Dinner @ Fleurette

November 8, 2021 in European by thywhaleliciousfay

Returning to Singapore after my overseas work stint was a great relief for me. It was hard being away from family and friends, especially when I couldn’t make any short trips back during the last 1.5 of my 2 years due to COVID-19. And as much as there’s still many restaurants I had not ticked off my to-try list in Australia, I was keen to start on my fast growing to-try list in Singapore. One could say it’s also because Singapore is where my heart ultimately belongs to. :)

Since returning in mid July 2021, I had been lucky with my reservations. And I am very thankful because I heard it’s hard to obtain bookings at the more popular restaurants. Especially Japanese restaurants which offered omakase menus. Although I think it helped that I was making reservation for myself. I know right… Didn’t think I would still be dining solo after returning, but most of my friends had tried most of the restaurants I was keen to go to. And several times at it too.

However luck had it that I found a fellow foodie who was keen on trying Fleurette. Yeah! And thus, reservation was made through the restaurant website with almost 1.5 months advanced notice for counter seats.

Located at Rangoon Road, the nearest MRT station to Fleurette was Novena or Farrer Park. But the distance from either stations to the restaurant ain’t quite walkable. One would still need to take the bus before embarking on an additional 5 to 10 minutes walk. Me? I took the taxi. Ha!

As I neared the restaurant, I saw a staff waiting at the entrance in anticipation of arriving diners. And after checking my reservation detail, he led me to the dining space while thanking me for my past purchase of their madeleines. I was surprised. I had supported Fleurette by ordering the madelelines almost 2 months back (for delivery to a friend), but I didn’t think they would connect it to my dinner reservation. So that was a nice personal touch. And I fell in love with the space. Being the first to reach, I couldn’t help but initiate conversation with the waiting staff and gush about how lovely the space was. I liked how they softened up the interior with (preserved) flowers and accentuated the texture of the walls through clever use of lights.

There’s no physical menu at Fleurette. In fact, when one is making the reservation, it’s indicated that the tasting menu for dinner is priced at $228 and is changed monthly. And the meal do not require everyone to fully arrive at the counter before starting. So once my friend arrived, we commenced our dinner tasting menu, $228 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Sea bream with coriander and jalapeño sauce, and bonito with bell pepper and leek sauce. We were told to start with the sea bream first. With 2 slices served for each of the 2 appetisers, these were lovely. The sea bream was light on the palette, while the bonito was heavier cause of its smokiness.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Sweet prawn (awaebi), avocado and heirloom tomatoes tart.


  

3) Dish #3 (above) – Salt water sea urchin (ensui uni), salmon roe, oyster, mussel, medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and vinegar jelly.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Grilled arctic surf clam (hokkigai) and gingko nut in dashi broth. This unfortunately smelled good but taste did not match up to the aroma. The gingko nut also had a weird texture. I was expecting it to be sweet and squishy, but it was bitter and its core had a honeycomb texture (ie, non solid).


5) Dish #5 (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) made with shiitake mushrooms, and topped off with 2 drops of matsutake mushroom oil and shaved truffle. So while the chawanmushi was silky (as what I would expect from a restaurant of Fleurette’s calibre), my friend thought the truffle did little for the overall taste. I personally thought the truffle introduced a slight nutty depth to complement the mushroom flavour such that it was a very earthy dish. But I wouldn’t say this dish impressed.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Langoustine served with parsley and assam sauces. This was not too bad. I liked it.


  

7) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone from Jeju Island (Korea) served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, and accompanied with focaccia. The waiting staff went round to ask if we wanted seconds of the bread. And me being a huge bread lover, I was given 2 more pieces even before I started on my first. Oops, greedy me strike again. But sadly, the bread was a tad oily and didn’t quite go well with the abalone liver sauce. Uh huh, I used the bread to wipe clean my bowl. And one should not underestimate how hot the stone bowl was. The sauce was bubbling away as we tucked in. So much so that the sauce that’s in contact with the stone bowl was burnt by the time I got to the bottom of my bowl. Puffed rice served on the abalone was burnt too. Pity.

