Nouri — Singapore (11/2018)


Nouri came as a recommendation from the restaurant team at Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan in Singapore. They had a wonderful lunch there and thought it would be a good new place for me to try. Several months later, I managed to add it to my dining agenda for a planned trip to Singapore. They serve both lunch and dinner, and reservations can be made through the Chope website/app. They require a credit card to confirm a reservation. The chef, Ivan Brehm, is from Brazil, has beenin Singapore for about six years, and has spent time at places like Per Se in New York and The Fat Duck (six years). With the open kitchen right next to the dining area, one can watch the team at work from any seat. For dinner, they offer a 5-course and a 7-course tasting menu (samples shown below) or a 7-course Omakase menu where you don’t know what will be served (for a slightly higher price).

In addition to wine pairing and sake pairing options, they have several wines offered by the glass and bottle. They also have an extensive tea selection (though not tea pairings at this point) because the chef spent some time working in a tea shop. We had a white peony tea with the Omakase menu dinner. We ended with a Silver Needle white tea.

The meal started off with bread and broth. The broth started out from 7 different vegetables from their farm in Cameron Highlands. It was topped off with a little mustard oil. In the white bowl was a silken soft cheese (in the style of silken tofu, but made with whole milk) mixed with a little egg to form a panna cotta or chawanmushi to have with/on the bread.

The first snack was compressed bitter gourd with fermented black beans, sesame seeds and mint. There were several flavors and textures to stimulate the palate.
The next snack was abalone, kimchee, mashed pear, and kimchee granita.

The next course featured citrus-cured hamachi (amberjack), served with Osetra caviar, sunflower petals, hand-pressed coconut milk and basil oil.

The next dish was Carabineros (deepwater scarlet) prawns, served with local cherry tomatoes, broccolini, a tomato/seafood/olive stew broth, basil oil, and some black olive oil underneath. It was fished at the table with a roasted tomato broth. This was a warm dish with a nice tartness to it.

For the complete write-up, click here.


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.

Eden Hill Two Visits — Seattle (8/2018 and 10/2018)


I heard about Eden Hill from one of Andrew Zimmern’s Travel Channel shows. He did a short segment on innovative Seattle restaurants, and he briefly talked about Eden Hill. It’s a small, neighborhood-type restaurant in north Seattle. They serve an a la carte menu, as well as a tasting menu and a Grand Tasting menu, which requires a reservation and a pre-purchased seat (from Tock) for the bar/counter.

The first course was a beetroot and tomato salad, where the tomatoes have been dipped in a beetroot sugar “glass”. This was garnished with olive oil, key lime, basil and sea salt.

Next up was a “martini” with pressed corso (dried fruit) with grapefruit and a little calamansi vinegar and truffle oil. The “olive” was a baby peach stuffed with ricotta.
I decided to try the wine pairings with my dinner. The first beverage pairing was a French champagne.

The next course was squash blossom with cheese and fermented squash (from last season) fried and served with elderflower.

The next dish featured local mussels, a corn fritter, and micro sorrel.

For the full write-up, click here.

For the write-up of the second visit, 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 12th Visit — Chicago (3/2017)


This visit was my first with their new format for 2017 with just one seating for the evening. Timing-wise, it worked best for me as dinner probably wasn’t going to run as late as the late seating used to run. However, the price went up with the new format and the experience was no longer BYOB (for free).
With the new format, there were going to increase the number of courses, upgrade the course ingredients and slow the pace of the experience. Also, they recently received their liquor license and now had a wine list (by the bottle only). It wasn’t going to work for me to buy one of their bottles, so I just opted for tea. I ended up being seated next to another solo diner who did order a bottle, and he shared a glass with me, which was very nice.

The menu is not normally presented at the beginning. I just placed the photo up front to allow viewing of the wine choices and food at the same time.

For the full write-up, click here.

It is also with a great deal of sadness that I have to report that 42 grams is now closed.  It was one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, and I will miss the food and the people that made each dining experience an enjoyable one.  There is an independent film that made its premier in March called “Courses” that documents the history of Sous Rising/42 grams.  See it if you can.