Iggy's: passionate sommelier turned to established gastronome in Singapore

Iggy’s is named after a restaurateur, sommelier and its owner Ignatius Chan, called by his friends “Iggy”.
For many years considered by the local epicures the best restaurant in Singapore, Iggy’s also features in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants since 2009, climbing up year by year to 27th position in 2011. Becoming the first restaurant in Singapore to be on the coveted San Pellegrino list is not its only achievement as it was also voted the best restaurant in Asia three times by the Miele Guide. If the Michelin inspectors sniffed and tasted around, Iggy’s would have certainly scored a star.
Ball in the Bunker
Cuisine: Gastronomic international
Visit:  2010 & 2013
Price: Very high (Six-course “Dinner menu” 195 SGD available Mon-Thurs; gastronomic menu of nine courses SG$275; both excluding drinks).
Chef at Iggy's behind the bar
Atmosphere: Formerly located at The Regent hotel (since its opening in 2004), the restaurant moved to larger and more convenient new premisses at the Singapore’s Hilton hotel on Orchard Road in 2010. The seats alongside the bar breathe a brisk, casual yet intellectual whiz. High up from your stool you might learn some culinary tricks from a young chef (probably a trainee) laboriously melding the ingredients for the chef’s signature milk ice cream and squint inside the kitchen every time their sensor-directed door slide to open up. The most curious can dine inside at a chef’s table. If you prefer a discreet setting book one of the two private dining rooms. Although the space is almost a double of its original size with the same number of seats, some guests still complain about tables being too close. For others, this is an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded foodies.
Beer and shrimps at Iggy's
Food: I have eaten at Iggy’s twice within a span of three years. In the current menu the head chef Masahiro Isono‘s japanese roots are strongly reflected with the key ingredients sourced from the far East Asian island country. Ignatius Chan himself participates on the menu creation together with the chef. His stints at the Ritz-Carlton in Madrid, Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, Hôtel Royal Champagne in Reims alongside other distinguished culinary establishments in Europe and Asia, are regal stamps of approval for his intervention in the kitchen.
Buri fish Carpaccio at Iggy's
As a surprising mouse-bouche of beer served in a dewy cold glass with fried shrimps arrive, our eye lids flicker, our lips spout and released dopamine rushes into our minds (dopamine neurons become activated when something good happens unexpectedly, such as the sudden availability of food). A slight disappointment follows as in what appears like a beer is not a local hops brew, but a whipped weirdly tasting liquid topped with egg-white cap. Bad start, but no worries as it will get better.
The first item from the dinner menu sets our taste buds to a better mood. The meaty textured starter of a slightly seared Buri fish Carpaccio, sliced thinly, but not paper-thin, was sprinkled with wads of crispy sea lettuce, myoga, sesame and freshened up with lime vinaigrette.
Next came even a better and rare treat. The japanese Matsutake mushrooms were covered in the molecular white foam together with the japanese Wakasagi fish (sweet water fish swimming in lakes and bays around Hokkaido), sudachi, hollandaise and bagna cauda. The Tricholoma matsutake or pine mushroom is highly aromatic and hard to find. The cherished truffle of Japan is also popular in China and can fetch up to $2.000 per kilogram. Matsutake, was documented as early as 1712 in the “Wakan Sansai Zue” encyclopedia, where the mushroom was reported to add fragrance to a steamed riceOne of the well-known areas, where matsutake flourish is in the mountains around Kyoto. John Ashburne of Japan Times took the adventure In search of the Holy Grail of mushrooms.
Spaghettini with cod's milt
The Spaghettini with cod’s milt, onion and sansho powder are a genus of the chef’s staple and speciality pasta served with quirky seafood. Intriguing for sure, yet with a pinch of diplomacy I would conclude that the Italians know better their craft of pasta making.
The fatty and glossy Joshu Gyu japanese beef steak was rolled in a thinly pounded wrap, chewy and mouth-watering for the “meatholics”. For me it was just too much fat and not much lean muscle, although smelling heavenly. Accompanied by tiny slices of  heirloom carrots, nasu (eggplant) and mangaji adding contrasting vegetable airiness.
Joshu Gyu with heirloom carrots, nasu and mangaji
The dessert was a high game of creativity. Called Ball in the Bunker, its presentation of a white chocolate coated golf ball filled with passion fruit and ginger, cozying in a sand-like hill of milk ice cream sprinkled with crumbled  cereal, was not just witty but also delicious. My favourite item on the menu that was a highlight of the dinner.
Hinoki Chocolate box
With tea came the Hinoki Chocolate Box of home-made milk chocolates and macaroons served on a carpet of crumbled cocoa nibs. It looked better than it tasted though.
Drinks: Since one of the founders is a sommelier and his favourite grape varietal is Pinot Noir, you will find a wide selection of Burgundies and wines from other countries based on this thin-skinned red grape varietal. Some of the wines by the glass we had were an Austrian Gruner Veltliner made by Loimer, and from the new world a crisp Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc as refreshing aperitifs. To finish up with a jammy and mouthful, we went for Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel from California.
Bass Philip unfiltered Pinot Noir
A bottle of rare and highly prized Pinot Noir from Bass Philip recommended by the sommelier was superb. Unfiltered, its neon pinkish colour might deter some, but top Burgundy lovers will sigh with pleasure while sipping this gentle and fresh beauty from Australia.
Tea supply from Twinnings does not indicate the proprietors passion for this Asian liquified jewel, yet it is a signature of a former British colony still infatuated by its ruler’s former glamour and trade power.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri Lunch: 12pm – 1:30pm; Dinner Mon-Sat: 7pm – 9:30pm; Closed on Sun.
Address: The Hilton Hotel, Level 3, 581 Orchard Road, Singapore 238883
Contact: Tel: +(65) 6732 2234 or book online at iggys.com.sg

