(*****): Asia’s 22nd best
table in the Restaurant Magazine’s inaugural list of Asia’s Top 50,
featuring surely the most inventive cuisine in Singapore by Chef Julien
Royer, what would be in Paris a two or three Michelin star restaurant
showcases the finest in modern French
cuisine. The creative dishes
specialities which we enjoyed in the intimate 40-seats panoramic
dinning room brilliantly reflected Royer's so unique home terroir, in
Cantal. Taught by legendary chefs (Michel Bras, Jean-Georges
Vongerichten, one of the best chefs in New York, and
Bonnet), he learnt that a distinguished dish needs should be elaborated
using the freshest ingredients; skill doesn't come first. Seasons are
clearly reflected in menus which are permanently updated and can change
from one day to another. Would you like to come for a stylish or
romantic dinner, do not hesitate and try the 5-course “Menu
Artisanal Cuisine”. The day of our visit, bill was S$198;
S$298 with wine pairing. We warmly recommend this second option. Note
that there is a 5-course Vegetarian menu (S$148) which sells well
amongst both the Buddhist... and female clients on a permanent diet.
This is an interesting option. At noon, we would have a preference for
the well balanced and good value for money (S$68) 3-course “Lunch
Menu”. A lighter option for both your body and wallet.
food is superb in Singapore; but to upgrade its excellence, the
Court is currently "importing" cooks from Hong Kong. The best in the
according to the gourmets !
The dinning itself, as huge and impersonally luxurious as a top class chinese restaurant has to be, has its proper style. Fully booked the day of our visit, with an active and friendly staff slaloming between the large tables, it gets a warm and authentic Chinese atmosphere. A lot of local guests, indeed: proof of authenticity. Some foreign businessmen also, who certainly came here for the prestige of the place. A lot of celebrities visiting Singapore also drop by regularly.
We started with Deep Fried Seafood Rolls, much richer thought not much more expensive (SN$3.50 per portion) than the ones available from the street stalls in Bugis. We advise you to have their delicious Pan-Fried ean Curd Skin with Shrimp Rolls which, in the same range of much affordable price, offers a gourmet pleasure one would just find in a three star Michelin restaurant in Paris ! These appetizers are listed in the "Dian Xin" express menu, together with the Steamed Crystal Chives Dumplings and the Scallops with Prawns Dumplings, that we also warmly recommend.
Chinese like soups; we too ! Mostly when it comes to the aristocratic Braised Shark's Fin Soup with Crab Meat and Roe, a real delicacy enjoyed on special occasion. We were once more surprised by the price: SN$25. We paid more in Bangkok, reputed to be a cheap destination, for a meal with the same name but not the same savour at all.
When it comes to seafood, do not hesitate and have their Sautéed Prawns with Spicy Sauce. Take, at least, a medium portion (SN$38): as they are simply superlative. This was actually the course we preferred. The giant prawns were al dente: the texture being as important as the taste (a perfect one !) for the real Chinese gourmet. Extracted from their aquarium, they are cooked alive with some honey and black pepper. A curious mixture, which tastes like Cognac: strange and palatable, indeed. Prawns are treated quite well also, together with squids, with the more popular though fine Crispy Egg Noodles with Seafood (SN$27 for a medium portion).
Meat is also excellent. Of course, it is difficult to miss the Traditional Beijing Duck Served with Home-Made Chinese Pancakes. This is kind of a show to see the cook coming by your table with a trolley, and prepare the whole duck (SN$50) according to the rules. First of all, the well roasted and crispy skin is removed carefully. Then, the skin is rolled inside what they call pancakes, but which actually rather looks like the Greek Pita bread. Much enjoyable: both for the eyes and the palate. Then, the duck meat is chopped, and served with some sunflower seeds. That wonderful specialty can be enjoyed as a main course: a duck can generously accommodate four hungry people. Another alternative is the Marinated Backed Lamb, prepared just like in Beijing: well grilled, and crispy. A medium portion is SN$30.
We know they serve the most prestigious wines and Cognac, but we preferred to enjoy the all lunch with a selection of their best teas: the Chinese way !
