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Thread: WAITER! The Restaurant Scene, a Thread for Restaurants and Eateries

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  1. #21
    Seafood, lamb and quail–Spanish entrées worth spending for

    IF YOU WANT A RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE, STEER CLEAR OF DONOSTI’S SMALL PLATES AND THE MORE CONVENTIONAL COMFORT FOOD FAVORITES

    By: Clinton Palanca (Contributor)

    @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    03:30 AM January 7th, 2016

    Here’s a bit of a quandary. For quite some time now, the people behind Donosti have been inviting me to check out the place. And I’ve been dodging the invitation for almost as long.

    I have no interest in writing negative reviews; so if there’s talk that a particular restaurant isn’t that great, I don’t cackle with glee, or crack my knuckles, and hotfoot it to the same place and then write a vitriolic piece. And people—including my wife who tried it early on—have been saying, since it opened, that Donosti was mediocre and outrageously expensive at that.

    Thus I mentally drew a line through its name and forgot about it, until I reviewed Masseto late last year. I received another invitation to come and dine at Donosti (disclosure: at their expense). I also had heard that things had changed quite a bit since Tippi Tambunting, chef at Masseto, had brought her team over and was now also handling Donosti, although chef Pablo Lopez Iglesias still retains creative control over the kitchen.

    I went with my family for lunch on a weekday, and we all had a fantastic time.

    This put me into something of a dilemma, because even if I had made reservations with another name and arrived at Donosti unannounced, it still was a complimentary meal. The most doggedly ethical thing to do would be to go there again under yet another false name and pay for my meal this time, but the lineup for 2016 is already backed up with new restaurants to try.

    I’m writing this review as honestly as possible. I will also try eating in Donosti again soon, pay the bill, and report back if I feel any differently or if my experience is any different.

    The main beef leveled against Donosti is that the food is outrageously expensive and comes in tiny, tiny servings, which annoys me a great deal. It’s simply not how I eat and, I am willing to wager, not how most Pinoys like to eat. We like the table to be groaning with huge platters which we fall upon like a plague of locusts until it is ravaged.

    I am aware that tininess is the essence of pintxos or tapas, and the restaurant’s full name is Donosti Pintxos y Tapas, which should give fair warning.

    Managed expectations

    Another problem with small plates, especially when one isn’t drinking, is that of pricing versus expectation. If a dish on the menu is priced at P450, you order it thinking that’s not bad for something using ingredients at a restaurant on the main road of Bonifacio Global City (BGC). But then it comes as tiny bites and then you feel cheated, but since you’re already there, you might as well try and get full, and then the bill arrives and you get a shock down your spine.

    Donosti is for those who like food in miniature sizes as a chaser to alcohol. The wine selection is expectedly exceptional, especially with the expanded wine list since the Masseto team came on board, and they have kept the pintxos menu.

    What they seem to have done is expand the possibilities of eating there the way Filipinos like to eat, which is to have a whole lot in one go. The “big plates,” as they might as well be called in contrast to the first half of the menu, now seem to have a wider selection; the menu is augmented by a chalkboard for specials.

    True to expectation, a lot of the dishes break the psychological price barrier of P1,000 that most restaurants have been careful to steer their way under (unless it’s steak or lobster or something with truffles).

    For those who want a restaurant experience rather than a bibulous one, my advice would be to steer clear of Donosti’s small plates since they are, well, small. Also, unless you’re really craving, you might as well avoid the more conventional Spanish comfort food favorites, not because they’re bad but because you can get them cheaper at Terry’s. An exception: The acorn-fed ham might have been intended to pair off with a sinewy red wine, but it’s almost as good with iced tea for a teetotaller’s lunch.

    Inventive main courses

    As a restaurant, Donosti shines with the more inventive, interesting main courses rather than old-fashioned family favorites. For years the food critics have been raving about Spanish, especially Basque, cuisine, crowing that it isn’t just fabada and paella anymore. Dishes like the seafood main courses (many of them on the chalkboard), the lamb and the quail, are proof of Spain’s increasing relevance on European fine dining, more than the molecular mystique of the El Bulli alumni.

    I would suggest that Donosti expand this aspect of its menu, because real grown-up fine dining is actually in short supply in BGC.

