet Oon‘s latest episode about fine dining in Singapore!

SEE:
This week, our Makan Kaki Violet Oon (have you tried her latest Satay Bar & Grill yet?) wants to take us on a gastronomic experience to end all experiences – if you have a very special occasion coming up or looking for an extraordinary treat or if you only try fine dining once in your life, you might want to dine at one of the very best in Singapore, 3 Michelin starred Joël Robuchon Restaurant. Violet calls this place “THE WORKS”, a flight of fancy into delights of the palate and in fact, all your senses. Dining here reminded Violet of the heady days of fine dining and entertainment in Paris back in the 80s and 90s, but make no mistake, the food here is not stuck in the past. What you’ll get is sheer perfection – French haute cuisine served in the form of inventive and delicious French classics, premium wines, impeccable service and attention to every detail.

Violet recommends the $298++ degustation menu, which is exquisite but not too heavy on the stomach. And from a chef and restaurateur’s point of view, she believes that the price tag is truly great value for the entirety of the experience, from the luxe interors, ambiance, service, wines and needless to say, sublime quality of food.

First of all, you’ll be dazzled by Robuchon’s famed bread basket, brimming with up to 10 different kinds of bread, from classic baguette, to sour dough, to bacon & onion and more. You’ll have to discipline yourself here, limit your bread intake despite the temptation to sample everything, because there is so much more to come…

Different Amuse Bouche follow –  for example, chilled sweet corn veloute with imperial caviar and golden croutons and then you get a choice of a hot and a cold starter, like the hot seafood bouillabaisse that just sings of the South of France and the chilled king crab avocado cannelloni.

For the main course, Violet was particularly taken by the line-caught crispy fish, or generous whole lobster. But if you prefer a red meat, their baby lamb rack and saddle was a masterpiece.

You can then finish off your meal with a choice of dessert from their ala carte menu, but Violet recommends going for the cheese trolley, where the sheer variety and carefully curated selection is simply jaw-dropping and delicious, to say the least. Follow up your cheese course with the dessert caravan, a multi-tiered wonderland of sweet treats and ice-cream just there for the sampling. But that’s not the end – coffee or tea, done to your liking, round things off, along with more delicate, perfectly formed petit fours.

Keeping in mind that the menus (degustation & ala carte) change regularly according to the seasons, you can be assured of a meal that as been described as “magic” – every dish is painstakingly created and different from the next in flavour and texture. The skill with which every dish is handled and prepared is unparalleled.This is a meal that you simply cannot recreate at home by yourself (unless you’re a 3 Michelin starred chef!) and that’s why Joël Robuchon Restaurant is an excellent choice when you want a luxurious experience that’s worth the money you pay. Violet was most impressed and thinks the 3 stars award by Michelin was well deserved.

TASTE:
Joël Robuchon Restaurant
Resorts World Sentosa
Hotel Michael, Level 1
Open for Dinner: 6 – 10.30pm (Tue – Sat), closed Sunday & Monday, except Public Holidays
Tel: +65 65777888
Reservation: Robuchon@RWSentosa.com

Exquisite Experience at White Grass

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HEAR:
Click here to hear this week’s episode!

SEE:
If you have a special occasion coming up and need a new place to impress your date, our Makan Kaki, hotelier, restaurateur & judge on Eat List Star, Loh Lik Peng recommends you head straight to this gorgeous fine-dining restaurant located in historic Caldwell House at Chijmes. White Grass is the whole package – wonderful food, service and space. Australian Chef-Owner Sam Aisbett and is known for his work in esteemed restaurants like Tetsuya & Quay in Sydney, which is why Peng was curious to pay his new restaurant, White Grass, a visit. In his opinion, it lives up to the hype.

Reservations-05

First of all, the dining room will wow you. Especially in the day time, it’s flooded with natural light and is definitely on his list of most beautiful spaces in Singapore. It’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into presentation – from the curved, custom teal-blue velvet couches to the exquisite crockery and cutlery, there are nods to nature in the organic shapes of bowls and vases, as well as to the Art Deco style of the historical building.

