Saturday, 21 June 2014

Singapore Series - Marina Bay Sands

One of the most imposing and impressive looking buildings I have ever seen has to be the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.  I'm sure you've seen it before, but just in case you haven't, let me paint a picture for you.  Three sky scrapers side by side with an ocean liner sitting atop.  I kid you not, that's precisely what the Marina Bay Sands looks like (see image here).

Not only is the Marina Bay Sands an amazing looking building, its one of the most amazing shopping complexes I've come across as well, with all of the names you would expect in the highest of high end shopping.  While the designer names of the fashion brands were impressive, it was the names behind some of the restaurants in Marina Bay Sands that had me most excited.

I ended up spending a bit of time in the Marina Bay Sands complex on my recent visit to Singapore and was lucky enough to get into some exciting restaurants and check out some amazing food.

db Bistro Moderne by Daniel Boulud

I was most excited when I saw the db Bistro Moderne by Daniel Boulud.  I'd first experienced a meal by Daniel when in New York last year, when we visited three Michelin Starred Manhattan icon Daniel (see post here).

I'd heard about the db Bistro Moderne and in particular the very special range of hamburgers on offer.  It had been ages since I'd been able to sample a genuine NYC burger, so it was an easy choice for me to select the bistro as my first destination for lunch (yes, that's right, first lunch destination - but more on that soon).

Walking into the very stylish looking bistro, I was greeted very warmly by the incredibly friendly wait staff, who were only too happy to accommodate my request for a table for one.  The smiles never left their faces when I indicated that of all the wonderful items on the menu, I would just be having the classic Yankie burger.  The Yankie burger was perhaps the simplest item on the menu (read that as cheapest too!) but db Bistro is better known for their Original db Burger, which was a sirloin burger, filled with braised short ribs and foie gras.  As tempting as the Original db Burger looked, I decided to stick to my guns and have the Yankie.

My burger was delivered with a little bucket of fries and the minute I laid eyes on it, I knew I was in for a special treat.  It was beautifully well proportioned, with the right amount of meat and a soft brioche bun that had been lightly toasted.  One bite, and I was transformed back to New York and was in burger heaven.  The meat was cooked just how I asked for it, medium and had a wonderful meaty flavour.

What I loved most about db Bistro was the service.  From the moment I walked through the door, to the moment I left, I was treated like a rock star.  While I was waiting for my burger, the wait staff brought over magazines for me to read and when the meal finished, I was brought some sweet treats (on the house).  

It was an experience that reflected the amazing destination that is Marina Bay Sands.

Pizzeria Mozza by Mario Batali

My meal at db Bistro was just the beginning of my Marina Bay Sands adventure.  I'd actually been sitting around in db Bistro waiting for the next phase of my lunch.  What I've not mentioned so far was that I'd been torn about lunch.  Right next door to db Bistro was a little pizza place by Mario Batali, another one of the United States top chefs and another top experience from our NYC visit (see post here).  So instead of choosing one over the other, I'd decided to have two lunches, back to back!

A very short walk and I was in a queue to get into Pizzeria Mozza, which had filled up faster than a New York cab, considering the place had only just opened, the dining room was half filled and space was already at a premium.  Once I got to the front of the queue, there were not a lot of seats left, which meant that I had to sit at the bar, which coincidentally overlooked the pizza ovens and gave me the opportunity to watch the pizzas being made and then baked.  Sweet.

While the menu at Pizzeria Mozza was a full of Italian delights, I was there for one reason, and one reason only.  I wanted the Margherita pizza and I wanted it bad!  I'm definitely a traditionalist when it comes to my pizza, so there is only one real choice of pizza for me. I quickly ordered my Margherita and just sat at the bar mesmerised as a procession of pizzas were created and then set to baking in the two wood fired ovens.