Sushi Ichi: bringing Tokyo sushi art to Singapore

Sushi Ichi Singapore
Landing from  Tokyo’s Ginza, Sushi Ichi is the first restaurant in Singapore to offer a blend of two distinctive Japanese culinary attitudes featuring top-tier Kyoto Kaiseiki Ryori first, followed by premium Sushi in their degustation menu.
Cuisine: Japanese sushi, kaiseki & omakase
Visit: November 2013
Price: Very expensive (omakase 450 SGD/person, cheaper and simpler menus also available, lunch is a much better deal starting at 60SGD)
Sushi chef in action
Chefs: The sushi chefs Keisuke Ohno, Seiji Sudo & Yukinori Kawakami together with an acclaimed Kyoto Kaiseiki Ryori craft master Chef Hiroki Sudou, put their strengths and combined multiple decades of experience on the table at Ichi to the service of their privileged guests.
Atmosphere: Simple decoration and humility are the essence of Japanese hospitality and the chefs and servers all dressed in traditional kimonos, bowing and smiling live up to their cultural pride. The tapestries, seasonal floral arrangements and tableware using old japanese techniques fly the diners up North to the island of Honshu, where both Tokyo and Kyoto are located. From ceramics (elevating aesthetic pleasure) to cyprus custom-made chopsticks (that are easier to use), the details are thoughtfully incorporated to aid comfort and joy from the dining experience.
Kaiseki style amouse bouche at Ichi
Food: Based on seasonal ingredients freshly imported from the famous Tsujiki market in Tokyo, the menus are modified almost daily. Yet, coming across the house specialties – the wild Bluefin tuna and sea urchin – is not a rare treat since the chefs’ connections at the market assure the attendance on the first auction daily and the produce is then exported to Singapore four times a week.
A kaiseki style amouse-bouche is the eye-pleasing treat from the master Chef Hiroki Sudou. Raw fish and seafood, tofu, vegetables and herbs in a fresh, tempura or pickled form can all appear next to each other beautifully arranged on a plate. The small bites whet your appetite and are best enjoyed with a sip of saké.
White fish sashimi at Ichi
Then comes the sushi and sashimi, both of a superb quality. The rice is very important in the case of sushi and at Ichi the chefs master it wonderfully. The quality of the fish is top grade and ranks amongst the best in Singapore.
Seared sashimi at Ichi
The sashimi is served on a bed of radish shavings with seaweed, accompanied by a generous portion of pickled ginger. House-made ginger tastes just so much more fresh and less acidic as it does not need to be preserved for a long time in a jar like its kin staring at you from the supermarket shelves. At Ichi, they replenish your ginger each time you eat it, which for ginger addicts like me, is a godsend feast.
Uni at Ichi
Some fish is purely cut, other slightly seared by fire at the back in the kitchen and some sea creatures need to be wrapped in a sheet of seaweed.
The magic uni is such a case. As one of the Ichi’s specialities, the uni does not disappoint. Its texture is exquisite! Melting like an orgasmic pleasure that sends pangs of pleasure across the body, the unique flavour of uni (hence the name??) lasts long after you ate it.
The chef then serves a savoury eel accompanied with a sweet sauce mellowing its quite intense and for some acquired taste. Although a high quality fresh eel does not smell as repulsive as it sometimes can with an average eel and at Ichi it tastes just right.
Rolls arrive by the end. Usually filled with pickled japanese vegetable or tuna-based handmade rice rolls, are cut into yummy morsels of delight before the deserts arrive.
Kaiseki dessert
Concluded in a genuine Kaiseki spirit, a sweet plate of japanese sweets covered with fresh berries and freshened up with green mint leafs, makes the desert. The japanese sweets are often less sweet than our palate is used to, but that is the exact charm of them. A fruit sorbet and creamy ice-cream served in a glass please the more Western palates, so balance of satisfaction is achieved, as it should be in a genuine kaiseki meal.
Drinks: Sake list is very good, but the wine list is extraordinary for a sushi restaurant. Not many japanese restaurants pride themselves on a wide selection of wines, but at Ichi they do not forget the wine lovers. The wine, as in most places in highly-taxed Singapore, is not cheap so it may add considerably to your bill. Beer and tea would be the cheapest options to accompany your meal here.
Opening hours: Lunch: Tue: 12.30pm – 3pm; Wed-Sun: 12noon – 3pm
Dinner: 6.00pm – 10.30pm ; Closed on Mondays.
Address: Scotts Square building, 6 Scotts Road, #02-02, Singapore 228209
Contact: +(65) 6299 0014