    It might be that I’ve reached the age when I’d rather pay for P1,850 for quality lamb chops rather than a bargain price for a morass of charred ligament and fat.

    Donosti’s prices mean that it’s not going to be an everyday sort of restaurant, and for steady-handed classical cuisine I’d still choose Masseto over its sibling. But I will stick out my neck and say that Donosti’s identity is evolving to become something other than a watering hole for plutocrats. Given its location, it’s the perfect place to go, say, to celebrate a clean bill of health from your internist at St. Luke’s.

  2. #22
    Seafood, lamb and quail–Spanish entrées worth spending for

    IF YOU WANT A RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE, STEER CLEAR OF DONOSTI’S SMALL PLATES AND THE MORE CONVENTIONAL COMFORT FOOD FAVORITES

    By: Clinton Palanca (Contributor)

    @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    03:30 AM January 7th, 2016

    Here’s a bit of a quandary. For quite some time now, the people behind Donosti have been inviting me to check out the place. And I’ve been dodging the invitation for almost as long.

    I have no interest in writing negative reviews; so if there’s talk that a particular restaurant isn’t that great, I don’t cackle with glee, or crack my knuckles, and hotfoot it to the same place and then write a vitriolic piece. And people—including my wife who tried it early on—have been saying, since it opened, that Donosti was mediocre and outrageously expensive at that.

    Thus I mentally drew a line through its name and forgot about it, until I reviewed Masseto late last year. I received another invitation to come and dine at Donosti (disclosure: at their expense). I also had heard that things had changed quite a bit since Tippi Tambunting, chef at Masseto, had brought her team over and was now also handling Donosti, although chef Pablo Lopez Iglesias still retains creative control over the kitchen.

    I went with my family for lunch on a weekday, and we all had a fantastic time.

    This put me into something of a dilemma, because even if I had made reservations with another name and arrived at Donosti unannounced, it still was a complimentary meal. The most doggedly ethical thing to do would be to go there again under yet another false name and pay for my meal this time, but the lineup for 2016 is already backed up with new restaurants to try.

    I’m writing this review as honestly as possible. I will also try eating in Donosti again soon, pay the bill, and report back if I feel any differently or if my experience is any different.

    The main beef leveled against Donosti is that the food is outrageously expensive and comes in tiny, tiny servings, which annoys me a great deal. It’s simply not how I eat and, I am willing to wager, not how most Pinoys like to eat. We like the table to be groaning with huge platters which we fall upon like a plague of locusts until it is ravaged.

    I am aware that tininess is the essence of pintxos or tapas, and the restaurant’s full name is Donosti Pintxos y Tapas, which should give fair warning.

    Managed expectations

    Another problem with small plates, especially when one isn’t drinking, is that of pricing versus expectation. If a dish on the menu is priced at P450, you order it thinking that’s not bad for something using ingredients at a restaurant on the main road of Bonifacio Global City (BGC). But then it comes as tiny bites and then you feel cheated, but since you’re already there, you might as well try and get full, and then the bill arrives and you get a shock down your spine.

    Donosti is for those who like food in miniature sizes as a chaser to alcohol. The wine selection is expectedly exceptional, especially with the expanded wine list since the Masseto team came on board, and they have kept the pintxos menu.

    What they seem to have done is expand the possibilities of eating there the way Filipinos like to eat, which is to have a whole lot in one go. The “big plates,” as they might as well be called in contrast to the first half of the menu, now seem to have a wider selection; the menu is augmented by a chalkboard for specials.

    True to expectation, a lot of the dishes break the psychological price barrier of P1,000 that most restaurants have been careful to steer their way under (unless it’s steak or lobster or something with truffles).

    For those who want a restaurant experience rather than a bibulous one, my advice would be to steer clear of Donosti’s small plates since they are, well, small. Also, unless you’re really craving, you might as well avoid the more conventional Spanish comfort food favorites, not because they’re bad but because you can get them cheaper at Terry’s. An exception: The acorn-fed ham might have been intended to pair off with a sinewy red wine, but it’s almost as good with iced tea for a teetotaller’s lunch.

