12 Favourite Restaurants of 2015
The restaurants I reviewed this year gave me a very deep bench from which to pick this year-end list. Ruthlessly, this ranking of my favorites was capped at 10, but I could have stretched it to 12 without any noticeable drop-off in quality. Before winding down and celebrate the end of 2015, let’s take a look at the list of favourite restaurants of the year.
Address: 1 Cluny Road, Nassim Gate, Singapore Botanic Gardens, E J H Corner House, Singapore 259569
Tel: 6469 1000
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12 pm – 3pm, 6.30 pm – 11 pm; Sunday 11.30 am – 3 pm, 6.30 pm – 11 pm. Closed on Mondays
Located on the grounds of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Corner House is a 2-storey Black and White style bungalow built in 1910 to house officials and administrators during the colonial era. The cuisine created by Chef Jason Tan, Gastro-Botanica, combines the passion that E J H Corner had for Nature, especially plants, with the progressive techniques of a refined modern kitchen.
Vegetables are given much fuller elaboration in range and preparation, and garnishing becomes a highlight in its own right. This is a vital innovation of Gastro-Botanica cuisine and sets it apart from the others. It’s interesting to see how Chef Jason plays with different tomato variations. One of Corner House’s signature dish – Carabinero Prawns with tomato variation – left me fascinated. Cevennes onion is Chef Jason’s favourite vegetable. Cevennes onion is done in 4 different ways. I had onion puree with 62 degree sous vide egg, mini onion tart, onion chip and onion tea. I am onionified!
The Disgruntled Chef
Address: 28 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069708
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 12pm – 2:30pm; 6pm – 10:30pm. Closed on Sundays.
Tel: 6808 2184
Chef Daniel Sia opens the second outlet of The Disgruntled Chef at Ann Siang Road following the success of its first outlet in Dempsey. Located in the recently revamped boutique hotel, The Club, the food philosophy still remainds the same – modern European and in big and small plates.
The meal opened with a simple warm Truffle Brioche ($12) swirled with black truffle flecks. Positively imbued with the heady essence of black truffle, it easily stood on its own, even without the application of nori butter. My favourite dish is the Crispy Beef Short Ribs ($38). Inspired by Chef Daniel’s travel in Korea, the beef ribs is first sous vide for 36 hours, then coated with light cornflour before deep frying till golden brown. The braising jus is spiked with gochujang, which makes me miss Korea! It’s crispy on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside. It is served with white kimchi, honey soy glazed potatoes, spicy mayo.
National Kitchen by Violet OON
Address: 1 St. Andrew’s Road, #02-01 National Gallery Singapore, City Hall Wing, Singapore 178957
Tel: 6468 5430
Opening hours: 11am – 2.30pm (lunch) and 6pm – 9.30pm (dinner) daily
National Kitchen by Violet Oon is a celebration of good, nostalgic Singaporean flavours, perfectly reflecting our colourful culinary heritage. The menu consists of authentic Nyonya cuisine and Singapore dishes from Violet’s growing up years and the recipes she has collected over these years from her mother, home economics teacher and professional chefs etc. The recipes here are authentic and chefs cook without shortcuts or compromises. Every mouth full of each dish is delectable and heartwarming.
Violet’s Chilli Crab (market price) is a re-creation of the taste and texture memories. Created in the 1950’s by the original Palm Beach Restaurant, Violet remembers at age 6-7 sitting on the beach with sand under her feet a palm tree swaying above, with the moon and stars in the deep black sky tucking into the CHILLI CRABS and slurping up the thick creamy sauce with chunks of white bread. Bitingly hot chillies and garlic in a piquant multi layered sweet, sour sauce, their version is thicker and has lesser ketchup than many other chilli crab sauce that I have tried. A squeeze of fresh Limau Kesturi just before serving makes this dish complete.
JIN Fine Dining
Address: Amoy Hotel, 01-02 Far East Square, 74 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 048464
Tel: 6536 6258
Opening hours: 7am to 10am; 10.30am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10pm
Housed within AMOY Hotel, JIN Fine Dining is helmed by renowned sushi chef, Thomas Kok. Previously from Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant at M Hotel, Chef Thomas Kok prides his food on the use of fresh quality ingredients along with skillful technique and creative flair in executing his cooking.
If you want to try Saga beef in all its glory, be sure to visit JIN which serves the saga beef in many ways. We tried a bowl of hearty beef stew where the saga beef has been cooked slowly for hours, creating the kind of rich, caramelized flavors that make stews irresistibly good. This gives the meat time to melt and make the meat tender.
