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Casual dining in Singapore is truly defined by the Hawker Stall. These Singapore equivalent of a food court in the mall are found throughout the city. You can get everything from grilled meats, noodle dishes, seafood and more. Singapore is also home to two Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls.
These stalls offer the cheapest Michelin starred meals on the planet. Generally, Singapore is a pretty expensive city, but you can easily eat some amazing food for less than $5USD each meal.
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle
We visited both Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls on my 68 hours on the ground. The first was immediately after the great bike tour. I swung by Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, in Chinatown. These guys are known for the ubiquitous dish of Chicken and Rice. You are probably thinking how can a simple chicken and rice dish be 1) the national dish of Singapore and 2) earn a Michelin Star. Well, it isn’t because of the service or the ambiance, that’s for sure.
This place looked like a fast food joint in a mall. I arrived around 13h45 after the lunch rush and still waited in line for 30 minutes. I ordered the Chicken and Rice and a beer. The beer blew the budget as I spent S$10 on this meal. The dish was perfectly fine. Nicely cooked and mildly seasoned. I was lost as to how this was so highly rated. Then I saw the condiments. Simple sauces and peppers. Adding these to the meal was phenomenal. Loads of flavor, a little spice really kicked up the dish. I loved it.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
The second Michelin Starred Restaurant we visited was Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. It was right near the bike tour shop too. Arriving around 14h00, we didn’t miss the line today. We waited for nearly an hour in the very hot Hawker area. Most of the fans were not working either.
Pork noodle was the famous dish here, so of course that was our selection. We grabbed a beer while we waited in line and another once we had our food. We loaded the dish with all the recommended condiments and paid S$7 per person.
The tables were pretty full, but we lucked out and snagged a four-top the second we had our food in hand.
The pork noodle was just the perfect dish. Spicy, salty and savory flavors made me want to order a second dish, but I couldn’t handle the line.
So, we managed to knock a couple of things off our Singapore must-do list. Enjoying street food and hitting Michelin Rated Restaurant. Have you visited either of these Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls? Did you think the food was worth the wait? What other places would you recommend who want great food, but can’t handle the 30-60+ minute wait for it?
We are so fortunate to have the world’s first and only Michelin Starred Brew Pub just meters from our home. Band of Bohemia opened in 2016 in the Ravesnwood neighborhood on the northside of Chicago. While it did receive (and has kept) their single Star, don’t think that makes this place stuffy or reserved for only special occasions. I find myself popping over for a drink on the way home quite regularly.
They are a proper brew pub that produces their own beers which are paired perfectly with the food offerings, but they’ve also got a great cocktail crew who rotates some great seasonal offerings while retaining the basic skills needed to make any drink your heart desires. Their wine team is also on point pairing an eclectic selection with their fare. I’ve had a couple great dry Austrian selections recently here too.
And for those of you who need a great cup of coffee, they’ve even got a coffee sommelier. I’m not a coffee guy at all, but the coffee somm is a really great guy who can talk about the wines, spirits and coffee all day. I love bellying up to the coffee bar and getting cocktails after work.
We hosted some friends a bit ago and wanted to show off this neighborhood gem. Snagging a Friday night reservation was a bit tough considering I didn’t plan too far ahead. A quick email directly to the resto, not through their booking app netted me my coveted spot. Never think that 1) The availability outlined in the booking apps are always accurate and 2) Don’t underestimate the value of being a regular patron.
We opted to indulge in the current tasting menu plus the house made beer pairings. The five course menu was full of seasonal perfection.
I completely forgot to snap a picture of the main dessert, but I’m not a big dessert guy and I really enjoyed the Thai Lime Pie. Swing by just for That!
My favorite course actually was the Carmelle Pasta. The asparagus was so light and spring refreshing inside an amazingly delicate pasta. I really wanted a large (family sized???) portion. Maybe next time.
Band of Bohemia occupies an old warehouse space on Ravenswood Avenue. The expertly renovated space is curated with classic furniture and design elements. It is such a welcoming space, I just love popping over for a quick one after work and relaxing with the amazing staff and a splendid cocktail. It feels strange(ly wonderful) for your local pub to be Mechelin rated.
Have you dined at Band of Bohemia before? What is your favorite local brew pub?
Everest is a mainstay in Chicago’s fine dining scene. This Alsatian restaurant, located in the southern part of the Loop neighborhood. Everest earned its first Michelin Star in 2011 (the first year Michelin visited Chicago) and has kept their single Star ever since. Chef Jean Joho opened Everest in 1986, but it took us until last week to try it.
