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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

After attending Mott32’s grand opening party at MBS, quite a few of us arrived at the same idea of hopping over to One-MICHELIN Starred CUT for a proper dinner.
I wasn’t that hungry by then because I had stuffed my face on quite a few canapés earlier, so a steak or main course would have been too much. What I did do though was zero in on the appetisers instead.
Shown above is the Steamed Mussels in White Wine ($25++). What I loved most about this was how small but juicy and flavourful the molluscs were (I have always found the large ones too rubbery for my liking personally). The broth had tarragon and shallots to thank for its lip-smacking worthiness. Served alongside were grilled baguettes that were meant to be dunked. Since they came pimped up with a rich bearnaise sauce, I guess technically, they didn’t go skinny-dipping 😜.

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H O S T E D
I remember having dinner with T.H. at @OriginGrill65 on 9th January 2018, when they had only been open for a couple of days. It was the first time I’d tasted Snow-aged #Wagyu from Hokkaido, and was completely stunned by how exquisite that #steak was. Fast forward to last Saturday when thanks to @ShangriLaSg’s Executive Assistant Manager of F&B, @SomikBan, we found ourselves kindly hosted for dinner (actually since that first visit, I’d been back on my own for tastings and dinner with friends). That most recent meal though, was the most convenient as we were in fact, already on a #NotHosted staycation at the Shangri La.
We did a quick stop at the @OriginBar65 first for a cocktail where Head Bartender @Bystriku concocted the non-alcoholic “Doctor Flower” for me and T.H. got a G&T. Eager to begin our meal, we took our drinks next door to Origin Grill.
Warmly welcoming us were Restaurant Manager @shobanrajah and @lad_yatin who settled us in with a basket of fresh breads, unsalted French butter and an introduction to the various types of beef available, including the Craft Wagyu which is “the absolute pinnacle of Japan’s Wagyu brand”. To qualify for this title, complete control over the cow’s genetics is mandatory. Therefore, only if the animal has been bred, born, raised and harvested in a single farm can it be labeled as such. Knowing this and having been curious since @thegastrology told me about the olive-fed Wagyu served here, it was obvious what we would choose for our main courses.
Besides taking care of our wine pairing, Head Sommelier @Brittncy also sliced Jamon Iberico for us to nibble on with a glass of sherry while we waited for our appetisers.
For that, T.H.’s pick was Pan-seared Hokkaido Scallops with Coconut Chilli Jam ($28++) and it was bright and tasty with a clear Asian influence. The juicy pomelo, crunchy wing beans and holy basil salad had the right amount of crushed peanuts and fried shallots too. I was pleased with my Pumpkin Soup ($16++) which had the ideal amount of creaminess.
There was no doubt the steaks were the real stars though.
The Hokkaido Snow-Aged Full Blood Wagyu from Niigata, Japan that we had on our first visit was a necessary repeat because it‘s simply too good. With marbling that looked like snow crystals, the A5 Flank (200g: $168++) was unbelievably tender and juicy. Its sweet undertone was quite easy to detect when compared bite-for-bite with the OlIve Craft Wagyu, our other choice. Originating from Hata Farm in Manno Town, Kagawa, this #beef boasts a high level of oleic acid due to the cows being fed a diet of olives. In the mouth, the A4 Ribeye (250gms: $218++) was extraordinarily rich, savoury and buttery.
All the sides hit the mark. And in spite of being spoilt for choice with the housemade sauces of red wine jus, Origin mushroom and brandy cream, fresh peppercorn sauce and béarnaise, we ended up enjoying the steaks most with the three kinds of salts also sent our way.
Dinner closed with the Camembert Sherry Cheesecake ($16++), a deconstructed creation of
buttermilk panna cotta “Brie”, rosemary shortbread “Cracker”, toasted honey nuts and honeycomb gelato. Britt poured us Port to pair with this.
Thank you again Somik and Team @OriginGrill65 for the heartwarming hospitality.

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H O S T E D
When we received the invitation, my friends and I were beside ourselves with joy at the impending meal which was sure to be spectacular.
True enough, our dinner which stretched ‪from 7pm‬ to almost midnight, saw course after course prepared and presented at the highest level of impeccability. When not lost in the ecstasy of exquisite flavours, we tried to articulate our appreciation but mostly we fell short, I think. Our brains were apparently too busy processing the pleasure that arrived in the forms of:

...a delicate tartlet with fondant of blue lobster and caviar.

...straight-from-the-oven gourgeres.

...fresh breads and bakes by the trolley-load (I loved the baby croissants most).

...a tiny filo pastry tartlet with sweet onion and truffle and mushrooms.

...truffle-crowned, light-as-air veloute of watercress with a savoury bouillon custard at the base, accompanied by a soft milk bun coated with black sesame.

...scoop of large-pearled Kaviari caviar from Paris.

...cold angel hair pasta dressed in kombu and truffle oil, crowned with black truffle and more of the same caviar.

...springy-of-flesh blue #lobster served “à l’américaine” style (featuring a cognac and tomato sauce) with celeriac pearls and truffle.

