Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Travelife picks Andre Chiang's restaurant in Singapore very early on as among Asia's best restaurants


Restaurant Andre in Singapore, another early favorite of Travelife Contributing Editor Jerome Velasco, recently made it to the S. Pellegrino list of Asia's Best Restaurants.

Jerome has a knack for picking culinary winners, as I've already mention in a previous blog entry. His very early favorite, Les Creations de Narisawa, was once again picked the best restaurant in Asia.

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Although I like this restaurant, it's never been a great favorite of mine, mainly because it's too radical for my tastes.

But Jerome has been a loyal fan from the start, and obviously he's been right on track with it. And earlier today, he was quick to remind me about how I've never really liked this restaurant that's been once again named as Asia's Best...



TRAVELIFE GETS SOUTH AFRICA RIGHT

Meanwhile, Test Kitchen, his top pick for South Africa, was chosen as South Africa's Restaurant of the Year for 2012.

In November last year, living a Travelife, we had three top choices for meals in South Africa: Test Kitchen, The Tasting Room, and La Colombe.

The latter two were equally my requests as well as his choices, although he did the legwork.  But Test Kitchen was entirely his choice, and this made it to number 1.



The Tasting Room and La Colombe made it to the top as well. Read more about these three world-class dining experiences in the current issue of Travelife Magazine.

Here's an excerpt from Jerome's previous column on Andre, another top finalist to the Asia's Best Restaurants list.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Travelife Magazine Contributing Editor Jerome Velasco gets a headstart on Singapore’s rising culinary star. He writes: 

Restaurant Andre is located in a beautifully restored three-storey shophouse adjacent to the Majestic Hotel in Singapore’s lively Chinatown.

By the entrance, Andre transplanted an 80 year old olive tree from the south of France, where he spent many years as an apprentice. Astonishing. I do not know of any other olive tree in Singapore.

“It is my source of inspiration, where my cuisine and I come from,” he explained.

Singapore, with its sizeable expatriate community has managed to attract chefs with weighty accolades, and Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa have a plethora of celebrity chefs.

However, this restaurant -- probably the best in town -- is located far from the maddening casino crowd.

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STRONG CONNECTIONS WITH FRANCE

Born in Taiwan, Chef Andre has strong French roots, having lived in France for nearly 15 years and trained under some of the most revered names in gastronomy: Pierre Gagnaire, Joel Robuchon, Michel Troisgros, Pascal Barbot and the Pourcel brothers.

Perhaps no other young Asian chef today has a resume of this caliber.


EIGHT POINTS OF COOKING 

Chef Andre’s dishes are based on French techniques with some Mediterranean accents and a great respect for his products, which are his inspiration. He calls this Octaphilosophy.

As the name suggests, this cuisine is expressed through eight different points:

Unique
Pure
Texture
Memory
Salt
South
Artisan 
Terroir

He applies this hypothesis to many of his creations, and diners are taken on a journey of eight dishes, all themed after Octaphilosophy.

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PURE 

A ravioli made of raw Hokkaido scallops lightly spread with seaweed paste and wrapped around Japanese chives in a pool of purple cauliflower consommé.

Everything was natural and pure, with no seasoning or cooking -- just drops of olive oil and a sprinkling of dill flowers and purple shiso. The plating and presentation was exquisite and so pristine that I found myself staring at his creation and hesitant to destroy his artwork.

Undoubtedly, this was one of the best dishes of the evening.


SALT 

A single plump, black oyster from Brittany was wrapped in seaweed and seawater jelly and topped with Japanese sea grapes and a green apple foam.

It had a metallic finish, and I surmised that the apple was used to balance out the dish with its sweetness. This was an oyster lover’s oyster, with its crisp, fresh seawater taste and the essence of salt in its purest form.

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ARTISAN 

This section of the meal focuses on heritage and limited produce from artisans across the globe.

The dish is presented like an artist’s plate that is in reality handmade and designed by Andre himself.

That night, a stunningly fresh, smoked eggplant (from Kyoto) cremouline with macadamia nuts and parsnip, and golden caviar from China displayed his French influence. I can’t remember a better tasting eggplant dish anywhere.

SOUTH 

Representative of the south of France, where Andre spent considerable time and thus greatly influenced his style, the duo of hot and cold dishes served feature both freshness and acidity, and are designed to resemble the flavors there and to offer both freshness and acidity.

The cold dish was a cured kinmedai (golden snapper) with tomatoes, Japanese seaweed, and a persimmon sorbet.

Meanwhile the warm plate consisted of seared sea bass, prawn and clams with paella and shellfish foam. I had trouble deciding which was better.

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TEXTURE 

This was an ingenious dish that was really a brilliant play on textures.

After laying down the plates – or rather, the rectangular slabs – the waiter asked the inevitable question: “Do you know which element on the plate is the rice and which is the squid”?



Upon tasting, I immediately realized that the “risotto” was in fact squid cut into rice size granules, while the overcooked risotto, made from Arborio rice, was in fact the squid that was hydrated with charcoal to create “squid ink crackers.”

These crackers provided a crunch that juxtaposed well with the soft cauliflower cream. Terrific, but not too flavorful, it is something you might expect from a molecular gastronomy restaurant like the Fat Duck.

UNIQUE 



This dish is a combination of the best and most unique ingredients: a slow- cooked blackbone chicken -- better tasting than the regular variety, and reputedly of better nutritional value -- and Singaporean egg, which is smaller than normal chicken egg, wrapped with Spanish jabugo ham and Italian black truffles.

MEMORY 



Linked to the first time he created this dish in 1998, bringing back fond memories of his days training and working in France, he tweaked to perfection a warm foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis. This unforgettable dish was luxurious and intensely rich, with great consistency in the smoothness and creaminess of the custard but with the truffle flavor always coming through with every bite.

It was the other standout dish of the evening and apparently a recurring item on Chef Andre’s menu. 

TERROIR 



This portion of Octaphilosophy celebrates the gifts from the land. In this particular case, pigeon from Bresse (a region in southwest France which is famous for poultry) with tarragon, green peas and a Cevenne onion puree.

This was a classic display of wonderful plating and artistry, and undoubtedly distinct because of the variety of flavors.

DESSERT 



This was a degustation of chocolate, perfect for chocoholics.

We had a light and airy sponge cake; followed by a spicy chocolate chip with a dreamy vanilla bean ice cream; and then a perfect chocolate sphere with cacao from Trinidad in the Caribbean, with fromage blanc on the bottom.

Inside the sphere was warm chocolate lava made even more interesting by the fact that it was chilled from the outside.

COMPLETELY PERSONAL



This is Southeast Asia’s must-visit restaurant today, and Chef Andre is the culinary world’s poster boy and man-of-the-moment.

I know of no other top restaurant which closes when the chef is not around. He personally plates each dish that leaves the kitchen, and the artistry of the cooking is further influenced by his other skills as a painter and sculptor.

“There is only one Andre and people come here expecting him to cook for them,” Chef Andre himself said. This is what makes this place very exciting. Highly recommended. Book early, as he is at the top of every foodie’s list.

Restaurant Andre 
41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 
www.restaurantandre.com



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1 comment:

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    Matt Levine

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