  

  

8) Dish #8 (above) – Pork served in 2 ways; French-cut pork loin with thinly sliced matsutake mushroom, pumpkin and ginger flower, and pork cheek ragu with wild mushroom. This was beautiful! I especially enjoyed the pork loin. Served pink, it was tender with a great balance between meat and fats. And the use of the pickled ginger flower was clever!


9) Dish #9 (above) – Firefly squid (hotaru ika) claypot rice. Another dish which I thoroughly enjoyed. I especially liked the scorched rice bits for the additional firm and crunchy texture on top of the ‘popping’ from biting into the firefly squid. And note how I used the singular form – Firefly squid. It would have been nicer if we got more firefly squids in our portion. But that aside… My friend and I went for seconds. Keke.

10) Dish #10 (above) – Palette cleanser of cucumber sorbet with compressed cucumber in mint syrup and horseradish.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Hokkaido milk ice cream with snow salt and Spanish olive oil. And to be very honest, I wasn’t impressed. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great combination, but I expected more from Fleurette. A more… Complex dish? Maybe it’s a case of me being spoilt (since I tried a good number of restaurants), but this dessert really ain’t that hard to assemble on one’s own.


12) Dish #12 (above) – Fleurette’s signature Tahitian vanilla & honey madeleine. And it was nice I finally got to try the madeleine that I previously ordered as a surprise delivery for my friend. Although I hoped the madeleines sent then didn’t look like what’s presented to us. Again, I may be nit picking but I was taken aback to see our madeleines served as ‘broken’ shells. And I knew they could do better because they offered us seconds, and the second piece was perfect.

13) Dish #13 (above) – Warabi-mochi.

I enjoyed myself at Fleurette. But it really wasn’t entirely because of the food. Quite a big part was contributed by my company. Had I dined at Fleurette solo, I probably would have left the restaurant slightly disappointed. You see… Yes, service was good. And yes, there were dishes that were beautifully executed. But… I was left feeling mostly confused by the end of my meal.

It was evident the dishes were heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine. Actually… I ain’t sure if I could even use the word ‘influence’ because of dishes like the hotaru ika donabe or truffle chawanmushi which were Japanese dishes. Prior to dinner, I read from their website that chef-owner Tariq Helou was of Japanese, Chinese and Lebanese origins. So I arrived at the restaurant looking forward to fusion dishes, or a good mix of different cuisines. But what’s served were 70% Japanese dishes. And because majority of the dishes were Japanese dishes, I found myself putting on my ‘Japanese critic hat’… And the dishes missed the mark (to my standard) only because Fleurette really isn’t a full-fledged Japanese restaurant.

I also thought it was a little weird that they charged us for warm water. My stomach was feeling a little queasy in the afternoon, which was why I opted for warm water. So while the waiting staff mentioned upfront that it’s a one-time charge for still or sparkling, I was surprised to see a charge for warm water on the bill. Isn’t warm water just boiled tap water? Unless it was the still water that they boiled with… *Shrug*

Would I recommend Fleurette? Well… It’s not exactly bad to the extent where I would say “don’t bother”. Do still give them a try. I do empathise with them as they opened in the midst of the pandemic and went through the 2 full lockdowns. In fact, give head chef Tariq some time. Time for him to further develop his dishes and be able to showcase what’s uniquely him. I would really love to see more Chinese and Lebanese influences in his dishes.

FLEURETTE
204 Rangoon Road, Singapore
+65 8725 8218, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sat : 19:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Dinner @ Kisuke (Sydney, Australia)

April 15, 2021 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

I was lucky to have one more sushi meal at Osaka Bar during their last month of operation. And it was then while striking a conversation with Kazu Nakatani san’s wife (Mori san) that I learnt Osaka Bar’s lease will be taken over by the team behind Kisuke (previously located at Willoughby). So while I knew Kisuke was scheduled to open in March 2021, I forgot to keep track. Haha. By the time I remembered… Which was also when pictures of the newly opened Kisuke at Potts Point started appearing on Instagram (on 2 March, their official opening date), Kisuke was fully booked out for a month. The earliest seat I could get was for mid April 2021.