...the “L ‘Oeuf En Maurette” - soft-cooked egg ensconced in a bouquet of black truffle (it’s pure eggporn).

...juicy, tender oven-roasted Challans duck breast with jus gras, pear and a side of sweet carrots.

...a divine selection of cheeses (thank you, Manoj) plus butter and olive oil to enjoy them with (I was partial to the truffle brie, chestnut leaf-wrapped and triple cream varieties).

...quenelles of Les Amis’ sublime housemade ice-cream in all the flavours.

...a slice of intensely rich dark chocolate tart.

...a stunning dessert showcasing premium Blue Mountain coffee as a mousse and ice-cream, encased in a hand-blown caramel sugar sphere.

...most delectable petit fours

As always, it was wonderful to see Director of Culinary and Operations and Executive Chef Sebastien Lepinoy, Group Pastry Chef Cheryl Koh, Head Sommelier Rajesh who plied us with the most delicious wines including an insanely aromatic-with-spices Fortified one he just brought in (this man is clearly a legend, judging by the comments and real-life reactions I receive whenever he appears in my IG Stories) and Assistant Manager Manoj Sharmahm again, as well as the other members of the Les Amis team.

Like on all my previous visits, I rolled out of the restaurant that night wearing the most beatific of smiles and stretch marks on my belly. Such is the euphoria-inducing ability of the service, cuisine and ambience at this restaurant awarded Three MICHELIN Stars for the first time last year.

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If you want to carb out in preposterous style, the new Pasta Tasting Menu at Spago has your name on it. It certainly had Burppler Jayne Tan and mine.
Comprising of smaller portions of the four existing pastas from the a la carte menu, it is an ideal way to try them all at one sitting. Frankly speaking, I have only had the agnolotti (it’s pure magic, just ask everyone else I’ve introduced it to) and wasn’t quite aware of the other three pastas’ existence. Blame it on my usual must-haves that get first dibs on my belly’s real estate whenever I visit 😂😂 So thank you Executive Chef Greg Bess for insisting we leave it to you this time.
The first to arrive was a pile of exquisite frilly Mafaldine prepared in a far-from-basic cacio e pepe style with prosciutto and asparagus. The former added meaty savouriness while the latter threw in not only in extra flavour but also succulent bites of juiciness.
Second was a really appetising Rigatoni. The sauce of pork ragu, fennel seeds, Swiss chard, parmesan, parsley had a subtle kick of heat from chilli which paired beautifully with the big tubes of al dente #pasta.
I am a fan of tripe but only if it is done well, and in the case of the Bucatini “Trippa ala Romana“, our third pasta, it hit the bullseye. Superbly soft and gently chewy, the pieces of tripe were saturated in the spicy tomato sauce it had been braised in. Ricotta, mint, parsley and pecorino rounded this off very nicely.
Last but certainly not least was the handmade Agnolotti that had stolen my heart from day one. This season sees it filled with pumpkin with a hint of herbs, and served with a plate-lickably delicious sauce, as evidenced in my recent IGTV post starring @heyrozzz @dineshb and @iamkennethelee.
We were feeling rotund by then and common sense would dictate refusing dessert. But did we do that? Of course not. A very fragrant deconstructed Apple Crumble landed on our table soon after and in we dug, munching on the freshly baked fruit and crunchy pecan streusel, accompanied by raspberry gel and a magnificent brown butter pecan ice-cream.

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Dessert was a sight to behold as the team marched out, each bearing a different one or part of one.
Our group enjoyed the Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé, cut open and filled with creme fraiche cream and gianduja chocolate gelato (never seen a soufflé plated that before till that night when Chef de Cuisine Brandon did it table-side). Also the Praline Mascarpone Bar and platter of Assorted Sorbets and Ice-creams. It was however, the Warm Butterscotch Apple Crumble and Kaya Baked Alaska, that bowled the dessert-lovers amongst us over. Served warm, the former was, and I am not exaggerating when I say this, pitch perfect in every way. The latter, an inspired take of Singapore’s favourite “kaya toast set” was stunning albeit being on the sweeter side. Composed of coconut cake, pandan ice-cream and coconut sorbet clad in meringue, it was plated with coffee crumble and egg sabayon.

All desserts at CUT are priced at $24++ each.

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When an ordinary #steak is too ho-hum, there’s always this funkier option at #spagosingapore.
Aged in bourbon whisky for 60 days, the Snake River Farm #AmericanWagyu was presented to us by Executive Chef @gregabess at the beginning of our dinner, looking utterly resplendent and paparazzi-worthy in its wooden box.
After being grilled to a perfect medium-rare, it was transformed into a gorgeous thing all pink and juicy on the inside. The flavour was intense and complex with a subtle sweetness. And it seemed to get tastier the more I chewed on it. This is a steak you’ll want to take your time to savour.
Due to its time-consuming preparation process, this piece of beef is only available about once a month. However, of late, it has been included as one of the courses in the Tasting Menu (we each paid $195++ for ours that night). If you are keen to try, please double check on its availability when you make a reservation.

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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.

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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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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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