Lunch @ L’Effervescence レフェルヴェソンス (Tokyo, Japan)

May 15, 2017 in French

Worried that I may need a break from Japanese cuisine during my 8-days trip in Japan, I decided to make lunch plan at 2 Michelin stars L’Effervescence.

Thankfully, making reservation at this French restaurant wasn’t as tricky as the sushi restaurants; I didn’t have to go through hotel concierge or a local. One could make reservation on OpenTable. However, I had to contact the restaurant on their Facebook page as the online booking website required at least 2 people.

When it was confirmed that the date I wanted was available, I provided my contact details together with my food restriction and credit card details. After which, the restaurant informed that a same day cancellation and no show would incur a cancellation fee of ¥10,000 per person. They also requested me to reconfirm my booking at least 2 days in advance, else my reservation would be cancelled. Since I knew I’ll be renting a wifi modem for my trip, I knew doing the latter wasn’t an issue.

Located within a residential estate, the only way of identifying the building that housed L’Effervescence was by the craving of the restaurant’s name on the tiled wall. Without knowing that, I walked past the building twice cause I tried to locate the restaurant by searching for the unit number which unfortunately there wasn’t any.

Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the receptionist who took my coat before her colleague led me to my table. Except for the white table cloths, brown cupboard and cream-coloured walls, everything else was black. Yes, including the ceiling. And what I really liked about the space was that instead of 4 concrete walls, 1 length was full-height glass which looked out to their garden. It’s a pity I didn’t get to sit by the window. It would have been such a zen experience.

I appreciated the professionalism and detail-ness when the staff assisted to pull up table cloth as I sat. Since clumsy people (like me) may accidentally step on the long table cloth and send the neatly placed utensils crashing onto the floor instead. Haha.

Each table had a designated waiting staff. Zacchari Touchane, head waiter of L’Effervescence, was assigned to my table. I also observed he attended to all non-Japanese diners. And he started me off with a welcome drink. After I took the sake saucer from a tray, Zacchari poured me Japanese sake infused with French wine as I continued to hold the cup.

And there’s only 1 lunch menu. After Zacchari doubled confirm my diet restriction of no beef, I commenced my ¥10,800 lunch with:-

1) Dish #1: A severe winter (above) – Amuse bouche were beet root jelly with botan pieces and green pea foam (above, left), and sake (nigori-zake) and mandarin sorbets (above, right). “For a refreshing taste”, Zacchari said.


2) Dish #2: Just like the apple pie #26 (above) – Monkfish liver, persimmon, jerusalem artichoke. I loved the presentation. Although I was unsure if it was chef-owner Shinobu Namae’s intention that it reminded me of McDonald’s pie packaging. Onto his version 26, I was told head chef Namae would add in something for every version. And I really enjoyed this. Brilliant combination.

3) Bread, Complimentary (above) – Instead of the usual butter, I was given tofu in Japanese truffle oil to spread on the bread.

4) Dish #3: A snowy day (above) – Amadai tilefish cooked in whey. Served with celeriac and olive oil.

5) Dish #4: A fixed point (above) – 4 hours cooked Tokyo turnip. Served with parsley, Basque ham & brioche. And I was told this was the signature dish of L’Effervescence. Available for lunch and dinner, and all year round.

6) Dish #5: When the cold wind blows (above) – Kegani crab & sweet potato soup, soft cod roe and wild bear caramel, salt preserved lemon. I loved how the milt was grilled to achieve the crispness on its exterior. And I was told even the crab shell was used for the broth.

7) Dish #6: The heat of the hearth (above) – Roasted duck over an open fire, guts & miso sauce, scallop & toasted nori jus, shiitake mushroom, curly-leaf spinach. Before my main course was served, I was presented with a collection of knives with different handles. They even included a silver glittery one! But I opted for a dark hue of brown. As for the cut of (duck) meat, breast and thigh were given. And I was impressed at how the skin was silted as it contributed to the extra crunchiness and gave the meat a more intense flavor of wood smoke. Totally delicious. Went superbly well with the sauce where the duck liver was used too.

8) Dish #7: Unfastened (above) – Tochiotome strawberry, white cheese ice cream, red bean meringue, mochi blanket. Served with cherry flowers preserved from the previous year, the mochi (Japanese rice cake) had to be one of the softest and thinnest I tried.

