Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Awards ceremony saluted Tetsuya Wakuda with the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award - Asia 2015. Tetsuya's name alone inspires respect for what he has done to modern Japanese cuisine on an international level, expertly combining the best seasonal produce with French techniques and ingredients to strike a delicate balance between both cuisines.

I had the extreme privilege of being invited to meet with Chef Tetsuya at his Singapore restaurant Waku Ghin, for dinner and a peek inside his kitchen.

The gentle and soft spoken chef remains as down-to-earth as ever. He smiles almost sheepishly as he says, "This kind of award is usually given to someone who has put in many years and is ready to retire. But I am not ready to retire yet."

Tetsuya spoke about his passions, hopes and what inspires him - it was insightful to hear the chef elaborate on what is important for young chefs. I condensed that into a feature on Yahoo Makanation.

But seeing the Waku Ghin kitchen at Marina Bay Sands was an adventure in itself. This is where the culinary magic begins.

The meticulously clean kitchen is stunning and orderly, as can be expected.

These look like industrial grade induction burners. It seems they do not use gas here.

There's a charcoal grill though, which is just fantastic especially for sumiyaki items (you'll see one in the dinner photos later).


The pastry section where lovely confections come to life is in a separate area from the cooking kitchen.

At Waku Ghin, the dining areas are all divided into four private little alcoves that seat about five to six persons. This is the largest one at the back with probably up to eight seats. At any one time, there are no more than 25 covers. You have one chef dedicated to the entire session for dinner, and then you adjourn to a special area for dessert.

Let's take a look at the 10-course degustation menu. This is my third time dining here, and the signature items remain the same but other dishes may rotate.

We started with some Gillardeau oysters, dressed in a killer ponzu dressing.

As usual the chef will present the day's seafood bounty in an amazing display - this includes Hokkaido uni, Tasmania abalone, and Canadian lobster.

Tuna carpaccio with endives 
The small bitter salad is a pleasant crunchy accompaniment to the smooth tuna.

Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin from Hokkaido and Oscietra Caviar
This is the one dish that is most recognisably Tetsuya's creation. The decadent triumvirate is nothing short of sublime; every bite is a creamy burst of tastebud bliss.

Slow Cooked Amadai with Black Truffle
I loved the way they did the amadai (tile fish). Sweet, warm, tender flesh doused with a super savoury broth topped most generously with earthy truffle shavings.


Steamed Alaskan King Crab with Lemon-scented Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Every dish is cooked or finished off at the iron griddle in front of the diners. It's a lovely way to whet the appetite as you see your food being prepared. These king crab legs get a high heat salt bake and steam bath that just brings their best flavours.


Tasmania Abalone with Fregola and Tomato
Another stellar dish which will even have people who usually don't like abalone (like me) raving. It's not easy to cook abalone right, but they nail it each time. The succulent and tender, only lightly chewy (not rubbery). The fregola pasta and fresh cherry tomatoes from France make a nice base.

You'll see that chef uses quite a bit of ingredients from Tasmania. He was searching for great produce and fell in love with what Tasmania had to offer.

Braised Canadian Lobster with Tarragon
This also seem to be a regular dish and it always packs an umami punch. The gravy is so good, you'll want to mop it all up. And they thoughtfully provide a small bread roll for you to do so.

I love breads and this is probably one of the most delicious rolls ever, with the thin and crisp exterior hugging the soft bread within.


Charcoal Grilled Fillet of Tasmanian Grass-fed Beef with Tetsuya's Wasabi Mustard
This (highly coveted!) Cape Grim wagyu beef tenderloin is not always on the menu, but when it is, oh count yourself lucky! The beef is first charcoal broiled sumiyaki-style, and finished off on the griddle with soy and mirin giving it a caramelised glaze.

And it looks like we have not one, but two beef dishes tonight. Look at the marbling of that A5 Japanese Ohmi wagyu. It's from Shiga prefecture. It only needs a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Our chef was Chris. We learned that they train about six months to a year before graduating to serve at the tables. And not all of them make it, because you not only have to be able to cook, you have to be able to engage the guests in conversation, and answer any questions they have. They truly are amazing. In all my three visits, I have never seen any chef get stumped. In fact, they are able to elaborate in fascinating detail about ingredients, so it becomes a great learning experience too. It's so refreshing to feed your mind as well!

Japanese Ohmi Wagyu Roll with Wasabi and Citrus Soy 
The beef is just lightly seared on the outside. You get to play with different flavour combinations - scallions, ponzu, wasabi, and garlic chips (I love these).

