This review was first published in The Sunday Times on May 22, 2011.
Since the opening of the two integrated resorts last year, attention has been focused more on the celebrity restaurants in Marina Bay Sands than those in Resorts World Sentosa.
With world-renowned chefs such as Tetsuya Wakuda and Daniel Boulud helming the Sands restaurants, Resorts World’s Osia and Kunio Tokuoka were simply overshadowed.
But the opening of fine-dining Joel Robuchon Restaurant about three weeks ago, together with the more casual L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, is bound to change that.
Chef Joel Robuchon is, after all, one of the top names in the gastronomy world right now, owning 22 restaurants around the world with a total of 26 Michelin stars. But what will put Resorts World on the gourmet map is that the Singapore restaurant definitely lives up to his name.
JOEL ROBUCHON RESTAURANT
8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa, Hotel Michael, Level 1, tel: 65777-8888
Open: 530 to 11pm (last order at 10.30pm) daily
Price: Fixed price menus range from $145 to $290. Degustation menu is $485
It boasts one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the country, with a stunning chandelier, lush flower arrangements and an inner room with a garden theme that includes a tree and its own herb garden. On the tables are Baccarat crystal tealight stands in the shape of table lamps and Christofle cutlery.
There are three menus. Besides a la carte, which is presented only on request, you can go for either the $485 degustation menu or the fixed price menu, which offers a selection of starters, main courses and desserts at prices ranging from $145 for three courses to $290 for seven courses.
The degustation menu has 16 courses and is recommended as the most representative of Robuchon’s culinary style, which appealed to my three dining companions and me.
Sixteen courses add up to quite a lot of food, so I’d suggest you go on a very empty stomach. Besides, the restaurant also serves a wide range of breads, which are rolled to your table on a cart – and you would want to taste them all. They are amazing, especially the brioches with fillings and flavours such as bacon, saffron and basil.
As for the meal itself, it is not the best I’ve had in Singapore but there are many highlights that make it worthwhile.
But the next time, I would opt for a smaller and cheaper menu. As not every of the 16 courses are to my liking, I may as well skip some and save some money.
The duck foie gras and young bamboo shoots is one dish I will pass on. The contrast between the soft liver and the hard bamboo shoot is just too stark, and the flavours are not very complementary.
I will also skip the pan-fried scallop, described in the menu as being “invigorated” by a kumquat seasoning. The scallop is fine but the seasoning fails to arouse any strong reaction. Ten minutes after eating the dish, I’d forgotten what it tasted like.
But there are many wonderful dishes.
Top on my list is the first course called Le Caviar. It is described in the menu as caviar in a coral infusion served as a surprise, but there is really no surprise since the server tells you exactly what it is – a blanket of oscietra caviar over a crabmeat salad and a layer of lobster gelee. There is enough caviar to justify a big part of the dinner’s price, and the combined flavours of the fish eggs and shellfish evoke such pleasurable sensations of the sea.
Then there is La Tomate, a salad of tomato, basil-infused olive oil and tomato gelee topped with dots of mozzarella. The ingredients may not cost as much but the way the dish is presented is pure art. The colourless gelee is served in a dish with a black bottom, tricking the eye into seeing it as a black jelly with white dots of cheese on top, which are in turn dotted with basil and tomato. Taste-wise, it is just as lovely, with the pure essence of tomato in the gelee and a thick slice of the fruit itself both perking up the appetite for the array of courses to come.
I can go on and on about the excellent trio of crustaceans that include a sea urchin perfumed with coffee that tastes really strange at first but quickly grows on you. But you should taste it for yourself.
And there is a lovely green pea veloute with peppermint on a sweet onion cloud that hides pieces of bacon and a cauliflower panna cotta at the bottom. Not to mention a beautifully pan-fried turbot perfumed with just a hint of lemongrass. And the pretty crispy fried cabbage, looking like two sheets of translucent jade propped over sauteed sprout vegetables.
Service on the night we were there started a bit wobbly though. We had to ask for more menus three times before we got them, and meanwhile had to share one set of menus among the four of us.
But once the meal started, things were pretty much perfect.
LifeStyle paid for its meals at the eatery reviewed here.