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Oct 5, 2008 09:37 PM

Jaan in Swissotel

We're staying at the Stamford Swissotel this December, and I'm wondering if anyone has opinions on Jaan. I've read some not-so-good reviews, but I also read recently (on Chubby Hubby, I think) that it has improved under the direction of the new chef.

Normally when I go to Singapore I don't bother with "fine dining", but stick with street food since there are many great fine dining places in Japan, but fewer great Chinese and Indian places. I'm only there for a few days in total, but am thinking of spreading my wings. Would Jaan be a good choice, or should I just save my "fine dining" allowance for Japan?

(I know Iggy's seems to be the preferred option, but Jaan is so much more convenient!)

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  1. I'd recommend that you go to Jaan for the overall experience - it's got great views & service. I can't comment on the food now, but I quite enjoyed the food even in pre-Andre Chiang (current chef)'s time earlier this year.

    Foodwise, you'd probably do better at Iggy's, Les Amis or Gunther's. But Jaan gives you a great view from 70-storeys up, whereas you'll be totally cloistered up in Iggy's (no windows to speak of), whilst Les Amis & Gunthers both looked out to narrow, featureless streets.

    1. Hi Prasantrin:

      I did not realize you live in Japan but if you use the benchmark of "fine dining" in Tokyo, then I would just advise you to forget about the "fine dining" here in town. I have not tried Jaan, but I have been to Iggy's, Les Amis, Gunther's on a few occasions, and they are rated as the "best" in town. They are all good but I will tell you that the standard here is not even close compared to the great restaurants in Tokyo. In terms of the freshness of the ingredients, the varieties of seasonal food, the culinary skill, the service standard: they are just not in the same league as in Tokyo. You are not going to find another Ryugin, an Ariona de takazawa or Argento ASO here. So if I were you in town for just a few days, unless you are really hungry for "fine dining", just stick to street food, Chinese or Indian food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: FourSeasons

        I am having second thought after writing the above post. Because if you use Tokyo as the benchmark, it is really tough to recommend any other place. I just went to NYC in June, which is considered by many to be a great culinary city, but I lament it is not close compared to the standard in Tokyo as well.

        1. re: FourSeasons

          Hi FourSeasons,

          I haven't been back to Tokyo since I was a kid, but it doesn't surprise me that its become the fine-dining capital of Asia.

          The skill in which some of the internationally based French-trained Japanese chefs prepare food is literally amazing. Have to try Tokyo for food someday.

          Maybe you'd want to introduce Prasantrin to our secret place? :) But only on condition that he doesn't spread it outside of these 4 virtual walls, of course.

        2. kyleoh--I wonder if I might be better off doing brunch at Equinox, then. If the food at Jaan isn't going to be spectacular, but just enjoyable, then I think I'd rather do mostly what Singapore does really well. I do have a soft-spot for hotel brunches, though, and we were planning on doing one, anyway, so I could still get the good view if I go to Equinox. And hotel brunches are almost all the same (at least with the higher-end of the scale) in terms of food, it seems.

          FourSeasons--I do agree that it's difficult to find restaurants comparable to those in Tokyo anywhere but in Europe. It's not just the food, but the service, as well, that really sets the top Tokyo restaurants apart. I do still like to try to find good restaurants elsewhere in the world, and would normally still be more than willing to try places like Iggy's, etc. However, since I'm only in Japan (not in Tokyo, but between Osaka and Kobe) for another year, I think I'd rather save my money for top-notch experiences here than not-quite-top-notch experiences, elsewhere.

          What's your secret place? I promise I won't tell! I'm very good at keeping secrets! (I'm actually female, though my user name is male :-))

          14 Replies
          1. re: prasantrin

            Hi prasantrin, Equinox offers a great view of the city - make sure you call to book well ahead, and ask for a table by the windows. The place can get pretty crowded.

            BTW, since you're staying just across the road from the Raffles Hotel, you might want to check out the Raffles Grill for lunch or dinner (despite the Raffles Hotel's "Colonial-British" pedigree, its actually a French restaurant). Anyway, Raffles Hotel's current Asst F&B Manager, Jean-Phillipe Joye, was formerly the restaurant manager of Park Hyatt Tokyo's New York Grill which, coincidentally, is my favorite place for Sunday brunch in all of Tokyo! In fact, you might remember him from there.

            1. re: klyeoh

              Thanks for the tip! I hadn't thought of making reservations for Equinox--just thought we could drop by. I'll e-mail them a few weeks before our trip.

              I don't get to Tokyo often enough to have tried New York Grill, but now that I know they have Sunday brunch, I may have to! I love long and leisurely Sunday brunches, but have yet to experience one in Japan. I've only been able to find one thorough report to Raffles Grill, but it does look quite good. I'll put it on my list of possibilities.

            2. re: prasantrin

              Hi prasantrin:

              I like Iggy's. I would have highly recommended the place had you not mentioned saving the "allowance" in Japan.