You can select from 3, 5 or 8 course dinner tasting menus or 2-3 course lunch tasting menus (with wine pairings, if you choose) that give you a delicious sense of Chef Aisbett’s distinctive & personal interpretation of Modern Australian cuisine, which means you’ll get exciting textures and flavours, inspired by his home country, his travels and also local ingredients. In fact, Chef Aisbett spends quite a lot of time exploring Singapore’s wet markets and experimenting with how to incorporate familiar Singapore flavours (think century egg & jackfruit!) with Western ingredients & techniques. Plus, he even grows his own herbs in an urban cultivator located in a secret upstairs room! Have a look at a typical 8-course tasting menu (keeping in mind this will get updated from time to time):

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Beautiful, fresh-baked Sourdough bread with quenelles of Echire butter and Australian sea salt sourced from a family-run sea salt farm in South Australia – but the highlight is the gorgeous crockery – look at those little bowls, designed to look just like mushroom caps!

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Little bite-sized pre-dinner snacks, again, beautifully presented. Top Left: “brick”pastry with Mangalica Pork, seaweed & lemon jam. Top Right: Charcoal “sandwich” with Hamachi. Bottom: Comte cheese biscuit with fennel & goat’s cheese jam. The brick pastry, in particular, is an eye-rollingly delicious nugget of smokey, piggy goodness!IMG_4429

Wild-caught Japanese Yellowtail Amberjack is diced and lightly marinated in a white soy dressing, bonito oil, horseradish cream and fresh diced apple, then rolled in a jelly made from green apple juice, dried bonito, kombu, white soy and mirin before being set with agar agar, to create this luscious cigar shape, which in turn bathes in  a toasted nori oil beneath it. Pickled choko (an edible plant from the gourd family) compressed with chardonnay vinegar and dill oil garnishes the roll, along with thinly sliced Japanese cucumber and seasonal herbs like sea succulents and nasturtium which are grown in the restaurant’s urban cultivator. Other young herbs are sourced from a local lady who grows special micro herbs and edible flowers locally specially for White Grass. Next to the roll is a line of wasabi snow, made with buttermilk, milk and fresh wasabi then frozen with liquid nitrogen and then blended to a fine powder.

IMG_4431In this eye-catching salad, two types of Australian beetroot are roasted, peeled and dressed with muscatel vinegar whilst still warm. Beneath the succulent fuschia vegetables lies a bed of cultured cream with smoked eel from Holland, that’s paired with rosella jam (hibiscus flower). For a garnish with crunch, shards of crisps made from beetroot juice and barley (red) & from sushi rice and eel skin (white). Grated Tasmanian mountain berry (similar to peppercorn, but milder & fruitier) finishes off this unusual salad.IMG_4432

This doesn’t look like much (pardon the bad photography), but it tastes PHENOMENAL! This clear consomme is deeply flavoured with fresh blue swimmer crab and fish heads that have been fried off in a chilli, ginger and garlic paste, then infused with Kombu, shitake mushrooms & chicken stock. Lemon juice and an aged fish sauce finish off the flavours of the broth beautifully. In it floats the very aptly named scallop velvet, made from a very light scallop mousse and egg whites that have been gently poached, as well as night-blooming jasmine & dill oil. A fragrantly floral and pleasantly briny dish with layers and layers of flavour.IMG_4433

The PIECE DE RESISTANCE! Everybody’s favourite & in Peng’s opinion, most outstanding dish of the entire meal: Slow roasted Mangalica pork, shaved Australian abalone, handmade silken tofu, resting on a smoked onion cream and garnished with black moss (yes, what the Cantonese call Fatt Choy!). To quote Peng, “It’s almost too pretty to eat!”IMG_4438

But wait! Then they pour on this aromatic pork broth and the entire dish comes together like MAGIC!!! Such a sublime combination of textures, from the tender, fatty pork with it’s crispy skin, the silky-smooth tofu, crunchy-chewy abalone and everything else.IMG_4441

Foreground: Roasted milk skin & finely chopped century egg “whites” with a “salad” of toasted flaxseed, almonds and sunflower seeds, dressed in a sauce made from the “whites” of century egg cooked in butter, all resting on a bed of steamed endive hearts.
Background: Butter-poached Quail topped with a duo of white garlic puree (made from milk steeped with garlic) and black puree puree (made from fermented garlic).

