May 23, 2016

Singapore trip 2016 day 3: Ode to Odette

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Not having spent nearly enough time with my friend Chubby Hubby and his lovely wife S at the party for Asia's 50 Best Restaurants in Bangkok, I figured it would be good to catch up over dinner while I'm in town.  As S handles PR for quite a few of the top restaurants in town, I was not the least bit surprised when they offered to host me at these places.  Not wanting to take advantage of too many freebies - as I always prefer to go on my own dime - I arranged to meet up with them only at Odette.

I'd had a taste of Chef Julien Royer's cuisine when I came to Singapore this time last year, shortly before he left JAAN to start things up here.  I enjoyed my meal very much, so I was pretty confident that I wouldn't be writing up a post trashing the chef's food after I had just eaten a free meal there - and putting my friends in an awkward position in the process.

I was pretty distressed to find out yesterday, though, that Chubby Hubby had come down with a case of stomach flu.  Naturally he was still recovering and purportedly having porridge tonight, so poor S was left with no choice but trying to entertain me while listening to my drivel all evening.

Chef Julien came over to greet me, and when we were ready - after I confirmed to the restaurant that I have no dietary restrictions - the procession of yummy bites started arriving.

We started out with a smaller platter of nibbles...

Singapore trip 2016 day 3: 3 desserts for lunch

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For the last couple of years, there has been one restaurant which I insist on visiting during each and every trip to Singapore.  That restaurant is Candlenut, and is my top recommendation to anyone looking to visit the Lion City.  I simply love the modern Peranakan cuisine that Malcolm Lee is doing at this place.  For the first part of my trip this year, I even went so far as to stay in the Dorsett Singapore... so I could just walk out of hotel lobby and into the restaurant.

Since my last visit, the restaurant has decided to switch to a tasting menu format for dinner.  That is actually bad news for us "regulars", because we've gone through most of Malcolm's repertoire and would prefer to cherry-pick our own dishes.  On this trip, given that I am coming to eat by myself, I decided to do lunch instead.

What I actually love most about Candlenut are actually the desserts.  So before I even stepped foot inside,  I had already made up my mind that I was gonna order THREE desserts... and take just one savory dish to start.

I was sweating a lot when I walked in, so I ordered myself a calamansi juice.  I had forgotten that they serve it straight up without adding any sugar, and provide a small pitcher of syrup on the side.  I like that.

I debated about which one savory dish to order, and after checking my past blog posts to make sure I don't repeat the exactly combination, chose to order the beef cheek rendang.

May 22, 2016

Singapore trip 2016 day 2: Industrial seafood

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I pinged my friend L and told her that I was coming in town again, and wanted to see if we could meet up for dinner.  Seeing that I was already scheduled to hit a couple of fine dining places in town, and this being Sunday night and all - when many of the city's finer establishments don't open - she proposed taking me to New Ubin Seafood.  I've been hearing quite a few Singaporean friends mention this place, so I figured I owed this place a try.

FYI, New Ubin Seafood actually isn't on Pulau Ubin... or anywhere near it.  The owners have relocated the restaurant to Sin Ming Industrial Estates, which is kinda smack in the middle of Singapore.  So I made sure I got my Google Maps working on my phone as I went north in a taxi.

We were led to the wine cellar in the middle of the restaurant, where our table of four would be seated.  It feels claustrophobic, but L had insisted that we book this room... because only VIPs who receive permission from the owner get seated in this air-conditioned room.  Well, A/C is always nice to have in Singapore, especially when most of the restaurant doesn't get it.  But wine cellars are normally kept at a temperature that falls below my comfort zone so I did feel a little chilly.

I left the ordering to the locals, with the exception of one dish that I was craving for.

May 21, 2016

Singapore trip 2016 day 1: disappointing birthday dinner

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I try to meet up with my friends Mr. and Mrs. Ho every time I'm in Singapore.  We've been friends for a long time, and have shared many culinary adventures together - including that fantastic dinner at elBulli.  This time around we're celebrating Mr. Ho's birthday a little early, so after some discussion we decided to get ourselves a table at the Tippling Club.

Tippling Club has, of course, been regarded as one of the top restaurants in Singapore for the last few years.  My first impression of the restaurant wasn't a good one, as it was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal about cryptic menus - leading me to write a post about my pet peeves regarding menus.  Nowadays the Tippling Club has entered the ranks of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for the last 3 years, and certainly would expect to bag themselves a macaron or two when the Rubberman publishes their first Red Guide for Singapore next year.  So it moved to the top of my hit list.

We started the evening at the Ho residence, where I saw the kids and their bunny before bedtime.  As was customary, Mr. Ho also opened a nice bottle of white wine as an aperitif.

2006 Beaucastel Blanc Rousanne Vieilles Vignes - lots of tropical fruits like mango, ripe and sweet on the palate.  Drinking deliciously.

After a nice stroll, we arrived at the restaurant and were seated at a table near the bar area, in full view of the open kitchen.  One could choose from either the 5-course or 10-course menu, but the whole table most take the same number of courses.  Given that both Mr. Ho and myself wanted the full 10 courses, Mrs. Ho gave in and joined us for the full experience.

Singapore trip 2016 day 1: Thanks a lot, Tony Bourdain! (again)

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So I'm back in Singapore on my annual conference trip, and as usual I'm spending a few extra days here to meet up with friends... and EAT!  As I have arrived at lunch time, I headed out to find some food as soon as I dropped my luggage off in my hotel room.

Believe it or not, I actually don't eat much Hainanese chicken rice (海南雞飯) in Singapore.  While that may sound sacrilegious, the reality is that the dish is available readily in Hong Kong, and what's on offer in Singapore isn't necessarily significantly better than what I can get in Hong Kong.  So I usually save my stomach space for specific restaurants I want to try out in Singapore, or for food that I can't easily find outside of Singapore.

I've heard about Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (天天海南雞飯) at Maxwell Food Centre for years, but never really had the urge to go.  When all the tourists seem to be heading to just the one place that they've all heard about for this iconic dish, that often spells like a serious land mine best avoided.

As it turns out, I'm staying within walking distance of Maxwell Food Centre at the start of this trip, so I figured I might as well scratch this one off the list...


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