Archive for the ‘Singapore’ Category

Waku Ghin, Singapore

February 2, 2012

http://www.wakughin.com

10 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

A business trip to Singapore at the beginning of 2012. It beats having to go back to the office after a very relaxing break in Port Douglas. A tight schedule meant I only had time for one meal and as much as I wanted to do some proper exploring around the hawker centres, it made sense to hit a high-end place. I reason when I come here for an extended time with Vanessa we can do some proper exploring, chilli crab etc

There are a handful of renowned fine dining restaurants that have recently got noticed by international guides with many following the increasingly homogenous trend of molecular, base elements & deconstruction. You can have this French with an Asian twist or Asian with a French twist.

I chose the latter, opting for a simpler style with Waku Ghin. Having dined a couple times at Tetsuyas in Sydney I was keen to see how he had tackled his Singapore venture. Before I get there I had to tackle reservations. Calling from the airport I had a stilted conversation with someone who was asking me to fax a copy of my passport to secure a table….. Apparently a credit card number wouldn’t do, like every other restaurant around the world. A fax, really?! Losing patience I got my hotel to sort it out….

It’s a real destination restaurant being located in the Marina Bay Sands. It’s a sensational building topped off with a suitably extravagant rooftop infinity pool. If you’re looking to be amongst ex-pats this is the place to go.

Being a lure for gamblers, the complex is really confusing, with little sign-posting. But head for the gambling floor with 150+ gaming tables and you’re on the second floor, next to Guy Savoy (next time). It’s still an impressive sight.

The restaurant itself screams sophistication with more slate and grey one can comfortably handle. It only sits 25, with dinners in their own rooms with sleek teppanyaki grills. It’s a table for one tonight, so it’s a little surreal. But there’s wifi and I settle with a Tiger beer and an unsettling ibook about a Facebook psychopath (not recommended).

Anyway, the ingredients for tonight:

The freshest of seafood flown in from around the world (very foodmiles….)

To start: French Royal Oyster with Ginger & Rice Vinegar

Big, clean, meaty. Very well balanced. As good an oyster you’re going to find

Next up: Flan with Hokkaido Salmon Roe

A bit of a classic, but rarely something to get excited about. Flan is eggy and yielding, the salmon roe is excellent with sizeably globules of fishiness.

The signature dish: Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin and Oscietre Caviar

Worth the entrance fee alone, this truly is a dish to die for – luxurious and harmonious (reads badly I know). It’s a desert island dish and something I’d happily eat for the rest of my days.

The poor dish that had to follow: Grilled Anago with Foie Gras and Zucchini

Saltwater eel with a distinctively sweet taste paired with the rich liver worked well, though texturally it was a little soft.

The meal took on a new theme with my chef now preparing the remaining savoury dishes in front of me. Conversation was stilted, but I like to think we established a good bond…

First up: Japanese Abalone with Fregola and Tomato

A Mediterranean preparation that doesn’t swamp the subtle flavours. The abalone is delightful, cooked briefly, but extremely tender.

Of to Canada next: Braised Canadian Lobster with Tarragon

Again another stand-out dish – braised in butter finished with more butter, light stock and tarragon.

On to the meat courses – interestingly two beef dishes:

1) Charcoal Grill Fillet of Tasmanian (Cape Grim) Beef

It seems a bit odd to travel thousands of miles to eat beef from where I live. Although I’ve eaten the breed several times, I haven’t found this apparently familiar cut. It is stellar, a depth of meatiness so often missing from beef. The accompanying mustard is also excellent.

2) Ohmi Wagyu Roll from Shiga with Maitake Mushroom, wasabi and citrus soy

The next beef course surprisingly swaps depth of flavour for fatty mellowness. I’m offered three pieces, so it’s not a measly dish. Although it’s considered the pinnacle of beef it doesn’t match the Cape Grim. It’s still pretty stunning though. A quick mention for the fresh wasabi – a revelation with no harshness. And then there’s the deep fried garlic slivers. Why?

The meal takes another twist, winding down from the main courses focusing on cleanness and simplicity – Consomme with Rice & Snapper

Chicken stock with raw snapper and erm…rice. The simplicity is really surprising, but the clarity is very pleasant.

The final savoury course: Somen with Myoga and Junsa

The finest of stretched noodles served cold with light herbs. Again not a dish to expect, but clean, toothsome and worth dwelling over.

Gyokuro

Bringing my time at the teppanyaki grill to the end, the exclusive green tea, served lukewarm with great body and no harshness. I’m no expert of tea, so it’s hard to judge, but it’s something I could get used to in my meditative old age…..

There’s a drawing room with a view to take dessert and there’s two to finish:

Granita of Champagne with Japanese Strawberry

Not necessarily a fan of normally inconsequential granita, it’s refreshing with a good alcoholic hit, compounded with fresh strawberries and a rich jammy liqueur. Not bad at all.

The final dessert: Apricot Three Ways

Perfectly pleasant. well made, but nothing to get excited about. It won’t be making my list of memorable desserts…

To finish: Double Espresso with Petit Fours

and more petit fours…

Waku Ghin is a memorable meal from the location, to the dining experience, but mostly it’s about the ingredients. Because of this it’s a restaurant for the purist. Someone with a in-depth appreciation of food (I’m still learning). It’s a very expensive dining occasion with the money not in the flashiness, but the effort in obtaining the finest of produce and so handled with great sensitivity. Some dishes are truly amazing – the sea urchin and caviar of course. Others require a Japanese recognition of subtlety, which is not for everyone. As a result it’s a restaurant that will polarise opinion especially since it jars against the flashy casino. I’m glad I went. It was an education.