When looking for fine dining in Singapore, there are many more options that one might think. Alas, if you’re going there for a weekend trip with the idea of visiting such a restaurant, it is better to check your options early and reserve a table at least 2 weeks in advance. This is exactly what I forgot to do. Luckily for us, our dear friend Meng was able to secure a last-minute table (even as a private dining room) at Iggy’s restaurant within the Hilton Hotel on Orchard Street. Thanks a lot Meng for this great experience!
Iggy’s is known for a long time as one of the top fine dining destinations in Singapore. The restaurant of chef Ignatius Chan opened in 2004 and won several prizes since then, being named 3 times number one of the top 20 restaurants in Asia by the Miele guide and also being part of the San Pellegrino top 50 list. In 2013 it was number 9 of Asia’s top 50 restaurants in the list and number 65 in the list of World’s 100 best restaurant. As there is no Michelin guide coverage of the city, the restaurant hasn’t been awarded a stars. But who gives a penny about all these prizes. Here’s what the gastronomic menu brought on our table:
First amuse-bouche is Japanese rice noodle with salmon. A well tempered first bite with chilled creaminess and a well balanced salmon taste. Not sure if the roe on top is from salmon, as it is seems much too fine-grained. In any case, this one puts you in the mood for more.
Second amuse-bouche is tomato essence beer and ebi. The tomato essence is fresh and intense, with a slight tannic grip which probably comes from the tomato pips. The ebi-ball is composed of whole baby-shrimp and has a definite crunch and spiciness. The combination works very well, as the tomato underlines the umami-taste and the chilled “beer” soothens the palate, which is experiencing an increasing spiciness coming from the ebi-ball.
All these first dishes with ingredients from the sea worked very well with a crisp, yet fruity 2011 Sancerre by Domaine Vacheron. The wine list in general is mainly focusing on red and white Burgundy, but also has a few Bordeaux and some other international reds to offer. From Germany, only sweet Rieslings are on the list.
Oyster, Caviar, scallop, turnip is the “official” first dish of the gastronomic menu. The oyster lies within a pudding made of Daikon-radish, which has a very luscious, creamy texture and a taste that complements well the ocean-flavored brine of the oyster. Inside the pudding, there are also some crunchy bits of Daikon, bringing another textural dimension to the dish. The Caviar, albeit being a high-end Golden Osetra type and tasting excellent on its own, only adds nuances when eaten together with the rest of the dish. But this is a good plate as a whole, transporting one off to the shores with a creative matching of land and sea which I haven’t seen before.
Tuna, Chinese cabbage, yuzu garlic convinces with a tasty, juicy piece of fatty tuna belly, which has a slightly rugged texture on one side. Hidden under the piece of tuna are also some pine nuts, somehow providing a link to the cabbage. The latter adding little flavour but bringing lots of crunchy texture. The vinaigrette on top of the tuna as well as the grated yuzu all over the plate are essential, as they deliver some welcomed acidity.
Ebi Imo, sea urchin, kinome, prawn floss. This plate is centered around ebi-imo, a variety of taro and it is the slightly starchy taste of this root vegetable that predominates the dish and somehow even overpowers the sea urchin. Kinome are leafs of the Japanese Szechuan pepper tree and have a slightly minty, but also citrus-like and pepper aroma. An interesting combination as a whole, but I think a little downsizing of the taro-part would benefit the dish, making it more harmonious.
Joshu beef, Alba black truffle, daikon, sabayon first brings intense truffle aroma to us. You just got to love that terrific truffle smell. The piece of cooked daikon hidden under the thin slices of Wagyu is again maybe a bit oversized. All in all tough, noticing the the creamy sabayon at the bottom of the plate, this is another luscious, comforting dish.
Alba white truffle, tagliolini, , Parmigiano Reggiano, poultry jus. Did I say the black truffle has an intense smell? Yet, it will always be topped by the scent of white Alba truffle, truly the queen of truffles! There are also some bits of garlic in there, but just the right amount. This dish is as good as white truffle with pasta can get. I also liked the presentation with a cone-shaped cover, releasing a beguiling puff of aroma, as the waiter is lifting it in front of you. This is also the proof that restaurant ceremonials definitely can add something to the taste-experience of a dish.
Iberico pork, nanohana, onion, fava bean, cepes sauce is an impeccable dish. The pork is tender and cooked to perfection, probably sous-vide. the mushroom touch of the dish made it a great match with a 2009 Chambolle Musigny (Unfortunately I omitted to note down the producer). Sometimes excellence is to be found in the most obvious combinations.
Getting back to wine, a 1999 Chateau Pavie Macquin was a solid meal-ender. After 15 years it is perfectly smoothened and reveals complex tertiary aromatics while still having some pronounced fruit.
And the wine is also glorious with the cheese platter (although I usually rather prefer white wine with cheese).
Strawberry panna cotta and basil as a refreshing pre-dessert. Works well, cleansing the palate while tasting good.
Ball in the bunker is the main dessert of the menu. It essentially reveals flavors of white chocolate and passion fruit. Some biscuit crumbs add a nice texture. A solid dessert, albeit not excessively creative.
Hinoki chocolate box with melon macaron, bitter grapefruit jelly and white chocolate are offered with the coffee. The crumbs at the bottom are edible as well and have a nice, bitter chocolate taste.
This was an enjoyable meal, which I definitely see at a 1 Michelin star level. There’s a good portion of creativity to be found within many of the dishes, mostly in those having a definite Japanese influence. On the other hand there are also dishes displaying very classical combinations, that are very European, such as the tagliolini with truffle, or the Iberico pork, which are cooked to perfection. In some cases there could be an improvement for obtaining a better harmony of the ingredients but all in all this was a good dinner, and more important, a great evening. Thanks again Meng for this great experience!
The Hilton Hotel
581 Orchard Road – Level 3
Here are some more impressions of Iggy’s restaurant: