Finally. Just under 6 years after my first fine dining experience at Tetsuya’s, I finally made it to Waku Ghin. Technically that makes it the restaurant I’ve had on my wishlist for the longest! I almost didn’t go ahead with the booking though. I knew that it was potentially expensive, but I didn’t expect it to be Noma level expensive! At 450SGD plus tax and service charges, it would be my second most expensive meal to date. But, I had to go, because it closes my Tetsuya loop.
First of all, the booking process was essentially the same as that of Tetsuya’s. I emailed them, they emailed me back, I filled in my credit card details, they secured me a table. Now it was just a matter of waiting.
Then on the 28th of March, it was finally time to trek to Marina Bay Sands and check out the amazing complex. It turns out even with instructions, I’m bad at navigating indoors. It took me a few goes to finally get to the elevator that went up to the restaurant floor. Then, I was somewhat baffled because Waku Ghin’s door wasn’t open so I didn’t see that there was a door! I walked all the way around and back before realising there was a handle and that all I had to do was push.
I was lead into a small room that seated about 5-6 people, in front of a shiny, super clean hot plate which looked a lot like we were going to experience a teppanyaki style dinner.
The first thing I notice after I’m seated? Look to the right. See that stem? See how gorgeously thin it is? Yeah. It’s a Zalto. But they took it away when I ordered a mocktail 🙁
That being said, the mocktail was delicious! I spotted a virgin bloody mary, and decided to give that a go. Usually these are too spicy for me, but this one didn’t have peppers added to it, so it was totally drinkable! I had made a really good choice, too. Being a more savoury drink, it felt more appropriate to have this with my meal instead of a sweet drink. The salt rim on this just added to the moreishness! I really loved this and wish all restaurants had a savoury mocktail!
And now the real eye candy starts. Today’s catch, presented to us by the chef. The lobster, sea urchin and abalone here were visibly alive, with all of them still moving. If I remember correctly, it was sea urchin from Hokkaido, Canadian lobsters, Australian abalone, and botan shrimp from… somewhere. The box was then taken back into the kitchen for them to prepare for us.
I noticed that again, this felt very formal, just like at Tetsuya’s. I couldn’t pick out if it was just me though, since usually I gauge a restaurant better when I have a dining buddy. It just felt like the chefs would come out, do stuff, then run off to hide behind the kitchen again. The waitstaff, on the other hand, always appeared from behind and were quite silent, so I felt that was quite sleek and organised. If they were able to manage an open kitchen, maybe that would be better for me.
Carpaccio of flounder with bitter salad
And woosh, this dish magically appeared from the silent waiters that approached from behind. Unnerving, but cool! And what a lovely little dish this was! I didn’t find the salad bitter at all even though it was radicchio, I think that could be because it was marinated. Quite nice!
Marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and oscietra caviar
And bam. Waku Ghin’s signature dish comes out blazing in its self contained luxury. Those ingredients! Shrimp, urchin, caviar, all served with a mother of pearl spoon. This was a creamy, sweet, salty delight! The couple sitting next to me also used the spoon, but were still using their chopsticks. I’m pretty sure they were told why the mother of pearl spoon was to be used though. Anyway, I could definitely enjoy this one everyday.
Next, out came a lovely shiny copper pot, and a plate of lobster. The hot plate turned on, and we watched as the chef started preparing this for a few courses in.
Even this clear broth looks so good! It was also brought out to heat up for a future dish.
Twice cooked Scottish bamboo clam with olive and garlic cream
A fork and spoon were placed at our table just before this dish came out, but both the diners next to me and I missed the fact we were supposed to use the cutlery until after they took it away. It just seemed easier to eat this one with chopsticks. I really love the texture of the clams, but when do I not love clams! The love flavour was nice too. The green sauce around it was parsley oil, but I think even with a spoon, I wasn’t quite sure how to make it stick to the food, so mine remained mostly untouched once I’d eaten the clams.
Now the plate kingfish came out, ready to be cooked in the broth and then plated up. I think the experience of being able to watch the chefs cook this was great. It wasn’t flashy teppanyaki – it was all really refined, clean, minimalistic motions to simply prepare the food and serve.
Do you spot that yuzu? Yes, yuzu! How exciting!
Shabu shabu of buri with endive and rocket
Oh the yuzu zest was so light and aromatic! I loved the smell of this! And the kingfish was so nicely cooked – because it was just done, all the fat in the fish was soft and retained its flavour. It kind of felt like warm, cooked sashimi, which I enjoyed!
Just because I can, here’s another gorgeous copper pot. How is everything so shiny in here? It’s amazing to look at.
Tasmanian abalone with fregola and tomato
This was beautifully simple. After being told this was fregola, tomato and basil, I was like, oh yeah, this is nice, simple and homely. Yet the flavours were so powerful! And the fregola was the perfect texture! It was al dente the way I like it! I think it may have been slightly harder than maybe what some people prefer, but this is perfect for me! It just absorbed the flavour of the soup so well, it was clean, it was flavourful, and just so good! This was my favourite dish of the night – the abalone made it even more awesome but I’d be happy with just the pasta and sauce.
Oh, is that board what I think it is? Am I gonna get some freshly grated wasabi?????
Bread roll time! But with no other condiments yet, I waited to see how we were going to eat this.
Braised Canadian lobster with tarragon
Remember that lobster and the shiny copper pot from earlier? Well it was finally ready. Those were some decent sized lobster chunks, in a lovely tarragon soup! And now, that’s what the bread was for. Eat the lobster, then mop up the sauce with the bread. Who needs butter when you have it incorporated into the soup, which is just asking to be all soaked up!
And look, I was right! Wasabi!!! Real wasabi! This was going to be exciting. Either he didn’t mention where the wasabi was from or I wasn’t listening, so I dared to ask him where it was from. It was Japanese wasabi, but I don’t remember the region. I don’t know why I asked, though I think I was just curious as to whether it was Tasmanian or not. Apparently this Japanese one was less intense.
Is this one of the cutest, smallest spoons ever??? This was given to us in preparation for the next dish. It’s a citrus soy dressing.
More good stuff. Look at that wagyu. Just look at that marbling. Oh yeah, we were in for yet another treat!
Look at the salt, pepper and sizzling!!!
That level of cleanliness. Amazing.
And the best action shot for the night. I can’t believe I actually got a nice shot out of all that, I spent a good portion of the night trying to capture movement because they work with so much precision it’s amazing! This is the one I’m most proud of, though I still didn’t get the picture just right since I should have angled the lens just a little higher so I didn’t have to crop nothingness out of it.
But seriously. Hands. Knife. Reflection. It’s just so achingly gorgeous!!!
Japanese Ohmi wagyu from Shiga prefecture with wasabi and citrus soy
And this is how the whole dish came together. Do you see that tiny wooden spoon in the dish of citrus soy in the background? Yeah, background is where it stayed. I mean it was nice, don’t get me wrong. The flavours were great. But compared to the simplicity and perfection of the wasabi and beef pairing? It didn’t stand a chance. That wasabi was delicious, it had the normal burning that comes with wasabi paste/mustardy things, but it also tasted like a real vegetable. It was the texture and secondary flavours that made it really enjoyable, so I pretty much slathered as much as I could take of it on the beef. We were also told to keep the beef rolled up and not to try and open it out to eat it. That deliciousness was great!
I ignored most of the shaved shallots there, but the dark green patch of vegetable intrigued me. I’m pretty sure it looked like some variant of sea blight, and I was inspecting it so intently that the chef then said that it was a coastal vegetable, so it might taste like seaweed but is actually found on land. So I’m pretty sure it might be sea blight!
Steamed rice with snapper, consomme
Yet another dish that reminds me of Quay’s mud crab congee! It all comes back to that dish! This was a really nice light consomme, but I think I was getting full at this point and didn’t actually want to eat all of the snapper. Yeah that’s right, I enjoyed the rice but didn’t like the snapper as much? I just found that it didn’t stand out, maybe because I’d gotten my fill of protein.
