The much awaited L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Joël Robuchon Restaurant opened today at Resort World Sentosa. With 26 Michelin stars in his restaurant empire, Joël Robuchon is one of the most anticipated names to enter the Singapore culinary scene. We were especially excited after he revealed in his Oct 2010 visit the exact concepts he would launch here.
Both restaurants will showcase haute French cuisine and some of Robuchon's most popular signature dishes. There may also be some new creations inspired by local ingredients and culture. There is a strong focus on the best and freshest produce available, using Robuchon-developed techniques.
Yesterday we had the privilege of taking a look at the brand new restaurants. Joël Robuchon welcomed the media to a press briefing, tour and preview lunch. We are the first to step into and eat here, he says.
A custom-built premise houses both restaurants. A reception parlour leads to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon on the left side, and Joël Robuchon Restaurant on the right. The extensive wine cellar (with some 1,200 wine labels) is in between.
The Joël Robuchon Restaurant is very fine indeed. The 54-seater is elegantly furnished and exudes opulent distinction. Robuchon wanted it to be like a dream family dining room in an art decor style hotel. The place is at once cosy and grand. Plush textures give a comfortable feel, and designer pieces add luxurious class.
The Joël Robuchon Restaurant also aims to offer the quality of service of a three Michelin-star restaurant, similar to its branches in Las Vegas, Paris and Tokyo. Besides a la carte selections, there are various set menus (S$145++ to S$290++) and multi-course degustation menus (S$485++). They will also have the famous bread, cheese, dessert, ice-cream and tea trolleys that will absolutely spoil the guests.
One of the highlights here is The Winter Garden, which houses a huge tree in the centre of a sunlit room. It is flanked by two walls lined with planters to mirror even more greenery. This room is perfect for small gatherings of up to 16 persons.
Here is Guillaume Anglade (left), Restaurant Manager for Joël Robuchon Restaurant, with Executive Chef Tomonori Danzaki. Guillaume was previously at the one Michelin starred Yoshi (Robuchon's only Japanese fine-dining brand) in Monaco.
Chef Danzaki is a real gem. He has been with the Robuchon family for nearly 17 years now, and he is well-known to be a perfectionist. He was executive chef with the Le Château de Joël Robuchon (three Michelin star rating) and was part of its pre-opening team in 1994. Then he went on to launch Joël Robuchon Restaurant (also rated three stars) in MGM Grand, Las Vegas in 2005. Seven years later, we're pleased to have him back in Asia. He will oversee both restaurants here, and helm the Joël Robuchon Restaurant.
Over at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, it's a much more convivial atmosphere with dramatic pizzazz. Striking red and black furnishings form the signature Atelier look designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon.
A long, almost circular counter is all that separates guests and the open kitchen. It seats 28 around its counter and 24 at tables. There is deliberately greater interaction between staff and guests.
L'Atelier combines the simplicity of Japanese cuisine with the vibrance of Spanish tapas bars. There are a la carte selections (S$17-80) and even degustation-sized dishes you can choose. Whether it's just one dish or a full dinner, the atmosphere is much more relaxed.
L'Atelier means "workshop" and the place is much like an artist's studio. Sophisticated, colourful and vibrant - I think Robuchon understood the trend of more casual but chic dining joints for the newer generation, when he came out of retirement to create L'Atelier.
Everything here is very open. There is not even a glass wall separating the show kitchen like in some places. You can watch chefs prepare your meal right before your eyes, and the chefs can watch you enjoy the meal.
At the press briefing, Joël Robuchon introduced his key staff for both restaurants. He has plucked some of his best talent from his restaurants worldwide to anchor the team in Singapore.
Besides his long time partners (upper right) who shadow him everywhere, he's also got talent who have served in key places elsewhere. Antonio Benites (upper left) was previously executive chef at Pierre Hermé and also excelled at Ladurée. He will prepare desserts and pastries for both restaurants.
You've already met Guillaume Anglade and Chef Danzaki (middle row). Robuchon teased Guillaume for being so good-looking that in Monaco, he had as many customers coming to see him as much as for the food.
On the Atelier side, we have Chef de Cuisine Lorenz Hoja (bottom left) who heads up the kitchen. Diego Requena (bottom right) is Restaurant Manager, and he has led several L'Atelier restaurants worldwide since 2003.
And now, time for lunch!
We were presented a menu personally autographed by Mr Robuchon - it was like unfolding a treasure map. The 8-course degustation menu looked good on paper, but words alone cannot convey what art we were about to experience.
First up, a bread basket, baked inhouse by Baker Chef Yoshihiko Tauchi. Apparently the bread is famous too. I liked them. Crusty baguettes and rolls. The semi-croissant-like "escargot" is buttery and fragrant.
fine royal de foies blonds au vin de porto, en écume parmesane
Foie gras custard with red Porto wine and parmesan foam
The first thing to meet our lips pretty much set the tone for the rest of the meal. Well, it was the first "oh my god" moment (several more to come). Normally I'm leery of foam-based food, but this parmesan foam packed a punch in terms of flavour. The foie gras custard was also incredible. And when taken together, everything just sang.