Beauty in The Pot
Address: 11 Tanjong Katong Road, OneKM #02-21, Singapore 437157
Tel: 6702 2542
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 11am – 3pm; 530pm – 1am. Fri-Sat, Eve of PH 11am – 3am. Sun and PH 11am – 1am
Located at the newly opened OneKM Shopping Mall, Beauty in the Pot is the latest dining concept of Paradise Group. With many of us going for healthy living, Beauty in the Pot offers delectable nourishing soup bases with a wide selection of fresh ingredients for hotpot aficionados. There are only 2 soup bases at Beauty at the Pot – Beauty Collagen Broth ($20 per pot) and Spicy Nourishing Broth ($20 per pot). Simmered for more than 8 hours, the soups are freshly prepared everyday using quality ingredients. Everyone at the table exceptionally enjoyed the Beauty Collagen Broth. The dense and collagen-rich soup comprises of shark’s cartilage as the main ingredient.
Ingredients to pair the steamboat soup include US Wagyu Ribeye ($24), US Kurobuta Pork ($18), Red Garoupa ($28), Fresh Sea Prawns ($26), Assorted Dumplings Platter ($10) and all-time hotpot favourite Tang-o ($6). I really like their homemade paste, which is be one of the reason why I am coming back. There are different types of paste available on the menu. We tried the Ebiko Prawn Paste ($12) and Century Egg Fish Paste ($10). Served in a bowl, we mix the paste and shape it into a ball before putting it into the soup. The ebiko and century egg provides contrasting textures to the smooth paste, which makes it very enjoyable.
Pince & Pints Restaurant and Bar
Address: 32/33 Duxton Road Singapore 089496
Tel: 6225 7558
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri : 5pm – 11pm (Dinner Only) Saturdays : 12pm – 11pm (All Day) Open on Public Holidays (No reservations)
Pince and Pints is definitely not a stranger in the F&B scene anymore. These guys make lobster rolls famous in Singapore and their queues were so long since the first day of operation. The kitchen has launched their latest dish, the Truffle Lobster Roll. The lobster is first blanched for 3 to 4 mins before taking an ice bath. Stuffed with hearty chunks of lobster meat (using a whole lobster and the claw) and coated with chopped chives, the lobster roll is then topped off with truffle caviar adding new depth and flavour to the dish.
Adding fragrant truffles on the lobster roll is a match made in heaven as the truffles brings an aromatic and earthy feel to the dish underscored by the sweet flavour the lobster has to offer. The dish is also served with a new house made truffle sauce with a side serving of fries and chef’s salad with the restaurant’s own house dressing. The dish is priced at $68++.
Shelter in the Woods
Address: 22 Greenwood Avenue, Singapore 289218
Tel: +65 64666225
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed-Sun: 6pm – 10pm (Closed on Tue)
With a traditional rotisserie in the house, you can assure that each element of flavor has attained its full potential. Tender and juicy Rotisserie Rack of NZ Lamb ($43) is herb-crusted with parsley and pepper, and cooked to perfection in the traditional flame rotisserie and bathed in garlic confit oil. There is absolutely no gamey smell, and the meat is so moist. It is served with roasted baby potatoes, mesclun salad and gravy (of veal jus and caramelised onions).
My favourite is definitely Seafood Casserole ($39), a hearty and delicious harvest from the sea featuring seasonal seafood such as fish, prawns, mussels, clams, scallops and served in a deep rich seafood broth made from fish soup, fish, prawns, lobster with fennel, leeks, celery, carrots, tomatoes and saffron. The sweetness of the seafood emerge and dance with delicately flavoured stew. It is paired with slices of crusty cheese croutons, which harmonises the symphony of this dish.
Address: 80 South Bridge Road #01-01 Golden Castle Building
Telephone: 6532 0418
Operating hours: Mon – Sat 4:30 pm to 12am, closed on Sundays
My favourite Japanese restaurant Tamashii Robataya opens a new casual restaurant & sake bar concept called “Bōruto“. The restaurant serves more than 120 types of sake specially imported from different parts of Japan. While sake may be the star at Bōruto, the kitchen presents a constellation of tapas dishes that shine in their own right. The menu comprises cold dishes, small bites, small plates, carbs and desserts. Inspired by Chef Patrick’s visits to izakayas and Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan, the dishes are given an innovative or localised twist.
Worth a rave is the Saga Gyu Tataki ($28.80) where saga beef is seared to perfection and served with salted seaweed and saffron. With fine marbling through the pink meat, it literally melts in your mouth. Another of my favourite is Zuwai Gani Sausage ($30.80). One by one, the chef manually filled the sausage casing with Japanese queen crab meat. The “sausage” is first steamed before pan-fried, and served in reduced crab bisque with homemade bread. Look at the huge and fat “sausage” that’s full of crab meat, they are very creative and generous with the crab meat.
