After a middling experience at L’atelier de Joel Robuchon next door, I put off going to Joel Robuchon restaurant at RWS until now. All Joel Robuchon restaurants around the world received Michelin stars, and it is hardly surprising that when the inaugural edition of Singapore’s was announced, it received 3 stars.
Like many restaurants that received the stars, Joel Robuchon has increased its prices. They only serve lunch once a week, every Saturday, starting from $148. The set menu for dinner starts from $248, and the degustation at $498. There is a dress code: no shorts/berms, no singlets, no slippers/sandals. No flash photography. And there is free valet and parking at Hotel Michael entrance.
We were ushered into a gorgeous “winter garden” in the restaurant. This was utterly unexpected because the door front was darkly marbled and somber. The glass roof of the garden allows sunlight to stream in, with a centrepiece of a tree. The decor itself was an instant mood-lifter.
The service is the best kind; you never notice the servers. They are polite, swift, efficient, attentive, and they are also not intrusive, so you can chat uninterrupted with your dining companion.
Now the food. What makes fine-dining so expensive, besides premium ingredients, is the creativity behind the dishes. Many times, top chefs sacrifice the taste of the food for creativity; that is, the food is creative but not delicious. But Joel Robuchon manages to balance between creativity and taste to give a supremely satisfying meal; it combines both a sense of canniness and innovation.
The amuse bouche exemplifies what I mean by the food being familiar and creative. Gazpacho is a common enough food, easily can be and often made at home. But this chilled tomato soup takes on a certain wondrous complexity: it is almost too acidic and sour but pulls back to a wonderful underlying oceanic sweetness.
The server told us gleefully that the salmon tartar with Imperial caviar (supplement +$30) was served as the opening dish at the Michelin Guide gala dinner. Damn, I was invited but didn’t attend. In any case, this is a visually stunning dish. When I put it into my mouth, I felt like I was eating a million dollars. It is super luxurious. This is what heaven feels like.
The other starter, king crab meat, avocado, crunchy veg, on tomato coulis, tastes just as delicious. It’s very smart because—you won’t be able to tell from the description—this is actually a salad. And from the simple ingredients, you won’t be able to fathom how deep and long the flavors are. Even if you mix everything throughly, each bite takes on a different delight of tastes.
The Iberico pork, for mains, is good, tasting somewhat Asian, which I like, but if you can splurge, the Kagoshima beef (supplement +$45) is out of the world. There is a beautiful balance of fat and meat, so there is a nice bite. It’s cooked marvellously, and the texture could only be described as smooth. By smooth, I don’t mean “tender”; I do mean smooth like silk. When you bite beef, there is a graininess to it sometimes, but here, no. It’s just smooth. This is cloud 9.
The trolley of dessert comes, and you can choose all if you want. (But save your stomach, a trolley of petits fours follows.) The almond tart is super fragrant, so is the vanilla sauce which the soft meringue baths in. The lemon tart is the sort I like, very sour, full of character. But the star is really the chocolate tart. This gave me an orgasmic feeling. Blew me away. Kudos to the pastry chef.
By now, we were very full, but hey, more desserts in the guise of mignardises? Bring it on. The banana tart is really special, and you have got to have it. It is the size of a rubber ball and when you slice it into half, you can clearly see the layers of ingredients inside. It’s very, very intricate! The server recommended raspberry macaron with chocolate ganache, which is better than any macaron specialty shop. Usually, I think chocolate doesn’t go with berries, but it works magic here.
The mark of an extremely excellent meal must make you feel like you’re at the top of the world, and nothing else in the world matters. That if the world were to end at the moment, you don’t care. And this was how Joel Robuchon made us feel. We paid $450 for two persons. When I strike lottery, I’ll come back for the degustation menu.
Joel Robuchon Restaurant Singapore
Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Hotel Michael Level 1, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098269
T: +65 6577 6688 / +65 6577 7888
Sat 12-2.30pm, Tue-Sat 6pm-10.30pm
Overall rating: 4.188/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.