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Fine Dining I Favour

Fine Dining I Favour

When you feel like spoiling yourself, these are great places to try.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

M E D I A P R E V I E W
Opening on 21st October to the public, VUE is the new bar and restaurant that sprawls across the penthouse level of OUE Bayfront, and its name couldn’t be more apt. Because, once you exit the lift on the top floor and pass through the dark passage, your jaw will surely drop at the view before you, and pretty much stay dropped as you take in the entire VUE within and without.
General Manager Benedict Tan is warm and friendly, and because he played a major role in the set-up of VUE, deeply knowledgeable, so you can ask him anything you like. Executive Chef Sam Chin hails from Penang and he has come up with a menu that doesn’t attempt to be gimmicky or complicated, focusing instead on executing the usual beloved suspects very well. The beverage menu is masterminded by Head Sommelier of OUE Restaurants Joel Lim who happens to be the 2018 Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Singapore Sommelier Champion. Together, they and the team strive to ensure every visitor’s evening at VUE is one to remember, just like they did for us.
We began with spritz cocktails (it is their speciality) and complimentary canapés at the bar before being led on a tour of the premises by Ben. When he showed us the private dining room which seats a maximum of 12 and has a minimum spend of $800 for lunch and $1,600 for dinner, I immediately thought what an ideal spot it would be for business lunches and intimate meals with those you hold dear.
We then proceeded to the main dining room where dinner was served. After the housemade breads came fresh La Friandise oysters from France and an excellent charcuterie platter. A zingy ceviche of halibut from Kyushu and Hokkaido scallops was next before the main event of binchotan-grilled Emperor A5 Wagyu. The exquisitely fatty steak was accompanied by a few solidly done sides.
Dinner finished with chestnut ice-cream and mousse in a cocoa nib tuille, with fresh and freeze-fried raspberries and grated truffle.
We also enjoyed all the wines selected by Joel throughout the meal.
A surprise element of the night was the elegant light show on the extremely high, curved ceiling of the dining room. Scheduled to take place at 8.59pm every night, it is a prelude to MBS’ laser light show that’s also visible from every seat at VUE.

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H O S T E D
Even from amongst the really good breads that Singapore’s restaurant dining scene is blessed with at the moment (some of the finest examples are @cloudstreet.sg’s molasses-glazed licorice and stout rye, Curate’s brioche and @lesamisrestaurant’s entire bread-heaven-on-wheels), all the breads by @whitegrass.sg’s Executive Chef Takuya rose above my expectations. I reckon he must be a wizard of sorts to be able to coax flour, yeast and water to produce such astonishingly delicious results. I am sure anyone who has tasted his creations, will know what I mean when I say I can make an entire meal of his breads alone.

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Once I saw Executive Chef Greg Bess share this new dish of Veal Tongue at Spago on his Instagram, I wanted to try it straightaway. So there I zipped the very next day to have a happy solo meal (it’s been a while since I did one of those).
If you are like me and adore tongue, you’ll know it is similar to steak albeit with a very fine-grain texture. I love it however it is prepared and served, but Chef Greg and his team managed to elevate this rather exotic part of a young cow to a particularly beguiling rendition that’s fit for fine dining.
Grilled over binchotan to a perfect balance between tenderness and chewiness, the thick slices of tongue are plated with a veal jus that‘s been sparked with verde, a splash of emerald-green parsley oil, salty-ish fried capers and crispy strips of potatoes. The result is very moreish, delightfully appetising and unusually rich and filling.
For now, the dish is listed as an appetiser in the a la carte Dinner Menu, but will be added to the Tasting Menu in Spago’s Dining Room (in an appropriately sized portion of course) very soon.

For my belated birthday treat from a friend, I chose One MICHELIN Starred Braci because the contemporary Italian restaurant has been on my list for ages.
We loved the housemade bread that was the first thing to arrive on our table. Named “Pane di Altamura”, it’s made using remilled durum wheat from Altamura in Italy’s Alpura region. It even has to pass the strict criteria of having a 3mm crust.
Following that, every one of the courses in the lunch set we had, was impeccable in presentation, freshness and flavours.
Both our appetisers, the raw Scallops dressed in rhubarb and fermented cherries, and the Baby Gem with white sesame and apple chutney, were superb. So too the mains of Veal Cappelletti (handmade pasta stuffed with truffle taleggio cooked in a sauce of 5 peppers jus) and the crisp-of-skin Italian Seabass (plated with pumpkin, radish and chard). Enormously gratifying in their own way they were.
Although the lunch set had only one dessert, it triggered wide-eyed wonder with its masterful combination of white chocolate, blood orange, pineapple and Yamazaki whisky.
Our wonderful meal came to a close with petit fours that were the embodiment of refinement and delectability.

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“Life-changing” is NOT a hyperbole when used to describe the Amela Tomato Soup from the Chef’s Tasting Menu at Spago.
Drizzled with a little basil oil, the sensuousness of the silky orange liquid was heightened further when the bobble of burrata cheese could no longer contain itself and exploded (isn’t spherification pure mouthfeel porn?!) And do you know what else made this course stand out? It came with a set of instructions on how to REALLY enjoy it. Executive Chef Greg Bess told us to take a piece of the charred crusty rye bread and swipe it through the tomato caraway butter (this quenelle of umami creaminess was so incredible I can’t even) before dunking it in the soup. We all did so and were pretty much simultaneously caught up in a rapture from that point on.
Chef, please, please put this on Spago’s menu and never, ever take it off.

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Everyone marvels at the Soufflated Egg when it first appears looking like a sculpture with its precise graphic form.

