Monday, May 21, 2012

Iggy's at the Hilton Singapore

Iggy's is listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world according to Restaurant magazine.  Passing through town, it was impossible not to indulge.  The restaurant is very small, and reservations are a must.  You are given a "Gastronomic Menu" reflecting their seasonal menu on the weekend and this prix fixe is your only option.  Weekdays there is a slightly less expensive "Dinner" prix fixe menu.  Here was mine:
Avurga, Yuzu, Silver
           -Sea Urchin
Cauliflower, Abalone, Shiso
Sea and Soil
Wild rice, Olives, Thyme
Beetroot, Hickory, Lentils
Yukon gold potato, Winter black truffles
Raspberry, Peppermint
Pepitas, Goat's cheese, Milk ice cream

It was one of the best meals I've ever had.  However, it was not "better" than the best meals I've ever had.  It did have some of the best courses that I've ever had.  This is an interesting dichotomy.  Here are the details:

First, there were two bonus courses at the beginning of the meal.  These courses were, in a word, outstanding.  Iggy's "sushi," a toro, wagyu (possibly Kobe) beef, and beautiful seasonal white fish (not white fish, but a white fish with which I could not pick out of a lineup - possibly Bonito fish) was phenomenal.  The pieces were not served on rice, but "gnocchi" in the loosest of senses.  It was more a cracker, though it's hard to make "cracker" sound fine dining.  These gnocchi exploded with flavor in your mouth, and gave a crunchy textural contrast to the soft fish and beef that was most welcome.

In addition, here is a "bonus" salad course:

The eel course was smoke infused with an upturned "bowl."  I don't normally buy into this gimmick, but the chef was able to infuse a great deal of smokey flavor into the eel and caviar, making the dish a complete success.  

Sadly, however, the sea urchin was not on the same level.  I first tasted the sea urchin and gel-like broth.  Independently they were a little disappointing.  When eaten together, they ceased to be disappointing, but only arose to "good," and additionally disappointing, the shiso flavor was really not present.  Even sadder, I neglected to snap a shot of it.

Chlorophyll, however, was spectacular.  If you were going to have a disappointing dish, go ahead and put it before this dish.  You quickly forget all about it, since this was the single best vegetable/vegetarian-friendly dish I have ever eaten.  It had no salt, creme, or stock added, according to the server.  It was, in a word, plants.  The amount of flavor that Iggy was able to get out of plants was amazing, and the roasted buckwheat seeds about stole the show.  They were so salty and delicious, it was hard to pay attention to the okra, seaweed, and other elements.  With each bite, however, you were reminded of just how harmonious this dish was.  I don't know how it would impact it, but I for one would have enjoyed a few seabeans in this dish - not to say it wasn't individually a five of five.

Another example of the nice textural touches within the dish were puffed rice pieces amid the wild rice that accompanied a perfect medium sanma.  The thyme was nice, but the sprig included on the dish would have blown out anyone's palate.  While pretty, frying it to a crisp and diffusing some of the thyme flavor, or transforming the ingredient in some other way would have been a better option.  Since the oil on the plate was already infused with thyme, you wouldn't lose anything.  This is a minor complaint, a garnish issue, but to me it is the difference between a great meal and a perfect meal.

Pigeon.  Why it wasn't called squab, is beyond me.  The woman next to me commented, pigeon, I don't think I want pigeon.  What she wouldn't have known would not have hurt her.  She probably would have gotten the dish, eaten it, declared it was the best squab she had ever eaten, and then later in telling her friends would have found out squab is actually pigeon.  Technically, again, the protein was cooked perfectly.  The lentils, of all things, about stole the show though.  They had this almost intoxicating, berry flavor that paired perfectly with the beetroot that was infused with a nice delicate smokey flavor.  Throw on that the pickled treatment that a few pieces of beet get, with micro-beet greens and you have another winning dish.  

The potatoes and cheese.  My goodness.  They were irresistible, with the truffle adding this magnificent earthy "umami" flavor.  I don't use the word umami lightly, or to be trendy.  This dish just had it.  This dish showed how amazing potatoes can be, and made for the best "mashed" or "scalloped" potatoes I have ever eaten.  

The (former) pastry chef, really had a stroke of brilliance when he created this cantaloupe soup.  It was like an injection of cantaloupe, so much flavor you might as well have stuck it straight into your veins with a needle.  In addition, I'm sure this is a fine dining trick, but to freeze and break apart individual raspberry cornels shows both patience and ingenuity.  Absolutely loved it!

The final dessert (or so you think), had a goat cheese infused vanilla ice cream.  The woman next to me (a different woman from the last time) declared, oh, goat cheese, I don't like goat cheese.  The chef convinced her to give it a try, and she gobbled the whole thing down.  The goat cheese wasn't prominent, but used to break up the sweetness of the ice cream.  The watermelon and pepitas were just winners.  

When you think you're done, they bust out a chocolate box.  I said yes to every one, after consulting with the pastry chef and him telling me that he would absolutely take one of each chocolate in my place.  The apple-flavored piece was outstanding.  I was glad to have grabbed one of each, because I wouldn't have grabbed the apple chocolate if I had only picked 2 or 3.  The white chocolate with pink peppercorn was good enough, and my least favorite was the pistachio (which would have been my first choice).  They had some delicious caramels, truffles, and macaroons.  I guess picking a least favorite was like picking a least favorite child.

I enjoyed my experience at Iggy's.  It was expensive, fine dining anywhere in the world expensive-expensive.  Do I think it was worth the price tag?  Yes.  I would strongly recommend it for a special occasion or business meeting.  Do I think given Singapore's food culture, that it is wise to spend some 50 times the cost of average fare on a single dinner?  Well, that's a tougher one.  I think in a nutshell that this is what cost Iggy's the last half of a "star" to me.  While the meal was fantastic, at the price (in Singapore), it needs to be perfect and it wasn't perfect. The wonderful staff really does lift your experience as well, each member is knowledgeable, friendly, and on task.  If your paradigm is Panda Express for Asian food, this will blow you away!

The Hilton Hotel
581 Orchard Road Level 3 
Singapore 238883 
Tel: +65 6732 2234 
*Google has not updated the address from the Regent Hotel - Beware!
4.5 of 5


  1. This is like reading Garlic and Sapphires!

    It looks and sounds like art.

    1. Jane. Thanks for all of your support. This post is the third one in triple digits! I did feel a little like Ruth when I ate at this restaurant.