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May 24, 2008 09:16 PM

Singapore: Nicolas Le Restaurant

klyeoh first recommended this new French restaurant Nicolas at 35 Keong Saik Road about 3 months ago at Chowhound:

and then I read a rave review on the local The Strait Times a week later. Since then, this place has been on my radar screen and I finally got the chance to try it over last weekend.

And when I left the place, I concluded that this is going to be the next hottest place in town, right in the same league with Iggies and Gunther's, which I consider the 2 best fine dining restaurants in town right now. Not only was I impressed with the food, the meal was value for money with its 5 courses tasting menu at $95 per head compared to Iggies/Gunther's, though the decor was simple and the service, though friendly but was not refined. The menu was also rather limited and location not really at the best part of town (and parking is a problem if you drive). But nevertheless, the food was so good that you will want to forget the inconveniences.

We started off with scallop carpaccio with ikura and white truffle drop, then really fresh light flavored sea langoustine, proceed with duck foie gras and an asparagus from Luberon. For the main dish, there were 4 options, which I opted for pigeon breast though I also took one small slice of beef tenderloin from my wife's plate. Since the meal was so good and I was not full yet, I ordered an extra chef's pasta with scampi. All the dishes were delicious, and none disappointed me.

I will definitely be back again.

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  1. I came back here again, 8 months after the above review. Business seemed to be good, as chef Nicolas Joanny has moved Nicolas Le to another shop house a few units away from the original location, which is now occupied by its bistro: Les Artistes Bistrot by Nicolas at 35 Keong Saik Road. Nicolas Le Restaurant will focus on fine dining while its bistro will focus more on casual dining.

    I had lunch today at Les Artistes Bistrot. Very reasonable price at S$34++ for lunch set menu. I ordered an extra appetizer along with the set menu: started with carpaccio organic tomato with salad; followed by Japanese steamed egg with Iberico ham, main dish rack of lamb and end with dessert Creme brulee. A simple casual lunch that I enjoyed ; I am as impressed as my last visit. This place hardly get any mention in Chowhound so this is just a brief review to recommend this place. I want to come back here again for the dinner at Nicolas Le on the next visit soon.

    13 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      Had a superb lunch at Le Nicholas... Soft boiled egg with truffle oil for amuse bouche, hokkaido scallop for starter and the main was Tasmanian lamb, pink and juicy (instead of pink and dry). $S42++ for lunch but added S$6 for the lamb. Dessert that day was a brulee tart (not caramelized) and was the most ordinary part of the meal. Quite curious now about the style of cooking at the Bistrot, whether it's more rustic.

      1. re: KLfoodie

        I think the style of cooking at Bistrot is similar but it is just more casual with lower budget. THe set lunch menu at Bistrot is $34 vs $42 at Le Nicolas.

        1. re: FourSeasons

          i just want to bump this old thread and see if anyone has gone to Nicolas Le Restaurant recently and what their thoughts were. I'll be in town next week and looking for a french restaurant. I'm trying to avoid the international celebrity chef restaurant as I've been to some of Boulud and Robuchon's outposts. FourSeasons please don't fail me now "fingers crossed

          1. re: shake N baik

            Nicolas is closed at the moment till July. He is pretty good and different from the celebrity restaurants. However you should instead go for the local food.

            1. re: rolandyap

              Hi Roland...I have 4 days in Singapore and penciled in visits to hawker stalls, Little India, Chinatown as well as some late night eats in Geylang based on prior chowhound threads. I just need 2 upscale meals for a celebratory occasion. I've emailed Iggy's and hope to score a table there but need one more. Nicolas seemed to fit the bill but since its closed I'm considering Gunther's although there hasn't been much written about it recently. Is there any other French restaurant along those lines I should consider? Thanks!

              1. re: shake N baik

                There is Les Amis if you want French or Waku Ghin (Tetsuya Wakuda's restaurant). Other French alternatives are Joel Rubuchon and Guy Savoy. However I would really try something local, here's a modern take on Singaporean food:

                Andre's restaurant is also very good but may be hard to get reservations:

                1. re: rolandyap

                  caveat - Wok & Barrel is not upscale, quite the opposite in fact.

                2. re: shake N baik

                  not quite the same style as iggy's / gunther's, but if you are 1. basing your selection on french cuisine, and 2. don't mind going the bistro route, then i'd suggest gavroche. arguably the hottest restaurant at the moment.


                  andre's is a good choice if you want upscale without a (international) celebrity chef.