Green tea. Such a simple palate cleanser! This was brewed very differently from what I’m used to – it was done at a very low temperature of 30 – 40 degrees celcius over a long time, so that it had a very bold, seaweed, grassy, umami, seaweed flavour. I’ve never fully been able to enjoy Japanese green teas because they are more savoury than Chinese green and white teas, but this was great since we had so many strong flavoured savoury courses.
Tea leaf reading, anyone?
This was a terrible picture, but I’m posting it because at the end of the savoury courses, we were then moved to the dining area for dessert. As always in these kind of establishments, the chairs face towards the view. If you weren’t paying attention, this kind of looks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Which then reminded me of Cafe Sydney. Anyway, dessert was now going to be served.
Japanese musk melon with Cointreau granita and fromage blanc sorbet
I didn’t realise the waiter was saying “musk melon” mainly because I don’t hear that very often so my ears weren’t attuned to it. As a result, the fragrant flavour of the melon was even more refreshing! While I enjoyed this, nothing about it stood out too much.
Chocolate fondant with coffee and peanut
What a cute trio of desserts! The chocolate fondant was super cool, when I opened it, this lovely dark chocolate sauce oozed out of a perfect sphere of chocolate cakey thing! I was very impressed. The peanut mousse was also super light, as I find most peanut/peanut butter things to be too heavy, and the coffee ice cream had a nice flavour! Also, there were three cubes of cakey things around the desserts which were also dense, moist delicious bites!
Wow. These petit fours are probably the best I’ve had in a long time. Usually they are a bit of a let down (except the Rockpool Bar & Grill caramel puff things, they are still my favourite addictive things!), but each one of these was really tasty! I don’t actually remember what each of them was, but the flavours and textures were spot on! The last one at the back was a champagne truffle, and that I was comparing to one I’ve recently eaten from a local chocolatier (Sue Lewis) which had spot on flavours, and this one wasn’t too far off the mark.
Yeah, this was definitely a strong finish to a great night.
Jing earl grey to top it all off. Very light, smelling nicely of bergamot. Definitely a good choice since most restaurants still fall far behind on coffee. Plus, I did it mostly out of amusement too, since my Sydney trip involved my brother asking “what kind of tea and coffee do you serve?” at the restaurants we went to, with the answer being “oh, just the usual selection” without actually being described what teas and coffees were available or the brand. Do restaurants maybe not put as much detail into this because customers also don’t ask for that much detail? It’s still mind blowing that we put so much effort into curating wine lists with vintage, provenance, process, etc but that this doesn’t happen with tea or coffee, and you really only get that level of enthusiasm and knowledge at specialist coffee and tea houses.
My dinner was finished at pretty much right on 8pm. And since I was here, I asked the waitress if the light show was going to be on soon. She seemed to be unsure as they were setting up for another performance right outside, but then, a few minutes later, there it was! Those flashes of lights to indicate there was indeed going to be the light performance!
I couldn’t hear anything though, so as I was fixing up the bill, the lady said that it was better for me to enjoy it outside as the lights were accompanied with a song. 600SGD later (the total bill was just under $550 but I rounded it up with an extra tip), I headed out and enjoyed the “after dinner entertainment” that reminded me of the Vivid festival back in Sydney.
Overall, I’m really glad I went ahead with my booking. It was an incredibly steep cost, which reminded me that Australian fine dining is very cheap, which makes me feel incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy these experiences. I also enjoyed this style of having the chefs cook in front of you, with amazing precision (hands. knife. reflections.), though I think I realise that I like a more casual atmosphere (it was deathly quiet and there were only two other diners with me at the chef’s table). I love that I’m able to experience all this high end stuff as well as still enjoy all the cheap things too (I was really glad that the rest of my Singapore trip was full of street food because that’s some tasty stuff!).
Now to save more money to tick more restaurants off my list…