Everest has been on our list for quite a while. We love French food and we don’t get a chance to sample Alsatian food very often. I booked our reservations about three weeks out, through Opentable, without problem. We snagged a prime reservation at 20h00.
The day of the meal, we arrived right at 20h00 and were immediately escorted to a waiting area that reminded me a lot of a small break out room at a conference hotel. The room had those moveable walls so you can adjust its size. There were three tables in this area, 2 two-tops and a four-top. Techichally we didn’t have anywhere to sit, because the two people at the four-top were sitting in seats one and three. We asked them if we could sit with them, but they didn’t move, so we sat between them. It was awkward.
We ordered a drink in this holding area and watched as all the others near us were moved into the dining room. Another couple, from Toronto, joined us for a drink. At 21h00 we were brought to our seats – yes, one hour after our reservation. I was frustrated and starving.
Everest offers both a tasting menu and an al a carte menu. The tasting menu didn’t really appeal to me as there were two of the seven courses that I would have eaten, but wouldn’t order on their own (Foie Gras and Pheasant). We opted for the a la carte option.
When exploring the tasting menu, you can add optional wine pairings. With the a la carte menu, we just asked the server to select three wines for our four course dinner. We decided to have two starters and a main, followed by a shared cheese course and then ultimately the dessert.
I started out with the Atlantic Oysters then moved into the Everest Roasted Lobster – a dish on which the menu claims Everest has built its reputation. Mike also chose a Everest Signature entree – the Sole Meunière.
We enjoyed our food at Everest, but were really put off by the extremely long wait we had until our table was ready. Then the waiting just continued. It took us a while to get menus, then finally to place our orders. Once that was all done, the kitchen kept everyone on track. The food came out properly prepared and at the right temperature. It was clear the issues were at the front of the house. Two tables next to us had the wrong food delivered – our food was spot on from delivery to taste.
The decor was extremely outdated. It felt like we were in a scene from American Psycho – it felt very late 1980s or early 1990s. I was fully expecting Susan Sugarbaker to be dining at a table next to us — no such luck.
The patrons weren’t like those you see at other Michelin restaurants either. They all seemed very stiff and stodgy…except the table next to us. They were holding hands all through dinner, except when she’d step away to the washroom for 15-20 minutes at a time. We totally got the high-end pro and her John vibe from them. The other table right next to us had a woman and her recent college grad son. The son was explaining why pairing wine with food was stupid. We’ve all been there, a recent grad who knows EVERYTHING and anyone who offers guidance is dumb and stuck in the old ways. This was that guy.
I’m glad we visited Everest. We checked one of the most famous and long standing fine dining restaurants in Chicago. We have no plans on returning. The food was good, but everything else (decor, service and other patrons) all fell short on this dining experience. For $500 per couple, I’d rather enjoy fine dining at Next, Goosefoot or Grace (in Chicago, that is).
Have you been to Everest? Were you looking for Patrick Batemen too? What did you have? What did you love about your experience?
Our Labor Day Weekend trip to Yosemite ended with a final night in San Francisco, before our flight back to Chicago. I was given a choice of 3 restaurants for our one main meal in San Francisco, and I selected Coi (pronounced kwah – not coy). This Michelin Two-Star Restaurant is located in the North Beach neighborhood. The seafood centric menu by newly named chef, Matthew Kirkley was exquisite. Chef Kirkley and a few other members of his team recently left Chicago for San Francisco and are doing amazing things at Coi.
I wrote a few days about about the geographical error in the wine list – a simple, yet glaringly obvious issue: Burgundy is in France, not Germany. We all make errors in our work, but something as basic as this really surprises me that it made through the review process. Perhaps someone went in and intentionally made a change when printing new menus. How long had this error been present? How important is an issue like this when the fine folks from Michelin come in to review the restaurant? That being said, if the worst part of the dinner was a wrong country listed on a wine list, I’d consider that to be a win.
This meal made the list of best dining experiences we’ve had this year. It wasn’t number one for the year, remember, we went to Lima and ate our way through some of the best places on the continent (more on that later). For me, the standout dish was the Dungeness Crab. Being an Oregonian, I have a special place in my heart, er, stomach, for Dungeness Crab. One of the reasons this course stood out was the juxtaposition of the presentation (which looked fine, but didn’t wow me) and the flavors / textures of the food itself. My expectations were dropped based on presentation, but my mouth was blown away by the execution.
From a wine perspective, I think the Burgundy served with the Maine Lobster was great. I am a major fan of, as I call them, dirty Pinot Noirs. I just love the Earthy flavors that come from some of the world’s best Pinots. Oregon and Burgundy are my favorite regions for this type of wine and the 2006 Serafin Père et Fils, ‘Les Millandes,’ Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru sure fit the bill.
What I also loved about Coi was the service. When we visited L20, in Chicago (where Chef Kirkley and at least one of Coi’s servers came from), the service was abysmal…at best. We loved, again, the juxtaposition of the highly-elevated fine dining experience, with the gentile and approachable staff. We quickly built a rapport with the service team and laughed quite a bit together. After the meal, we sat and chatted, getting additional restaurant recommendations for the following day, and enjoying our wine.
We don’t make it to San Francisco all that often, and Coi isn’t an every day option, but I would very much love to return and experience another menu from this stellar team – if the opportunity should arise, I would definitely considering returning for this same menu again. I’d have to make sure the same service team was working my table though – they really pulled program together.
Kudos Chef and Team.
We booked reservations at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon several weeks before our actual trip to Hong Kong. This three Michelin star restaurant was pretty high on my list of places to try – but I couldn’t find a single person who had actually been to the restaurant. I read a ton of reviews and was excited about visiting. The restaurant is right at the Central Station – just a quick walk from where our Shuttle dropped us off.
This isn’t like any other restaurant I’ve been to – the main seating area was a high top bar around the centralized kitchen where you watch the chef and the souses prep and plate the meals. There is an outer ring of high boy tables that offer additional seating – none of which was needed the Friday night we visited. The one main thing I constantly saw/read about L’Atelier was about their wine list. It was hugely extensive – with hundreds (thousands?) of bottles from all over the world, but a huge selection of French wines. The best part – the markup wasn’t the standard 3-5 times retail upcharge – much of the wine was increased between 25% – 100% (estimate). Definitely one of the best wine lists I’ve seen – and I hear one of the best in Hong Kong.
I was really digging the interiors – sleek, modern, dark, yet welcoming. I was not at all sold on the whole bar only seating area. I don’t like eating dinner at the bar – it isn’t conducive to a good conversation among friends and is nearly impossible if there is more than 2 people together (lucky for us, it was just two of us). I don’t mind watching the inner workings of a world class kitchen — in small doses. The idea of watching for the entire meal wasn’t too exciting for me either.
We sat at our bar area and EAD decided to order a couple glasses of Dom Perignon. The by the glass vintage was 2004, which in my mind is head an shoulders above the 2003 (which is served on Thai Airways A380 Flagship Service). This was EAD’s first time trying Dom. It was definitely good, but I think you are paying quite a bit for the name versus the quality of the product. I actually prefer Krug over Dom, but I’m not all that discriminating when it comes to bubbles.
While we finished our champagne, we reviewed the outrageously extensive wine list – dozens upon dozens of pages of wines. Since we were in a Three Michelin Star French Restaurant, I figured we should have a French wine and since I had just returned from Burgundy a few weeks prior, I figured we should stay within that region. We asked the sommelier to join us and offer some guidance. This is where the meal started to go off the rails.
We started by telling him which menu we had chosen for the evening and that we were looking for a Burgundian red. We further explained that we love Pinot Noir for the lightness, but want something bolder to fit well with the beef entree. We then quietly pointed out our price point — even though the restaurant doesn’t mark their wines up 5 times, there was a selection of bottles priced over $100,000HKD and we didn’t want to pick up one of those. The somm spent about 3 minutes going through pointing out several bottles (but not telling us anything other than “this one is good…so is this one.”) He pointed out items that were priced half what we suggested up to 4 times the price. He added absolutely no value to the experience. The interaction with the somm was something I was looking forward to. I don’t expect someone to know everything about all the wines on a 135 pages wine list, but I expected much more than we got. We ended up just picking a Burgundian wine in the price range we were reviewing with no further guidance. Disappointment number one (the service, not the wine).
For dinner we opted for the 6-course menu. Which started off with smoked salmon and pureed watercress. I am probably the only person I know who doesn’t like smoked salmon. That being said, whenever I am out and it is an option on a tasting menu, I will often try it. I’m waiting for the time that it just wows me. Growing up I didn’t like fish in general, but now we eat fish a few times a week and if I could eat just one type of food for the rest of my life, it would be sushi. The roe served with the salmon was salty/briny and had a great pop of flavor. I did not really dig the salmon. I also forgot to take a picture of the amuse bouche and since I can remember nothing of it, I guess my bouche was far from amused.
The next course was crawfish, which I found to be better than the salmon. It had a nice coralline emulsion with it and I will admit, I felt a bit like Babe, Pig in the City. I didn’t know what coralline was, so I Googled it. Seaweed. Got it. I thought this dish had started to put us back on track – following a rough start with the somm and the salmon.