    Inventive main courses

    As a restaurant, Donosti shines with the more inventive, interesting main courses rather than old-fashioned family favorites. For years the food critics have been raving about Spanish, especially Basque, cuisine, crowing that it isn’t just fabada and paella anymore. Dishes like the seafood main courses (many of them on the chalkboard), the lamb and the quail, are proof of Spain’s increasing relevance on European fine dining, more than the molecular mystique of the El Bulli alumni.

    I would suggest that Donosti expand this aspect of its menu, because real grown-up fine dining is actually in short supply in BGC.

    It might be that I’ve reached the age when I’d rather pay for P1,850 for quality lamb chops rather than a bargain price for a morass of charred ligament and fat.

    Donosti’s prices mean that it’s not going to be an everyday sort of restaurant, and for steady-handed classical cuisine I’d still choose Masseto over its sibling. But I will stick out my neck and say that Donosti’s identity is evolving to become something other than a watering hole for plutocrats. Given its location, it’s the perfect place to go, say, to celebrate a clean bill of health from your internist at St. Luke’s.

  3. #23
    15 Restaurant Finds in Banawe Worth Visiting

    POSTED ON AUGUST 24, 2015 POSTED BY AILEEN ANG

    For residents of Banawe and Quezon City in general, most of these places are all too familiar, but that familiar (and same comforting) feeling is also what keeps these places swarmed by regulars. The Banawe area is a relatively quieter neighborhood with more family-style restaurants than night bars to hang out in. In short, it’s silent but deadly to the belly.

    In this list, we focused more on the smaller restaurants as well as some hip new cafes and steak diners that most foodies from other cities probably haven’t heard of. If you love finding holes-in-the-wall, then you’re guaranteed to enjoy completing this list!

    For people who find Quezon City foreign, it is the biggest city of the greater Metro, and is an open treasure trove waiting to be explored and taken. Aside from Banawe, you can also wander off to Tomas Morato, UP Town Center, Katipunan, Maginhawa, and the new StrEAT: Maginhawa Food Park.

    Highway Ribbery Grille – N.S. Amoranto St.

    Highway Ribbery Grille is a BBQ diner specializing in baby back ribs ribs and other American comfort food such as pulled pork sandwich, grilled sausage, wings and fish & chips.

    No reservations accepted

    Unit 105 R Place Bldg., 255 NS Amoranto St. (near Banawe), La Loma, Quezon City
    +63 917 600-1847

    Happy Lulu Kitchen – Ubay St.

    Happy Lulu Kitchen is an Asian fusion kitchen serving homecooked style Chinese and Filipino dishes in a homey ambiance. Its specialties include sizzling oyster, grilled liempo, and spicy clams.

    Reservations are accepted

    19 Ubay St. (near Banawe) cor. NS Amoranto, Quezon City
    +63 2 712-3933

    Caffe da illy – Z Square Mall

    Caffe da illy is a specialty cafe dedicated to Italian espresso brand, illy. It also serves a number of light dishes and desserts, including gelato.

    No reservations accepted

    Trellis Park, Z Square Mall, Del Monte Ave. cor Banawe St., Quezon City

    All Day Cafe – D. Tuazon St.

    All Day Cafe serves international dishes and coffee that bring feelings of comfort from morning ’til night. Its big menu includes all-day breakfast, steaks, sandwiches, pasta, burgers and desserts.

    No reservations accepted

    D. Tuazon St. (beside Holiday Spa), Banawe, Quezon City
    +63 2 731-9701

    Bugis Singaporean Street Food – Nicanor Roxas St.

    Bugis is a popular shopping street, food hub and tourist spot in Singapore. Bugis, as its name suggests, serves Singaporen hawker-style street food favorites such as the Hainanese chicken, their signature steamboat Laksa soup, fish tofu and curry balls.

    No reservations accepted

    81 Nicanor Roxas St. (near Banawe), Sto. Domingo, Quezon City
    +63 2 732-6491

    Eat Fresh Famous Hong Kong Street Food – Ma. Clara St.

    From a little school joint along Masangkay, Manila, they have since grown to being one of the must visit restaurants in the Banawe area. Eat Fresh is famous for serving authentic HK street food such as dry noodles with sauces, street egg waffles, fragrant claypot rice variants, dimsum and other small eats on skewers.