It didn't take long before my piping hot traditional Margherita pizza was sitting in front of me, at which point the rest of the restaurant just faded into the background.  The bright red of the tomato base was perfect, as was the crispy thin style base.  Best of all was the mozzarella cheese that which combined brilliantly with the crispy base and tomato sauce to form the near perfect pizza.  I say near perfect because I could have done with just a little more mozzarella on the pizza.

I'd done it, two lunches back to back.  It was fair to say that I was feeling pretty full but pretty satisfied with myself.  While my Marina Bay Sands adventure was over for the day, there was still one surprise around the corner.

Cut by Wolfgang Puck

I was in Singapore on a work conference and was travelling with a colleague.  We'd arranged to get together for a dinner out and I immediately though about heading back to Marina Bay Sands and checking out another well known American celebrity chef's Singapore outpost.

Cut but Wolfgang Puck was a restaurant that I'd almost visited during my time in NYC but simply ran out of time to get to.  Cut is a steak restaurant and one of the best known fine dining steak restaurants around and Wolfgang has a reputation that puts him at the very top of chefs in the US and around the world, so I was very interested to see if the steaks would measure up to some of the great steak restaurants in Australia.

Arriving at the restaurant, we were left in no doubt that this was a fine dining establishment, with impeccably dressed concierge staff at the front counter waiting to greet us and show us to our table.  The dining room was dimly lit but had a very classy and sophisticated feel about it and our waiter for the night also fit that particular description.  He was very good.

We were given menus to look over and for the first time in Singapore, I really got a sense of how expensive it would be to live (and dine) well in the country.  It was pretty pricy but what I really noticed was that most of the steak on the menu was from Australia and significantly more expensive that what we'd pay at home.  Luckily, there were also some steaks from the USA on the menu and we pretty much focussed on those (they were quite a bit cheaper).

I started of my meal at Cut with meat, of course, but raw meat in the form of the wagyu beef tartare, which was enormous for a tartare.  The tartare had the condiments chopped and sitting atop of the tartare and all I needed to do was pour the quail egg over the top and then mix the lot together.  It was a fantastic version of a tartare, quite delicious and was devoured in quick time.

As is the case with most top line steak restaurants, when you order a steak, that's pretty much all you get on the plate.  I'd ordered the USDA New York 340g sirloin, which was a huge slab of meat on the plate.  The sirloin comes from the back part of the animal and is generally considered to be a good combination of tender meat but still full of flavour.  My sirloin was cooked a perfect medium rare and was lovely, however (and I may be biased here) I've generally found that the meat we have back home in Australia to be a better quality with amazing flavour!

I'd ordered a large starter and a monstrous main but I'd still had room for dessert and opted for the chocolate soufflĂ©, thinking it would be the lightest of dessert options.  Boy, was I wrong.  The chocolate soufflĂ© was itself massive, but the Cut way of presenting the dessert was with a heap of additional chocolate poured inside and then all over the top for good measure.  This was not the light end to the meal I was wanting but a rich and decadent meal on its own.  I did my best but I just couldn't get through the whole dessert.

Our meal at Cut had reminded me of the excess that can be found in many US style restaurants, beautiful food but just a lot of it.

Cut by Wolfgang Puck was a wonderful example of fine dining experience, the service, location and food all first rate. 

That was my last food experience in Marina Bay Sands but all three meals were excellent and a little taste of America in Singapore.  There were many more possible experiences to be had but alas, I needed to continue to explore the rest of Singapore to get as many different experiences as I possibly could.

I did get back to Marina Bay Sands before I finally left Singapore, just to soak up the atmosphere of an incredible shopping complex.  It's a place that I'd love to get back to again, just so I could experience more of the decadence of the area, but it would have to be at a point in the future.

I guess my desire to get back gives me a good excuse to travel back to Singapore and of course take SC with me this time!

Daniels db Bistro
Mozza by Maria Batali - all of these restaurants had concierge desks!
This place was massive and filled up so quickly
Inside Marina Bay Sands
Upstairs is the hotel - beautiful 
Just an amazing place to visit

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