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Iggys

Hilton Hotel, 581 Orchard Boulevard , Singapore, 238883, Singapore

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Iggy's gets its name from owner Ignatius Chan, and opened in September 2004. The kitchen is led by Akmal Anuar, a local chef. The dining room is now on the third floor of the Hilton Hotel, and has smart, modern decor. The cooking style is modern fusion, and the set menu cost SGD 250 per person.

The wine list stretched over 25 pages and was heavily oriented to Burgundy, though there are choices from elsewhere. The list included Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Riesling Spatlese 2004 at SGD 99 (£50) for a wine you can pick up in a London shop at £16, the lovely JJ Prum Wehlener Somnnenuhr 2007 at SGD 195 (£98) compared to a UK retail price of £16, up to grander wines such as Haut Brion 2005 at SGD 3,999 (£2,028) for a wine that will set you back £599 in the shops.

Bread was a choice of sourdough roll and garlic roll. These were made by the bakery in the hotel for Iggys rather than being made by the kitchen, and this short-cut showed. The sourdough lacked acidity, and the garlic roll tasted of garlic but its texture was uninspired (13/20). With a large kitchen and twelve chefs in the kitchen for 40 covers it eludes me as to why a serious restaurant would not make its own bread.

Nibbles were served in a bento box and comprised tuna with ginger flower and meringue, violet potato ice cream on a potato crisp, toro tuna with marinated chrysanthemum flower and croquette of cod with lemon emulsion. The nibbles were a pleasant introduction to the meal (15/20). Parfait of eel was a successful dish, the eel smoked over hickory wood and having smooth texture, with some useful acidity provided by uzu lime jam, the dish garnished with avruga "caviar" of smoked herring roe coloured with squid ink (16/20).

Steamed Sri Lankan mud crab was served with avocado ice cream, lumpfish roe, creme fraiche, cucumber and sorrel. The crab itself was good, and avocado works well with crab, though for me the dish had too many components to be truly coherent (15/20). Ayu (sweet fish) was served with sago and red cabbage. The ayu was formed into a sinuous shape with chemical help rather than the natural way it is done in Japan, but the fish had quite good taste. However red cabbage with it was rather insipid, needing some sharpness (perhaps some vinegar and a little chopped apple to balance the sourness would have helped enliven it). The ayu skin on the side was nicely crisp (14/20).

A garden vegetable dish was presumably intended as homage to the famous (and much copied) gargouillou dish at Michel Bras.  Although 30 vegetables were involved, this dish showed up the limitations of the vegetable ingredient quality that faces Singapore restaurants, where everything has to be imported.  Although there was a lot of work involved in the dish, with various different vegetable preparations, such a dish lives or dies by the quality of the vegetables; what works with dazzlingly fresh local produce in France does not work with vegetables that have been imported some time earlier (13/20).

Flank of Australian wagyu beef was served with pink garlic, Brussels sprouts and ash made from chicory wood. The beef was grade 9 wagyu i.e. highly marbled, but being flank the meat still had a beefy texture rather than being too fatty.  The beef was cooked nicely, but the pink garlic seemed to me superfluous given that there was also wasabi.  Wasabi on the side was apparently from real wasabi root, but because the wasabi had been grated some time earlier rather than grated freshly it had sadly lost its complex flavour, tasting one-dimensional, rather like the horseradish that passes for wasabi in many restaurants. Grating fresh takes maybe a minute, so this was a completely false economy by the kitchen (15/20 overall, though the beef itself was better).

Yukon gold potato mousse was served with ratte potatoes and Epoisses cheese, garnished with lambs lettuce and shavings of black truffle from Tasmania. I didn't think this dish worked very well, as the strong flavour of the Epoisses was dominant, and the potatoes tasted rather salty (13/20). Much better was abalone rice, the rice braised with abalone stock and garnished with truffles; the rice here had good texture and the stock gave good flavour to the rice (16/20).

Dessert was served at a separate dessert bar that overlooks the pastry section of the kitchen. White peach from Australia was served with peach sorbet flavoured with thyme, peach granita and a little sponge. Although I am not a fan of shrubbery in my desserts, the thyme taste was subtle and actually worked quite well (16/20). The other dessert I tried was frozen coconut water and a well made sorbet of banana, with a slightly tasteless passion fruit jelly that had been pulled into long strips (14/20).

Service was excellent. Overall I quite enjoyed Iggys but felt that the food was rather over-worked. Too many dishes seemed to be showing off culinary technique rather than concentrating on flavour, while there was a tendency to have too many elements in many of the dishes, which makes life hard for the kitchen. I felt that if they stripped back some of the culinary flourishes the food would be simpler but actually improved, and with the time saved they could, for example, make some decent bread.

 

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  • Cohen

    Once used to be the best restaurant in Singapore, Iggy's is now living off past glories. There is no personality in the food. The cooking is competent but lacks soul and flair. Now only tourists and people eating according to the San Pelligrino guide eat there.

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