Fascinating French

Fascinating French

Featuring Antoinette (Penhas Road), Les Amis, Odette, Merci Marcel (Tiong Bahru), Do.Main Deli & Bistrot, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Lerouy, Vianney Massot Restaurant, Fleur de Sel, Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee (Old Airport Road Food Centre)
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

Because it is, literally, a sliver of space - just enough to shoehorn in a counter with a row of seats for customers, and a kitchen for @chef_y.doi_bistrotetroitsg (heaven forbids he ever gains weight 😅). But truth be told, the walls melt away into darkness, so all attention and eyes are drawn to where light is concentrated - the stage for Chef Doi-san’s one-man culinary performance. And really, isn’t that the point when one visits @BistrotEtroit? To watch him prepare his take on French cuisine (with brief soliloquies thrown in) and to savour each course as they arrive? I certainly think so.
Anyway, after slightly more than two months since I secured our online booking, @huatkaliao and I finally had dinner there last Tuesday. Lucky us even had the whole restaurant to ourselves. Reason being Chef Doi-san only accepts 7 customers a day (this is based on the amount of prep he needs to do), and that evening’s first seating already saw 5 in attendance.
Having Chef Doi-san all to ourselves was like striking the jackpot. I could bounce around freely to take my photos and videos, as well as pepper him with questions (I only hope is that I wasn’t too irritating 😆).
As for what we ate, well, no surprises that I picked Bistro Course A ($120+) for us because it has more food 😁
The complimentary starter of wasabi-flavoured cauliflower mousse with sea urchin was a delicious blend of subtle sweetness and stealthy heat.
After which, we crammed our faces with sourdough and brioche, also made by Chef Doi-san, just like everything else. They were so good spread with his uni and white miso butter.
We enjoyed a refreshing and well-balanced carpaccio next, starring silky slices of young bluefin tuna from Toyosu Market.
Wherever the menu listed options, I selected different items for us, so greedy me could try a wider variety. Thus, for our second appetiser, it was a pair of large, very juicy white asparagus with mimolette cheese, an onsen egg and truffle vinaigrette sauce, and a confit of natural yellowtail that I picked. As lovely as the seasonal asparagus was, I preferred the latter because the texture of that thick-cut fish was unbelievable! Through some crafty sorcery, It was bestowed with the most mind-blowing mouthfeel and flavour.
We were also really impressed by the fish course that came after. Instead of its signature crispy scales, the amadai had a thin cheese crust and was served with mushrooms in a pool of “sauce Albert”. According to Chef Doi-san, this classic sauce is named after the General Manager of the famous “Maxim de Paris” restaurant. A white wine and veal glaze amalgamation, its lip-smacking quality drove us to use the last of the bread to wipe our plates clean of it.
We were very pleased to have heeded Chef’s recommendation for our main course. The Hokkaido A4 grade Wagyu Striploin was done to perfection. I was initially distracted by its naked tastiness but when the accompanying red wine sauce was poured on, I nearly fell off my chair. Such was its swoonworthiness.
After seeing Chef Doi-san’s Beef Tongue Curry Rice appear in a couple of Instagram Stories, I was very keen to give it a try regardless of whatever else we ate.
The humble looking dish turned out to be a revelation! Instead of the typical yellow hue, the fork-tender chunks of tongue were stewed in a deep brown Japanese curry, its colour derived from a red wine sauce. Finished with toasted almond flakes, it was also spiked with a “secret ingredient” of coffee powder.
For dessert, I chose for us the tarte tatin that came with a show-stealing housemade cinnamon caramel ice-cream, and Chef Doi-san’s seasonal dessert, a gluten-free cheese terrine that was wonderfully light and moist.

Verdict: I enjoyed dinner so much, I can’t wait to return for Bistrot Etroit’s Summer Menu!

