It should be of little surprise that G and I would choose Japanese for our “last date night meal in the foreseeable future.”  While we have never tried Goto, recommendations from a few trusted sources convinced us that this might be the closest to dining in Japan that we would experience locally.  Other convincing factors include: the chef/owner, Goto Hisao, is the former chef of the Japanese Ambassador, and as a geek, how could I possibly pass on a restaurant named thusly.   Skipping to the conclusion: we were very impressed.  While dinner here is not cheap, if you’re in the mood for high class kaiseki- this is the place to visit.

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Wild Honey

Wild Honey is reminiscent of a local hipster coffee shop replete with deep sofa-chairs and the latest trendy design magazines for your perusal.  Their specialty is serving breakfast items from around the world all-day.  While the food may not be mind-blowing fantastic or truly “authentic”, the dishes that we’ve tried so far have mostly been satisfying.  The one big drawback is due to the cafe’s relative size, it gets packed early.  By 10am on the weekends, expect at least a 20 min wait.

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Restaurant André

If there is one must-try restaurant in Singapore, it’s André.  Do yourself a favor and eschew the fine-dining “chain” establishments at MBS and RWS.  Instead, try a place that is uniquely Singaporean and deservedly world-class.  The New York Times recently listed Restaurant André as one of their 10 restaurants worth a plane ride, and it is also one of only 3 restaurants from Singapore on the top 100 list.  Despite having been opened for some time, the restaurant still commands a 4 week reservation time.  The wait however is more than worth it as André is the epitome of what fine dining should be – personal, flawless, and memorable.

The restaurant is a cozy 30-seater that only accommodates one service each evening since the 10-course meal can last 3+ hours.  There are no set menu options, but as our party of four experienced, dishes can be substituted or adjusted quite radically on demand.  The service here leans more towards warm and casual, always present but never a distraction. Towards the end of the evening, Chef André makes the rounds, spending time chit chatting with the diners and happily answering questions.  Even though there were other diners around, the personal attention from chef and staff made us feel like we were the only guests that evening.

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G and I have a fondness for mom and pop restaurants.  Back home, we had Tekka, run by an elderly Japanese couple in their sixties.  While we’ve come across a few places like that here, none have made an impression quite like Ooi.  The restaurant is run by an adorably friendly obasan with her chef husband, the creator of straightforward and downright tasty meals.  It might just be our new favorite (but pricey) spot for a good Japanese home-cooked meal.

Hidden in the basement of Cuppage Plaza, it’s unlikely that one would happen to stumble upon Ooi.  This could explain why it’s filled predominantly by regulars, and why we were the only new faces that evening.  It’s a small restaurant, seating maybe 20 people.  The wife, Hiromi-san, alternates serving dishes, chatting with the guests and taking shots of shochu.  Fortunately, she has two other staff to ensure that food is promptly served and drinks always filled.

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Michael Ginor – WGS 2011

Apologies for the dark and blurry photos.  My DSLR doesn’t exactly fit in a suit pocket, and the dim lighting at the Amara Sanctuary on Sentosa was not so S95 friendly.  This World Gourmet Summit event had one of the most interesting meals, food-wise, that I’ve had in quite a while, made even more amazing given the size of the dining crowd and the relative complexity of the courses.  The meal was almost a perfectly executed banquet feast by guest Chef Michael Ginor, co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and chef/owner of LOLA, New York.

The occasion, umm… well it doesn’t really matter.  It was a fête that I had the opportunity of attending instead of G.  There was a long ceremony at the start involving the well-heeled in a scene that I can best describe as: the Free Masons threw a party and invited the “party
-goers from Eyes Wide Shut.  This lasted well over an hour… and no food was served.  Fortunately for us, we had unwittingly stood near the kitchen entrance before the start of the event and were treated to first choice of all of the mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres.

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Absinthe (Restaurant Francais)

G and I dined at Absinthe a few months after it had opened.  That meal was one of our most memorable dining experiences in Singapore thus far.  So, we were excited to have an opportunity to return as well as introduce T & A (A’s review here) to “that French place” that I had raved about forever.

Our second visit, while enjoyable, didn’t quite have the impact or warmth as the first.  Like most other restaurants in Singapore, popularity can change a place, seldom for the better.  Gone is the amazing hospitality that G and I first experienced, replaced by remarkably efficient yet cold and distant service.  So much so, that the staff hardly said a single word to us the entire evening (not even bothering to explain each course), yet they diligently refilled our water and addressed our few dining issues quickly and graciously.  While I can no longer recommend Absinthe for remarkable service, the food is still quite good, well thought-out and executed.

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The French Kitchen

G and I were in the mood for French when I remembered a tucked away restaurant near my old office.  The lunch menu looked interesting and the reviews generally positive.  Curiosity is as good a reason to try a restaurant, and voila! A new (old) place that we can recommend for lunch.  It’s always a treat to dine at places that for one reason or another are no longer in the limelight, but still produce good meals.  The crowd wasn’t in force when we visited, perhaps a victim of location, but it was nice to have a cosy lunch for two.

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Capricci serves up an amazingly succulent and tender 1.2 kg prime rib á la florentine that you can cut with a butter knife (which they provide for this dish).  But this isn’t the only reason to bring a group of friends to this cosy yet upscale eatery.  Upon entering, you are likely to be warmly welcomed by the owner, Massimo, while Chef Luca personally takes your order, just a touch of traditional Italian hospitality.  Likewise, the staff here have also been well-trained and are efficient and friendly.  Finishing up the trifecta of reasons to visit is the very reasonable pricing for the meal offered.

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One thing that G and I miss from San Fran is the plethora of taquerias and taco trucks.  There’s nothing quite so tasty as a juicy carne asada taco with a side of fresh pico de gallo and a lime.  So when we had some uncooked tenderloin, I thought to whip us up a reminder of home.  Since G prefers a bit more “ingredients”, I decided to make fajitas instead.  The most important components for a good fajita (to us) are the guacamole, pico de gallo, and of course the carne asada.  Other nice-to-haves include sauteed onions and bell peppers, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Carne Asada

Typically a cheaper cut of beef, namely flank steak, is used since the marinade will soften the meat after a few hours.  No Recipes has a great recipe, especially if you plan to use it for tacos, check it out here.  Since I’m making fajitas and will have salsa and guacamole, I prefer to use a simpler marinade. Continue reading »

Lunch @ Aoki

“We don’t serve sake” was the polite response from our waitress to G’s request of no tuna, salmon (or other large fish).  While salmon has now surpassed horse mackerel (aji) as the most consumed fish in Japan, it is not historically served raw.  This was a pleasant surprise in that Aoki didn’t favor current trends over tradition.  We had heard plenty of positive reviews about the restaurant and so far we were off to a good start.  But since this was a “first date” of sorts, G and I decided to sample their lunch menu and see if it warranted a return visit for dinner.

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