The Tasmanian wasabi we learned is cultivated by Tetsuya.

Chris also tells us more about why sharkskin graters for wasabi are preferred. Metal graters tend to tear the fibers and makes the wasabi more pungent. Plus it oxidizes faster with exposure to metal. Also, it is better to grate using circular movements rather than a straight up-and-down pattern.

I'm just agog at the size of the wasabi roots!

Truffle Rice
More decadence. There's almost as much truffle as there is rice. What a gorgeous mouthful of silken rice that's absorbed seriously good stock.

Gyukuro tea from Kyoto
Before dessert, we are served an exquisite green tea.

Gyukuro tea is special in that during the last two weeks of fermentation, it is covered from the sun so that it releases tannins that taste like seaweed. The young leaves are laid out to dry in sunlight, and not oven-baked in oven. This particular blend is made specially for the restaurant. Too bad they don't sell it, but it seems Takashimaya has other brands of Gyukuro tea available.

After the eighth course, we head to the area at the back for dessert. The full wall of glass windows facing the Marina Bay makes a breathtaking backdrop.

The highly prized Japanese musk melon as palate cleanser. Ambrosial with so many layers of fragrant aromas. This was almost my favourite item on the menu. I felt myself healing and detoxifying just eating this.

Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla and Macadamia, coated with a high gloss ganache. Stunning dessert. I'm pretty picky about chocolate, but this one blows my mind every time.


If you still have room, the petit four and chocolate truffles along with coffee or tea are the perfect sweet ending to the much lauded Waku Ghin dining experience.

We also had wines paired with the dishes throughout the dinner. I did not drink, so I forgot to note which wine went with which dish.

N.V. Billecart-Salmon Rose Brut
Masuizumi Platinum Nama for Tetsuya's
2010 Pierro Chardonnay Special for Tetsuya Margaret River Australian
2008 La Velona Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
2011 Josefina Piñol Grenache Blanc Terra Alta, Spain

Check out my story on Yahoo too.

I love how Tetsuya underlines for chefs the importance of being grounded by a passion for eating. Cooking you can learn from anywhere, but your own palate is something only you can develop yourself.

Waku Ghin itself is ranked no.9 on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list for 2015.

Level 2-01, Atrium 2
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
Open daily for dinner
Two Seatings 5:30pm + 8:00pm
10-course degustation menu
Tel: +65 6688 8507

The Bar at Waku Ghin
5:30pm till late (Last order 1:30am)
(No reservations required for the bar.)

Heartfelt thanks to Chef Tetsuya and the Waku Ghin team for their hospitality, and to Diners Club International and GolinHarris for the invitation

Friday, March 27, 2015


SAVOUR 2015 is happening right now (26-29 March) at the F1 Pit Building (1 Republic Boulevard). I popped by the opening night yesterday and was pretty amazed at some of the food (see full menu here). I thought I could try it all, since it's bite-size portions, but gosh, even I had to surrender after about 7-8 stalls. It's deceptively filling, those little portions, but what a joy to be able try so many gourmet offerings from big names and boutique stores all in one place.

One of the generous platters that probably did me in...from UNA at One Rochester we have the seafood paella, suckling pig and smoked mash. Much thanks to chef Jean Philippe Patruno, whom you see in the first photo, with the absolutely divine paella.

Next to UNA is Stellar, its sister restaurant.


Truffle Toro Miso: Tuna belly, truffled white miso, ginger flower
I've never had otoro so well-dressed before. Nice.


The Stellar Meat Platter truly lives up to its name!
Kobe Ribeye Marbling 9
Slow Cooked US Short Rib with smokey eggplant, crunchy cauliflower
Kurobuta Pork Crackles with apple puree, apple and pear jelly

They also have Ice Cream Sables in unusual flavours like Bay leaf and lemon, but I prefer the Roasted Hazelnut. Also try the Stellar Brain Freeze: a slushie made with Grand Marnier, Belvedere vodka, pink guava and framboise.

I was very glad to see our local chefs there too. Ming Tan (formerly of Lolla) has started Park Bench Deli and Bjorn Shen of Artichoke and Bird Bird share a booth right near the entrance. Here's Chef Bjorn Shen dishing out Bird Bird's Chicken Skin Sundae: a most curious concoction of Milk Ice Cream, Salted Palm Sugar Butterscotch, Corn, Peanuts, Coq Scratchings...I do love crispy chicken skin!

