Second day in, and I’m already starting to feel the pinch. Okay fine, it’s not everyday that one splurges at a fine dining restaurant. But I can imagine that constantly eating out in restaurants at Singapore can be quite taxing on the budget. Anyway, I’m a glutton for punishment. And a glutton as well, as it might seem.
Next on the itinerary, Andre.
I’m skeptical about fine dining in Singapore. Most of the time, it’s just bloody expensive and does not commensurate with the quality that the diner receives. Jaan was definitely a disappointment for me (read more here), so I needed a consolation to say the least. Helmed by the Taiwanese born and French trained Andre Chiang, and crowned the No.37 best restaurant in the world (not that it really matters much), I’m hoping that Andre might be a tad different.
And different, it definitely was. Service was noticeably warmer and rather impeccable. We were seated near the entrance, albeit one complaint I had was that the tables were placed too close to each other, such that we could hear the adjacent tables’ banters during the entire dinner. Not really a big deal, but it did detract from the overall experience as some diners were quite keen to give an audible play-by-play of their own dining experience.
Anyway, onwards to the meal! We started off with a few canapes of sorts e.g. a play on fish and chips, or the patatas bravas (spicy potatoes). Nothing really mind blowing, but quite a delicious bite of food.
Next, we started a culinary journey of chef Andre Chiang’s creation, which is dubbed the “Octaphilosophy”. It focuses on various elements of gastronomy i.e. Unique, Pure, Texture, Memory, Salt, South, Artisan, and Terroir. Most of them makes sense, but others feel a bit arbitrary. Anyway, we shall let the food light the way.
For the most part, the dishes were really good. There were definitely a few highlights, such as the “texture” dish, which was fried dough that had the appearance of charcoal, and was then paired with grilled octopus and piquillo peppers. A very delicious dish, as the fried dough had a nice crunch and a pleasantly chewy interior, and the octopus was well cooked. That being said, the charcoal bit was kind of gimicky, and didn’t really add much to the dish.
On the other hand, the “Memory” dish i.e. Foie gras and black truffle dish was utterly delicious. The foie gras had the texture of a Japanese egg custard i.e. chawan mushi, which was delicate, yet luscious and decadent. The black truffle gelee on top added a beautiful earthiness to the dish. Overall, an absolutely brilliant dish, which was one of the best foie gras dishes I’ve had thus far.
The final dish of the Octaphilosophy menu was “Terroir”, which translate into a sense of place. This was represented by rabbit wrapped in bacon, red cabbage, black garlic puree, different textures of berries and beetroot. Pretty to look at but not really noteworthy, plus the black garlic puree was almost inedibly salty.
Next, we move on to the dessert courses. Notably, cheese wasn’t even offered during the meal. But honestly, I could do without it. Plus the desserts were pretty amazing. The chef’s interpretation of “Snickers” was really delicious, with a chocolate ball with molten milk chocolate which oozed out, mixed with various textures of chocolate.
This restaurant was a total far cry from Jaan, and I felt truly immersed in the Andre experience, with their brigade orchestrating a memorable dining experience. Although some dishes were pretty gimicky e.g. foams and charcoal, the food were visually pleasing and some of the flavours were truly outstanding. The wines, although expensive, were from more obscure French artisanal producers, and ultimately paired well with the dishes. As a personal touch, chef Andre actually took the time to visit each table and ask about the diner’s experience. Initial impressions would indicate that he’s a humble dude, and was quick to give credit to his team.
Now, for the damage. The degustation menu was SGD$298 per pax, and wines were SGD$45 per glass. Again, prices equivalent to Three Michelin star restaurants in Europe. Quality wise, I would rank this as a strong one star, and perhaps a borderline two star.
In the end, price aside, we had a fun experience and had some truly memorable dishes. I wouldn’t be splurging on such a meal anytime soon, but worth recommending to folks whom are in a celebratory mood, or just in need of a good time whilst in Singapore. Perhaps better value to opt for the lunch menu, which costs a “mere” SGD$128 instead.