But I thank my lucky star because Hyota Sugihara san from Yoshii’s Omakase contacted me and mentioned he had seats for his friends at Kisuke. :) And thus, I was able to dine earlier at Kisuke in mid March instead.

There are two seatings at Kisuke. One at 5.30pm, and the second at 8.15pm. I was slotted for the first seating. And when I stepped through the entrance, I was truly impressed with what chef-owner Yusuke Morita had done with the space that previously housed Osaka Bar. It was a 180 degree change; Kisuke was bright, modern yet authentic, and cosy. In fact, the space looked so much bigger too! And once everyone was seated, I commenced my omakase dinner, AUD175 with:-


  

1) Dish #1 (above) – Appetiser; Abalone steamed in sake served with its liver sauce, Pacific rock oyster with ponzu, brussels sprout cooked in dashi and served with miso sauce, rolled egg (tamago), and soy-glazed duck with mustard seeds.


  

2) Dish #2 (above) – Clear soup made with bonito flakes and dashi, served with sand whiting, ladyfinger (okra), carrot and a slice yuzu peel. I ain’t sure if it’s intentional but the ingredients used for the soup was colourful; White, green, orange and yellow! Nice.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi assortment of bonito and snapper.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) with bass grouper and soy-marinated salmon roe.

5) Dish #5 (above) – This was meant to be a beef dish. But because of my dietary requirement, the wagyu was replaced with trevally. What head chef Morita san did differently for my fish dish was that he grilled the sea urchin and trevally together (The wagyu was grilled too, but served with raw sea urchin). And to be very honest, I felt guilty towards head chef Morita san because I forgot to mention my dietary requirement through Hyota san. I only mentioned it at the restaurant when head chef Morita san was preparing the dish. So kudos to him! It was amazing how he managed to think off his feet and replaced the beef with fish for me. Although when he was shaving truffle onto the portions with beef, he didn’t put any on my fish. It was only after he served everyone their beef, then did he shaved me some truffle before serving. I later learnt from him that he was hesitant because he wasn’t sure of the taste since he didn’t try the fish with truffle.

  
  
  
  
  
  

6) Dish #6 (above) – Bass grouper, garfish mixed with ponzu, scallop marinated with dried kelp (kobujime hotate), torched (aburi) scampi with chopped yuzu peel, cuttlefish with lemon, shiso leaf and salt, sardine, imperador (kinmedai), 7-days aged blue fin tuna, marinated medium fatty tuna (chutoro zuke), premium fatty tuna – cheek cut (kamatoro), and sea eel (anago). I liked that head chef Morita san used the Japanese names of the fishes for introduction. It’s been a while since I heard that cause the chef normally used the fishes’ English names in Australia. And I got to say I was impressed when kamatoro was served. Although I wasn’t exactly happy with how my chutoro zuke looked. His sushi rice (shari) was stickier than average. But don’t get me wrong. It went well with the fish toppings (neta).

  

7) Dish #7 (above) – Minced tuna and spring onion (negitoro) and sea urchin hand roll.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Inaniwa udon in fish broth. So good! And this was prepared by head chef Morita san’s wife. And it was a joy watching her prepare the thin udon noodles dish. There’s so much grace to her movements!

9) Dish #9 (above) – Fruits for dessert!

10) Dish #10 (above) – Green tea.

I truly enjoyed myself at Kisuke. Head chef Morita san was friendly, although he’s still slowly warming up to having-to-pose-for-pictures; He did pose with the array of fishes (to be served for the sushi leg of our dinner), but he was too shy to make eye contact with our cameras. Keke.

