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Posts from the ‘Chefs’ Category

Countdown to the second Singapore Michelin Guide

[UPDATE: One week to go until the second Michelin Guide Singapore is announced on June 29th 2017 at The Fullerton Hotel. The inaugural event was held at RW Sentosa and pundits were a little surprised when four of that venues restaurants were awarded Michelin stars. With the gala held at The Fullerton this year can we expect to see one the hotel’s eateries such as Jade awarded?

The evening will include a five course dinner with dishes created by the chefs Seita Nakahara of Terra, Singapore (one Michelin star), Jason Tan of Corner House, Singapore (one star), Tam Kwok Fung of Jade Dragon (two stars), Macau and Curtis Duffy of three Michelin starred Grace in Chicago. Read on for our thoughts on the current, 2016 list]

Six other establishments obtain two stars in this 2016 edition of the MICHELIN Singapore guide.jpg

Before the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore was launched on July 21st I was sure of two things: that at least one hawker stall would gain a star and that Joel Robuchon would be awarded three. The former because I could see the headlines about “the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant” pinging around the world (and so could Michelin, I’ll wager) and the latter because Robuchon tends to collect three Michelin stars around the globe as naturally as breathing.

And so, as you’ve probably heard, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle became the proud recipients of a Michelin star apiece while Joel Robuchon clocked up another three stars for his fine dining establishment in Singapore (read on for the full list). All announced, in a world first for Michelin, to much fanfare: a songstress in glitter crooning When You Wish Upon a Star and dancers in chefs uniforms waving giant forks and spoons.

Even the three star reveal had some drama: director Michael Ellis teased us at first that not every location was worthy of three Michelin stars before announcing he did indeed have a red envelope and that it was not empty.The departure of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants had left a restaurant awards ceremony shaped hole in Singapore. Asia’s 50 Best, an industry only event, debuted in Singapore three years ago and left for Bangkok this year amid rumours that the Singapore Tourism Board was cutting its funding.

Enter the Michelin Guide Singapore and its Gala Dinner Awards Ceremony – a new approach for the tyre company come publisher who usually simply announce the list at a press conference.The event was part sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board, who flew in media from around the world, and open to anyone who could pay SG$400 for a ticket. Much has been made of the price but Singapore is a city that flourishes on expensive “exclusive” events and the price is equal to what you’d expect to pay for dinner at many of the Michelin starred restaurants. Naturally there was no San Pellegrino or Acqua Panna in sight, the “official water partners” being Evian and Badoit.Three stars for the Joël Robuchon restaurant in Singapore-2 Joel Robuchon – the only three Michelin stars in Singapore

The food at the dinner was flagged up as by Joel Robuchon, owner of two restaurants at RW Sentosa, the “title partner” in whose convention space the Michelin awards were held. Robuchon, it was announced later that evening, was the recipient of two Michelin stars for L’atelier de Joel Robuchon and the coveted three for Joel Robuchon Restaurant – the only three star Michelin winner in Singapore. Two of the other restaurants openly given credit for catering the event – Forest and Osia – are also tenants of RW Sentosa. They both received one Michelin star.

We can only imagine how Marina Bay Sands, the rival casino and celebrity restaurant joint across town, are spitting (roulette) chips. They clocked up just two stars (as opposed to RW Sentosa’s total of seven) for Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda – two highly acclaimed restaurants.On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that whatever the talents of a hawker stall chef they could be on a par with these two establishments and many others on the one star list including Shinji by Kanesaka, Jaan and The Kitchen at Bacchanalia. And there were many on the bulging one star list that were equal to two. There were also some puzzling omissions. Where was the Tippling Club? Wild Rocket? Gunther’s? Saint Pierre? I could go on.

We have eaten at Joel Robuchon in Singapore and while the food was undoubtedly excellent there were a few snags. Two of the dishes that were brought to the table were not the ones I ordered and our waiter had no idea that there were wine pairings available – as written clearly on the menu. It’s not what I would describe as a three star experience however Michelin states: “The service levels have no bearing on the award.” That surprises me as I would have thought it’s a vital component of a restaurant “worth a special journey”. If anyone has an old copy of a European based Michelin Guide I’d love to know if includes the same criteria.