Garibaldi: authentic Italian food in Singapore

Garibaldi is a fine dining restaurant serving a genuine Italian food in Singapore. The gargantuan distance from Italy does not stop the local chefs from importing desirable and genuine products from Europe. Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world and cultural melting pot, where everything is possible. If you are willing to pay extra, you will get the freshest burratta, parma ham or mascarpone whenever you please. You can expect all these delicacies in top shape at Garibaldi.
Garibaldi dining room
Atmosphere: Large rooms are not intimate, but they offer a sense of sufficient privacy with the tables being kept at a good distance from each other as well as a number of large tables inset along the wall. It is a fine dining restaurant so smart casual attire is required.
Chef: The Italian-born Roberto Galetti has made Singapore his home after opening his own restaurant Garibaldi in 2003. Since then he won multiple awards for his culinary skills including Garibaldi being voted the 7th best restaurant in Asia according to the Miele Guide.
Food:  Authentic, large portions and high taste profile. You can select from either an à la carte or a gourmet 6-7 course menu. From the later the CAPELLI D`ANGELO FREDDI CON OSTRICHE E CAVIALE KRISTAL – Cold Angel`s Hair pasta with Fresh Oyster & Kristal Caviar are very popular.
The starters à la carte are the typical Italian antipasti that one would expect, yet they are excellent. Go for the PARMIGIANA DI MELANZANE – Neapolitan Style Baked Eggplants with Mozzarella, Basil & Tomato Sauce if you want a warm and filling starter with a glass of oaky Chardonnay.
Beef carpaccio with parmesan cheese and truffles
In the mood for something meaty? Then the CARPACCIO DI MANZO ‘WAGYU’ BLACKMORE – Blackmore Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Parmesan Cheese with Rocket Salad would be my recommendation. During a truffle season (September-November) they serve it with shavings of these superb fungi on top instead of the rocket.
Another classic is MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA – Buffalo Milk Mozzarella with Italian San Marzano Tomatoes & Basil, that is as creamy and delicate here as at a farm in Italy (I have been to one so I know what I am saying) served with lush and juicy tomatoes.
Moving to main courses you can go Italian with a plate of pasta before a meat dish or save some space for a desert and go straight to the secondi.  A Milanese classic in the ‘schnitzel’ style – CLASSICA COSTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE ‘ORECCHIA D’ELEFANTE’ satisfies large plate lovers with affection to meat. The crispy thin breaded veal chop is mellow as well as tasty and traditionally served with tomatoes and rocket salad .
Veal Milanese
Fish is also done well at Garibaldi. I’ve tried the MERLUZZO IN GUAZZETTO DI LEGUMI – Oven Baked Brittany Cod with Baby Spinach & Mixed Beans ‘Guazzetto’ and liked it almost as much as a fish served on the Mediterranean coast of Italy.
If you still have a room for desserts then you can choose from the Italian sweet classics such as Pannacotta, Tiramisu, Sicilian Canollo or Marsala Zabaione. The ‘chocoholics’ will indulge in TORTINO CALDO AL CIOCCOLATO – Molten Lava Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Gelato & Raspberry Coulis.