              I think the "secret" place girobike had in mind is Sin Lee (at 47 Neil Road), a local Cantonese restaurant in a traditional shop house. To be frank, it is not that well known in local scene; it has its own niche of late night clientele that tends to order its more expensive signature dishes such as shark fin, geoduck, bamboo clams, Alaskan king crab etc. And the Cantonese style steamed fish is always excellent. It is not cheap despite its casual atmosphere. The specialty is more on fresh seafood, cooked in traditional style that caters more to local Cantonese taste bud. I don't usually recommend this place to visitors though I sometimes do see a few tourists venturing in as it is close to Chinatown and end up ordering the "wrong" dishes.

              1. re: FourSeasons

                My cousins have been going to Sin Lee for decades. It's a true gem. The food is a mixture of various types from China, but with some twists to them.

                1. re: girobike

                  Any specific recommendations? Just in case we can't order off a menu, it would be good to know exactly what to look for! I love steamed fish and razor clams, as I mentioned above, and pretty much any kind of seafood. My mother mentioned wanting to get some crab while we're in Singapore. Do they have any good smaller crab dishes (that won't overwhelm two people), or is Alaskan king crab the best way to go?

                2. re: FourSeasons

                  Thanks, FourSeasons!

                  Sin Lee sounds perfect for the local cuisine we're looking for! Do they have an English menu that includes the signature dishes, or are those found on a special "Chinese-only" menu (a la North American Chinese restaurants)? We look Chinese, so maybe they'll be kind to us and steer us to the good stuff! I haven't had good steamed fish or bamboo clams since going to Hong Kong in March!

                  Iggy's is still on my list. I've heard a lot of positive things about it, but my fine dining allowance is as much a "food allowance" as a monetary one. I do love fine, rich, extravagent meals, but I find I can only partake once in a while, or I start to feel tired of eating and my stomach suffers quite a bit, as well! We're planning on spending a weekend in Tokyo just before leaving for Singapore, so it's a choice of having that meal in Tokyo or Singapore (if we do both, I'm sure I won't appreciate the one in Singapore as much as it should be appreciated, but doing both is still a possibility). If we do go to Tokyo, it's Aronia de Takazawa for us since I'll finally have an eating partner to fulfill the minimum two-person requirement!

                  Decisions,'s a good thing I have two more months to decide!

                  Thanks again for your help!

                  1. re: prasantrin

                    Sin Lee has an English menu.

                    They have both excellent steamed fish and razor clams.

                    Their razor clams (in Singapore we call them bamboo clams) are the best I've ever had anywhere in the world. They cook it with an excellent light sauce and ample helpings of small bits of crispy fried garlic, which enhances the flavor immensely.

                    One of the things I like personally is their "fried rice soup". Its like rice porridge, but with a savoury base with vegetables, fish and crispy fried rice in it.

                    I think you can pick the crab you want at Sin Lee that will suit your appetites.

                    1. re: prasantrin

                      i would choose gunthers, or jaan (havent been to both) over iggys.. i simply do not get the point when dining at iggys.. cheers.. for iggys its good, but u get the feeling that the quality is not justifiable with the price tag.. (maybe its becoz i got the lower grade lunch)

                      1. re: prasantrin

                        Hi Prasantrin:

                        Just need to clarify again Sin Lee does not serve local cuisine; it serves Cantonese food, and its specialty is more on the high end seafood dishes. They can cook the seafood dishes as well, if not better, as the high end Cantonese restaurants in Orchard Road but charges less due to its casual ambiance and less-convenient location. It only operates in the evening, I believe from 6pm to 2am.

                        We usually started off with their soup. When we want to splurge, we will order the braised shark fin 紅燒翅, which cost around $50 per pot, which you can share with your mother. (but I am greedy so I order the pot for myself) The waitress will then ask you if you want to include a slice of abalone on the shark fin soup. But when we are stingy, we will just ask her to recommend their soup of the day. (one small pot for two persons will cost around $10) It tends to be clear soup with herbals that has been simmered for the whole day.

                        If you like Hong Kong style steamed fish, then you should order one here since the steamed fish here is always good. We usually order 红斑, a type of fish that is popular and price rather reasonable. (Just pull out my old bills; it was $56 for the whole fish at 700gm when I went there two weeks ago) The Alaskan king crab was cooked with salted egg yolk, very delicious but rather expensive and I think it is too overwhelming for just two persons so I won't recommend that for just you and your mother. Bamboo clams that girobike recommend is just right for two persons. Or for an alternative dish but yet similar to the clams, you can try the geoduck, that can be eaten sashimi style or stir fried with XO sauce. I will end with the vegetable which I usually order 上湯九杞 (a regional vegetable with broth) or stir fried 豆苗 with garlic (another type of vegetable, sorry, I don't know what the names in English for both vegetables). I will also order seafood hor fun (rice noodle) to finish up the dinner.

                        When people talk about getting crab in Singapore, I think they usually meant Chilli Crab or Pepper Crab, or even Crab Been Hoon, which I don't think is served in Sin Lee. This has been a common topic in Singapore Board so you can do a little research on the past threads.

