September 10, 2020

Nestled in the heart of the Marina Bay is Saint Pierre—one of five 2-Michelin Star restaurants in Singapore, with years of history in fine dining excellence. In the wake of the pandemic, I was blessed to be able to experience chef Emmanuel Stroobant’s unreserved cooking that was a demonstration of fervour and elegance.

The champagne trolley paved the way for me to enjoy the snackage followed by an onslaught of amuse-bouches. I worked anticlockwise, devouring artful morsels of sakura trout with creme fraiche in a delicate mini taco, bafun uni perched on chawanmushi alongside shiso leaves and squid poached in nori butter, enhanced with a frothy hollandaise sauce that revealed surprising hints of lemongrass and bay leaf. The Omi beef roulade stuffed with enoki and button mushrooms cooked in ponzu was not too shabby either.

In order to understand the cuisine here, one must familiarise themselves with an ensõ or Zen circle, which is akin to the highest form of an artist’s self-expression. And Stroobant attempts to do that by using Japanese produce to create emphatic flavours on a plate. Behold, the iconic caviar dish bolstered by a snappy mixture of Hokkaido scallop tartar, Jerusalem artichokes and buckwheat. It was an earnest attempt to play on texture. Thankfully, a ring of buttermilk parfait imbued with horseradish and basil oil provided the necessary acidity to cut through the richness of the caviar. 

The wine pairing was worth pursuing as it wasn’t besmirched by the predictable options I could have easily rattled off in my head. I started with an indigenous grape variety, Assyrtiko, that was a playful third wheel to the prestigious marriage of Hokkaido scallop and caviar. Hailing from Santorini, this ancient grape was brought to life in Clare Valley, Australia, by famous winemaker Jim Barry, whom upon the first try, was smitten. In this stellar pour, the 100% Assyrtiko had its usual clay foundation enhanced by a delicate backbone of sweet peaches and melon.

A flinty Meursault with a bouquet of marzipan and lemon zest from Domaine Philippe Pernot Belicard proved to be a solid pairing with the Hokkaido hairy crab swimming in corn nage and also the marron, that was first barbecued tableside, before being tossed in herbaceous turnip tea, finger lime and kohlrabi. 

The final main course was Stroobant’s way of going for broke. The Omi A5 grade wagyu served with a wasabi-infused beef jus, alongside petit pois, pickled shallots and girolle mushrooms, was a dream combination. Only to be propelled further by the sweetbreads confit in duck fat and finished in honey.

As anticipated, dessert came in a round form, with reference to the ensõ. It was a refreshing interplay of Tochigi strawberries and basil, but despite its good looks, felt like gratuitous posturing. The server asked if everything was up to mark upon seeing my barely eaten dessert, and I said, It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just not a dessert person.

Nevertheless, the finishing touches like the cheese platter, petit fours and rousing goodbyes—made dining at Saint Pierre uplifting. Bookmark this restaurant for special occasions, regardless of whether your partner is a sucker for gustatory pleasures. With top-notch ingredients and serious chef skills, Stroobant holds his own in a sea of Michelin-starred restaurants.