9) Dish #8: Matcha (above) – And I was treated to a green tea ceremony performed by Zacchari. Having worked for a Japanese restaurant in London before moving to Japan and joining L’Effervescence, one shouldn’t doubt Zacchari’s skill just because he’s not a Japanese. It was therapeutic as I watched his graceful yet purposeful moves.

10) Dish #9: Mignardises, “world peace” (above) – And within the lollipop was popping candy. I actually felt a little embarrassed cause I’m pretty sure the popping sound was audible by my neighbouring table. I must have spoilt the surprise (of the petit fours) for them too. Oops.

Honestly, I went to L’Effervescence to ‘break up’ my consecutive meals of Japanese cuisine. But I left the restaurant impressed by the entire dining experience. Everything was impeccable. From the ambience, food, to service.

Even as I made payment, I was surprised to be given a slice of chocolate-fig cake together with my receipt. “For you to enjoy”, Zacchari said. Such thoughtful gestures.

I definitely recommend L’Effervescence! It’s no wonder the restaurant is recognised with 2 Michelin stars and currently ranked 12 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 by S. Pellegrino.

2-26-4 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 西麻布 2-26-4)
+81 3 5766 9500, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 12:00 – 13:30 (L.O.)
Ambience: 9
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 20:30 (L.O.)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2018.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019.

Dinner @ Burnt Ends

March 31, 2017 in Australian

I finally get to strike Burnt Ends from my restaurants-to-try list with a recent visit in February. Burnt Ends has been on my list for the longest time ever because it’s not easy to secure a reservation. And I doubt it will get any easier as Burnt Ends recently came in 10th in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 by S. Pellegrino with head chef Dave Pynt winning the Chefs’ Choice Award.

To make a booking, one would need to do so on their website. And most of the Saturday slots would be booked once these were released on the system. Burnt Ends allows customers to book up to 3 months in advance.

With much planning and luck, I managed to make a booking for 25 February for 3 counter seats at 6.30pm (the latest time slot).

My brothers and I drove on the day of our dinner and were lucky to find a parking lot just a few units from Burnt Ends. And being punctual, if not early, was crucial in securing good seats as customers were seated according to how early one arrived. And no, not everyone in the group had to be present before seated. My brothers and I arrived 10 minutes late, and were seated a little far (but not the furthest) from the (open) kitchen. We sat facing the 4 ton dual cavity oven, between the open kitchen and bar. Not much view lah.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Smoked quail egg and caviar, $15 per piece (above) – Despite the hefty price tag, I was told by friends that this was a must try. And thus, we ordered 1 each. And this was good. It’s as what the dish name said. I could taste the intense smokiness when I bit into the egg. But of course, some may think it’s crazy to pay $15. But I say “just order” since the reservation wasn’t easy to come by. Ha!

2) Grissini and taramasalata, $12 (above)

3) Jamaican chicken and lime crema, $10 (2 pieces) (above) – The chicken was a little too charred for my liking.

4) Burnt ends’ sanger, $20 (above) – Pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aioli, brioche bun. It was thoughtful that they sliced the burger into 3. However, my youngest brother wasn’t too impressed. He didn’t think the various ingredients complemented one another. But I enjoyed eating this. The entire process of sinking my teeth into the thick, greasy burger. It was a delicious mess. Keke.

5) Hot roasted quail, $24 (above) – Pretty good!

6) King crab and garlic brown butter, $75 (above) – And this was pretty good too! Very fresh and meaty.

7) Burnt ends’ sourdough, $5 (above) – The staff recommended us to get the bread to ‘clean’ the remaining gravy from our crab dish. And I am glad we went with her recommendation cause even without the gravy, I enjoyed their sourdough which was chewy and stretchy.

8) Suckling pig and cider, $65 (above) – Menu stated it’s for 2, but it fed the 3 of us very well.

9) Mint and chocolate, $12 (above) – Give this a miss. I was expecting something creative, but it was literally mint ice cream and chocolate pieces.