                        I will be going to Tokyo again on mid November so just like you, I have to make decisions soon.

                        1. re: FourSeasons

                          Just to add to what Four Seasons detailed out above - if I remember correctly, Sin Lee charges S$150 per kg for the Alaskan king crab. The bamboo clams are much more affordable at S$10 each.

                          Correct me if I'm wrong, Four Seasons/girobike, but are most of the clientele at Sin Lee also patrons from the bars/massage parlours in the surrounding "red-light district"?

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            heh. I was never there late enough to see if this was the case. I have never seen anyone that could be either a customer or a service professional.

                            Personally, I am there for the food. Whoever eats it with me is fine. :)

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              Hi klyeoh:

                              No, not clientele from "bars/ district". And the red light district is in Geylang, not Maxwell area where Sin Lee is located.

                              What I meant by the late night crowd is the clientele from the disco/night club scene. Because Sin Lee opens until 2-3 am, it certainly is a place where party goers and business crowd will go to after a late night partying and entertainment. And it is definitely not a sleazy place.

                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                Ha-ha, thanks for the clarification.

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  fourseasons & klyeoh,

                                  I might be in Singapore either end of this month or early next month. Let me know if you're going to be in town and if you would like dinner there. My email is in my profile.

                    2. i forgot to include one more restaurant... maybe u would like to look at BLU at shangri la.. if u like molecular and deconstructed meals...chef worked in el bulli arzak before
                      u can also check the user reviews of restaurants at

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Lucil

                        Funny you should mention Blu... haven't heard it mentioned in years, and doesn't seem to be on any foodie friend's list. The only claim to fame for them - that I can remember - is that they used to serve Screaming Eagle by the glass, which to me is a total publicity stunt.

                        Obviously the chef/cuisine has changed, and is now doing the hip molecular thingy. Are they any good? I have tried a few places where the chef supposedly worked at El Bulli, but the only place that is even remotely close to what I expect would be Tapas Molecular in Tokyo... Of course the real deal is still Ferran...

                        1. re: Peech

                          Blu's new chef is getting rave review from local sources. I try to book 2 days in advanced without any success on a weekday reservation this week, and considering the equity turmoil has trickled down to restaurants business, that is a rare feat on this environment.

                          1. re: FourSeasons

                            If, by local sources, you are referring to various websites run by locals, then please forgive me if I don't consider them reliable sources when it comes to international fine dining...

                            let's see how long the situation at Blu lasts. Usually this sort of thing is hype/pulicity driven, and it dies down after while when everyone has tried it once...

                              1. re: Peech

                                The local sources are some food critics from local press and magazines. I still have not tried Blu yet, so not able to provide any comment. But the equity turmoil is taking a bite on my expense budget, and since I will be leaving for Tokyo on Nov, I think I will go diet for a month for the time save money for my trip.

                            1. re: Peech

                              I still remember the Screaming Eagle thang, Peech - S$650++ or something for a glass of wine. That's way back in 2000. Someone's gonna do the screaming as well when he gets the bill.

                              I've tried 4 different chefs at Blu since then. I guess the restaurant, like many in Singapore, is not personality-chef-driven.

                          2. A new twist in the plan...

                            My aunt has gifted my mother and me with dinner at Raffles Hotel. While I'd much rather have gone to Iggy's (was thinking of doing lunch there), a free dinner is a free dinner, and if she wants me to eat at Raffles, I'll go (gratefully, of course).

                            In one post in this topic, klyeoh mentioned Raffles Grill. A "blend of classical and contemporary French cuisine" sounds like something I would enjoy, so it would be a good choice.

                            Long Bar Steakhouse is, I assume, a typical steakhouse. I don't eat a lot of beef, but it's a possibility.

                            Raffles Courtyard will prepare my choice of seafood in any Asian-style desired.

                            Another option is the Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Bar & Billiard Room. It's not dinner, as my aunt desired, but it's still at the Raffles, so she won't quibble too much, I think.

                            Of the restaurants at the Raffles, those are the four which caught my eye. I'm not particularly tied to any style of cuisine, but of the three above, which one does what they do best? Is any one held in greater esteem than the others in terms of food quality?

                            I couldn't find any online menus on the Raffles website to browse through, so it's very difficult for me to choose. Please help!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: prasantrin

                              Raffles Hotel will fax you their menus if you call them. As for Raffles Grill, their resident French chef, Jean Charles Dubois, is leaving them to helm The French Kitchen at Central Mall end-Jan (in collaboration with St Pierre's Emmanuel Stroobant).

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                Thanks! I'll get them to fax them when we return to Singapore on the 3rd. If Jean Charles Dubois is still there at the beginning of January, we'll still be OK.

                                My mother is trying to see how much leeway have on the Raffles thing. I think my aunt just wants my mother to have a Raffles experience, but she may be willing to let us dine/lunch elsewhere.