Barbaresco from Piemonte
Cuisine: Authentic Italian.
Visit: November 2012
Price: High (starters about 25 SGD; mains around 50 SGD).
Drinks: the wine list is spectacular and very good in Italian wine selection. We started with a lesser known white Chardonnay from Valle d’Aosta region that the sommelier recommended and like it a lot. It had some oak on the palate, but overall was pretty balanced. Since each of us had a different main course we had to compromise in terms of red wine. Not going too heavy for fish and not being too light for the meat dishes. Barbaresco from Piedmont was a calling from heaven that fit our demanding requirements perfectly. 2006 vintage had settled down tannins and it was not too fruity either. Long finish assured a memorable wine and food pairing dinner.
Opening hours: Daily for lunch: 12:00pm – 3 pm; Dinner: 6:30pm – 11pm
Address: 36 Purvis Street,  Singapore 188613.
Contact: Tel.: (+65) 6837 1468 ; email: garibaldi@garibaldi.com.sg

Tiffin Room at Singapore's Raffles Hotel

Cuisine: Indian buffet lunch and dinner.
Visit: October 2012
Price: Medium (eat as much as you can for one price S$60 -S$75 as an adult, drinks are extra).
The fresh colonial interior at Tiffin Room
Food: Authentic, mildly spicy and vegetarian-friendly. As one of the oldest dining establishments in Singapore, the Tiffin Room keeps up its standard high serving daily breakfast, North-Indian specialities including curries and light mid-day meals, afternoon tea as well as dinner. The buffet has an excellent selection of vegetarian dishes, curries and authentic Indian desserts. The only drawback is that the liquid nature of curries makes it impossible to blend more than two of them at one plate, so you must visit the buffet in a couple of rounds if you want to try all what is on offer. It is fun though – one feels almost like a racer passing his dining competitor on his/her way from the table to the bars layered with food.
Indian curry buffet
The highlights are the crisp and fresh Papadum bread, Kashmiri Style Lamb curry (Ghost Roganjosh), Black Lentil cooked with tomato butter (Dal Makhani) and tender, in tandoor cooked, Lamb kebabs with cheese and saffron (Gilafi Seekh Kebab). The curries are not too spicy so even those of you preferring mild flavours will find their favourites. From the deserts the crisp sugar and gram flour-based Soan Papdi and the lightly sweet Semolina pudding (Suzhi Halwa) are worth trying, although most of the desserts are great and not too sugary. The buffet is being changed seasonally to keep up with fresh ingredients.
Soan Papdi: sugar with gram flour
Drinks: The wines are chosen to complement the Indian cuisine. The sommelier has done a great job. Select one of the wines-by-the-glass (Pinot Gris, Rieslings from Alsace) or just have a cup of milky and spicy Indian masala tea if you want to have a healthier meal.
Atmosphere: Dress code is smart casual. The glorious times in the hotel’s history are reflected in the elegant fresh white decor with garden and fountain views. The friendly white-dressed staff is impeccable and the sommelier knows very well which wines go best with the Indian fare at the restaurant.
Fountain view: the old meets modern
Opening hours:
Breakfast (S$45++ Adult / S$28++ Child) Daily – 7.00 am to 10.30 am
Buffet Lunch (S$60++ Adult / S$35++ Child) Monday to Sunday – 12.00 noon to 2.00 pm
High Tea (S$58++ Adult / S$30.50++ Child) Daily – 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm
Buffet Dinner (S$75++ Adult / S$40++ Child) Daily – 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm
Contact: Tel: +(65) 6412 1816 ; Email: diningreservation.raffleshotel@raffles.com
Address: Raffles Hotel Singapore, 1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673

