Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Avenue, Level 2
Dining date: 3/6/16
Waku Ghin, in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, is regarded as one of the top restaurants in the city. Tetsuya Wakuda is the chef, a Japanese-born chef who established himself working in kitchens in Australia. His restaurant in Sydney, Tetsuya’s, is one of the most highly-acclaimed in Australia for its Japanese cuisine with French accents. He opened this sister restaurant in 2010. It was ranked #70 in the 2015 world’s best restaurants list and one of the top in Asia. When Singapore’s first Michelin guide comes out later this year, Waku Ghin is expected to garner a star, perhaps multiple.
Waku Ghin features multiple ‘private dining rooms,’ each seating 4-6 people. The seating surrounds a griddle very much like a teppanyaki restaurant, offering a front-row view into the food being prepared. The menu here is tasting menu-only, 10-12 courses. My dad dined here in November and enjoyed it so much that a return was in order.
Sky on 57
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
10 Bayfront Ave, Tower 1
Dining date: 3/5/16
Sky on 57 is located on the 57th floor (duh) of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. The food is from Singapore’s own Justin Quek, who has cooked at restaurants around Asian and France, but came home to open this restaurant atop the hotel resort. My dad had wanted to come to the top of the building to check out the views; a ticket up to the observation deck costs S$23, but lunch here is S$50 minimum per person so we figured we might as well make a meal out of it.
Brenda’s French Soul Food
652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dining date: 11/30/15
Brenda’s is one of the city’s most popular brunch spots (although it is open for dinner too), serving up a mashup of southern soul food and American brunch standbys. That means gumbo, po’boys and beignets on the menu next to omelettes and French toast.
This was my first time to the restaurant; we were able to squeeze into the last two seats available during a busy Monday lunch rush. Breakfast is served until 3pm while lunch is served from 11am onwards, and we arrived right in that sweet spot where both menu options were available. We tried a couple of items from each.
609 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dining date: 11/27/15
Petit Crenn is Dominique Crenn’s follow-up to her two Michelin starred Atelier Crenn. This restaurant is very different from the Atelier’s haute multi-course tasting menus; Petite Crenn is a small neighborhood restaurant serving a daily family-style menu inspired by Crenn’s childhood in Brittany, France. The food is seafood and vegetable-focused and is priced at a relatively reasonable $79pp for five courses (inclusive of service).
We dined at the Chef’s Table on this evening, which contrary to my assumption, was neither in the kitchen nor had much of a view of the kitchen. It’s a six-top in a secluded corner of the main dining room serving an ‘enhanced’ version of that night’s menu (upgraded ingredients and extra courses). For the privilege, these seats were $120pp inclusive of service.
Church & State
1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 11/6/15
Church & State was one of the first really exciting restaurants to open into the reinvigorated Arts District of downtown. With Walter Manzke in the kitchen, the restaurant was an immediate success. The neighborhood has had a ton of new development over the years, but Church & State has been a standby serving classic French bistro food. The restaurant celebrated its seventh anniversary last week and rolled back prices to 2008 levels in celebration. It’s been a long five years since I dined at the restaurant, so a revisit was long overdue.
60 E 65th St.
New York, NY 10065
Dining date: 9/10/15
Daniel Boulud is one of America’s most notable chef/restaurateurs with 16 restaurants in 4 countries around the world. I’ve tried a few of his restaurants with mixed thoughts, feeling like he’s spread himself fairly thin. However, I’ve always wanted to try Restaurant Daniel – Boulud’s flagship restaurant in New York City.
Since opening in 1993, Daniel has been regarded as one of the top restaurants in the city. Recently, the restaurant has lost some of its top accolades. It started in 2013 with a downgrade in the NY Times from four stars to three. Food critic Pete Wells cited very different dining experiences between the restaurant’s regulars/VIPs and other customers. Last year, Michelin dropped Daniel from the three-star ranks to two, something it re-affirmed in the latest 2015 guide. Michelin referred to inconsistency and a decline in food quality. Less importantly, the restaurant also dropped for the fifth straight year in the world’s best restaurants list, a precipitous drop of 40 spots down to #80 in 2015.
I was very indecisive on whether to invest a meal at Daniel. Would I be trying a restaurant on the downhill? Or a restaurant with a renewed focus on its food and service?