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H O S T E D
The desserts here are outstanding. We tried every one on the menu and I would happily re-order any of them in a heartbeat but this was one of my favourites.
Exquisitely crafted, the design is meant to mimic the snow-capped Mont Blanc mountain. The chestnut cream is on the inside of the meringue instead of the conventional outside too. To counter the sweetness, it is served with a scoop of blackcurrant sorbet.
Don’t order this to share because you will regret it.

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H O S T E D
One of my favourites from the preview lunch because beef tripe is increasingly hard to find these days.
First braised then dusted in cornflour and fried till crunchy, the pieces of tripe are finished with caviar and a Noilly-Prat sauce that begs to be mopped up with bread.
If you relish innards and organs, this is a must-try.

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H O S T E D
Opening tomorrow, 1st March, is Clos Pasoh, a Modern French Brasserie. Occupying the second level of the heritage building with the curved frontage, it is destined to be a popular hangout, especially with the Francophiles.
From the design to the vibe, from the service to the food, a casual elegance and chic-ness permeates.
Lovers of French wine and champagne will especially have cause to celebrate as the Co-owner is none other than Entrepreneur Jean-Christophe who also owns WineFamily (a wine e-commerce website) and Galiena Fine Wines (an importer and distributor of fine wines and champagne), amongst other business ventures.
And where wine flows, good food must surely follow. Head Chef and Co-owner Louis Pacquelin has crafted a wide selection of small and large dishes to tempt.
If you are after a full-on meal, go for the “Pot-eu-feu” ($128). This traditional French beef stew which has beef cheek, shoulder and short rib, plus vegetables, can feed 2 to 4 pax. Furthermore, whilst you wait for the thrice-cooked broth to go through a final infusion with dehydrated kitchen trimmings, chilli padi, herbs etc., you get poached foie gras dumplings to munch on. Sides such as a Lettuce Salad and Mac & Cheese, can be added on as well.
@clospasoh’s desserts are outstanding! Be it the Japanese strawberries with Italian lemon sorbet, Monkey 47 Gin and strawberry-coriander sauce, or the fragrance-forward “3 Feuilles Earl Grey, bergamote” - a bold take on the traditional mille-feuille that’s too lovely for words, or the clever “Reverse Mont Blanc” with chestnut cream hidden inside the meringue, they are all exquisitely crafted and taste divine! Even the rustic looking salt-sprinkled Valrhona Guanaja Dark Chocolate Mousse with Biscotti is a very lovely choice.
Last but not least, do keep a lookout for the rum syrup-soaked Rhum Baba that closes every meal, compliments of the Chef, for it is utterly scrumptious.
As for where to situate yourself when at Clos Pasoh, take your pick from the Dining Room, Terrace, Wine & Cheese Room and Chef’s Table. Each has its own attraction depending on what you’re there for.
Thank you very much again @jc.cadoret and Chef @pacquelin for the privilege of a preview of your Modern French Brasserie.

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Can you believe One MICHELIN Starred @lerouy_ will turn 3 this August? Time has flown since my first visit where I recall being blown away by Chef-owner Christophe Lerouy’s modern French cuisine.

My most recent meal was just as superb, especially when a favourite dish showed up (who else loves that salted and baked cabbage? 😋😋). Once we sat down, Chef Lerouy got us rolling with a welcome glass of Crémant from his hometown in France and a series of four small but immaculately prepared bites that had me sighing blissfully. They were: a creamy foie gras with apple wasabi and smoked sardine, a delicate parsley root tart with ikura and grated parmesan, whipped Muenster cheese with bacon and cumin, and a tiny tube of Iberico pork and sauerkraut broth.

We then tore into a warm, crusty sourdough, darting between the four flavoured butters of truffle, sumac spice, bamboo charcoal and unsalted as spreads.

Chef @sara_lee1030 presented the appetiser, a light and refreshing creation showcasing Japanese mackerel, tomato, burrata cheese, sorbet of gazpacho and a drizzle of black olive oil.

Then Chef Lerouy reappeared with his long-time signature, the impossibly juicy wedge of cabbage accessorised with anchoiarde, lardo and lime. It’s pure joy to inhale.