    No reservations accepted

    100-A Maria Clara Street, Quezon City
    +63 2 516-8022

    Qubiertos – D. Tuazon

    Qubiertos is a family-style Filipino grill and restaurant serving all-time favorites such as bagnet, kare-kare, inihaw na pusit, chicken inasal, and their extra large spicy pork ribs. Qubiertos also operates with a sub-brand called Kuya Tom’s, which sells their signature-spiced Cebu lechon to go. It is opening another new branch in Kapitolyo soon.

    Reservations are accepted

    D. Tuazon cor. P. Florentino St., Banawe,Quezon City
    +63 2 411-8193

    Shuin: The Smoked Chicken Food House – Ma. Clara St.

    Shuin is a Chinese restaurant most popular for its in smoked chicken and fried chicken chop. Other specialties include fried dumplings,

    No reservations accepted

    100B Maria Clara St. (near Banawe), Sto. Domingo, Quezon City
    +63 2 354-1166

    Healthy Day – Banawe St.

    Healthy Day is a day and night nail spa and a farm-to-table concept restaurant serving healthy and fresh food options and beverages in one. Fresh fruits and produce, grown and sourced from local farmers are also available in store.

    No reservations accepted

    739 Banawe Street, St. Peter, Quezon City
    +63 2 871-7753

    Oedo Japanese Restaurant – Sto. Domingo Ave.

    Oedo is a Japanese restaurant built on a corner street of a residential area. The Shinto shrine inspired entrance, the Japanese lamps and the zen garden complete the exterior look, while the main restaurant is a big 2-floored space with function rooms for private events. Japanese specialties like sushi, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, soba and gyudon are served.

    Reservations are accepted

    105 Sto. Domingo Ave., Quezon City
    +63 2 255-5993

    Red Baron Ribs & Steaks – D. Tuazon St.

    Red Baron is an American steakhouse and a carwash eatery concept specializing in ribs and steaks sold at fairly affordable prices. It also now serves a full menu with salads, soups, burgers, pastas and sandwiches and desserts.

    No reservations accepted

    143 D. Tuazon cor. Calamba St., Quezon City
    +63 2 354-5970

    Caerus Coffee – D. Tuazon St.

    Caerus Coffee is a third wave neighborhood cafe serving house blend and other specialty espresso beverages, pastries and desserts. It’s a cozy place to hangout with friends and good cup of coffee. From mythology, Caerus or ‘Kairos’ is the youngest son of Zeus, the Greek god of opportunity, luck and favorable moments.

    No reservations accepted

    87B D Tuazon St. cor. Dapitan St., Quezon City
    +63 2 524-2936

    The Big Cheese Pizza – D. Tuazon

    The Big Cheese! Pizza is a casual dining pizza place that serves fresh and delicious pizzas and pastas. Choose among 9 flavors, one of which is their special 10-cheese pizza! Watch out for more new flavors soon.

    Reservations are accepted

    2/F SJD Bldg, 62 D. Tuazon St., Lourdes, Quezon City
    +63 2 714-8111

    Regions Organic Coffee – D. Tuazon St.

    Regions Organic Coffee is a purveyor of organic coffee from around the coffee regions of the world. It serves a big selection of iced and hot coffee, teas, smoothies, fruit juices, and even alcoholic beverages for drinks, and some light meals, pastries, cupcakes and chips for nibbles.

    No reservations accepted

    D. Tuazon cor. P. Florentino St., Santa Mesa Heights, Banawe, Quezon City

    Tuen Mun Roasts – Nicanor Roxas St.

    Tuen Mun Roasts is a HK-inspired eatery serving everyone’s favorite roasted items on rice. Feast over generous servings of barbecued pork, lechon macau, roast duck and soy chhicken with rice or noodles. Here’s an insider tip: Tuen Mun Roasts and Eat Fresh are run by the same owners and we read that you can order from Eat Fresh here.

    No reservations accepted

    81A Nicanor Roxas St., Sto. Domingo,Quezon City
    +63 2 216-6711

    We’re pretty sure there are so many more restaurants around Banawe that we missed to include here since we focused on the smaller restaurants, so don’t panic if you don’t see your favorites. But please do share other places and neat insider tips in the comments section below for us and all foodies reading this blog.

    Sorry if we ruined your impending diet.