As a dessert, you can either
try that very special Chilled Herbal Jelly,
extremely popular in
Singapore. We had a lot of it during our stay, and this strange thing
dessert, half drink...) could be enjoyed by some of you... They also
have Double Boiled Bird's Nest with Rock Sugar: an
"delicacy" we successfully succeed to avoid during our multiple visits
to Chinese restaurants. As one already understood, we are not fond of
desserts ! We preferred to have an Italian ice-cream (prepared by the
chef) at the "Top of the M": the unique revolving restaurant in town.
the 39th floor of the Mandarin Orchard Singapore, we could enjoy our
and our expresso while discovering a dramatic panorama over a city
after all, looks greener than one could imagine from the ground. The
islands are not that far, and we can see Malaysia quite clearly. Just
a coffee or, better, for a romantic dinner, it is worth visiting the
COURT (MANDARIN ORCHARD SINGAPORE HOTEL): 333, Orchard Rd,
238867 (35th floor, main tower)
MIN JIANG (****L): Located in the very plush Goodwood Park Hotel, the Min Jiang is an excellent Chinese restaurant. This is a must for all successful Singaporean businessmen, spending here a significant percentage of their astronomic wages. We have been truly impressed by the food proposed in the a la carte menu: the choice was huge, generous, and the quality absolutely worth a detour. Take small portions, please!: as by "small" they do mean medium. We were even unable to finish some of our meals: which was a pity. If you are not Chinese, please do follow our suggestions: Start with the Dim Sum (they call here "Tim Sum"). They are not the cheap and ordinary ones you can buy for peanuts in the hawker food centers downtown; they arrive rich and savourous, stuffed with fine seafood. Selections with the crab meat were great, but with Saint-Jacques it was simply superb !
We then had a Live Local Lobster anointed with Chinese Herbs: very fresh indeed, perfectly though simply cooked. Three sizes and seasonal rates are available. For our selection, the price charged was S$50 (about US$30): a little bit expensive for South-East Asia, but still OK for Singapore where such a fine meal is a real delicacy. And we are at the legendary Good Wood Park: don't forget it! Very affordable and recommended are the Frog Legs Stir Fried with Ginger and Spring Onions (about S$15).
By the way: did you know that Chinese share with French people a particular taste for frogs ? They cook them just like the best chefs do in our country. We still remember the ones Alain Senderens (Senderens Paris) prepared to our special attention one day in Bangkok. We found here the same know-how, with this "je-ne-sais-quoi" making this meal absolutely enjoyable. It was even able to made us forget our lobster: can you imagine ?! As a dessert, the Mango Pudding was fine, light, with a completely original taste. Note that if you really want to impress your guests, or your neighbors, they propose (what were reported to us as) the best sharks fins in Singapore... providing you order the "ultimate grade" Double Boiled Superior Sharks Fins with Snow Frogs (between S$200 and 350)... going, but of course, very well with a bottle of Dom Perignon.
A so very glamorous and excellent restaurant, where you can definitely be sure not to be crossed by backpackers; even on Sunday, when the "Tim-Sum Breakfast" goes for a ridiculously inexpensive S$12.80.
CHATTERBOX COFFEE HOUSE (****L): We usually don't pay attention to the large hotels cafeterias: all get the same impersonal and strictly business oriented appearance, and all serve the same standard international food. The Chatterbox Coffee House, in Mandarin Orchard Singapore, is no exception as a matter of design; but it is very famous in town for its actually delicious Mandarin Chicken Rice. This popular hawker specialty from Singapore has been introduced for first time a five star deluxe in 1971: this was then somehow a revolution. Why paying many times more than in the street, or in a food center, for this blue collar delicacy ?
The chicken they serve here is quite a sophisticated one, indeed. It receives a special breeding by farm in Malaysia, and comes very tender in the plate. Each serving comprises succulent, deboned chicken with fragrant Thai rice, bean curd soup, freshly made chili sauce, quality dark soya sauce, and ground ginger. We found portions that generous that we ordered nothing more. One 2kg chicken provides four portions: twice more, at least, than at any hawker's. The meal is that much enjoyed, that the most portions sold in one single day was 1422 ! We ignore of it was quoted in the Guiness Book of Records; but we know that The Mandarin Singapore had been multi awarded for its aristocratic chicken.
