Make a new culinary discovery at one of these local debuts or reinvented establishments.
The year may be ending but our need for sussing out new restaurants isn’t. Once the feasting of December stops, we’re looking forward to resetting our palates with the gamut of new culinary options here.
At Ahāra, Chef Vikramjit Roy makes his Singapore debut with elevated Indian food executed with the Japanese precision he was trained with. Seroja sees Chef Kevin Wong’s tribute to the food of Nusantara with the produce and flavours of the region. La D’Oro is Chef Yohhei Sasaki’s new venture, with a hidden omakase space offering Italian-Japanese cuisine. Élan turns French food approachable, while Ocean Restaurant introduces a new chef patron and a sustainability-focused menu. Keep reading for all the details.
This story first appeared in the December 2022 issue of Prestige Singapore
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Chef Yohhei Sasaki, previously of il Cielo, has set up shop in a new locale: La D’Oro, located at Mandarin Gallery. The renowned Japanese chef has more than 20 years of experience and is now zeroing in on Japanese-Italian cuisine.
Highlighting the intersection of both cuisines with the best of seasonal produce from both countries, chef Sasaki deftly intertwines Japanese precision with the flavours and generosity of Italian cooking.
La D’Oro puts comfort first. The chef ’s signature Linguine with Hokkaido Sea Urchin sees a rich uni sauce coating each pasta strand, elevated with yuzu juice to lighten up the dish. Look forward to the all-day dining menu with each item created with distinctive inspiration, such as Japanese Sakoshi Bay oysters, Insalata Caprese, Tagliatelle Hokkaido Snow Beef A5 Bolognese and Pizza Bismarck.
The restaurant is impressively sleek, with palazzo bi-fold doors, banquette seating, warm light fixtures and a large wine cellar housing close to 400 renowned Italian names. It also houses a hidden 12-seater omakase space called La D’Oro Fine Dining. It is here that he showcases the best of his Italian- Japanese cuisine according to the season.
Every omakase experience here ends with the ‘Secret Noodles’. The spin on Aglio Olio omits the olive oil and instead uses a house-made stock derived from simmering chicken, kombu, niboshi (dried sardine) and vegetables for eight hours. A firm 100 per cent semolina flour pasta is cooked in the stock. Slurp it with chopsticks, ramen-style.
Destination dining experiences are far and few between in Singapore, and aren’t we glad that the iconic Ocean Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa has recently reopened its doors. Above brandishing a fresh new look, the sustainability-focused establishment has a new chef patron – Olivier Bellin, chef-owner of the two-Michelin-starred L’Auberge des Glazicks in Brittany, France.
Aside from admiring the sharks and rays gliding past the full-length windows into the S.E.A. Aquarium’s Open Ocean Habitat, which is home to over 40,000 marine creatures, diners can indulge in a guilt-free culinary extravaganza through new menus created by the lauded chef.
After an illustrious career working with the likes of Joël Robuchon and Jacques Thorel, Bellin eventually returned to his parent’s inn in the village of Plomodiern, and transformed it into a gastronomic restaurant. With his family rooted in a region by the Atlantic Ocean, the idea of sustainability deeply resonated with him. Today, he is known as a passionate advocate, combining Michelin-starred culinary excellence with sustainable standards.
At L’Auberge des Glazicks, he sources his ingredients entirely from Brittany’s local fisheries and terroir, grows herbs and vegetables in his own garden, and is fervent about reducing packaging and plastics. At Ocean, he upholds the same philosophy.
Chef Bellin’s new menus here demonstrate a commitment to sustainable cuisine, and feature responsibly sourced seafood, local produce and house-grown herbs. While his lunch and dinner menus are seasonal, guest favourites of king crab, scallops, lobster and Dover sole are fixtures.
The restaurant’s festive dinner menu is definitely not to be missed. It showcases five hot and cold starters, including the exquisite king crab dressed with Champagne vinegar served with brick dough and chilled corn soup; and lightly smoky grilled hand-dived scallops complemented by smoked beef.
The mains feature Seaweed Butter Sustainable John Dory, as well as Josper-Oven Baked Wagyu Beef, which should please meat- lovers. The dessert is a pear mille-feuille with a Bellin-signature hot and cold contrast.
Each dish is perfection. Add to the fact that seating is now reduced to 50 persons, dining in such a wondrous environment furnished with sustainable materials is certainly what a proper celebration calls for.
Les Amis Group’s Élan, which means vigour and liveliness, is a modern French restaurant presented in an approachable way. Expect a level of cuisine synonymous with the group’s reputation and other fine dining establishments but within a more convivial atmosphere. The dishes are also served with unexpected flourishes designed to tone down the formalities of French cuisine.
Starters meant to grab your attention include the Foie Gras Bonbon, a globular treat of sweet and savoury buttery foie gras blanketed in dark chocolate served with hazelnuts, kumquat and marigold on a toasted brioche. Designed to delight is the Carabinero Prawns, served with al dente tagliolini pasta, kelp, umami sea urchin and yuzu sauce.