CLOSED Restaurant Andre: creativity without borders in Singapore

The fine dining nouvelle cuisine restaurant Andre by Taiwan-born chef Andre Chiang closed in February 2018 after eight years of superb quality and personal service in Singapore. His farewell was published online: “Although Restaurant ANDRE’s legacy will soon become a fond memory to the world’s gourmets, I have no regrets, as we have achieved all that we have wanted to for Singapore and for Asia.
Now, it is time for me to go home.
“I’m a perfectionist, and this is perfect.”
Andre Chiang
Andre's wine & food philosophyA garden of amouse bouche
The Chef who has now returned back to his home country to educate the new culinary generation has two passions. One is poetry and art, another food. One can argue that the earlier merges in the later two as Chiang’s penchant for creativity manifests in his small dining establishment in Singapore. Chiang concocts unforgettable dishes for curious foodies coming to Andre from all over the world (a French family, Hong Kong and Indian couples surrounded us).

He still pursues Octaphilosophie based on his study of how our experience influences our perception of taste. Through food he intends to facilitate an interpretation of his thoughts. There are eight concepts translated into dishes: Unique; Pure; Texture; Memory; Salt; South; Artisan; and Terroir.

Chiang’s unique approach to fine dining was rewarded by a number of distinctive accolades such as receiving three Michelin stars, a position in San Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants and Singapore Best New Restaurant 2011 by Tatler Asia.
The food is complex, artistic and philosophical. Dining at Restaurant Andre is more than simple flavours. The chef makes you think about his perception of the world through his dishes. Most of it is very interesting and very tasty, but you need to switch your brain from looking for your mother’s cuisine as it is all but not traditional. Each meal at Restaurant Andre was quite revolutionary and worth trying if you are a serious food connoisseur. After a garden of tiny amouse-bouche we encountered the first concept from the chef’s Octaphilosophy.


“Beauty can be found in the simplicity of pure, unadulterated ingredients. Untainted by any form of seasoning or cooking, this dish allows the produce to speak for itself.”

PURE ingredients
This plate full of raw ingredients from seafood to flowers and herbs had exactly that kind of impression on my palate. the shrimp and salmon roll were perhaps the most palatable, the rest was rather more amusing than tasty. The second course confirmed that it helps to have a description of the meal when you eat it as it navigates your palate to what the chef wanted you to experience.


“An ancient seasoning existing since time immemorial. Producing a taste sensation with no barriers, the flavors in this dish call for the briny depth and brings to the mind a hint of the ocean.”

SALT: bringing ocean to the mind


“Farmers and artisans deserve to be lauded for the sheer dedication they hold towards their creations. Celebrating the craftsmanship of these highly passionate artists.”

ARTISAN products on the plate
A thoughtful creation, yet I was not overwhelmed by this particular plate’s taste at Restaurant Andre.
Capturing the South of France thousands of miles away can be challenging. Moreover, for me this dish was very personal since I live in this region, thus I was more emotional here. The chef spent a couple of years in the South of France. Cooking at various restaurants headed by legendary chefs made this tasting interesting. Here is is concept of the SOUTH:

“The South of France s known for its vibrant joie de vivre, or ‘joy of living’. Capturing the flavors of France’s southern region, expect the generosity, freshness, acidity and a dose of the rustic.”

Capturing the SOUTH of France
The fish is a must around the Mediterranean, so I appreciated the white fish layered on a scoop of risotto. Fresh, generous, rustic, with a touch of acidity in the foam served on the top.

Another important aspect of any food is TEXTURE:

“Layers of flavor and textural contrasts come together harmoniously in this dish, providing a delicious sensory experience.”