If I had to nominate another favourite from that meal, the magnificent Carabinero would be a serious contender. Such extraordinariness of sweet crustacean, quietly confident spices, perky carrot, bright pineapple and slightly sweet, creamy butter milk.

Both TH and I found the large plump Kunihiro oyster wrapped in beef tongue very appealing too. Loved how it came decked out with girolle mushrooms in a lagoon of warm frothiness.

Following that, a course featuring pan-fried foie gras, Korean abalone, shiitake and black garlic in herbal duck tea. I did find the reduction liquid a tad salty to be frank, but tasty nonetheless.

Bringing up the rear for the savoury dishes was a flawlessly cooked Iberico Pork Pluma, plated with pimenton and eggplant purée. I was bowled over by the texture and flavour of the meat, and don’t recall having had pork feel like that in the mouth before. It’s utterly delicious.

Chef @inpikleon did the honours of presenting the dessert, a composition of Chisote strawberries from Cameron Highlands, sorrel sorbet, fromage blanc and light ginger sauce.

We also had some petit fours with our coffee. The raspberry fruit jelly, dark chocolate dome, “cream cheese” chouquette were lovely enough but the one that wow-ed me was the feuilletine “waffle”. I could eat a dozen of it!

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G I F T
Lately, I’ve become a bit obsessed with cheese. I think it’s an accumulation of my meals at 3-MICHELIN @lesamisrestaurant where on every visit, @manoj_sharmahm has unerringly prepared the most incredible platter from their impressive cheese trolley, and my blissful encounter with the Aged Epoisses and Truffle Brie more recently at @odetterestaurant, another 3-MICHELIN Starred venue. So I wasn’t about to say no when a charming message about sending me cheeses came through from @la_petite_boutique_sg.
Trust the vivacious team to put together the choicest selection in such an attractive style, with fresh figs and berries nestled among their French dairy products. It was honestly camera-ready picture-perfection. Picking a favourite from the lot wasn’t possible as I enjoyed every one of the cheeses for different reasons: the cow’s milk Truffle Brie because it’s indecently rich and aromatic with truffle, the Mobier for its unique history and creaminess, the goat’s milk Selles-sur-Cher from the Centre-Val de Loire region for its salty pungence, the Comte because it offers a mild sweetness and firm chew, and last but not least, the raw cow’s milk Fourme d’ Ambert for that lovely buttery texture and intense flavour.

By the way, to thank the support they received during the Circuit Breaker and Phase 1, @la_petit_boutique_sg is doing a #giveaway on Instagram (closing date to join is 7th July 2020). Why not try your luck at winning one of their three sets of Cheese Box? Do check out the post for details on their Instagram account.

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G I F T
A few years ago, I was recommended by my French acquaintance Steve Desobeau, to try @fleurdesel_sg on Tras Street, opened by his friend, @chefalexandrelozachmeur. But somehow, I never got around to it, so when the restaurant messaged me recently about sending dinner, I didn’t think twice about saying yes.
Our meal began with a fabulous homemade Foie Gras Terrine to be savoured with onion marmalade on brioche toast. It’s rich and the portion was large, so there was plenty to go around.
Although I enjoyed the sweetness of the ocean’s bounty in the Seafood Boullabaisse (it was served with rouille garlic toast), the Lobster Bisque was the soup that wow-ed me more. A little creamier, it hummed powerfully with the glorious note of that single crustacean.
I was also very taken with the hugely tasty dish of Seared Hokkaido Scallops. Plump and juicy, they were presented on deliciously braised leek with a black truffle chicken sauce. SO GOOD.
I‘ve always been a sucker for beef tongue and have eaten it in different preparation styles but this was the first time I had it cut in such large cubes. And oh man, did they taste marvelous! Cooked with gherkins and baby potatoes in tomato sauce, the large meaty pieces were simultaneously chewy and tender - amazing! If you enjoy tongue, you need to try this.
I realise duck leg confit is pretty commonplace these days but Fleur De Sel’s classic version with its intensely crispy skin and saltyish-in-a-good-way flavour, was impeccably executed. Loved it with the sauteed baby potatoes and lip-smacking mustard sauce. It’s another dish I’d order again at the drop of a hat.
Their Beef Cheek Bourguignon, the epitome of rustic French comfort food, was equally wonderful. Simmered with the pieces of tender meat were strips of bacon, carrots, mushrooms, it was a well balanced stew. In addition, there was a swoon-worthy silky buttery mash to round it off.
A French meal should naturally include a cheese platter, and the restaurant put together a really attractive one with four kinds of French cheese, grapes, dried apricot and walnuts.
Dinner ended on a strong note and I mean that quite literally because the unassuming-in-appearance Rum Baba was potent in alcohol. Paired with the vanilla whipped cream, this dessert had me whimpering in happiness.

