Restaurant Labyrinth — Singapore (11/2018)


Restaurant Labyrinth is a 1-star Michelin establishment that takes the traditional local flavors of traditional Singapore cuisine and present them in new and modern ways. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance and can be done with the Chope reservation website/app. They only offer a multi-course tasting menu for dinner, and they feature locally-sourced ingredients (Singapore and the nearby regions that contribute to Singaporean flavors). They do ask about allergies and dietary restrictions beforehand. They have their wine list on a tablet for review.

As part of the introduction, they bring to the table a display of many of the ingredients that will be featured on the evening’s menu.
The first presentation was not listed on the menu and was a oolong tea-smoked quail egg with a runny yolk inside.

With the quail egg, we were brought some kombucha (aged 5 weeks) infused with rosella (hibiscus).
The menu presentations began with three platters. The waffle triangles were served with chicken liver paté, goji berry jam and pandan juice sprinkled on top. Next to it were the homemade lapcheong (like Chinese sausage) with barley, diced chicken, crispy rice, and pickled bok choy in a burnt rice “nori” (or crêpe). On the far right were the small bites (“nasi lemak” cheong fun) made from egg yolk gel and ikan bilis sambal (dried anchovy chili paste sauce) wrapped in rice pastry skin and topped with deep-fried black chicken skin, cucumbers, and fried anchovies.

For the complete write-up, click here.


The Clove Club 5th Visit — London (6/2018)


For this visit, I had mentioned when making the reservation that this was a birthday visit. Normally, for lunch, the present two tasting menus from which to choose (one is shorter than the other). For this lunch, they did not present me with the menu choices, partly because they knew I probably would select the long menu (based on prior history). It turned out they had a slightly different menu planned for me. This was going to be a blind tasting menu experience. For some of my prior lunches, I have opted for the tea beverage pairings. For this one, I selected the overall non-alcoholic pairings.

The beverage pairing for the snacks was Royal Flush Real Kombucha. The first snack was an Ogleshield cheese gougère.

Soon after, the next snacks were served. There was a tart with green beans, ewe’s milk ricotta and hazelnuts. This was followed by the spider crab tart with brown hollandaise and deviled spices.

For the full write up, click here.


Kitchen Table 20th Visit — London (6/2018)


For my 20th visit to Kitchen Table, I had a slightly different experience. Dinner was served as part of a private event. Intead of dining as part of one of two seatings, there was only one seating of 13 people. To accommodate dietary restrictions, there was an ovo-lacto vegetarian menu used in parallel with the planned regular menu when needed. An enhanced wine pairings option was offered. As with a normal dinner experience, we only had a listing of the featured ingredient for each course on the chalkboard as we began.
Although I don’t have any photos of the vegetarian options (since I only had the regular courses), I have provided in brackets the ingredients as described. In some cases, the overall course was the same except for substitutions as needed.

The opening beverage for the first few courses was a champagne: Cédric Bouchard, Roses de Jeanne, ‘Cote de Val Vilaine’ 2015.

The dinner began with a Colchester oyster served raw with an elderflower vinegar glaze and garnished with diced Granny Smith apple, herbs and fresh pink and white elderflowers. The combined tartness/sweetness complemented the freshness of the oyster very nicely. The diced apple provided a good texture contrast.[Elderflower pickled baby carrots, crème fraiche, olive oil, herbs (sorrel, lemon balm, orange flowers, lemon jam]

For the full write up, click here.


Ultraviolet — Shanghai (4/2018)


Even though Ultraviolet has been around for a few years, I had not heard about until it was briefly mentioned in a short listing of highlights for cities around the world in a magazine.  Chef Paul Pairet offers a tasting menu paired with wines/beverages.  The evening includes a broad range of sensory experiences to go with the meal.   There is only one seating a night for a maximum of 10 diners.  On any given night, only one menu is offered, and during a month, most of the menu/beverage variations can be found.  The website shows what is included for each menu variation and the wines that will be offered.  The variations are priced differently, and half of the cost is due upon booking.  On the days that I had targeted for going to Shanghai, the “Special Event” menu was going to be offered.  This is the most expensive option and takes the best items from the other menus and pairs them with some top wines. 

Detailed instructions on how the evening will proceed are provided in advance.  There is no dress code, and still photography is allowed (no video though). We are told not to expect a cell signal in the dining room.  The evening starts with the diners asked to gather by 6:30 pm.  From the meeting point, the diners are taken to an undisclosed location for dinner.  Everyone is returned around 11:00 pm to the starting point.

The meeting point was easily found at their regular restaurant on the 6th floor of a building on the Bund.  Upon arrival, I spoke with the hostess at the restaurant to find out where to wait.  She led me into the restaurant to an area where other guests were already present.  I was offered a glass of pear cider, some water, and a seat with the other guests.

To read the full write-up, click here.

42 grams 11th Visit — Chicago (12/2016)


After my early October visit, I had not planned to return to Chicago until sometime early next year.  However, some unused vacation time gave me the chance to add an extra three-day weekend to my schedule, so I scheduled a one-night stop in Chicago to check out the fall-to-early-winter menu.  There were a few courses that were the same or similar but with slightly different ingredients.  There were also some changes in dish sequencing for the familiar ones from the prior visit.

Since this visit was with a friend, we brought along two bottles of wine to have with dinner – a Chassagne-Montrachet for the white wine and an older Rioja for the red wine.

The first dish is one that I had on the last visit, but not as the first dish on the menu.  It was whipped foie gras at the bottom with Australian finger limes, freeze-dried mango and rice sticks to form the nest.  The garnish at the top was citrus marigold.  There were lots of texture and flavor contrasts to make this a nice opening course.

This dish featured King crab, with a thick (sliceable) butternut squash panna cotta, crispy speck, land caviar (actiually the seed from an herbal plant called Bassia Scoparia, with a taste and texture similar to quinoa).  A mixture of lettuces and herbs formed the salad.

This course included wood ear mushrooms (instead of the lobster mushrooms from last time) as the main ingredient.  A shellfish sauce made from Spanish scarlet prawns dressed the mushrooms.  A homemade XO sauce added a little spiciness to the flavors, and char roe added some saltiness and texture.  Sea vegetables finished off the composition (dulse (red algae lettuce fried), a succulent called ice bud, Okinawa sea grape). There were a lot of texture contrasts to each bite, as well as a nice savoriness.

For the full write-up, click here.

La Degustation — Prague (5/2014)


La Degustation is a Michelin one-star restaurant that opened in 2006.  I didn’t know anything about the restaurant when I booked it.  When I decided to visit Prague, I searched for a molecular gastronomy/modernist cuisine restaurant and it came up as the result.  Their website (in Czech and English) described the experience as Czech cuisine prepared with modern techniques.  It was easy to make a reservation – I just filled out the on-line request form and they responded within a day to confirm.  And their location was conveniently located in the Old Town section, about a 10 –minute walk from my hotel near the Náměstí Republiky.  The 40-seat restaurant is simply decorated with a modern look and an open kitchen.

They seated me at a table right next to the kitchen, which was almost as good as if they had a counter overlooking the kitchen for me to sit at and watch.

For the full write-up, click here.