TEXTURE and harmony
This was my favorite dish. I prefer balance in the meal and I am biased towards texture, but it was simply delicious. The delicate lobster was refreshed by crisp herbs and leafs, icy and melting sorbet and a sweet touch of peeled li-chi created harmony.
When most of us eat at a fine dining restaurant we search for something UNIQUE in the food created by the chef. Andre Chiang has this answer:

“What makes a dish unique? Sometimes, it is the possibility of experiencing a common ingredient in a different way. At other times, savouring an exotic ingredient is the key to making a dish unique.”

UNIQUE a common ingredient meets exotic.
For something to be memorable it must stand out. The chef’s take on MEMORY was to highlight a well-known product – the foie gras. Translated into a creamy custard-like texture with a surprising herb consomé made into a jelly on the top. It was delicious.

“Meaningful memories stay with you for a long time. In this case, old recipes and flavours are given a new presentation, but still retain that old-world charm you once knew.”

MEMORY: the old made new

The last creation reflected the TERROIR:

“Rustic, masculine and unpolished, this soulful course is rooted to the flavours typical to a specific region. It reveals the appreciation of the gifts that Mother Nature has bestowed upon the land.”

TERROIR: true to the Mother Nature
The chef enhanced the produce of the land through a variety of sauces. The rustic taste of an almost rare chunk of meat was calmed down, although for some it might be too ‘rustic’. The nouvelle cuisine with its French heritage transforms into poetry on the plate at Restaurant Andre, but I advise to eat it and do not ponder for too long otherwise it will get cold.
Diverting from the menu’s Octaphilosophy concept, the desserts were still very personal for the chef, although each of them was completely different. Fresh and fruity, herbal and zesty, and finally the chef’s weakness for the caramel-filled chocolate Snickers bar lead to his own mind-blowing interpretation. I have never been a fan of Snickers, but tasting Andre’s delight, using fresh and high quality ingredients made all the difference.
Refreshing dessertThe chef's creative adaptation of his beloved Snickers
The chef initiated a state of deep contemplation in most diners, it seemed. With each plate we were inspired to think about it and discuss the experience. Isn’t this what we need in today’s fast-food society? Like traditional societies did, we should appreciate all the food we put into our mouths. Chef Chiang further encourages us to connect the experience with our brain rather than mindlessly put one chunk after another into our mouths. He becomes your teacher through his cooking.
Atmosphere: It is almost like a laboratory where each diner analyses his/her dish. The first floor is only for the chef’s table and can also host private parties. The main restaurant is upstairs. Art and design selected by the chef bejewelled the interior and the seats are very comfortable. It is a relaxing place. Imagine a gathering at a shrine for food connoisseurs and that is exactly how this place feels. Wear something smart.
The chef's table downstairs.
This is a serious gastronomic experience so the cost is high (only tasting menu: Dinner SG$ 288.00; lunch SG$ $128 for 4-courses); additional wine pairing SG$ 180.00 per person (tax of 7% and service charge 10% are not included).

The Wine Journal

The chef selected the wines himself for the restaurant’s “wine journal”. Offering biodynamic wines from small French producers. We did the wine pairing with our meals. The wine waiter did not disclose the origin of any of the wines until we tried it and guessed. Often, we were fooled since small artisanal wines can be so unique that one can mistake a Chablis for a Riesling. It was  an interesting tasting, but we were not overly impressed by the wines themselves.

Chef Andre Chiang also opened another successful restaurants. RAW in Taipei and has stakes in the Burnt Ends Singapore, that continues to seduce diners with a less fussy approach to contemporary culinary hedonism under chef/owner Dave Pynt.

Salt grill: wine and gourmet tapas in the sky of Singapore

Luke Mangan is a celebrity chef from Australia, where his first restaurant the Salt in Sydney proved o be such a success that today he operates a number of its branches across Asia. Salt grill was just a natural evolution for his modern take on Australian fare, creating more simple and ingredients focused food.
Salt grill and bar. Source: saltgrill.com.