  4. #24
    ‘Adobo with foie gras has no place here’–or why this restaurant is drawing diners to Tagaytay

    By: Marge C. Enriquez

    @inquirerdotnet

    Inquirer Lifestyle

    04:38 AM January 14th, 2016

    Along the Tagaytay highway, a large teal-colored building adorned with quaint balusters beckons.

    Balay Dako (“big house” in Ilonggo) is becoming a dining destination, the newest restaurant of chef Antonio “Tonyboy” Escalante.

    Unlike his eponymous restaurant, Antonio’s Tagaytay, which caters to the who’s who, Balay Dako has been attracting a wider clientele.

    “Unlimited garlic rice,” scrawled on the billboard, heralded opening day. The place was packed. Escalante wanted a share of the market of Filipino restaurants by the ridge that offered more familiar home-cooked meals than innovative cuisine.

    “My guests are not yuppies who eat Pinoy fusion,” he says. “They come from Cavite and Batangas. They want the real thing… Adobo with foie gras, for instance, has no place at Balay Dako.”

    Balay Dako is the third restaurant of the Antonio Group of Companies after the award-winning Antonio’s in Barangay Neogan, Tagaytay, Breakfast at Antonio’s and Antonio’s Grill.

    Accustomed to the resplendence of Negrense hospitality, Escalante recalls traveling to two towns outside his family’s native Cadiz just to gather hibiscus flowers for a party in his grandfather’s house called “Balay Dako.” The grandchildren would then line up the staircase and give hibiscus garlands to guests.

    His grandfather, Manuel Escalante, loved to hold parties.

    “Desserts would be prepared three days before the party,” recalls Tonyboy. “Drinks were served in the trolley before the bar became fashionable in the home. I still prefer the trolley for drinks.”

    For Balay Dako, he closed down Antonio’s Grill and leased the adjoining property. He tapped architect Kathleen Henares to design a contemporary structure. The three-level house follows the layout of the Escalante ancestral home.

    The silong or basement has the function rooms that overlook Taal Lake. As in the houses of old, the second floor has the living room and main dining area.

    The top floor, a breakfast area by day and a bar at night, is an eclectic mix of industrial finishes and patterned tiles inspired by prewar patterns. Guests can chill at The Terraza which opens to the view of the lake and sky.

    Escalante puts his chefs on the frontline: Joselito Santiago was a provincial bus driver with a gift for cooking; and Ricky Sison was a butcher of the now-defunct Mandarin hotel for 15 years.

    Ilonggo cuisine

    One of Balay Dako’s specialties is the Ilonggo chicken inasal, grilled chicken with crispy skin and extra luscious meat with a hint of annatto.

    The menu includes items from the old Antonio’s Grill such as Ilonggo comfort food, kadyos, a meal of pigeon peas, jackfruit and tender pork belly, spiked with a souring agent called batuan.

    The ginataang monggo with flaked tinapa is a bestseller. The batchoy, an Ilonggo staple, is made from scratch with soup stock boiled for hours and fresh noodles and pork innards. The piyaya, following an old recipe from Silay, Negros Occidental, is a delicate crispy flatbread with melted muscovado sugar filling.

    There are familiar favorites. Chef Sison’s version of the bistek Tagalog has the subtle balance of soy-sauce saltiness and calamansi zing.

    The crispy pata, lechon kawali and barbecue are brined for days so that the meat still looks healthy pink and not brown. The chicken and pork adobo is marinated for hours, pan fried and boiled to retain its chewy texture. The adobong pitaw or cultured squab is perfectly golden brown and crisp, its moist meat and robust flavors are derived from the briny solution of souring agents and spices.

    An iconic Tagaytay dish, the bulalo or beef shank and marrow, is cooked for half a day until the fat completely dissolves into the soup. The outcome is a clear soup with no tallow or gruet even after several hours.

    Unlike the local tradition of dunking and braising to make stewed kambing, Balay Dako’s version uses the classic technique. The meat is marinated overnight, pan-fried, and braised in tomato sauce. It is then cooked in slow moist heat to preserve the succulence.

    The laing, tofu wrapped in taro leaves, is cooked the traditional way, from the removal of the midrib of the leaves to the long hours of simmering. The shredded water spinach (kangkong) salad is topped with shrimps and dressed with a sweet sour mixture of vinegar, sugar, garlic, calamansi and chili.

