The Regent #03-00,
1 Cuscaden Road.
Call +65 6732 2234.
In the 2008/9 inaugural Miele Food Guide, which is published here, Iggy’s at the Regent Hotel Singapore was voted the best restaurant in Asia. Not Singapore, not Southeast Asia, but Asia. In the awards’ second year, it came in at number two.
Owner Ignatius Chan could not have been anything but delighted. But awards such as these may be a mixed blessing: when Roy and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at Iggy’s in December, my critical antennae were bristling.
The winning votes must have been all about the food, because Iggy’s location on the third level of a city hotel is ordinary at best. It has nothing of the ambience of Bangkok’s Vertigo, for example, dizzyingly exposed on the very top of the Banyan Tree Hotel; or Four Seasons fine dining on the sands of Bali’s Jimbaran Bay; or M on the Bund’s terrace view of Shanghai’s 1920s architecture across the river to Pudong.
The format – a prix fixe menu at $195 per head – is convenient for the kitchen, which can concentrate on getting every dish absolutely right. It works for the omnivorous diner, too, who is spared the stress of choosing and the anxiety of food envy. (As in, “Damn, why didn’t I order that? It’s much bigger than mine.”)
The December 2009 menu was clever, with hints of molecular fiddling – for example, a tomato gel film adorning a delicious vegetable medley, and the fresh mint gel balls in the same dish – but the foam quotient was not too high.
Of two amuses bouches, the first, featuring sea urchin roe, was more successful than the second, ocean trout surrounded in a cloud of wood smoke: when the top of the glass dish came off it was exactly like inhaling the contents of an ashtray. Other underwhelming dishes included Maine lobster overpowered by its accompaniment of oats, from which a pink oiliness drooled.
You did have to make one choice: between a light and delicious spaghettini with smoked mullet roe and zucchini, and white truffle cappellini for which there was an extra charge of $11 per gram (of truffle, one presumes). We loved the egg dish, slow-cooked in the shell and served in a piping hot pannikin with mashed potato, Parmesan and truffle; and the little slice of Wagyu beef was done to a turn.
From a good wine list, mainly French and not over-priced, we ordered a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé from the Loire Valley. It saw us nicely through the meal; but the sommelier did shudder ever so slightly when we refused his suggestion of a glass of red to go with the beef course, which had already arrived. It was as though I’d run my nails down the blackboard of his soul.
Service was slick and generally well-informed. When the room was too cold, they attempted to adjust the thermostat. When it was still too cold, they brought me a wrap.
I expected Iggy’s to knock my socks off, and it didn’t. At around $600 including coffees, was it worth it? Only perhaps. Would we go back? Not in a hurry.