I am very excited to see what Ming will do with Park Bench Deli (New York style deli sandwiches?). But for now, we tried his Corn-flake Crusted Peanut Butter & Jelly creation. Wow. It's like two breakfasts in one. Great textural contrast.

Lightly Steamed Sea Bass, Furikake, Fragrant Fish Head Sauce
This is from Garagistes, Australia, one of the four overseas restaurants here. Very nicely steamed fish, but the furikake feels a bit like cheating. Because, well, furikake makes everything tastes good! Even natto!


Here's Bo Innovation, and I was surprised to see Chef Alvin Leung personally here!

The booth offers his famous Molecular Buns; Bo Shrimp Toast with Salted Egg Puree & Truffles, and...


Cuttlefish Balls with Kaffir Lime Mayo
This one came recommended. I was at first sceptical. Sotong balls? How special can that be? But wow, the kaffir lime mayo really gave this an incredible aromatic lift. Some lemongrass in it too, I'm sure.

Stunning ensemble from KU DE TA, all very moreish:
Pork Belly Lollipop with Apple Jelly
Angus Beef with Apple Balsamic Teriyaki, Wasabi Salsa
Duck Breast Sous Vide with Cauliflower Puree, Spicy Yuzu Miso


Oh the KU DE TA Swordfish Sashimi with Truffles and Ikura, Baby Squid with Black Pepper Sauce and Shishito also looked really good! Even better than their menu photo.


Spathe's Signature Garlic Fries are a must-have if you love fries and hate vampires.


At &SONS, how do you choose between Linguine with Crab, Nduja; Lobster Mac & Cheese; and Foie Gras, Smoked Pancetta Chilli, Potato Mousse & Truffle?

There are many other restaurants I didn't get to try - you can see the full list here.


It's pretty nice dining al fresco here with the Singapore Flyer in view. We were lucky it was a cool and breezy night. Kind of reminds me of the inaugural World Street Food Congress which was held here (see my post here). This year it's going to be back but at the Tan Quee Lan Street stretch of grassland near the Bugis MRT. Very exciting stuff lined up, and more goodies from all over the world to eat!


It's not too late to book a session. You can do so online (closes 24 hours before the session) or at the door. Prices and details are as follows:

Friday: 5.30pm to 10.30pm
Saturday: 11.30am to 3.30pm; 5.30pm to 10.30pm
Sunday: lunch has been cancelled to allow staff to pay respects to Lee Kuan Yew (existing ticket holders can go to any other session in lieu)
5.30pm to 10.30pm

Tickets online:
LUNCH   S$60 with 30 SAVOUR Dollars Back
DINNER  S$65 with 30 SAVOUR Dollars Back

Tickets at the door:
LUNCH   S$70 with 30 SAVOUR Dollars Back
DINNER  S$75 with 30 SAVOUR Dollars Back

If you have a DBS/POSB debit or credit card, you get 10% off. You can also pay for SAVOUR dollars at the event without using cash. Also check out their app where you can Spin to win with every purchase of S$50.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Yes, Easter is coming soon - another nice long weekend. Brewerkz has a special Easter Sunday lunch from 12 noon to 3pm at Riverside Point.

Adults (S$38++) get a three course meal with appetizer, main courses of beef, chicken, lamb or salmon, a delectable Easter dessert and a pint of handcrafted beer.

Kids get to enjoy the Easter playground which is back by popular demand. At only $19++, they get Crispy Fish Bites or a Cheese Burger, choice of soda, homemade Cookie & cream milkshake and exclusive entry to the Easter Playground! Sculpt imaginary friends along with Mr. Balloonist, get creative with fun colouring activities and jump around in a massive inflatable Bouncy Castle!


I have a set of four lunches for a family (two adults, two kids) to give away (worth S$128). Just go to my Facebook fanpage post here, and follow the simple steps to like and share:

Deadline is noon, 31 March 2015. Results will be announced on that post, and the winner notified via Facebook. Contest is open to residents of Singapore (unless you happen to be in town and are able to go to Brewerkz that day!)