You can savour @fleurdesel_sg’s expertly done French classic dishes at home because they are still doing delivery via the popular platforms of Grab Food, Food Panda.

Thank you again Chef Alexandre and Team Fleur De Sel for the generous treat.

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Post-Circuit Breaker and Phase 1 Odette crackles with startling energy. From service to food, there‘s a palpable sense of eager exuberance. And that translated into what I will state for the record as the very best meal I have had at Odette to date.
As usual, nothing matters more to me than how the food tastes, and throughout that evening, flawlessness prevailed in every course at this Three MICHELIN Stars restaurant, which so happens to be sitting pretty at No. 1 on “Asia’s 50 Best” list this year and last. Chef Julien and his team certainly brought their A game and then some.
Dinner commenced with Grignotages which comprised of a modern, elegant gougère with comte cheese, a delicate smoked aubergine tartlette and house-cured sardine cradled in a crisp shell.
The Signature Mushroom Tea with Cep Sabayon blanketed by Manjimup truffles followed. I enjoyed the hit of deliciously-prepared earthy aromas very much.
When the breads appeared, I almost shed a tear of joy, and went at them like my life depended upon, alternating between the very special olive oil and whipped butter to enjoy them with.
Arriving next was Marukyo Uni to be partaken in two ways, with spot prawn tartare and Kristal caviar on a mussel cloud, and a dainty sandwich. I did as told - to start with the former, move on to the latter then return to finish the former. To say this course stunned would not be inaccurate.
Sous Chef Naka Xiong presented the cold Hokkaido scallop with horseradish, dill, and sago seaweed cracker, a dish that silenced our table with its exquisiteness.
It was then General Manager Steven’s turn to play “rainmaker” as he shaved a truckload of truffle over what I term a “Thicc French Onion Soup”, a delectable concoction of caramelly-sweet Cevenne onions, 40-months-aged Parmesan, Amontillado sherry and croutons.
The Limosin Veal Sweetbread (thymus or pancreas of a calf or lamb) which Chef Julien himself brought into our room, was a revelation. Simply roasted with garlic and thyme, and plated with vinjus sauce with a touch of sherry vinegar, it was easily the most delicious rendition I’ve eaten in a long, long time. Apportioned just right, the richness of the sweetbread was countered by a crunchy finish and the sauce. This is the kind of dish that can tip into “jelak” territory in a blink of an eye, so it has to be prepared with sensitivity. There’s no doubt Team Odette delivered.
Anyone who likes crustaceans would be blown away by the Langoustine and Foie Gras Ravioli. And the accompanying sauce, a lavish Laphroaig whisky-laced potion, left us gobsmacked.
I was particularly happy with the grilled Kinki fish plated with tempura zucchini flower and girolles mushrooms that was served next. Again, it was the fantastic sauce that floored me.
Before dinner began, during my chat with Chef Julien, I’d told him I wanted to replace the lamb course if there was one (yes, at that point, none of us knew what he had planned for our menu). But the good man convinced me to give it a try. So I did. Zero regrets. Although there was still a hint of gaminess, I hardly noticed because the perfectly cooked Axuria Lamb Saddle was shockingly smooth and flavourful. The Purple Artichoke, the Menton Lemon and the Jus “Tranché” contributed significantly to my overall enjoyment of the dish too.
When the cheese cart arrived, I couldn’t not indulge in a wedge of the Brie with Truffle and Walnuts, Comte and the sexy-stinky Aged Epoisses. They went well with the mini truffle-topped salad. You bet I was on cloud nine by this point.
The palate cleanser, a precise perfection starring muscat grapes was otherworldly good. So good, one portion wasn’t enough.
Not only were beautiful produce of white peaches from Fukuoka and raspberries used by Pastry Chef Louisa Lim in her dessert but the flavours and textures were artfully combined to the nth degree. I loved it.
Bringing our spectacular meal to a splendid end were petit fours of a lychee and raspberry Ice-lollipop, traditional Canele, sweet Japanese Melon, French Cherries and Chocolate Tart with shaved Tonka Bean.
Odette’s take-home gift, a lovely jam based on Chef Julien’s grandmother’s recipe, is always a welcome treat and a lovely way to extend memories of a meal there by a few days.
In case you are wondering, the total bill for each of us that night came to close to $550 per person inclusive of the two bottles of red wine recommended by Sommelier Vincent. Yes, it’s very expensive but I felt it’s worth every cent.

