Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Joel Robuchon Restaurant

Having been to all three of Joel Robuchon's finest establishments (Galera, Chateau and Mansion), actually I should not have any particular motivation to visit his latest formal dining place in Singapore. However, I simply have not had any time/opportunity to go to Europe or Tokyo in the past 2 years. I did crave for some great French cuisine at times and the closest one I could think of will be Robuchon's Singapore. As we all know, the island's fine dining places will cost our wallets as much as New York these days. Hence, prior to visiting, I decided that I would devise my own menu in such a way that I would savor as many new dishes as possible. In the initial degustation menu, I have tried more than half of the dishes offered. Thankfully, the restaurant front staffs were all prompt & helpful and Tomonori Danzaki, the Executive Chef, was also flexible in accommodating my request. Finally, my gastronomy adventure became a reality near Christmas time in 2011.

Located in the Resort World Sentosa (the home of Universal Studio and Casino), Joel Robuchon restaurant might not be the kind of place that will attract many crowds especially after people observe the menu and its price at the front of the entrance. The whole restaurants' concept (the foyer, dining room and kitchen) is apparently inspired by Robuchon Vegas with more generous space. It should not be surprised since Pierre Yves-Rochon, the famous French designer, is the leading architect. The restaurant is dressed in mainly beige and black creating a modern and luxurious atmosphere. In addition to the chandelier in main dining room, pay attention to the details the staff set up in the guests' table. My table was meticulously decorated by sparkling crystals and crystal candle stand, essentially everything is brand new. Dining at Robuchon always began with the bread trolley and during the 4-hour meal I had the chance to savor saffron and basil focaccia, milk, rosemary, bacon with mustard and brioche. There was only unsalted butter available with sea salt on the side. Then come, the 14-course degustation menu (it used to be 16 dishes including cheese tray when I ate at Tokyo)

Le Caviar Impérial sur un velouté de maîs glacé tremblotant, croutons dorés (Imperial caviar on a shivering corn veloute served with golden croutons) - Sweet and chilled corn soup was nice to be mixed with salty caviar, sour cream and crunchy crouton while the beef did not contribute much. A decent opening, but not as good as Robuchon's other caviar dish

Le Truffle Blanche en duo mêlé de pomme ratte comme un carpaccio aux copeaux de foie gras (Shaved white truffles and potatoes topped with duck liver carpaccio) - The potato is earthy and tasty; it went well with the rich foie gras, cheese and the rather pungent white truffle. Like it

Accompanied by wine: Bruno Paillard Brut “Première Cuvée” Rosé MV

Le Foie Gras en copeaux, salade de haricots verts mimosa au parmesan (Green bean mimosa salad served with shavings of foie gras and parmesan) - Good presentation, but I wish they would prepare the duck liver differently from the previous dish. Savor by mixing all the ingredients to enjoy the contrast of earthy parmesan, a few vegetal flavors (beans and mushroom) as well as rich foie gras

L’Œuf de Poule mollet et friand au caviar et saumon fumé (Crispy soft boiled egg served with smoked salmon and oscetra caviar) - One of Robuchon's signature dishes. The warm and runny egg-yolk was 'absorbed & balanced' by the salty salmon and briny caviar (served in generous portion). The crunchy pastry also soaked up the soft egg and the cauliflower cream below. An interesting dish to remember and I truly enjoyed it

Le Noix de Saint-Jacques poêlée aux fregolas avec une emulsion coralline (Pan-fried scallop served with fregola on a coral emulsion) - The US scallop was not that sweet; the pasta was a bit hard while the seafood emulsion was alright. Overall, not too bad, but not as flavorful as the one I had in Tokyo

Accompanied by wine: Alsace Riesling “Clos Himmelreich” Domaine Lucien Albrecht 2005

Les Spaghettis à notre façon, œuf à la coque sans coque et une râpée de truffe blanche d’Alba (Homemade spaghetti served with soft poached eggs and shaved Alba white truffle) - An excellent dish. It seemed straightforward yet impressive. The al dente spaghetti was around the poached egg. To make the most out of it: break the egg yolk and mixed it together with the pasta, cream sauce and the white truffle. Then enjoy this delicious dish and its texture and temperature contrast. The stronger the truffle, the better the dish

L’Oursin crémeux tremblotant sous un voile mousseux au wasabi (Sea urchin served in a tender consommé jelly with wasabi cream) - Japanese influence on Robuchon's dish. I've never had uni prepared this way, especially the consomme's texture - quite a new experience. The Hokkaido sea urchin was creamy and sweet while the wasabi was slightly hot

Le Homard en cocotte lutée aux châtaignes et asperges vertes (Lobster in a sealed cocotte served with chestnut and asparagus) - The Maine lobster was not as firm and sweet as its Brittany's counterpart. The lobster taste was enhanced with its own juice; the chestnut added new dimension. It's OK

