[Singapore] Restaurant André - 2* Octaphilosophy by André Chiang
On our last day in Singapore, we went to the highly acclaimed Restaurant Andre for lunch. With 2 Michelin stars and ranked #2 on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, our expectations were high and I'm glad to report that this was one of the best dining experiences I've had in Asia! When you're paying so much for a fine dining meal, it's not just about the food anymore but the entire experience and I think Andre definitely delivered on it with its superb service and story-telling about its Octaphilosophy which is Chef Andre Chiang's way of defining his restaurant with 8 concepts - Unique, Pure, Texture, Memory, Salt, South, Artisan, and Terroir. Andre only serves lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays with a choice of a 5-course menu for SGD$198 or the full 8-course for SGD$350. We opted for the full degustation of 8 courses but in reality ended up having a total of 27 including all the amuse bouche and petit fours!
We started our meal with a series of amuse bouche including this refreshing Black Cherry with Red Coral Capsule that burst open in our mouth at the slightest bite.
Baby Mushroom Croque en Bouche
Sweet Peas with Sea Urchin and Tarragon but I couldn't really taste the sea urchin in this dish.
Burnt Cauliflower Masala with Chicken Skin / Panisse Eclair of Broccoli
Our amuse bouche continued with this beautiful triuble of the sea containing:
Abalone with Kombu and Liver / Cockles and Veloute / Fish & Chips
Loved this creative rendition of Fish & Chips with the fish rolled in potato and powdered with dry vinegar on top.
Beef with Caviar and Potato Souffle
Charcoal with Piquillos and Sweet Prawn
Miso with Celeriac and Wild Flowers
[TEXTURE] Soft, crusty, hard, porous, slimy, dense, elastic… layers of texture composed as a symphony, with the complexity of rhythm, loudness, silence… A delicious sensory experience.
Smoked Swordfish and Cucumber Millefeuille with Chrysanthemum Jelly - the amuse bouche had looked dainty enough but the first course was downright gorgeous! It was a bit hard to cut through the millefeuille but the combination of swordfish, cucumber and chrysanthemum was not only unique but also delicious.
Kohlrabi Ravioli with Stone Crab Effiloche and Leek Water - no salt or seasoning was used in this dish in order to allow the sweet flavors of the ingredients to speak for itself. The flavors were a bit light but the kale granita on the side added a splash of refreshing acidity.
[ARTISAN] Practitioners of the art of cultivation deserve to be celebrated. Artisans carry history on their shoulders by passionately dedicating their lives to the craft of taking a simple ingredient and turning it in gold.
17 Legumes du Moment with Charred Toro Vinaigrette and Fermented Broth - this beautiful salad with 17 different spring seasonal vegetables from farmers in Taiwan was probably my favorite dish of the meal as the many different textures and flavors were skillfylly tied together with shima aji and smoked basil vinaigrette!
The dish was then finished with a fermented vegetables soup poured onto our plate. J wasn't a fan of the broth (he thought it smelled like a wet rag due to the sourness) but I thought it had some nice umami flavors.
[SOUTH] Inhale the perfume of sun-drenched olive trees and ripe tomatoes. The air vibrates from joie de vivre. This is the South of France, the region that generously invites the adventurous, colourful spirit we call life.
Seared Gillardeau Oyster with Scallop Lasagna and Caviar Aubergine - another gorgeously plated dish but the flavors were rather forgettable this time except for the caviar aubergine layer at the bottom. Up until this point, I started noticing that every dish was green in color and I overheard that it is supposedly the chef's favorite color.
J had gotten the wine pairing which uses natural and biodynamic wines from small boutique wineries in France. I was sipping on champagne and was offered one of chef's fermented juice to try. With 12 flavors in total, Number 10 was Cucumber, Elderflower and Pine Apple which was sweet and refreshing at the same time.
[SALT] Sal-vation, salary, salad. Salt is not only the key of life, it also preserves, has been used as a currency, keeps away daemons and makes food taste delicious. Salt is sea, civilized and essential.
Squid Spaghetti with Kelp Jus and Sorghum - we took a trip to the sea with the next dish. I liked the crunchiness of the toppings but the thick sauce was too "kelpy" for me.
[MEMORY] You are your memory. Memories are your best reference and your best friend. A memory can be revitalised and updated for as long as you live. Use your memories to enhance your practise of hedonism.
Foie Gras Royale with Black Truffle Coulis and Chives - we were presented with the chef's memory with this dish which was created back in 1997 in a kitchen where he worked out of competition. It was the first dish he had ever created on his own and the only dish that always stays on the menu at Andre. The foie gras tasted every bit as luscious and irresistible as it sounded and served as another highlight of our meal!
[TERROIR] The characteristics of a specific time and place, tradition and culture, geography and climate – incarnated into the ever-present origin.
Cacao Nibs with Welsh Lamb and Champignon Mont-Blanc - our main course was still cooking when it was brought to our table. Despite the theatrics, the lamb was probably the weakest dish of the meal in terms of flavors. It wasn't flavorful enough while the sides felt disjointed - the entire dish just didn't really come together for me.
[UNIQUE] Explore an ingredient with curiosity. Forget about habitual rules. Dare to challenge the imagination.
Rice Ice Cream with Amasake and Rice Puffs - it was interesting for Andre to use rice as the main focus for this dish as the common staple is always used as a side. Nice attempt on the chef's part but I just had a really good version of roasted rice ice cream at Zuma that easily surpassed this version which tasted rather bland.
Peche de Vigne with Muscadine Grapes and Pink Coriander - the desserts picked back up and we were wowed with this gorgeous pink dessert which reminded us of cherry blossoms! It tasted just as good as it looked with hints of peach, raspberry and grape flavors.
Pickled Plums with Purple Shiso Granite and Creme Fraiche - another painstakingly detailed dessert which I highly enjoyed - especially the creme fraiche ice cream which balanced the acidity of the plums and granita perfectly.
Finally we arrived at the end of our meal with a series of petit fours in a wooden box with Succette, The Noir, Financier, Madeleine, Macaron and Pate de Fruits. The meal ended just as strong as it had started with such creative snacks like gummy bears, root beer lollipops and kaya toast macarons!
Although not every dish was a home run, the overall dining experience and level of creativity far surpasses any fine dining restaurant we have in Hong Kong in my opinion. The service and attention to detail were immaculate - Andre really nailed the whole packaging when it came to offering an unique dining experience. It's definitely a must-try for anyone who loves fine dining!
41 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: +65 6534 8880http://www.restaurantandre.com/
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