Next up was the entree in which we had a selection of either lamb or Kagoshima beef. The beef had an up-charge to it and if we wanted to have the highest grade beef possible we could do so for a secondary up-charge. We both opted or the beef but without the secondary up-charge. I struggle with beef at restaurants. I blame my father – beef or steaks in general were always thought to be the best of anything one could eat. In my day job, we are often taken out for a meal and steaks are the go to option – it shows how important we are as clients if they pay for big filthy steaks — or so it seems. I don’t often eat beef at home or order it at a restaurant unless it’s a work function. When I do, I am often left thinking about how I’m missing out on the other item. I am never happy, I guess.
Unlike the previous dish, I knew about Kagoshima beef and while I’ve had it a couple times before, I figured tonight would be another good night to try it again. The black cows of Kagoshima are world famous. This dish also came with a portion of foie gras. Be prepared to roll your eyes — I’m not a big fan of foie gras either. I can handle it in a small portion as long as it is accompanied by something else — my perfect portions are 1/3 foie and 2/3 something else.
The beef was perfectly prepared and had very nice flavor as did the foie gras. There was a ton of foie on my plate – nearly 2/3 of the amount of beef. One thing I love about beef outside of the US is that you get a real portion – not an enormous 24 ounce cut of meat. No human should consume that much of anything in sitting.
After the beef and foie gras, our waiter mentioned that we could add a cheese course if we wanted. C’mon! Anyone who has eaten with me knows if a cheese course is offered, I will take them up on it. Plus, this Three Starred French restaurant should have a fab selection. The layout of the restaurant was not conducive to have the cheese trolley actually move from table to table. Instead it was set back in the corner and we were paraded in front of it. There were approximately a dozen cheese selections – goat, sheep and cow. Firm, semi-firm to soft. As we were guided through the various options, I saw on calling out to me. It was inside a small round wooden cheese box. I eagerly awaited while our host made his way to this cheese…but he never did. I saw the little box labeled Époisses and my heart skipped a beat (probably equally because after eating it twice daily over Thanksgiving in France my arteries were clogged and because I had missed this beauty so much). How could the cheese guide skip it? I asked him if there really was Époisses inside and he confirmed, but said that Americans really don’t like that cheese and they often see it go to waste, so he usually doesn’t mention it to us.
Ok – I get it. An unpasteurized, soft, aromatic cheese is a far cry from the Kraft Singles most people here eat, but c’mon!
I responded to him by saying: “Escusez-moi…mais j’aime l’Époisses. Il est le meilleur fromage bourguignon. Mon ami n’a jamais essayé. Nous allons asseyer” – or “Excuse me, but I love Époisses. It is the best Burgundian cheese. My friend has never tried it. We will have it”. Oh my – it was wonderful. It was stinky, it was runny, it was fabulous.
We split a cheese plate as we weren’t especially hungry at this point. Our lovely cheese guide took the liberty of sprinkling some herbs over the various cheeses to help expand the flavor profile. So good. Did I mention how great l’Époisses was? In the picture below it is in the 15h00 position — see it starting to melt at room temperature? Heaven.
Next up was the dessert. It was unmemorable. So unmemorable in fact, I have no idea what it is. I checked the current menu, which shows the dessert as Japanese Strawberries — this sure isn’t that. I ate most of this dessert, I know that. I have no clue what it is and I know when eating it I wasn’t really into it. It looks pretty though, right?
As we finished our dessert (whatever it was) and sipped the last bit of our wine, our check was delivered along with some petit fours / macarons. At this point in the meal, I was pretty full, but it sure didn’t stop me from eating a macaron or a Madeleine, both of which were very good. I wish every restaurant would leave you some of these little treats as they drop off your check.
Those who know me or read this blog from time to time know that I love fine dining, although I am equally at home at a Three Star Michelin restaurant as I am at a squat stool on a side street eating off of a semi-clean spoon (that was lunch the day after this meal here). I was very much looking forward to eating at one of Hong Kong’s only Three Michelin star restaurants (there are 3 others). L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon has three stars, but honestly, I have no idea why. The service was pretty good. The sommelier was very disappointing, the courses were almost completely forgettable. The cheese course divine. This meal was by far the most expensive per person meal I’ve had in my life. It ran us more than 500USD/person all included. Alinea, in Chicago – what use to be the world’s best restaurant – was cheaper. Let’s be clear – I am very happy I visited and I don’t regret the decision for a moment, but I just don’t see how this is a Three-Star restaurant.
I am very happy I took photos of (almost) every course and that the menu remains online, because almost everything we had that night at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon was forgettable (other than the unimpressive somm and the Époisses). When I return to Hong Kong – and I guarantee I will – I will not return to l’Atelier.