Address: Level 3, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799
Tel: +65 6434 5286
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm, Dinner 6.30pm-10.30pm. Dim sum only available for lunch.
The new Summer Pavilion at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore ushers in a new era with its modern interiors and colourful tableware after an eight-month makeover. Executive Chinese Chef Cheung Siu Kong excites the palates with his repertoire of exquisite, contemporary Cantonese cuisine. It’s evident in Chef Cheung’s dishes that he uses simple cooking techniques to bring out the natural flavours of the ingredients used.
One good example is the Teochew-style Chilled Abalone. This big piece of abalone is no-kiddy meal. When drizzled with a superior broth that is similar to that served with Teochew-style steamed fish, the dish instantly becomes even more palatable. Yes, the simplicity of the right ingredients coupled with the appropriate cooking method can yield such delicious results!
The Double-boiled Cartilage Soup ($56/pax) absolutely stole the show. The delicate broth is rich and creamy in depth and flavour. Combined with the heady flavours of the sea cucumber, stuffed bird’s nest and chicken, I think there was enough collagen in this bowl to nourish my skin.
Zafferano Restaurant & Lounge
Address: 10 Collyer Quay, 43rd Floor, Ocean Financial Centre, Singapore 049315
Tel: 6509 1488
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30am to 3pm; Mon – Wed 5.30pm to 11.30pm; Thur – Sat 5.30pm to 12pm; Sat: 5pm – late. Closed every Sundays
Zafferano’s Saturday brunch by Head Chef Marco Guccio features 4 incredibly generous courses, served sharing style at the table like the exact way Italian families have enjoyed their get-togethers for generations – something halfway between a buffet and a la carte. Indulgence is the key to this brunch: flavours and portions to make you swoon and keep you lingering for hours at the table.
The anti-pasti alone comes with more than 7 different items, including live oysters; baby lobster ‘flambé’ with brandy served with mayo sauce; a selection of cold cuts; as well as ‘fritto misto’ – a selection of deep-fried calamari, anchovies and prawns. The ‘pasta and risotto’ course is new and unique introduction and brings to the table 3 iconic pasta dishes, including homemade lasagna in minced beef ragout, béchamel sauce; followed by Chef Marco Guccio’s mother’s gnocchi recipe with fresh seafood in white wine; and the tasty veal ravioli with porcini mushrooms and truffle emulsion from the Piedmont region. Available on the first and last Saturdays of every month.
Zafferano has recently launched new Festival della Pasta promotion. Every Saturday, from now till 30th January 2016, Chef Marco Guccio has prepared a menu of 5 pasta dishes, a dolci plus biscotti.
The Rabbit Stash
Address: Rooftop of WANGZ Hotel, 231 Outram Road, Level R, Singapore 169040
Tel: +65 9858 8607 / +65 6595 1380
Opening hours: Lunch from Tuesday to Friday – 12noon to 2pm; Dinner from Monday to Saturday – 6:30pm to 10:30pm
With several respectable accolades under his belt, it is humbling to learn that Chef Matthew from The Rabbit Stash only switched to a culinary career after his university training in building construction. This Sunrise Global Chef Academy graduate might not have any training experience at Michelin-starred restaurant or with any celebrity chefs local or abroad. But it is his diverse travel and life experiences that make his menu both flavorfully and visually unique.
The goodness of artisanal produce is best savoured at its purest form without alteration or addition to the intrinsic flavour. Chef Matthew keeps his dishes “Pristine” by sourcing fresh local organic ingredients daily. We tried the 7 course degustation menu which include some of my favourites like creamy lobster broth with handmade noodles and crackling pork belly.
Mad About Sucre
Address: 27 Teo Hong Road, Singapore 088334
Tel: +65 6221 3969
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 1230pm – 1030pm; Sun 1230pm – 5pm (Closed on Mon)
Opened by by siblings Eric and Lena Chan, Eric does marketing while Lena takes care of the kitchen. Graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, Lena used to work in Sugarplum Cake Shop – a stunning wedding cake shop in Paris. Using French techniques in her cakes, Lena does not use any flavouring or stabilisers in her products. All her sweets is made from organic flour, raw sugar and natural colouring from fruit puree.
Passionne ($10.80) – a light cheese cake with hints of passionfruit and coco nip crunch. The mild acidity of passionfruit makes this cheese cake easy to eat. They have a range of house-blended teas to pair with the sweets. For something rich, San Domingue ($12.80) is the right choice. First, put the rum jewel box into your mouth. When it starts to melt, put a slice of cake into you mouth. Let the chocolate and rum party together. With a caramelised plantain in the middle, the mousse is made from 70% single origin chocolate from Saint Dominique. They are also serving all-day French hot savories now.