IMG_4443This dish was inspired by Chef’s first taste of century egg porridge (pei dan chok) in Singapore & this was the result of playing around with century egg’s unique texture and flavour!

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Grass-fed beef from the Scottish Highlands, which is cooked over white charcoal (or what the Japanese call bincho-tan, then rubbed with a very fragrant lightly roasted white sesame oil. It sits on an intense mushroom puree that is made from fermented shitake & Swiss brown mushrooms. Topped with with black salsify (seaweed), wilted wasabi leaf, shimeji mushroom caps, ice plant tips and crispy rice “lace” blacked and seasoned with charcoal and shitake powder (we could eat these little crspy lace chips all day long!). That little black dot on the top right of the plate is actually the true inspiration for this dish and personally surced by Chef. What you see is 5 precise drops of a pure, unadorned, rare 20-year-old Japanese soy sauce called Kamebishi Shoyu from Kagawa prefecture in Japan and made by one of the oldest soy sauce companies in Japan. This family-owned company has been around since 1753 and is the last remaining one that makes soy sauce the traditional way using mushiro-koji. The soy is left to age in 200-year-old cedar barrels resulting in a heady, aromatic product that smells strong, but was surprisingly mellow, yet rich and not super salty.

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Chef’s jaunts through the local wet markets yielded a discovery of our unique tropical fruits and this is an ode to those flavours. Light-as-air young coconut mousse is paired with creamy jackfruit ice-cream. Zingy ginger cake and lemon puree balances all the rich sweetness, whilst different texture excite the tastebuds in the form of milk biscuits, meringue, caramelised almonds, macarons, sugar shards and young coconut meat.

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Finally, these pretty little Petit Fours were created based on the chefs’ memories of childhood desserts & is a tribute to each of their home countries. Head Chef Diego is from Peru and created the melt-in-mouth Alfajores de Manjar blanco which is a delicate cookie sandwich filled with Dulce de Leche, a decadent concoction of condensed milk, caramelised sugar and vanilla bean. Executive Chef-Owner Aisbett went with the Australian Chocolate-covered Raspberry Snowball that was inspired by Arnott’s Royals Chocolate. Sink your teeth into one of those smooth, 66% Valrhona dark chocolate globes and you’ll experience layers of chocolate brownie with almonds, marshmallow & raspberry jam.

This is why Peng says he had one of his best dining experiences at White Grass and as far  as special occasion restaurants go, Chef Aisbett’s restaurant is right up there with the best of them and a fine addition to Singapore’s culinary scene.

TASTE:
WHITE GRASS
30 Victoria Street
Caldwell House
Chijmes #01-26/27
Singapore 187996
Open daily: Tuesday-Saturday Dinner 6:00 – 9:30 pm; Wednesday-Saturday Lunch: 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Reservations: +65 68370402

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Tippling Club

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As 2014 draws to a close & we near the season of feasting, you might be looking for a good place to visit for a good splurge. Our Makan Kaki Aun Koh is back with this recommendation: Helmed by British Chef Ryan Clift, who was at the leading edge of molecular cuisine when he first arrived in Singapore, The Tippling Club started out at Dempsey Hill but has since relocated to 3 beautifully refurbished shop houses in Tanjong Pagar. In Aun’s opinion, Chef Ryan is a creative genius in the kitchen who has really honed and developed his skills as a chef and continues to use scientific techniques, not to show off, but to truly make the food better and tastier.