I, on the other hand, prefer it in a demolished state. The fluffy cloud of whipped albumen - broken, the thick golden sunshine of yolk pouring forth to swirl sensuously in the creamy green of the seven-herb sauce and glistening black of the oscietra caviar. This is the kind of beauty - an imperfect perfection I have always been drawn to.

Taste-wise, it’s perfect. No two sides to that.

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At Esora, what goes between the two halves of the airy-light Monaka wafer changes with the season. This summer, it’s a creamy disc of foie gras tourchon in port wine reduction, given a lift by seasonal fruit and a salad. So when you bite through the delicate crispness, you will be met by sweet Japanese fig in jam and fresh form along with aromatic myoga (young ginger flower), kinome and the fragrant zest of kaffir lime. Lovely!

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My foodie friend Szeliang was so sweet to treat me to a belated birthday lunch here. He has sung its praises more than once, so you can imagine my excitement when the day arrived.
First things first. If you think, upon entering, that the space is beautiful, wait till you see the food. Each course in Chef-owner Koizumi’s Summer Menu, especially the Hassun (“expression of the season”) which is presented as a large tray arranged with immaculately-prepared bites and petite bowls of deliciousness amongst bouquets of blooms, is so achingly beautiful it renders most diners speechless. But I digress. Let me rewind...
So once seated, we were welcomed with a glass of complimentary sparkling white wine. Then we sipped, using both hands to lift the charming bowl, Chef Koizumi’s zest-tinged special Dashi with all the reverence it deserved.
The Monaka followed, its airy-light wafer shells sandwiching foie gras tourchon in port wine reduction, Japanese fig jam, fresh figs, a salad of Myoga (young ginger flower), Kinome and kaffir lime. This flavour combination was sublime to say the least.
Next, the aforementioned Hassun in all its splendour. Every item on that tray was as refined in taste as its exquisite looks hinted at. I loved each one of them but the Saba Bozushi (mackerel rice roll) and the multi-cut Ika (squid) topped with smoked caviar reigned supreme for me.
Summer’s bounty of vegetables took to the stage at this point. A selection was grilled and served with a rich hairy crab sauce and corn purée. The level of natural sweetness of them together was unbelievable.
Our main course was a ridiculously buttery Omi Wagyu sirloin. Hot off the charcoal, the beef was served simply with white Maitake mushroom and a sauce of aged Akazu (Japanese vinegar made from sake lees). Understandably, Szeliang and I didn’t talk much as we were lost in our own worlds of pleasure.
What he’s long considered the highlight of the meal arrived then. It’s Chef Koizumi’s Ochazuke with grilled Aji and a fish broth. Without a doubt, it is pure comfort food at its peak.
Before I was surprised with a Mont Blanc birthday cake made by Chef Sebastian, he also prepared our dessert - a swoon-worthy creation of thinly-sliced Japanese white peach from Yamanashi prefecture with Taiwanese oolong tea jelly, a yogurt and cream cheese ice-cream, and a cold peach soup.
Chef Koizumi’s lovely wife who runs the front-of-house, Maasa Kageura, brought our petit fours, a row of delightful fruity gems of which the honeydew mochi ice-cream proved to be my favourite.

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Heart-stoppingly good, the Bone Marrow Flan must be the nightmare of cardiologists everywhere but we should not be afraid to live a little, right? 😊
So plunged right in I did.
Crowned with freshly-shaven black truffle, the roasted bone marrow contained the most luscious custard hidden away at the bottom. The thin toasts accompanying it were gunked with a fantastic mushroom marmalade which became more tasty (and sinful) with gobs of the creamy bone marrow. I loved how the nutmeg-laced sauce helped to offset the richness with a little sweetness and aromatics.

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Heart-stoppingly good, the Bone Marrow Flan must be the nightmare of cardiologists everywhere but we should not be afraid to live a little, right? 😊 So plunged right in I did.
Crowned with freshly-shaven black truffle, the roasted bone marrow contained the most luscious custard hidden away at the bottom. The thin toasts accompanying it were gunked with a fantastic mushroom marmalade which became more tasty (and sinful) with gobs of the creamy bone marrow. I loved how the nutmeg-laced sauce helped to offset the richness with a little sweetness and aromatics.

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Shown here is the “BEFORE” and “AFTER” of the three kinds of ribeye from the U.K., the U.S. and Japan that I had for my birthday celebration.
Executive Chef Greg did a formal presentation before whisking the raw meats into the kitchen for Chef Kelvin Teo and his team to transform them into a platter of exceedingly delicious steaks.

A short while later after we had demolished a few appetisers (separate posts about those to come soon), the ribeyes reappeared with instructions to eat them in a certain sequence. This was to ensure each was savoured at its optimum. I loved how this allowed for side-by-side comparison and a never-before lucidity to discern and appreciate their individual taste profiles. In other words, I got to feed my brain as I feasted - how cool is that 😊

As with any good steakhouse, the sides, sauces and condiments play vital roles. But it did seem like all stops were pulled at my birthday dinner because I couldn’t see the table surface for all the little jugs, jars and saucers that conquered it. Thank you very much for that, Chef Greg 🤗

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If you have been following me on Instagram for a while, you probably know I love, love, love corn. Well, this white corn soup with Maine lobster, caramelised corn, country ham and jalapeño espuma really takes the cake!
With the elements of savouriness and gentle spiciness, the sweetness of the corn becomes more pronounced as well as more interesting and delicious. I am a sucker for anything with lobster so yeah, to say I was happy is an understatement 😋😋😋

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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