And if I may just add… I would even use the word classy on them. Head chef Morita san is a real gentleman. It’s not often seen in restaurants, but he would serve all the female customers before serving the male. And I felt it was a nice touch that head chef Morita san’s wife was dressed traditionally. Right down to the footwear (Japanese flip flop – Geta). Wow.

I definitely see myself returning to Kisuke for many more meals! For the ambience, for the cute husband-wife team, and for the food! And at AUD175 per person, I felt it was money well-spent especially for the quality ingredients head chef Morita san was dishing out. Seats are released on a daily basis, almost 6 weeks in advanced. I know… It’s a little odd how it’s 6 weeks and not just 1 month. But it’s definitely good news that it’s not extremely difficult to secure a reservation (yet).

KISUKE JAPANESE
50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 8871 7171, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 22:45
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Sun
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Dinner @ Yoshii’s Omakase (Sydney, Australia)

January 29, 2021 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Yoshii’s Omakase is the latest sushi-ya to join Sydney’s omakase scene. Opened in December 2020, Yoshii’s Omakase is located within Nobu at Crown Sydney. And as with the restaurant’s name, Yoshii’s Omakase is head-speared by head chef sushi master Ryuichi Yoshii.

I was extremely lucky with my dinner reservation. It was only through someone’s last minute cancellation that I was able to snag a reservation. Uh huh… I miraculously chanced upon a seat for Friday on a Monday. And on the day of my dinner, I received a call from the restaurant at mid-afternoon. I was informed to be punctual for my reservation at 6pm as it was the first seating, and was told that they may start the first course without me if I was late. Emphasis on punctuality certainly noted.

One of the first few differences that I noticed after arriving in Australia was that what’s called first floor in Singapore was referred to as ground floor in Australia. So it was really odd that the lifts in Crown Sydney didn’t use ground floor. And do note the lifts in Crown Sydney are destination controlled. To get to level two, one should choose ‘level 2’ on the keypad and wait for it to announce which elevator to take.

And yes, I was punctual for my 6pm reservation. Upon seated, the staff took my order for drinks. But the first 10 minutes into 6pm were spent watching the chefs preparing the ingrdients and plating the sashimi platter course. And at 6.10pm, I commenced my omakase dinner, AUD280 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Beetroot jelly with caviar, served in homemade broth made with bonito flakes and dashi.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Charcoal-grilled bluefin tuna and brocollini tossed in miso-vinegar-mustard sauce, and topped with shredded dried chili and leek.


  

3) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi platter of i) radish, ii) river crab, iii) sea urchin wrapped with cuttlefish and topped with caviar, iv) roll of tuna, salmon, kingfish and cucumber, v) yellowfin tuna and avocado, vi) grilled swordfish, vii) salmon belly, viii) bar cod, and ix) premium fatty tuna (otoro). Served with homemade soya sauce. And this dish just screamed exquisite. It brilliantly showcased the chefs’ incredible knife skills and attention to small details. I mean, just look at the butterfly-shaped carrot on the wasabi!


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – Lobster wrapped with baby whiting, in clear soup (osuimono). The staff mentioned many other ingredients, but I lost track. Although I did manage to catch the staff saying this was typically a soup served during New Year.


5) Dish #5 (above) – Toothfish marinated in saikyo miso for 2 days before smoked in cedar. Paired with pickled radish. And the staff mentioned the dish was sushi master Yoshii san’s signature.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Ginger-mango sorbet.

  

7) Dish #7 – Sushi assortment (above) – Garfish topped with bone salt (left) and kingfish belly (right).

  

8) Dish #7 – Sushi assortment (continued) (above) – Similar to what chef head sushi chef Hyota Sugihara served during his Shiki days… He placed the (diced) cuttlefish sushi on our plate, but covered with shiso leaf. We were told to wait. It was only after we had 2 other sushi that he went on to remove the leaf, dap some soya sauce before re-putting it on our plate. And yes, this time for consumption. Sushi chef Hyota san warned us that the sushi would be soft, but I was a little surprised when the sushi nearly broke into 2 when I picked it up with my fingers.

