JAAN - City Hall, Singapore

Dinner - Saturday, May 18, 2013

JAAN is the fine-dining restaurant at the luxury SwissĂ´tel The Stamford hotel, in the heart of Singapore's central business district. Perched on the top floor of the 70-storey complex, the restaurant affords a dazzling vista, with huge windows wrapping around the cosy dining room.

The kitchen (formerly run by Andre Chiang) is helmed by the young Julien Royer, who apparently trained at Bras (I did not see the influence during our meal). Under his guidance, the restaurant has popped up on a number of radars, culminating in multiple recommendations for us to dine here. With very little time in Singapore, we decided to replace a reservation at Iggy's with this meal. Did it invoke a sense of time and place? Hell no - the cuisine at JAAN is unapologetically French, and should be interpreted through that lens.

TAKAZAWA - Tokyo, Japan

Dinner - Friday, April 12, 2013

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."

In mid-2012, after seven years of continuous operation, the studio restaurant formerly known as Aronia de Takazawa underwent a reinvention of sorts, reemerging as TAKAZAWA. This new stage strives for a greater emphasis on "Japanese ingredients, culture and tradition".

The heart and soul of the restaurant are Yoshiaki Takazawa and his wife, Akiko - they run the kitchen and the front-of-house, respectively (indeed, Akiko is the only front-of-house person). Takazawa is assisted by three cooks in the rear kitchen, while he finishes every dish personally at his polished silver dais - a fascinating custom counter with a built-in griddle, hibachi, recessed holders, plating area and spotlight lamp.