We had a selection of marvellous wines to go with the food. Here's the Sancerre blanc Domaine Vacheron 2010 for the next two dishes. A young wine, very light and refreshing.
méli-mélo du jardin à l'huile vierge et sumac
Méli-Mélo of tomato, l'huile vierge and sumac
Five different types of tomatoes - all tasting like little miracles. The sprinkle of olive tapenade in the background is tasty too. The edible flowers are such a pretty touch.
en papillote croustillante au basilic
Crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto
Doesn't this just look like a goldfish floating by? It is so lovely to look at. The crispy brick phyllo wrapper was a little more greasy than I would have liked, but the langoustine inside was sublime. It tasted like lobster, but had the texture of scallop!
verte en brochette à l'oeuf de caille (miroir) aux morilles
Green asparagus skewer with quail egg (sunny side up) and morels
So delicious were the sauces that blanketed the lusciously fragrant morels and the grilled asparagus, that I could not help but stealthily mop some up with bread! Eat a little bit of everything together, and you'll find it is all so comfortingly good! I especially loved the morels.
long en soupe chaude à l'huile d'agrumes
Daikon velouté flavoured with citrus oil
Move over, chicken soup, this is what is good for the soul! This is so smooth and delicate, with a pleasing hint of daikon (Japanese white radish). The citrus oil delivers a surprisingly strong tang.
en filet dorée au curcuma, petits poireaux au gingembre
Fillet of sole with turmeric, ginger and baby leeks
The food is presented so beautifully, I just have to marvel at it for a few moments and take in the aromas. Interestingly, this fish had a "QQ" texture, firm and bouncy (but not rubbery). They are careful not to over-marinade the fish, lest its natural flavours be destroyed. The Asian influence shows in the use of turmeric.
farcie de foie gras, et caramélisée avec une purée de pommes de terre
Foie-gras filled free-range quail with mashed potatoes
The quail is (of course) imported from France, and marinated in a soy-based sauce. Note the pinch of salad behind it? That has amazing flavours on its own, and when mixed with the rest. I notice the pattern of different food elements (usually three) which taste wonderful on their own, but when combined produce a party of flavours in your mouth.
And yes, that's a dollop of the famous Robuchon pommes de terre - mashed potatoes so smooth yet thick, rich and creamy. I think the secret is cheese. Lots of cream, butter and cheese!
We had a red wine to go with the quail. The Chateau Tour Seran 2004 en magnum is specially bottled for Joël Robuchon. Wine sommelier for L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Michael Leitner is very friendly and always made sure we were well seen to. He is one of the four sommeliers, the other three serve the Joël Robuchon Restaurant.
Dessert was served with Jurançon Clos Uroulat 2009, a most delightful dessert wine with a golden hue.
LES PARFUM DE ILES
crémeaux aux fruits de la passion, granité au rhum, onctuosité à la noix de coco
Smooth passion fruit, rum granite, light coconut foam
The beautifully named Le Parfum de Iles is almost too pretty to eat. The coconut foam is light as air, but its fragrance is the perfect partner for the strong rum. Mix it all together with the passion fruit and you have a beautiful symphony.
surprise au chocolate ivoire, acidulé aux framboises
The Sphere coated with ivory chocolate and tangy raspberries
If you love your desserts boldly sweet and tangy, you will keep coming back for this fabulous treat. They pour hot raspberry coulis onto the sphere, and the white chocolate shell melts to reveal whole, juicy raspberries within, smothered with creamy white chocolate custard. This raspberry bomb is also available a la carte at S$23++.
Tea or coffee escorted by sweets. The coffee is also unique - it's a Suzuki blend that's special to Joël Robuchon. The chocolates and marshmallows (rose-flavoured!) are quite sweet but addictive. We also got some macarons (and more chocolates) as a giveaway. The macarons are some of the nicest I've had! They are proof that macarons don't need to be so sweet to be good. Well, the pastry chef does include Pierre Hermé and Ladurée in his pedigree.
The service throughout the meal was very pleasant. The L'Atelier assistant manager Isaac also fed us tidbits of information about the dishes that helped us appreciate them more.
I also have to say this was one French fine-dining meal that left us very full!
The grand entrance all dressed up for the opening. With this, Singapore now boasts two more venues that place it on the gourmet dining map.
Congratulations to Robuchon and his team on the official launch of his two restaurants here. I am incredibly honoured to have been part of the "guinea pig" contingent to sample the exquisite creations that are sheer culinary art. Thank you also, Resort World Sentosa and Weber Shandwick for the invitation.
JOEL ROBUCHON RESTAURANT
L'ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON
Resort World Sentosa
(near Universal Studios and the Waterfront Monorail station)
For reservations, either call or email
Tel: +65 6577-7888
Currently only open for dinner 5.30pm to 11pm (10.30pm last order)
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon is open daily (dress code: smart casual)
Joël Robuchon Restaurant is open Tues-Sat only (dress code: smart elegant)