    The dishes can be accompanied with purée pickle relish, blackened onions and baked chicharon.

    The desserts include papaya sago, satin-soft maja blanca, puffy ensaymada with a buttery top, and turon with purple yam and custard, wrapped in sweet sticky rice.

    “You bring your family here. This is what they look for,” says Escalante, who credits his collaborators such as Jill Sandique, the celebrity chef-baker who shared the recipe for the perfect pie crust of the buko pie.

    Another Tagaytay signature, the buko pie is topped by a light, flaky crust and filled with slices of coconut meat, unlike the popular version of an extended filling.

    Lydia de Roca, co-founder of the eponymous lechon chain, also helped out in putting up the lechon carving station for the weekend brunch.

    Ike Miranda concocted Balay Dako’s coffee blends.

    Although Escalante uses quality ingredients such as imported meats, the prices are affordable. You can have pork barbecue for P60 and chicken liver for P70. A set menu of viands for 10 people costs P5,400-P5,600. Six people with hefty appetites can have bulalo for P840; or the pinakbet na kanin at crispy pata (fried rice with vegetables and deep-fried pork leg) for P850. The sizzling bulalo, served like a steak on a cast-iron plate, is P940.

    Escalante believes that he’s not competing with the other restaurants: “I’m a collaborator. If I were in Manila, I would not have made it. I wanted to challenge myself.”

    Getting started

    There’s the oft-repeated story of Escalante who dropped out of medical school and became a flight attendant for Philippine Airlines. He pursued his passion for cooking by studying at Regency Park Institute of Tafe in Adelaide, Australia.

    He worked at the now-defunct Mandarin Manila under the tutelage of executive chef Norbert Gandler.

    In the early 2000s, Escalante and his family moved to the still idyllic Tagaytay. He would cook dinners for a group of 10 under a tent in his place in Neogan. The dinners evolved into what is now Antonio’s, which opened in November 2002.

    When Inquirer Lifestyle featured its refined continental cuisine and charming ambience then, Escalante recalled his phone kept ringing. In two months, the restaurant doubled its seating capacity.

    In 2013, he set up Breakfast at Antonio’s, leasing the home of a former Cabinet member.

    Good employer

    Citations have been the rewards of his hard work. When Escalante was named Chef of the Year in 2014 by Philippine Tatler’s Best Restaurant Guide, he didn’t show up at the ceremony. “I like hosting, but not going to parties,” he admits. “Besides, I don’t have a suit. Probinsiyano ako.”

    Last year was good to him. Antonio’s Restaurant was no. 48 in San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

    In the past five years, it has been in the Miele Guide to Asia’s Top 20 restaurants. Escalante is the only Filipino chef on both lists.

    Escalante was also a finalist in Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

    Apparently, Escalante has also been a good employer. Some old-time staffers have taken lucrative jobs in cruise ships, only to come back to work with him. To make them stay, he gives jobs to both the husband and wife so that they become a two-income family.

    Escalante says he is strict but he always explains the reason things should be done properly: “You set a standard and there are no shortcuts.”

    He is also concerned about the safety of his employees. When the parking lot filled up with his employees’ motorcycles, he gave a memo that management would not pay for their medical bills if they drove without a helmet.

    Asked what keeps him going despite the challenges, Escalante replies: “How can you do more for your people? The business essence is to uplift their lives.”

    He shares stories of employees, like the former tricycle driver who now runs Breakfast at Antonio’s. Some staffers have also saved up enough to build their own homes.

    Escalante has turned down offers to open more restaurants and get into partnership. “At the end of the day, how much do I really need? You don’t have to kill yourself,” he says. “I’ve been very blessed.”

  5. #25

  6. #26
    'We're closing': Restaurant Andre, Singapore's top eatery, returns Michelin stars

    Evelyn Chen, CNN - Updated 12th October 2017

    (CNN) - On October 11, Singapore foodies woke up to one of the darkest culinary announcements the vibrant dining city has witnessed in recent times.

    Andre Chiang, chef-patron of Restaurant Andre, Singapore's highest ranked restaurant on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list at number two -- second only to Gaggan (Bangkok) -- is returning his restaurant's two stars to the Michelin Guide.