Atmosphere: Relaxing, breathtaking sky views with a fashionable urban feel. The service can be a bit unprofessional at times, being slow at the start and pointing at the minimum spend for each person, but once you start ordering they turn into sweethearts. The stunning city view calls for a romantic date or music playing into the moods this place evokes. There were some couples, but also friends, families and groups. The music vibrated my ears with relaxing tones, so perfectly matching the atmosphere. Dress smart casual or be as elegant and classy as you wish as the interior, height and luxe location are appropriate for ‘elevated’ fashion pieces.
Bread selection with Luke Mangan olive oil & dukkah (a dry mix of middle-eastern spices). The Australian olive oil selected by Luka Mangan himself was exquisite. Deep, yet refreshing with spicy chilli on mid-palate this was a winner for me. The bread was freshly baked, served warm, yet quite boring white bread.
Another nibbling surprise were the juicy and tasty Australian marinated olives we ordered before any one of the tapas dishes arrived.
The Sashimi of kingfish, ginger, shallot and goats feta was better than at most Japanese restaurants. The talent to combine the right things together unveiled itself in this exquisite dish. Which Japanese chef, after all, would serve goats feta cheese with raw fish? I guess not many, so thanks our gourmand god for sending us this Australian fusion master to put it so well together.

Fig tart with caramelized onion and blue cheeseSashimi of kingfish, ginger, eschallot and goats feta

A staple of tapas bars the fried Salt and pepper squid served with char grilled lime and aioli was good, rather average, yet a big plus for me was that it was crunchy and not too oily as it sometimes tends to be.

Much better was the Fig tart with caramelized onion and blue cheese, verjuice dressing. Freshly sliced figs crowning blue cheese mixed with caramelized onion were served on a crisp pastry. This was the first dish calling for a lighter red wine, so we sipped on a Pinot Noir (although quite an austere one – look below).

Another vegetarian delicacy was the ‘Salt’ salad – seasonal baby vegetables, slow poached hen’s egg, buffalo mozzarella, candied walnut. Together with the sashimi and tomato bruschettas this was my favourite dish. The unique blend of vegetables, fresh, marinated and roasted with creamy buffalo mozzarella, slightly sweet candied walnut and crunchy fried lotus rings would impress even the harshest critics of “boring” salads. The salt salad was a perfectly matched symphony of intense flavours.
Salt salad with burrata

Back to carnivores with Duck sliders, pickled cucumber, chili, coriander. This Asian dish got an intriguing revamp by the chef. The dumpling-like sliders were filled with chunks of duck meat, zesty coriander and pickled gherkins that balanced the richness of the dish together with spicy chili.
We had to order the Roasted cherry tomatoes, Burrata cheese, peppers, grilled bread (2 pieces) twice how great they were! The Italians can learn from Mangan how to freshen up their signature tapa. On a crunchy slice of baguette were served marinated yellow and red peppers layered with creamy Burrata and grilled cherry tomatoes sprinkled with green radish. Sumptuous, interesting and fresh at the same time, this was just a perfect take on sometimes too one-sided Italian bruschetta.
As at any wine bar, there was a Cheese selection served with sliced green guava and lavash crispy bread. There were three types of cheese, sadly none from Australia so we opted for two – Manchego and Tallegio since we are not big fans of blue Roquefort, that was the third choice. Both of the cheeses were of a superb quality and complemented our glass of Cabernet Sauvignon well, although I think that they would tame the fruity cassis character of  the Shiraz.
Cherry tomatoes and burrata bruschetta

Drinks: The wine-by-the-glass offer is appealing so we went into sampling the Australian and kiwi whites and reds as our tapas-style dishes were arriving.

Grosset 2008-Springvale-Watervale Riesling
Starting with a glass of a startling, mineral and terroir-driven Riesling 2008  Grosset Watervale (Watervale SA ) I was taken aback with its lime core, earthy mineral tones from the rocky soil and lingering finish, that made it hard or me to switch to another glass of white wine. Yet my curiosity won over my taste buds and I tried Pinot Gris 2009 from Seresin Estate (Marlborough NZ ). It was clean, sharp and slightly citrusy, but too weak for the intensely flavoured dishes at Salt. Refreshing my palate though before moving to a vanilla pod scented Chardonnay 2009 made for Luke Mangan by TarraWarra (Yarra VIC ). Its depth and burst of aromas headed by vanilla was perfectly suitable for the Sashimi, Roasted cherry tomatoes bruschetta as well as the Salt salad.