10) Sugar cake and smoked ice cream, $12 (above)

Different groups of friends said it’s a sin that my brothers and I went to Burnt Ends without trying their beef. My friends endorsed the beef dishes, citing that it’s one of the best they ever had. But, but… my brothers and I don’t eat beef because of religious reasons. =(

And I personally felt Westerners had it better than Asians in terms of service. With every different groups of customers that came in and sat at the counter, I noticed head chef Dave Pynt would only approach the groups of Westerners. Hmm… Though to be fair, it could be because he observed Asians tend to be more reserved and bad at striking conversation. Thus him only conversing with Westerners? But it was fortunate that the lack of personal attention was made up by the attentive and friendly waiting staff.

Would I still recommend Burnt Ends? Well… I still would. But one really must make reservation. Those who tried walking in at 6.30pm were asked to return at 8.30pm. But by 8pm, I could hear kitchen staff shouting “Pigeon finished”, “No more crab”, etc.

20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore
6224 3933, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Sat : 11:45 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon, Sun

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2018.

Dinner @ Restaurant André [Revisit] // CLOSED

December 28, 2016 in European, French

This may sound cliche but it was as though the universe was sending me signs to return to Andre when 3 parties mentioned Restaurant Andre on different occasions.

A few months ago, a friend casually brought up Andre after seeing pictures from his cousin’s instagram account. And a few days later, the friend who dined at Andre with me in 2010 revisited Andre and texted me to say the food has improved lots. Now, this particular friend of mine has really exquisite taste. If it’s a yes from him, the dishes must be really good. So when my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) said she had been wanting to check out Andre, we decided to do just that. =)

I mean… I had to keep up with my 3-years visit too; Having dined at Andre in 2010 and 2013, I had to return before 2016 came to an end. Especially when Andre was recently awarded 2 Michelin stars. =p

Reservation was made 2.5 months in advance. And reservation procedure had become more complicated since 2013. But that’s not surprising as those were measures needed to deter last minute cancellation. To make reservation, one had to make a request from their website.

Within 2 days, I received an email with payment details as we were required to make a deposit of $50 within 48 hours to secure the table. The deposit would be used to offset the meal’s cost. And do be mindful of cancellation and last minute change charges. 20% for 72 hours notice, 50% for 48 hours notice and 100% for 24 hours notice.

My IGGF and I arrived excitedly on a Saturday evening in December. Upon entering, chef Andre Chiang was waiting at the lounge (to our direct right) with his staff to welcome us. Such a nice surprise! Thank goodness we were punctual. Keke. And I guess that’s also the difference between 7pm and 8.30pm. At 7pm, one gets to meet chef Andre in person before he becomes too busy in the kitchen. After exchanging some words, the staff led us to our table.

It’s a first for me to be seated at level 3. To reach the topmost level, we took the lift. The lift was located at the entrance of the kitchen (but shielded from patrons dining at level 1) as it’s used by servers to deliver food from kitchen to the various levels. So yes, felt very privileged to get a glimpse of the kitchen!

In terms of interior decor, level 3 is pretty different from level 2. It felt as though we were entering chef Andre’s living room with books, autographed plates and his Michelin star plaque adorning the walls on shelves. And one gets to see more of chef Andre at level 3 because there’s a mezzanine floor which served as his office.

And with that, we started our $350 octaphilosophy dinner menu with:-

1) Snack #1, Complimentary (above) – Capsule ball with cherry and balsamic, topped with red seaweed. And as what the staff said, it had an after taste of chocolate. Amazing.

2) Snack #2, Complimentary (above) – Crispy chips; Porcini mushroom (brown), scallop (white) and purple potato (purple).


3) Snack #3, Complimentary (above) – Butter squash, salted duck york and vanilla, fish and chip, wild mushroom tart dusted with coriander powder, celeriac puree with miso strip, and abalone and its liver on crispy seaweed. Presentation was superb. The staff shared that chef Andre worked with a local architect to design the display set. So yes, we were eating off Marina Bay Sands and Supertree of Gardens by the Bay. But because the display set was huge (as wide as the table), my IGGF and I had much difficulty trying to get everything into a frame. Keke. And of the 5, the fish and chip was my favourite!


4) Snack #4, Complimentary (above) – Charcoal dough fritter served on a bed of real charcoal, with dipping sauce of piquillo (pepper from north Spain) and sweet shrimp (amaebi) tartar. And this was another favourite. I loved it so much that I was tempted to ask for seconds. But I knew better not to; I needed to reserve stomach space. We haven’t even started on our dinner menu!