The Mandarin Chicken Rice
is also served outside the hotel,
at Oub Chatterbox and Oub Centre at Raffles Place, in
THE ALKAFF MANSION (****L): This is the restaurant in Singapore. Before selecting our airline, booking the hotels and organizing the tours, we just made sure about one key thing: we must have a reservation at the Alkaff Mansion. This superb residence used to be the property of the prosperous Alkaff muslim family. The mansion, on the top of the Telok Blangah Green, is a visible reminder of the strong colonial presence in the Singapore of the 1920's. Reaching this top hill mansion is by itself a pleasant experience, which brings you quite exhausted and thirsty to the doors (if you didn't take a cab!) There is greenery and flowers abounding. The house communicates intimately with the visitor inducing the feeling that he is the warmly expected guest of some millionaire friends: there is a beautiful park, a huge reception area, and a magnificent dinning room on the first floor with a dramatic view expanding over the city and the Indonesian islands. To make you feel as if you are anywhere but in a restaurant, the management has a sophisticated trick: there is no uniformity among the tables or the chairs, as if your host was obliged to corral them from the other rooms to receive so many guests... Now, what about the food? This is when we went nuts realizing what we missed! We came for lunch, enjoyed very tasty meals in a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere, with the pleasant company of a beautiful PR Manager sure... but we were proposed international cuisine. Ok, the lobster was excellent. Sure the grilled salmon was impeccably first class. Of course the dessert made out of fresh mangoes was digestive. But where were the real specialties of the Alkaff Mansion: we mean, the "Rijsttaffels" ?!
Because we had to
postpone our visit from dinner to
lunch the next day, we just missed this unique Dutch influenced
cuisine, which makes the place like a jewel in Singapore, as they only
serve it in the evening, following a long noteworthy protocol. "Rijsttaffel"
means "rice on the table". It comes with a spread of spicy seafood,
and vegetable dishes, as well as a variety of tasty condiments.
Traditional "Rijsttaffel" service should be
of a gentle wealthy refined colonial past. A majestic dinner gong
the commencement of the ceremony and we are swept back in time to the
of Java, perhaps the garden city of Bogor. Then, a procession of lovely
ladies dressed in traditional Indonesian sarong kebayas emerges to
introduce and serve each dish. Touristy, isn't it? Sure; but what's the
matter if this is entertaining and elegant, and if the food tastes so
And we missed all that! So, next time we fly to Singapore, we will, one
more time, make the Alkaff Mansion our top priority, for a dinner we
take pleasure in reviewing in much detail for your kind attention. Till
then, why not do like us: try lunch first, then have the ultra fine
Good things should come step by step! An unforgettable experience and
so expensive for the famous top end restaurant in town.
PHONE: +65 6510 3068 FACSIMILE: +65 273 709
NOX “DINE IN THE DARK” (****L): Seated in a pitch-black dining room, this very unique restaurant invites you to plunge into an intriguing new world of mystery and sensation. Guided and served by blind or visually impaired individuals that have been specially trained to offer guidance and reassurance to sighted guests, this is the one-and-only place in Singapore to undergo a truly rich human experience when the roles are reversed and the blind become your eyes, opening your mind to a deeper consciousness. Nox “Dine in the Dark” is definitely more than just dining: it is a unique mind-altering sensory experience! It is amazing to realize how much taste, smell, touch and sound differ in total darkness.
The cuisine by Chef Desmond Lee is quite European, with a subtle Asian note, and we do advise you to have your 3 course menu (S$88++ per person) -each course being made of 4 dishes- with wine pairing. After the dessert, you will be shown what you have eaten: which is always somehow surprising. We realized how deep is the ditch between taste and visual enjoyment. We recognized some dishes, indeed (easy with chicken, for instance; more difficult with the splendid cold wakame pasta with seared scallops, tossed in truffle oil); but when it came to dessert, which are sweetly sophisticated at Nox, the surprise was absolute.
This out of this world evening would seduce couples very much: as dinning in the dark comes with an unexpected note of eroticism.
A must in the always surprising city of Singapore, Nox open all week long, 6pm to late.
NOX “DINE IN THE DARK”: 269, Beach Road Singapore 199546
PHONE: +65 6298 0708
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