La Châtaigne en velouté sur une royale de céleri rave à la caradamone (Chestnut soup served on a royal celeriac with cardamom) - The veloute was velvety and a bit sweet. It had crisp bacon inside, was served with cappuccino foam and scented by the alba truffle

Accompanied by wine: Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières Domaine Vincent Girardin 2003

La Sole poêlée à la citronnelle avec une étuvée de jeunes poireaux (Pan-fried dover sole served with lemongrass and stewed baby leeks) - I quite enjoyed the contrast between the lemon grass and citrus. However, the sole was not that firm and a bit bland. I like this dish better when they used 'Le Bar' instead

Le Boeuf l’entrecôte cuite sur du gross sel aromatisé (Premium beef rib-eye cooked on a bed of flavored rock salt) - The Wagyu beef was perfectly cooked at medium rare and delicious, except I found that the fat/skin part was a bit too salty. The beef was put on top of bacon and prepared teppanyaki style. The mushroom, asparagus and mashed potatoes (silky and smooth texture with tasty flavor) complemented the ribeye

Les Pousses de Soja comme un risotto aux yuzu et ciboulette (Soy sprouts as a yuzu and chives risotto) - Nothing spectacular here, just a simple and unique soy bean 'risotto' to wind down at the end of my meal, quite decent actually

Accompanied by wine: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de Beaurenard 2007

Le Parfum des Iles crémeux aux fruits de la passion, granité au rhum ambré, onctuosité à la noix de coco (Smooth passion fruit served with dark rum granite and light coconut foam) - A great tropical dessert showcasing different flavors: sour passion fruit cream, sweet coconut and bitter rum granite. Overall, it's very refreshing

Le Chocolat chuao sable friable aux graines de sesame, nuage de pistache de Sicile (Chuao chocolate served with sesame seeds biscuit and Sicilia pistachio) - The chuao cocoa (from Venezuela) was awesome combined well with the biscuit below. Eat the pistachio ice cream before it quickly melted

Le Moka – Le Thé escortés de mignardises (Coffee or tea served with sweets) - The famous sweets trolley. I had macaroons (lemon and cinnamon), hazelnut cream, chocolate millefeuille, opera and chocolate rhum. I also drank Rosemary tea cut directly from its leaves

Accompanied by wine: Sauternes Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2005

I could confidently say that the food at Robuchon Singapore is as good as its Tokyo and LV counterparts. This is probably expected since the leading Chef Danzaki has been working with Joel Robuchon for nearly 2 decades. He started his apprenticeship in Chateau Robuchon Tokyo in '94, then participated in the opening and becoming Chef de Cuisine at Robuchon Mansion Vegas in '05 before coming to Singapore a year ago. Chef Danzaki described working in LV under Claude Le Tohic was probably the most challenging part of his career. He's a friendly gentleman and obsessed to execute every single dish perfectly. My favorite dishes from this meal are Crispy soft boiled egg with salmon & caviar as well as Spaghetti with poached egg & white truffle. One thing really stood out at Robuchon Singapore is the hospitality offered. The service here is impeccable and the best among all of Robuchon fine dining places. The staffs were courteous, friendly, informative and professional. Since the restaurant was only 60% full, I was often served by the Restaurant manager (he used to work at Robuchon Monte Carlo) and the Sommelier/Assistant manager (he is from Montpellier and happened to recognize me from my visit to Robuchon Vegas). Somehow, the service rendered by these European gentlemen particularly from France suit me the best, probably because they're not only great at making guests feel comfortable, but also knowledgeable and passionate about food - they had many experiences dining at Europe best restaurants. The sommelier also kindly gave me an extra glass of wine as part of my wine-pairing.

The dining room at Robuchon restaurant consisted of a main dining hall and a "winter" garden (don't worry about the rain as it's covered). Diners who have never been to any Robuchon fine dining places will certainly be impressed with the luxurious decor. I even heard that the newly renovated Robuchon Macau au dome has the most incredible atmosphere. However, I find that all of Robuchon's decor has been too similar. I prefer Alain Ducasse's dining rooms, usually designed by Patrick Jouin. One can see & feel different characters and styles between different places such as when comparing Ducasse at Plaza Athenee vs Dorchester. There is no doubt that Robuchon is able to produce top notch dishes. People often recalled their meal at Jamin Paris was the best they've ever had. When the Mansion opened in '05, some said it reminded them of Robuchon's peak performance in the 90's. I was not lucky enough to have the opportunity to dine at Jamin, but from the meal I've had in the past 5 years - I don't think Robuchon's cooking is the best. If any of you have dined at L'Arpege, L'Ambroisie or Le Louis XV, you probably understand what I'm talking about. Anyway, the fact that Robuchon is capable of creating and replicating four restaurants that consistently serve high quality French cuisine is already remarkable by itself.

Please check out the link below for the dishes' pictures,

Food (and Wine): 95 pts

Service (and Ambiance): 95 pts

Overall: 95/100