As you’d expect from any self-respecting foodie, we regularly check the various ‘World’s Best Restaurants’ lists, and are doing our best to work our way through them, true to our quest to taste some of the world’s finest fare, and mainly to see if they live up to the hype. (Some do, some don’t.) So on cementing our plan to move to Singapore, we celebrated by looking up the highest-ranking Singapore restaurant on the World’s Top 50 list. Seeing it come in at number 46, we excitedly booked a table at Restaurant André (for about 3 months later – you need to book well in advance!).
So, Singapore’s best restaurant. Would it live up to the hype, and the hefty price tag? Unequivocally, yes. Chef André Chiang is much lauded and acclaimed, and we could see why – his vision, talent and inventiveness is mind-boggling, and we had one of the most memorable meals (or experiences is probably a better term) to date.
I fairly regularly eat at good restaurants, occasionally at great ones, all too often at average places, and I have eaten at perhaps only a handful of exceptional restaurants. This is one of them. The combination of a comfortable, intimate dining room (André aimed to create the feeling of eating at his home, and succeeded), the intriguing concept of ‘Octaphilosophy’, the unique touches like the leather bound tome of a wine ‘list’ (journal more like) with the story of the organic wine philosophy and fun quotes, and of course the flawlessly executed dishes are what makes it exceptional.
The menu based around ‘Octaphilosophy’ immediately caught our imaginations and we enjoyed following the theme throughout the course of the evening, ticking off dishes which represented Pure, Salt, Artisan, South, Texture, Unique, Memory and Terroir. Some might snort with derision at this part and call it unnecessary , perhaps pretentious…And that could be understood. I’m not going to lie and pretend that we truly grasped the depth of meaning within it, but it was fun all the same.
This menu wasn’t hearty, huge flavours, or show-off ingredients, but a beautifully balanced walk through different tastes and textures. And exquisitely plated and presented, enough to impress but without trying too hard (no dry ice to be seen).
I’ve already established how rare it is to find somewhere truly exceptional, but what is even rarer is to remember and rave about one individual dish. But the dessert at André is the most imaginative and wonderful dessert I have ever eaten and I have told everyone who would listen about it! I’m not really into gimmicky dishes and theatrics for the sake of it, but I do really enjoy a little clever twist and this was just that.
It was plated up to appear like raw cake ingredients, which then when mixed up together would create your dessert. What André himself explained (yes, table-side, which was a lovely touch) was that the ‘sugar cubes’ were in fact marshmallows (soft and light and coated in crisp granulated sugar), ‘flour’ was milk granita, the ‘butter cubes’ were peanut butter parfait (cool and creamy) and the egg yolk was blended and compressed treacle tart. It amused and delighted and surprised and was utterly delicious.
This isn’t a place you would go to very often (you may need to take out a loan apart from anything else, it isn’t cheap), and by the end of 15 or so courses it had been an assault on the tastebuds (and waistband) which you need to be in the right frame of mind to fully enjoy. But for a special occasion, and when you are in the right mindset to appreciate it at its fullest, please go. You will thank the culinary gods that you did.
Restaurant Andre, 41 Bukit Pasoh Road Singapore 089855