  
  
  
  

9) Dish #7 – Sushi assortment (continued) (above) – Bonito with plum sauce, mackerel, bar cod, scallop from Queensland, yellowfin tuna marinated with soya and mirin, swordfish belly (which was torched for hint of smokiness), 2 pieces of premium fatty tuna (otoro) and squid.

  

10) Dish #7 – Sushi assortment (continued) (above) – Handroll of sea urchin from Tasmania and cucumber.

  

11) Dish #7 – Sushi assortment (continued) (above) – Sea eel (anago) drizzled with sushi master Yoshii san’s 28 years old master stock. And now… I highly suspect we were meant to have just 1 piece of sea eel. But because 2 in the group of 3 that sat beside me were too full, I was lucky to have 2 pieces of sea eel in mine.

12) Dish #8 (above) – Miso soup.


13) Dish #9 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago). The very dish that I was most looking forward to. Head sushi chef Hyota san shared that he had since adjusted the egg recipe under sushi master Yoshii san’s guidance. Still using paradise prawn, the amount of salt, oil and sugar was tweaked. So good! Was super lucky too that head sushi chef Hyota san entertained my request for a second. Keke. But if I’m to be very honest, I actually preferred the previous version. The egg omelette now felt heavier due to the evident wet middle layer.

14) Yamecha tea, AUD5 (above)

15) Dish #10 (above) – Bamboo charcoal ice cream with charcoal cracker.

16) Sake (180ml) (above) – Sharing a picture of my drink because it’s interesting that the sake was served in this ‘wooden crate’. Was told sushi master Yoshii san carried these back personally from Japan!

So what’s interesting odd at Yoshii’s Omakase was the sushi leg of my meal. Based on my past experiences and in (more) normal sushi-dining situations, 1 chef (usually the head chef) would ‘knead’ the sushi-s for all customers at the sushi counter. Even if customers were taken care by different chefs, the sushi-s were typically prepared and served in the same style/way. But at Yoshii’s Omakase, sushi master Yoshii san and head sushi chef Hyota san did the sushi in their own styles. Uh huh… For the 8 of us who were dining that night, the 2 chefs took care of 4 each. So while the fishes for the meal were the same, how the fishes were used for the sushi-s differed.

For example, sushi master Yoshii san chose thinly-sliced cucumber over roasted seaweed for his sea urchin nigiri sushi while head sushi chef Hyota san used roasted seaweed but served his as a handroll. Another example, sushi master Yoshii san put watermelon radish on his kingfish belly nigiri sushi while head sushi chef Hyota san drizzled his with soya sauce.

So in a way… Yes, I was slightly bummed because I came with the anticipation to try master chef Yoshii san’s sushi. But I wasn’t that bummed because I dined at Shiki before and knew I was in the good hands of head sushi chef Hyota san. In fact, I was really thrilled to see him again! :) One may argue head sushi chef Hyota san may not be as skilled as his mentor/teacher since master chef Yoshii san has 30 years of experience under his belt while head sushi chef Hyota san is with just 17 years. But I wish to highlight that it’s rude to purely correlate one’s skill just to the number of years.

Will I recommend Yoshii’s Omakase? I would, even though they are probably the most expensive at AUD280 among the other sushi-yas because I felt the price was justified by the quality of ingredients, the taste and visual of the food, and the ambience. I’m definitely going to try to book myself a return visit, and hopefully to be seated at master chef Yoshii san’s end of the sushi counter. Keke. Seats are released via their website on a monthly basis. Ie, March reservations are released on 1 February. Good luck! :)

YOSHII’S OMAKASE AT NOBU
Level 2, 1 Barangaroo Avenue, Crown Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 8871 7171, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Thur : 18:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 8
Fri – Sat : 17:30 – 23:00
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Sun
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.