5) Unique (above) – Corn, horseradish, almond and vanilla. So while there’s a piece of sliced corn on the top, what’s more fascinating was the capsule ball beneath it. Bite into it to have corn soup bursting in one’s mouth.

6) Pure (above) – Crab ravioli, served alongside pear ice and leek water.

7) Bread, Complimentary (above) – It was a little weird to have bread served after 2 of our 8 courses since bread is often served before appetiser. But greedy me finished the bread nonetheless. Haha. And we were told the sourdough was baked from their sister restaurant, Burnt Ends. Okie, that’s new. I didn’t know Restaurant Andre had affiliated restaurants.

8) Salt – Squid pasta and potato puree in kelp jus, with barley and puffed grains.

9) South (above) – Scallop lasagna with gillardeau oyster, caviar aubergine, watercress foam and vinegar.

10) Artisan (above) – It’s hard to tell but we were told there’s 17 types of vegetables. With (striped horse mackerel) shima aji added to support the flavour. And when we were done with our dish, the staff came with a tea pot and poured fermented broth of the vegetables trimming. “Chef Andre believes we should not waste our food. This allows us to finish what remains in the bowl,” she said as she nodded at the remaining basil vinegarette. Respect.


11) Texture (above) – Risotto Risoni pasta with mushroom and buckwheat wafer. It being the (alba) white truffle season, the staff said we could top up $90 for 5g which will be used on 1 course, or $180 for 10g for 3 courses. I decided to go with 5g. And so, mine came with shaved truffle. Else, the staff will come along and shave belper knolle cheese onto the dish. And we were surprised to find yoke and chicken stork in the centre which flowed out like a lava cake as we tucked in. Brilliant.


12) Memory – And we were presented with chef Andre’s memory; Foie gras jelly served with black truffle coulis. This was created when he was a young chef in 1997 and his head chef challenged him to make something. Chef Andre liked his creation so much that he put it on his menu. And indeed, I had this when I last dined at Restaurant Andre in 2010 and 2013. Except this time, they upgraded its presentation. Keke.

13) Terroir (above) – Pigeon baked in a ‘soil’ bed of coffee bean, cacao nibs and lindqvist. And we were served the breast and thigh, which we were told chef Andre believed these were the best parts, alongside leek powder and chips. I especially liked the thigh with the crispy skin.

14) Pre-dessert (above) – “Green tea ceremony,” the staff joked. Cold green tea ice cream, green tea chocolate with warm green tea foam. I wished there was more ice cream though. Keke.


15) Dessert #1 (above) – Hand sliced grape on raspberry sorbet, served in white peach soup and topped with pink coriander flowers.

16) Dessert #2 (above) – Hay ice cream on camembert cheese. The ice cream had a really unique taste. Somewhat similar to earl grey. And the texture of cheese was like souffle; Light and spongy. And it was amazing how the two went very well together.


17) Petit fours (above) – Cinammon churro with chocolate-cinnamon dip, earl grey crystalline, verjus (juice of unripe grape) pate de fruit, kaya ‘toast’ macaron, cherry madeleine and root beer float ice cream stick.

Octaphilosophy (Unique, pure, texture, memory, salt, south, artisan, terroir) is the restaurant’s overall philosophy; It’s chef Andre and his team’s method of encouraging and managing the creative process, and a principle to live by. Octaphilosophy was developed as a tool to explain a dish. And as taken from their website, all dishes are there for a reason and all are equally important.

And indeed, every dish was superb. Like seriously… Every dish! My friend was right to say chef Andre has improved much. Definitely worthy of his 2 Michelin stars. I was initially worried there would be repeated dishes as what I experienced in 2013. But thankfully, there wasn’t any except for his ‘Memory’ dish which chef Andre said would still be on the menu when I return in 2019. Keke.

Our dinner stretched over 4 hours. Though in all honesty, it didn’t feel that long. I guess time just slipped by in front of good food and wonderful company. =) But I think 45 minutes were probably spent taking pictures of our food. Oops.

Will I recommend Restaurant Andre? Definitely!

41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore
6534 8880, Website, Facebook
Overall: 9
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 10
Wed, Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tue – Sun : 19:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 9
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon, alternate Sun

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 2 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.