    "I wish to kindly return my Michelin stars and also request not to be included in the 2018 edition of the Michelin Guide," says Chiang in a letter to the press, in which he announced his decision to "prioritize" his "professional life".

    Chiang sent this email at 3:44 a.m., just hours after he celebrated his restaurant's seventh anniversary.

    As if that alone was not enough, the feted chef also announced that February 14, 2018, would be the last day of service at Restaurant Andre.

    Chiang's surprise move sent shockwaves through the world of gastronomy.

    Culinary world shocked

    "When Andre told me about his intentions, I was in shock," says Massimo Bottura, chef-owner of Osteria Francescana (number two on World's 50 Best Restaurants 2017).

    "In his house, I had one of the best meals in recent years, it is a sad day for the gastronomic world but we love him and support him."

    Over in Bangkok, Gaggan Anand of Gaggan (No. 1 on Asia's 50 Best 2017) expressed disappointment.

    "Honestly, I want him to stay, it's a big loss to the culinary scene in Singapore," he says.

    Chiang, famed for creating the eight-spoked Octaphilosophy-guided menu at Restaurant Andre, trained in France with chefs like Pierre Gagnaire and Joel Robuchon.

    "I'm a perfectionist and for the past 30 years of my career, I've been looking for that unrealistic moment of perfection; three Michelin stars, World's 50 Best Restaurants," says Chiang, whose restaurant at Bukit Pasoh garnered two stars in Michelin's inaugural Singapore edition last year and again this year.

    "Until now, I realized at this moment that it is as perfect as it is now," says the 41-year-old Taiwan native.

    Chiang says everything -- from his team and the starched table linens to the height of the candle glow at every table -- is as immaculate as he has hoped for.

    Beneath this picture of perfection, however, the industry has been abuzz with chatter about Chiang's disappointment at not clinching the third Michelin star that he's been widely tipped to earn this year.

    But the chef disputes it.

    "My decision to close Restaurant Andre is not related to any awards," says Chiang, who owns one of the most extensive collections of the Michelin Guide France (from 1960 to the most recent edition) in Singapore.

    "I do not have to prove anything to anyone."

    "Exploring my Taiwanese roots"

    In his letter to media announcing his decision to close, Chiang says he will focus on education, developing others and cooking at his RAW (Taipei) restaurant after his retirement from Restaurant Andre.

    He also respectfully requested that RAW not be included in Michelin's future guide for Taipei.

    "It is my duty to pass on everything I have to the next generation in Taiwan and China," he says in the address. "It is an urgent priority for me to provide young chefs with a better education and culinary culture."

    When prodded about how he could contribute to the next generation of chefs in China and Taiwan, Chiang was tight-lipped about an upcoming project.

    "In recent years, I have been spending a lot of time on restaurant management," says a distinctly relaxed and happier Chiang during our meeting at his shop house 12 hours after his announcement.

    His business portfolio now includes ownership interests in restaurants including Burnt Ends and Bincho in Singapore, Raw in Taipei and Porte 12 in Paris.

    "When Restaurant Andre closes, I want to spend more time exploring my Taiwanese roots and understanding Taiwanese produce," he says. "The 16 to 18 hours a day I put in at Restaurant Andre restricts the time available for these."

    "There are also many things I want to do apart from cooking," adds the chef, who has been dabbling in visual arts.

    Unbeknownst to most people, Chiang is also a sculptor and a potter and he has been quietly working on launching a range of copper, wood and ceramic objects designed for chefs with applications ranging from decoration to vessels.

    Having spent most of his working life in France and Singapore, Chiang is also looking forward to spending more time with his aging parents, who are based in Taipei.

    Fears that Chiang is making a clean break from his adopted hometown of Singapore are unfounded, given he's a permanent resident and will retain his business interests and apartment in the Lion City.

    "The current three-story shop house Restaurant Andre occupies will be redeveloped and rebranded into a more relaxed F&B concept," Chiang tells CNN, emphasizing that while he would be a stakeholder in the new eatery, it would not be branded after him.

    "Although Restaurant Andre's legacy will soon become a fond memory to the world's gourmets, I have no regrets," says Chiang with a warm smile as he sends us off at his wood-decked entrance.
    Last edited by Joescoundrel; 10-20-2017 at 10:30 AM.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI


 
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