                  1. re: akated

                    Well Wok&Barrel is not upscale but I would suggest may be more interesting than an upscale restaurant if you are visiting. Good French restaurants are everywhere around the world but not Peranankan.

                    Dare I say that Chef Andre Chiang is as good as (international) celebrity chef. If you want modern cooking, he does that very well.

                    1. re: rolandyap

                      Roland - Thanks for the Peranakan restaurant recommendation. Wok&Barrell is closer to our hotel than Peramakan so we may indeed try it.

                      akated - Thanks for the Gavroche tip. I've passed along the menu for Gavroche to my wife. Since she's the one pushing for French I'll let her decide. I've never heard of it but I know she also had Restaurant Absinthe in mind as well.

                      This is all last minute so I almost have a feeling that we'll end up going to whichever restaurant has an open time slot.

                      1. re: shake N baik

                        I think Wok&Barrel would have more for different tastes as it has modern influences. Peramakan is more traditional which may have less options. Please report on your experience. The area around Wok&Barrel is nice for a walk. Check out the Maxwell food court which is close-by.

                      2. re: rolandyap

                        Wok & Barrel does look interesting indeed. I'll have to give it a visit when I'm back in Singapore.

                        Being Singaporean but based in KL for the past year, I'm now hooked onto Malaysia's richer, moister Nasi Lemak, usually served with rich curries, eggs fried sunny-side-up, achar pickles, etc.

                        I used to be quite let down by Nasi Lemak places back in Singapore - even the "famous" ones, e.g. Changi Village Nasi Lemak, Punggol Nasi Lemak, Golden Shoe Carpark (Market St) Nasi Lemak, Adam Road Food Centre, Jurong, etc. Our Singaporean version usually consisted of fried chicken wings/drumsticks, a wedge of dry-ish egg omelette, sliced cucumber and over-fried fish, with sweetish sambal-chilli paste.

                        My fave Nasi Lemak stall in Singapore used to operate out of Rocovo coffeeshop in Novena - Malay-run, with lovely rendang, sayur lodeh, etc., to select from. But it closed down sometime in the late-90s, and I've never been able to find good Nasi Lemak in Singapore ever since, not even in Malay enclaves like Geylang Serai, Kampung Glam, Yishun/Khatib, etc.

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          Wok&Barrel has nice nasi lemak, for lunch, the price is actually pretty good for what you get. One dish + omelette + ikan bilis + their take on asian salad + cucumber + sambal. You can of course order just the rice and dishes a la carte but lunch has a smaller menu so the full menu is either at dinner or brunch.

        2. Anyone know what's happened to chef Nicolas? Last I heard he was planning to re-open in July or August but haven't any news of a re-opening yet.

          5 Replies
          1. re: RipCurl

            I haven't heard anything about Nicolas Joanny either. The last time was this article in the Business Times Singapore dated 2 April 2012:

            An extract regarding Nicolas stated:
            "Elsewhere in Chinatown, Nicolas Joanny, chef-owner of French fine dining Nicolas le Restaurant on Keong Saik Road, permanently drew down his shutters a fortnight ago to embark on a three-month sabbatical to Japan and France.

            "The lease was up and we did not want to renew a new lease at the current place. After five years we needed a break and restart with a fresh mind and new ideas," says chef Joanny, who has just completed a month of training in Zeniya restaurant in Japan's Kanazawa prefecture. "We plan to try many restaurants and to visit many producers, farmers and wine makers."

            In the meantime, Joanny's assistant chef Baby Serelli Lee will be training in La Feniere, a Michelin-star restaurant in Lourmarin run by Provencale chef Reine Sammut, and manager Michael Hasang will be visiting various French vineyards.

            Chef Joanny hopes to reopen in July or August with a concept similar to the current one, but with a better design and potentially incorporating an aperitif bar and a private room.

            Replacing him in May will be a French restaurant backed by a group of wine importers, who declined to reveal further details at this stage."

            Well, it's end-August now. I do hope Nicolas Joanny starts a new venture in Singapore again soon. He was cooking at L'Aigle d'Or when he first came to Singapore, then went off to Bangkok (Le Vendome in Sukhumvit) for a while before coming back to start Nicolas Le Restaurant.

            1. re: klyeoh

              Aha! A timely piece of news for those who haven't seen it :)

              1. re: RipCurl

                Thanks for the heads-up, RipCurl. No.10 Teck Lim Road, eh? That'll put the new Nicolas Le Restaurant just 3 doors away from Bistro Soori (

                I'm going to check it out after giving it a couple of weeks to settle down :-)

                1. re: RipCurl

                  thanks ripcurl for the wonderful news!