Starting light with a Pinot Noir 2010 made for Luke Mangan by TarraWarra (Yarra VIC ) I was surprised by its interesting almost Burgundian nose. Nevertheless, after having a sip or two it would have been tough to persuade me in that moment that you can make a drinkable and enjoyable Pinot Noir in Australia, not even getting closer to a superb Burgundies with all their complexity and expression of terroir.
I had a sip of a blend of Grenache, Merlot and Syrah 2006 from Diggers Bluff Stray Dog (Barossa SA ). This was the cheapest wine on the list at Salt and it also tasted like that. It was bland, far from interesting and fussy rather than striving for balance. I appreciated that the wine waiter allowed me to try this wine before ordering a glass. After this disappointment I also sampled a Shiraz 2008 Clonakilla Hilltops (Hilltops ACT) which was juicy and fruity with a soft touch of cassis and a more expensive and much more rich and deep with cassis and dark cherry notes 2008 Wild Duck Creek Springflat (Heathcote VIC).
Rebuking the Shiraz I found my favourite from all the reds – the Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Frankland (Frankland WA) was the only well-balanced and quite elegant wine from all the other reds by-the-glass.

There are some sparkling wines, a rosè as well as unexpected sweet treats from both Australia and New Zealand. The wine list is quite international with bottles from well-known Italian, French, Spanish and Australian producers, but wines from North and South America are missing.
 2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard, Level 55, #55-01 & #56-01, Singapore 238801. It is a bit complicated to get there.
It is a bit complicated to get there. First, take a lift to the fourth floor inside the ION shopping mall, then look for Salt’s reception and they will take you to another lift t 55th floor where the restaurant and bar are located.
Restaurant: Lunch: 11.30 – 14.00 (Last Order); Dinner: 18.00 – 22.00 (Last Order); Sky bar: 18.00 – 23.30.
+65 (0) 6592 5118

Wine shops and bars in Asia in 2010

There are plenty of wine shops and wine bars offering prevailingly French wines. However, I found some of a different provenance – from California to Spain. And you do not meet only Westerners buying these wines, there are many locals browsing the shelves of the increasingly popular wine shops in Asia.

wine shop in Shanghai


Napa Reserve wine shop offers a wide range of Californian wines as its name disclosed. It is conveniently located in the proximity of the bustling Nanjing Lu just across from the old Four Seasons hotel.
On the same road, there are two other wine shops. One is heavily French oriented (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Loire, Languedoc, Rousillon, etc.) and the other one offers a little bit of everything.
Chinese are quite new to wine drinking (if you don’t count rice wine) and their penchant for Bordeaux had to leave a mark on the majority of wine lists. Although not just Bordeaux dominate the wine lists, but increasingly one finds some Chinese wines from the mass production Great Wall to more boutique and complex wines from the Shanxi province.

Philippines: MANILA

Barcino wine shop is located in one of the top shopping malls so popular in Manila, the Greenbelt. Except at the hotels and the luxurious shopping malls one rarely finds wine shops or wine bars in the bustling metropolis. The entire gourmet food and wine drinking culture in the capital of Philipines is oriented around these modern, upscale, and for many locals, not accessible venues.
Barcino specializes in Spanish wines, as one would expect in a former Spanish colony. The selection is wide from great bargains to top-notch Riberas and Riojas. Spanish-speaking South American treasures from Chile and Argentina are also included.
The wine shop bears the name of a super tasty and authentic Spanish restaurant in the same shopping complex.


Villa Enrique is a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant in the popular area for foodies – Dempsey. It offers tasty appetizers but some of them are disappointing. On the other hand, their sangria can proudly carry its name here. The wine list is also worth checking out. Spanish wines are a staple though and the service can be a bit slow as if to copy the laid back Southern Mediterranean style. The chic yet cool ambiance is the main reason to have a drink there.

The future holds so much in its Bacchanalian hands for the largest continent. There will be much more serious wine-indulging options in Asia in years to come. The House of Roosevelt in Shanghai opened after this post was published and the wine bar at the St Regis Hotel in Singapore are the liquid as well as physical proofs of the wine revolution across the Asian continent.

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