Easter Sunday Roast Menu @ $38++ (Adults)

Includes: An appetizer, 1 main course, dessert & a pint of handcrafted Beer

Cream of Mushroom
Caesar Salad

MAIN COURSE (Choose 1)
All served with Spinach & Fennel Salad, Corn on the Cob, Caramelized Carrots & Marble Potatoes

Chicken Roulade
Stuffed with Mushrooms, Bell Peppers & Onions, served with creamy mushroom sauce

Sunday Beef Roast
Roasted and rich in flavour, accompanied with homemade mushroom demi-glace

Roast Lamb
Served with Chimichurri sauce

Salmon with Salsa Verde
Cooked sous-vide then pan seared and topped with salsa verde

Cookies & Cream Milkshake

Easter Sunday Kids @ $19++

includes: Choice of soda and Cookie & cream milkshake

Crispy Fish Bites
Served with fries & tartar sauce


Cheese Burger
Served with fries

For reservations, call +65 6438 7438.

Thanks to Brewerkz for the giveaway. All photos courtesy of Brewerkz Singapore. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quite a few of my friends are happily using the Entertainer 2015 app, which gives you 1-for-1 deals at over 250 merchants in Singapore (see full list here). Dining, spa, travel and leisure activities - imagine halving your costs for these!

Check out my previous post for more details on the mechanics

The app is FREE to TRY; it gives you a few offers you can redeem within 14 days.
If you like it, you can unlock over 1,000 vouchers for just S$60

Please use my code 2015CAM to get 10% off this S$60!

If you go out a few times or have a big group of friends, you can already start seeing savings from the first month!

In fact, here are 10 of the best (IMHO) tapas/small plates and drinks spots you can hit with the Entertainer, along with the estimated savings. There are 3 vouchers per merchant; you can use them throughout the year singly or stack up to 4 vouchers at the same time for up to 8 people or more when you combine vouchers with a friend.

&SONS has many things going for it - a cocktail and wine bar, salami bar, cheese room and Italian kitchen. They aim to replicate the feel of Venice's bacaros with the convivial environment, artisanal Italian small plates and sleek cocktails. Redeem two small plates (about S$29).

26 Tapas Bar dishes out an East meets West twist to Spanish cuisine. Besides the small plates, there are also thin-crust pizza and pasta choices which you can pair with Archipelago draught beers. Redeem main menu item (about S$19).

B-Bar at Bacchanalia is a contemporary bar housed in an old landmark building. Similarly the team blends both old world and new with their take on forgotten classics. Food is also a key part of the experience. Redeem main menu item (about S$24).

Bitters & Love is a specialty cocktail bar tucked behind Shoebox Canteen. Bar snacks include tender Rangers Valley wagyu and triple cooked handcut truffle potatoes. Redeem main menu item (about S$19).


Charlie's Paradiso has an extensive list of whiskey and cigars. It offers varied tapas as well as the raved about BBQ Glazed Ribs. Spoon into their lounge sofas and let the sensory indulgence begin. Redeem main course (about S$29).

Charlie's Tapas Grill and Bar fuses Latin and Spanish flavours in its tapas and sangrias, right by the Singapore River. Try the signature Baby Back Pork Ribs along with a margarita. Redeem main course (about S$19).

Leopold is a brand new tapas, cocktail and wine bar that's styled like a bistro. The 35-seater owned by Austrian mixologist and chef Klaus Leopold offers European finger food, daily man course specials, German beer, Austrian snacks and drinks, house cocktails and wines from all over. Redeem main menu item (aout S$15).

The Mad Men is THE place to hang out after work. There's always stellar live music along with the savoury bar tapas and well-priced drinks. The bar is fun, modern and industrialist in design, and has a great view of the Marina Bay skyline. Redeem main menu item (about S$19).

Middle Rock Garden Bar at Bishan Park is a lush oasis away from the concrete jungle. Relax with selected fine wines and signature tapas. Redeem main course (about S$19).

If you're hankering for Japanese fare, check out Kinki Rooftop Bar. You'll love the custom made cocktails made with fresh and premium ingredients from Japan, and the well-stocked bar of Japanese spirits and international selections. The edgy graffiti and urban artwork is a great backdrop for the house and acid jazz. Redeem main menu item (about S$19).

There are so many others - nearly 30 bars alone in the app - KPO Cafe Bar, Skyve Wine Bistro, The Jolly Roger, Squires and Scoundrels, The Wallich, Mariko's, Fern & Kiwi Bar, and so on. Download the app and have a look around. You can also search for your favourite cuisine, area, mall or hotel.

The Entertainer Singapore app is available on  iOSAndroidWinPhoneSamsung and Blackberry platforms. Start saving today!

Remember to use my code 2015CAM to get 10% off!

This post is brought to you by the Entertainer.

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