The menus at The Tippling Club are ultra-modern, intelligent and witty and the first thing you’ll encounter when you walk in is the bar, which serves a whole array of delicious tipples, including exquisite hand-crafted cocktails and really tasty bar snacks. Venture further in and you’ll find the dining room, which offers lunch, and 2 multi-course dinner tasting menus, the classic or the gourmand,  with which wines and cocktails are paired. A Vegetarian menu is also available.

You’ve got to check out The Tippling Club’s website for full details on menu items and gorgeous photos! But of all the dishes served, here are a few of Aun’s favourites:

Beef tendon
This is an astonishing piece of culinary wizardry, in which Chef Ryan re-imagines beef tendon, via his scientific techniques, as a crispy-crunchy keropok-esque snack. The texture is light, fluffy and novel, yet the flavour is all there.

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Another of Aun’s favourites is this chicken curry in a glass yogurt jar, that’s essentially a rich, creamy, custard-like dollop of pure flavour. Just a little spoonful gives you the complete satisfaction of a whole chicken curry meal. Incredible.

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Cheesecake served in a humourous, witty way: as little pills in a medicine bottle. Each pellet is tiny, but tastes completely like a decadent slice of real cheesecake!

LISTEN TO THIS WEEK’S EPISODE AGAIN.

The Tippling Club
38 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: +65 6475 2217
Opening Hours
Lunch:

Mon-Fri 12-3pm
Dinner:
Mon-Sat 6pm till late
Bar:
Mon–Fri 12pm – 12am
Sat 6pm – 12am
Note: the tasting menus at The Tippling Club change seasonally, so do check with them what’s currently being served.

Read Aun’s piece about his Tippling Club experience on Chubby Hubby.

Jaan

This week, our Makan Kaki Shermay Lee wants to share some intel with us. If you want to indulge in a little fine dining without the “fine” prices, the clever way is to go for the lunch set – you should still get the same service, the same top notch quality food, but all at a much lower pricing. So if you’re looking for a place in town with great views, that gives you a really luxurious and indulgent experience in food and hospitality, all without breaking the bank, then you really can’t go wrong with JAAN. They have a wonderful 3-course set lunch menu with coffee for $68 that gives you superb food at a super price.

Interior of Jaan

At the helm is Chef de Cuisine Julian Royer, who has won many accolades for not only himself, but also for Jaan, which has been awarded Restaurant of the Year at the Awards of Excellence 2014, Best Dining Experience at the G Restaurant Awards and is ranked #17 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

JAAN Chef de Cuisine Julien Royer

Here are are some of his signatures from the Set Lunch menu that Shermay thinks are terrific:

55′ Smoked Organic Egg, Smoked Ratte Potato, Mushrooms, Chorizo Iberico and Buckwheat

For starters, Jaan’s medley of seasonal vegetables are always beautifully presented, perfectly cooked, well-dressed and absolutely delicious. Most people think that vegetables come in a poor second to meat, not so these vegetables, under the skilled artistry of Chef Julien.

JAAN - Zucchini 'Trumbetta'
Zucchini ‘Trumbetta’

The milk-poached white asparagus with organic egg is fantastic, as is the confit of Rainbow Trout or the Spring Barley risotto with Frog Legs. If it’s red meat you’re hankering after, a must-try is Chef Julien’s organic lamb with Orient caramel, violet artichokes and quinoa.

Organic Welsh ‘Rugh Estate Lamb’

Chef Julien has a fondness for coconut, so there’s always some variation of it for dessert, like his tastes and textures in the Choconuts tart. But be sure to try his strawberry sweet treat too.

Strawberry ‘Feuilles A Feuilles’
‘Exotic’ – Pineapple, banana, “cheesecake”

Besides the gorgeous food and views from the top of the Swisshotel, the service there is always consistent and spot-on, so whether you need to entertain corporate clients, or impress a date, or celebrate a special occasion Jaan is virtually flawless in its delivery.

Listen to this week’s on-air episode again here!

Jaan
Level 70, Equinox Complex
Swissôtel The Stamford
reservations@equinoxcomplex.com
Tel: +65 6837 3322