Next are familiar dishes juxtaposed with a hint of whimsy: a Smoked Pigeon served alongside a compressed watermelon for a surprising play on textures and flavours. There’s also the Tilefish, kept with scales on, that’s prepared by pouring hot oil all over the fillet for crunch, and served with silky potato mousseline, melted leeks and a bonito veloute.
The steak menu offers hearty servings of charcoal-grilled Yamaguchi A4 Wagyu Striploin, and the 600g Australian M9+ Wagyu Steak, a 500-day grain-fed, pure-bred Wagyu flank cut sourced from Blackmore in Alexandra, Australia, prized for its rich flavour. Love lamb? The roasted saddle and rack of Pyrenees Lamb, with its pale pink and tender meat, is accompanied by tomatoes, zucchini tian and lamb jus.
And finally, to end the meal with a little humour, crack open the chocolate shell of the lifelike Lemon, made up of lemon compote, lemon and kaffir lime cream. There’s also the Chocolate, composed of almond sponge cake. The accompanying ginger and passionfruit jelly cuts through the sweetness of the milk chocolate mousse and caramel to offer the perfect balance.
Chef Vikramjit Roy makes his debut in Singapore through Ahāra: his tribute to India anchored in elegant Japanese techniques. The Kolkata-born chef is a celebrated game-changer in his home country, having spent two decades championing progressive Asian cuisine in India’s leading luxury restaurants and properties.
Chef Roy’s culinary philosophy is grounded in the formative Japanese training he experienced working alongside mentor Masaharu Morimoto in his restaurants in New York and Napa Valley. He had also spent a significant time as part of Heston Blumenthal’s research and development team in Bray.
Harnessing that thirst for discovery, he and his team traversed across India to record observations of its diverse food traditions, cultures and recipes. Ahāra is the fruit of this exploration. The word is a Sanskrit term rooted in ancient Ayurvedic philosophy, which refers to food as the core of all well-being. Chef Roy regards his cooking as a gesture of sincere hospitality that brings together communities and people. His food is a testament to who he is as he pairs Japanese ingredients and culinary techniques with the traditions and flavours of Indian cuisine.
Ahāra offers two menus of the nine-course Explore and 16-course Expedition. Both begin with a series of snacks, such as the Hay Smoked Oysters with Sol Kadhi. Raw oysters from Kumamoto are marinated in curry leaf and herb oil, smoked with hay and served with a kadampuli onion relish.
On the Expedition menu, the Uncooked Wagyu Shaami Tartlet is a spin on shaami kebabs. A5 wagyu beef tartare, marinated in the dish’s traditional 18 spices, is placed over an onion roomali roti tart filled with a yoghurt and mint emulsion and finished with a layer of pickled shallots and Japanese pickled daikon.
At the centre of this feast is The Grandeur, which takes its cue from traditional farmhouse cooking methods. In a showcase of culinary drama, an atta chicken is first encased in whole-wheat dough and baked in a tandoor. Then, it is presented to the table whole before it is returned to the kitchen again, to be portioned and served with toppings such as 18-hour cooked dal makhni, four textures of spinach, roasted onion pulao, lemon and green chilli compressed shallots and walnut raita.
Seroja is a passionate homage to the diverse food of the Malay Archipelago. Meaning lotus flower in Malay, it’s helmed by Malaysia-born chef Kevin Wong, who, at only 29 years old, has amassed notable accolades and cooking stints in France and San Francisco.
Chef Kevin entered the culinary world at 14 years old when he waited tables before joining culinary school. Later, he sharpened his knives at San Francisco’s three-Michelin- starred Coi Restaurant, Benu in San Francisco and Singapore’s own Cure under Michelin-starred chef Andrew Walsh. In 2017, chef Kevin joined the team at Meta and climbed his way up to the head chef role. It was then that he clinched a spot in the top three at the 2021 S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition in Milan.
The competition was the gateway for Seroja, as he drew inspiration from the familiar for his culinary ethos. Speaking to farmers, hawkers, cooks and craftsmen around the region, chef Kevin was influenced by their craft and dedication. Seroja is a celebration of their passion.
The Nusantara menu pays tribute to the region’s many islands with the herbs, spices and dishes native to the archipelago. His childhood memories also serve as inspiration. In honour of his grandmother, who cooked lily bulbs with tamarind and fish sauce, he uses them in sauces, along with torched ginger flowers and palm sugar, to slow-cook Hokkaido scallops.
‘Lauk pauk’, or side dishes in Malay, take centre stage. The menu’s last course is a spin on percik – grilled meats bathed in an aromatic sauce – but presented in marinated beef short ribs. It is served with his take on nasi dagang. The Trader’s Rice features red rice harvested by Orang Asli (indigenous tribes) in the mountains of Borneo and two types of salad: pickled chayote with fish sauce, and vegetables cooked in coconut milk and belacan
This story first appeared on Prestige Singapore.