Spago is Chef Wolfgang Puck’s second restaurant at Marina Bay Sands after steakhouse CUT. Spago serves Californian cuisine with Asian (mostly Japanese) accents. They use the same suppliers as CUT, importing many of its seasonal ingredients from USA. The original Spago opened in 1982 in West Hollywood, California and has two Michelin stars.
In Singapore, Chef de cuisine Greg Bess has been at the California flagship from 2004 and when CUT opened in Singapore in 2010, he oversaw the opening. And then Spago Singapore. The lunch menu goes for $45 for 3 courses, $95 for 4 courses. The dinner tasting menu is at $245, but there is a la carte for lunch and dinner. For dinner, estimate to spend slightly more than $100.
Poor, very poor, no money, so went for the $45 lunch. Fortunately for me, when we were there, my dining companion knows Bess. They connected, and we were given some freebies, although I remained anonymous, and he did not know I was writing a review.
For starters, the chicken laksa spring roll demonstrates how smart the food designing is. Chicken laksa is stuffed into spring roll, and then it is deep-fried. The crispiness of the skin contrasts the softness of the rice noodles. The wicked spice could be taken off the edge with calamansi (lime), which adds a sourness to the spiciness.
The other starter, big eye tuna tartare cones, is epic, having a 35 year-old history. It was the first appetizer to be served at the original Spago, and it has survived till today. When you bite into it, it is superlatively surprising. The tuna is mixed with chili aioli and wasabi, so there is some real heat, as opposed to, you know, “angmoh” level heat. The sweetness of the crunchy cone acts as a counterpoise to the stuffing. Amazing dish.
Bess gave us a complimentary hand cut agnolotti ($32). They change the stuffing according to the season, and for this season, it is chestnut. Each piece of agnolotti comes with a huge slice of truffle, so you eat them together. It feels like warm sunshine surrounding the heart on a cold day; there is a fuzzy feeling of love. Or maybe it’s just the wonderful sauce made from caramelized sweet corn, mascarpone, sage, and parmesan.
Continuing our 3-course set lunch, my friend’s main, Angus beef burger, is admirably grilled to a smokiness. If I were smarter, I’d have chosen soft French omelet or steamed red snapper, but that day, I wanted a grilled organic chicken club sandwich. It’s a common enough sandwich, and it can be made easily. But it is brilliant in its balance and flavors. The chicken is wonderfully soft, almost as a backdrop to the melty aged comte cheese and the incredible applewood-smoked bacon. The bacon is so delicious and high class I can’t even.
For dessert, Bess kindly swapped our set course dessert to their signature traditional Kaiserschmarren ($36 for 2 persons). It is only available for lunch, because it takes 16 minutes in the oven, and the kitchen is too busy during dinner service for the dessert to hog the oven. Although the menu says it is for 2 persons, it is big enough for 4. The Austrian dessert is sometimes known as a fluffy pancake, but at Spago, they add fromage blanc, and the texture is more like souffle. Airy and light, and I’m sure it’s 0 calories.
The beautiful cloud of dessert is to be eaten with USA strawberries done two ways, macerated and ice cream. It is a simple dessert but it brings so much joy and ecstasy and comfort, vacillating between a puffy sweetness, and a mouthwatering sourness.
A note on the service: In The Remains of the Day, the outdated English butler tries to please his new American employer by learning the American banter. Bantering, which most Singaporean servers are unable do, adds an intimacy to service, making a difference between good and perfect service. And at Spago, bantering is perfected. On seeing our bowls of fries were still full to the brim, the manager with gray-blue eyes said with a straight face, “I’ve come to see if I can bring you more fries. And I see I do.” Also, tipping hat to Catalin, a Romanian server, who took care of us better than my mother. He takes his job seriously, memorizing ingredients, taking photos, and knows everything. I wish more servers did that.
Simply put, Spago is definitely in the consideration for “Best Restaurants of the Year” list, and the dessert for “Best Desserts of the Year.” It is expensive but it is also quite perfect. We paid $120 for two persons.
Spago by Wolfgang Puck
1 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Tower 2 Level 57, Singapore 018971
T: +65 6688 9955
Lunch (daily) 12pm-2.30pm
Dinner (Sun-Th) 6pm-10pm
Dinner (F & Sat) 6pm-11pm
Overall rating: 4.25/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.