November 29, 2019

3-star trip to Singapore: revisiting grandma

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I'm on the road again this weekend, flying into the Lion City to spend a couple of days with The Dining Austrian.  Two months ago, the Rubberman announced the promotion of two establishments to the ultimate, 3-macaron level.  So naturally I had to prod my friend into making a trip - even though he had already visited both places earlier in the year.  Having done that, it was only right that I accompany him on his dining adventures.

My flight landed a little late, and by then it was Friday evening rush hour, with some rain earlier in the day to boot.  It became impossible to get a taxi or limo from the airport.  I did finally get transport via Grab, but ended up getting stuck in traffic on my way to Parkroyal on Pickering.  By the time we arrived for dinner at Odette, we were more than an hour late.

There were two dégustation menus to choose from - one was basically vegetarian, and the other "terre et mer".  Guess which one we picked?

A week ago, I found out through a post on FB that Julien Royer will actually be in Hong Kong this weekend, cooking at his restaurant Louise.  This was, of course, a little annoying.  You never want to fly in somewhere specifically to dine at a 3-star restaurant, only to find that the head chef isn't in the kitchen.  However, 3-star restaurants should run as well-oiled machines... so arguably nothing should be any different even without the head chef being in the kitchen.

First, a little bubbly to quench my thirst!

Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne MV13 - nice and ripe, good depth on the palate, and almost a little bitter.

Grignotages - the nibbles came pretty quickly, before we had much time to settle in...

Parsnip tartlet with sherry vinegar and burnt white chocolate - with parsnip chunks, sweet cream, and a delicious pastry bottom which just ooozed buttery flavors.

Modern gougére - with light Comté cream.  Meh.

Mini taco with botan shrimp, avocado, tomato - the botan shrimp (牡丹海老) was pretty sweet, and nice with the guacamole.

I didn't bring anything with me from Hong Kong, so rather than picking a bottle from the list, we asked the sommelier and manager to recommend something that's "not a label, and something we normally would not choose ourselves".  The result was a rather nice surprise.

1999 Peyre Rose Oro - really huge and powerful nose, very toasty, almost coffee.  There was sweetness underneath it all.

Mushroom sabayon, toasted buckwheat, walnut, and mushroom - this was as good as I remembered from my first visit, with shimeji (しめじ茸) mushrooms floating inside the mushroom tea/sabayon combo.

Mushroom brioche - meh.

Marukyo uni, spot prawn tartare, mussel cloud, Royal Schrenckii caviar - so here's the Instagrammable dish featuring sea urchin and caviar... which has been tweaked to make it even more photogenic.  I'm assuming the sea urchin came from Marukyo Suisan (丸恭水産) in Hokkaido.  The combination of flavors was interesting, with varying degrees of salinity and creaminess.  We also had little cubes of apple as well as finger lime pulp to lend sweetness and acidity.

The second part of the dish was this squid ink toast with more sea urchin on top.  The touch of yuzu (柚子) here was pretty nice.

Trondheim Bay scallop, horseradish, dill, sago and seaweed crackers - very thin carpaccio of scallop pieced together to make it look like a big chunk, seasoned simply with some sea salt. Underneath we had some crème fraîche with a hint of horseradish, along with dill oil, dill emulsion and crunchy pickled onion.  Together with the dill fronds, the flavors of the herb were front and center here... Oh, the scallop was really nice.

The rice crackers came with seaweed butter, nori (海苔), and piment d'espelette.

'Promenade à Singapour', bouquet d'herbes, Kyoto shio kombu, pickled tomatoes - this was my substitute for the beetroot variation dish.  Around 80% of the ingredients - greens, herbs, and flowers - come from 5 local sources, and include 21 ingredients like winged bean, jicama, lady's finger, blue pea flower, cat's whiskers, and the very strong ginger flower.  In addition there were pickled Japanese tomatoes, macadamia nuts, peanuts, and Japanese shio kombu (塩昆布) from Kyoto.

Rosemary smoked organic egg, smoked potato syphon, chorizo iberico, meunière - we went back to Julien's signature smoked egg... The Japanese egg was dropped into a smoked potato foam which seemed rather grainy, and topped with a meunière foam.  The chorizo had been deep-fried so it became dry and chewy, and also devoid of acidity which traditionally comes with the sausage.
Additional texture came from a sprinkle of buckwheat.

Bouillon 'paysan', foie gras, abalone, shitake - this was a really, really good dish.  The pork consommé was kinda peppery, but came topped with lots of yuzu zest to make it fragrant.  The 'room temperature foie gras' - whatever that means - was very tender.  In addition to the abalone, 'shitake' mushroom, nasturtium leaves, and sansho leaves (木の芽), there was also some shredded cabbage at the bottom.

BBQ kinki, squid 'a la plancha', Iranian saffron, rutabaga - the broadbanded thornyhead (喜知次) was delicious and succulent as expected, and came with spear squid ( 槍烏賊), shishito pepper (獅子唐辛子), saffron nage, and dill oil.  Curiously the sauce also came with mussels.

The sommelier offered us a small glass of something interesting to try with the fish:

2018 Gerovassiliou Malagousia Single Vineyard - highly aromatic, almost citrus zest, with tropical stone fruits.

Kampot pepper crusted pigeon, chestnut, Solliès figs, black garlic - of course the last savory course would be the pigeon from Fabien Deneour.  The breast is first cooked sous vide, then roasted in the Josper oven, and smoked as it was crusted with Cambodian Kampot pepper and placed under the salamander.

On the side we had the Solliès fig, pumpkin purée, and an oval drawn with black garlic coulis designed to keep the jus in.  As General Manager Steven Mason said, he's still practicing 5 years after the restaurant's opening... and he did spill a drop outside the boundaries...

The breast was very, very nicely done - as one would expect for a signature dish.  It was also very, very peppery.

On the side we had the confit leg - with the 'finger' tactfully covered this time - as well as the heart that has been breaded and deep-fried, and finally a buckwheat tartine bearing a parfait made of liver and other goodies.  The liver parfait was very strong.

We asked for a glass of red to go with the pigeon:

2014 Château de la Négly L'Ancely - very ripe.

We did have a few nibbles of cheese before moving onto the sweet section.

Saint-Félicien - creamy with some acidity.


Époisses, from Hervé Mons - very ripe and salty.

We were offered a glass to go with cheese:

2012 Marcel Deiss Gruenspiel - sweet on the palate, flinty on the nose.  Taken with the Époisses, the flavors of mushrooms are magnified.

The pre-dessert was a combination of jasmine tea granita, grapefruit sorbet, blood orange, and honey tuile on top.  There were chunks of grapefruit, and the jasmine tea worked very well with the grapefruit.  A little bitterness here, but very floral.  Very nice.

Yuzu tart, sablé Breton, shiso, basil - aaaaaaand the signature dessert, but now with yuzu instead of lemon.  Sablé Breton topped with yuzu curd, yuzu foam, and garnished with a combination of yuzu zest, perilla flowers, and basil.  The basil was very intense.  As delicious as I remembered.

Frozem lychee and rose lollipop


Musk melon

Tonka bean chocolate tart - definitely got the tonka bean.

This was a very nice meal.  I'm glad a few of my favorite dishes were still around, and happy to have tried new dishes to see how the restaurant has progressed since my first visit more than 3 years ago.  I'm very happy for Julien and the team for all that they have achieved since their opening 5 years ago, and look forward to returning with Hello Kitty...

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