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Stunning presentation, impeccable service and inventive, modern French cuisine

It was Paul’s birthday, so it had to be special…something out of the ordinary and truly impressive. After much consideration I selected Gunther’s, #7 on the Miele Guide’s list for top restaurants in Asia. I think what got me, besides its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Singapore, was the idea of a menu-less, 8-course tasting dinner designed on the spot by the chef (who trained in a 3-starred Michelin restaurant in Paris). The idea of every course being a surprise sounded exhilarating and like just the kind of unique experience I was looking to share with Paul on his special day.

And in fact, everything about our experience was absolutely flawless. When we entered  the restaurant we were treated like VIPs (and I didn’t even mention to them it was a birthday). They took my bag and carried it for me…lest I be perturbed with even the smallest nuisance of shouldering my laptop…and ushered us to our table. We were immediately greeted and the waiter did something I have never seen before….he brought the raw ingredients of today’s specials on a platter to our table for us to see them first hand. There was an impressive array of kuroge wagyu beef, lobster (still moving!), crab legs, a leg of Spanish ham on a carving tray, and a magnificent truffle covered by a domed plate. If there was any question about having the tasting menu, this completely removed it.

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As we ordered the tasting menu, they asked if we had any special dislikes or dietary issues. I personally don’t like carpaccios (raw sliced meats / fish), and since I had seen these on the menu I decided to mention that. No judgment, no snooty derision…just a respectful reply of “of course madame.” We were asked if we would like the paired wine tasting as well….I said “yes”, Paul opted for “no” since he was getting over a cold. And with that the fun began…

1st course
Japanese tomatoes with balsamic reduction and Spanish Ham

Why does everything Japanese taste better?….small, sweet and perfectly ripe tomatoes were an absolute delight with the Spanish ham. The balsamic vinegar served to cut the heaviness of the ham and the sweetness of the tomato and the result was perfect harmony.

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2nd course
Scallop carpaccio with tomato (for Paul) and grilled scallop with tomato (for me)

A stunning, simple presentation…..perfectly grilled in my case, and delicately seasoned and garnished in Paul’s case.

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3rd course
Capellini with caviar and white truffle

The domed truffle was no doubt used for this simple yet intensely flavourful dish. The earthly aroma wafted up from our dishes and I am pretty sure we didn’t speak as we silently savoured this dish. And in fact, it reminded Paul of a famous Eric Ripert dish from Le Bernardin in NYC.

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4th course
Cepe mushroom with scamorza cheese

Again, simple but harmonious combination of ingredients resulting in a delicate, yet satisfying mouthful.

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5th course
Alaskan king crab with chili oil in a pasta shell

Beautifully presented and judiciously seasoned, a lovely a light mouthful before the heavier courses.

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6th course
Kuroge wagyu beef grilled with corn and potato croquettes

Meat and potatoes if you get right down to it….but this is no average meat, the pinnacle of beef from an ancient stock of Japanese black-haired cattle. So tender and juicy it melts in your mouth. And the simplest item on the dish, the corn, was remarkably fresh and amazingly sweet.

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7th course
Pan-fried scamorza cheese, white truffle and Spanish ham

It’s hard to say what was my favourite course – it was a toss up between this one and the kuroge beef. There is no more classic combination than ham and cheese and when elevated with the best quality ingredients plus white truffles…well, something classic becomes something divine.

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8th course
Apple tart with rum raisin ice cream + compliments of the chef mini macaroons, valhrona chocolate, cannelles and cookies

A creative take on a classic was the perfect finish to a truly perfect meal. I am also a sucker for macaroons, so I was delighted to have the added and unexpected bonus of these and other wonderful cookies and chocolates.

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It’s not often we write a review without a hint of constructive criticism….but Gunther’s was in fact as flawless a meal and dining experience as we have had in years. Every detail was considered and perfectly executed in every part of the service….from the inventive presentations to the masterful, yet simple flavour combinations to the highly attentive but somehow unobtrusive wait staff. OK, our experience was expensive…it cost us around $800 SGD for the chef’s tasting menu for 2 with 1 person doing the wine pairing (with service and GST), but I do believe it was totally worth it. But don’t be scared off by our bill…if you order a la carte off the menu, entrees can be had for $38 – 75 SGD, so not every meal has to be as extravagant as ours was.

Honestly, the bar has been set so high now by Gunther’s in Singapore that I struggle to imagine a better meal at any restaurant in any country. Our immediate circle of friends may well be tired of hearing about our culinary masterpiece of a meal, but we never seem to tire of talking about it. If you haven’t been there yourself, revisit your calendar and make it happen – a culinary story of your own awaits.

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Gunther’s
36 Purvis Street, #01-03
Singapore
Telephone: +65 6338 8955

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