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After spending $128 on the “Bresse Poularde Au Vin Jaune” (serves 2 pax) from Three-MICHELIN Starred @odetterestaurant, I was understandably nervous about messing up the finishing steps at home. Thank goodness, Owner-Chef Julien is astute enough to know some of us (🙋🏻‍♀️) are quite useless in the kitchen, so he had clear instructions attached to the neatly packaged chilled food (yes, all the components come cold). Armed with a kitchen timer, I followed each step carefully, and lo and behold (𝘱𝘶𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘪𝘵 😁)...SUCCESS!

Essentially a refined version of rich comfort food (and who wouldn’t appreciate that during this Circuit Breaker period), the dish features half of a browned-in-pan French chicken in a dreamy sauce of cream made fragrant with the famous yellow wine from the Jura region in Eastern France and an abundance of mushrooms (mostly morel, my favourite). The spring vegetables, which include baby carrots and romanesco cauliflower that I added during the heating up process, were remarkably sweet and fresh.

With such a stellar main, naturally the accompaniment has to measure up and the premium Niigata rice from Japan certainly did. The portion of the shiny cooked short grains is generous, and even has its own condiments - an insanely addictive crunchy crumbled chicken skin and finely-chopped chives (sorry, those aren’t shown in my photo). They are to be sprinkled / smothered on just before eating.

I’d recommend ordering this when you fancy a little indulgence, or if you have an occasion to celebrate. After all, why not spoil yourself with some #MichelinAtHome?

P.S. Based on my own experience, service is impeccable even outside of the restaurant. Marta from the front-of-house team, kept in close contact with me via SMS, so collection was a breeze. She was waiting for me by the roadside as we drove up, and took the initiative to place the bags of food in the backseat so I could remain in my vehicle. How thoughtful.

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Far from wimpy, this tasty salad is sure to satisfy even the meat-lovers because of the cured duck meat, duck gizzard, shaved foie gras and crispy lardons thrown in with the mixed greens, tomatoes, walnuts and croutons.

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This pretty dessert is ideal for those with a sweet tooth as the light-as-air meringue is served with some Crème Anglaise, roasted almonds and crowned with a piece of spun sugar art. I spotted it on nearly every table when I was there which is proof of its popularity.

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This dish of “Filet de Bar” was very well executed. As thin as the seabass fillets were (which makes them tricky to cook), they were moist within and had a lovely crisped skin. I found them delicious with the broccolini done two ways (puree and mash) and balsamic reduction. A good choice for a light meal.

Follow me on Instagram (@veronicaphua) for richer content of videos and Stories! 😊

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