Here’s the list:

*** Three Stars

Joel Robuchon

** Two Stars


L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Les Amis


Shisen Hanten


*One Star


The Kitchen at Bacchanalia



Corner House

Crystal Jade Golden Palace



Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle


Lei Garden


Putien (Kitchener Road)


Shinji (Raffles hotel)

Shinji (St Regis)

Summer Pavillion

Sushi Ichi


The Song of India

Waku Ghin


[This article was originally posted in 2016.]

Back to Bombana


Chef Umberto Bombana is the recipient of Asia’s Best Restaurants’ Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

[UPDATE: Never let it be said that Chopstix isn’t prepared to admit changing our minds from time to time. On our recent return visit to 8 and a half Otto e Mezzo Bombana we were pleasantly surprised at the vast improvement in service. There seems to be a high ratio of staff to customers and the whole operation is now very slick. We’re still not sure about the 3 Michelin stars but nonetheless less, bravo Bombana. Read on for our original review.]

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Star Chefs on the Rise in Hong Kong

PG in Central (mid res)

Pierre Gagniere in Central, Hong Kong


Hong Kong is set for another influx of Western celebrity chefs as Yannick Alleno’s long awaited bistro, Terroir Parisien, is slated to open in Central this summer, Bjorn Frantzen has opened Frantzen’s Kitchen and Jean-Georges Vongerichten has returned to the city with Mercato. David Thompson and Wolfgang Puck are also thought to be searching for sites here. But Asian expansion doesn’t mean guaranteed success: Mario Batali’s Carnenvino has closed in Hong Kong, Gordon Ramsay shut his restaurant in Tokyo and both Guy Savoy and Jason Atherton shipped out of Singapore. So what makes some international restaurants thrive in foreign markets while others falter?

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Alain Ducasse revitalises Hong Kong presence with Rech restaurant

Rech by Alain Ducasee Interconti HK.jpg

Legendary chef Alain Ducasse’s first foray into food was not a runaway success. As a child growing up in France he would watch his grandmother cooking and aged about 11 he decided to make a chocolate roulade himself. “My grandmother let me attempt this, although I was not up to the task,” Ducasse recalls. “Chocolate ended up everywhere and in the end the cake did not resemble a roulade at all!”

Luckily for the culinary world Ducasse was not put off by his early endeavour. Last month saw the opening of his 25th restaurant worldwide. He has chosen Asia for the first international outpost of Rech Alain Ducasse, a French seafood restaurant replacing his Spoon concept at the Intercontinental hotel in Hong Kong.

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Is there a need for Best Female Chef awards?

Lanshu Chen at the pass

Asia’s Best Female Chef 2014 Lanshu Chen at Le Mout, Taiwan

[UPDATE: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 have been announced amid the usual controversy. Not least because of the lack of female chefs at the helm of restaurants on the list. Highlighted by the fact that the restaurant run by The World’s Best Female Chef 2017, Ana Ros, doesn’t even make it onto the World’s 50 Best restaurants list. (Hisa Franko in Slovenia is number 69 on the “long list”).

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards are no better. Lanshu Chen of Le Mout in Taiwan remains the only recipient of the Asia’s Best Female Chef accolade to be (sole) head chef of a restaurant that’s also recognised as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. While Bo.Lan in Bangkok which consistently makes the top 50 is helmed by another previous winner, Bo Songvisava, she does so with her husband Dylan Jones (the “Lan” in Bo.Lan).

This year’s Asia’s Best Female Chef May Chow’s eatery, Little Bao in Hong Kong, doesn’t feature in the top 50, neither did any of the restaurants overseen by last years’ winner Margarita Fores of the Philippines or the Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong run by Vicky Lau, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015.

Which begs the question, is there any point in naming a Best Female Chef if their restaurants are not deemed good enough to be voted one of the Best 50 Restaurants? Or is it further proof that more spotlight on and awareness about female chefs is needed?]

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