Tetsuya Wakuda’s eponymous restaurant at Marina Bay Sands is a mind-blowing culinary experience every epicurean needs to try
As all-out foodie enthusiasts, we live for those rare culinary experiences that leave a lasting impression. The kind where the food is so good it leaves you speechless (aside from a few muffled declarations of “wow” in between mouthfuls). While there are plenty of top restaurants in Singapore, that magical moment when you know you’re experiencing something you’ll never forget is still a rarity. Then again, it’s not every day you get the chance to dine at Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda. Intrigued by its two Michelin stars, exquisite seafood, and hefty price tag, we finally decided to step through the hallowed doors and experience the epic 10-course degustation menu.
Waku Ghin is nestled within The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and overlooks the buzzing casino. But step foot into this gourmet mecca and the hum of roulette tables and bright lights immediately disappear. Once ready to eat (it’s worth turning up early to first enjoy a cocktail at the luxurious bar), expect to be whisked through to a private dining room and seated along a table facing an open kitchen. We dined as a party of three and occupied the smallest room that accommodates a maximum of four guests. There are also larger rooms available for bigger parties where you can mingle with like-minded gastronomes or even a celebrity or two.
There is no menu (wine list aside), and the 10-course degustation regularly changes to showcase the freshest, seasonal produce. Rest assured that every ingredient on every plate has been painstakingly considered, the provenance of each element a story in itself. Admittedly, the price tag of the meal might make some balk (it’s $450++ for the experience), but upon understanding the time and effort Chef Tetsuya personally dedicates to sourcing each ingredient and supplier (the musk melon used in dessert is grown specifically for use in Waku Ghin, the abalone sourced from Tasmania is harvested during certain winter months only to ensure peak freshness, and the fish comes from one supplier in Japan who ships the best produce according to Chef Tetsuya’s specific requirements), justifying the extravagance is easier.
Throughout the 10-courses, expect Japanese flavours and ingredients combined with Western influences, no doubt inspired by Chef Tetsuya’s heritage (he’s Japanese born, Australian based). Rich butter sauces, crystal-clear consommes, and extra virgin olive oil sit brilliantly alongside abalone, A5 Wagyu, and wasabi. And if you follow the sommelier’s wine and sake pairing guidance (highly recommended), the flow of the dining experience naturally falls into four distinct sections.
The sake dishes
The first three courses were accompanied by an insanely good bottle of sake (unsurprising given Chef Tetsuya is the first sake samurai outside of Japan); one of only 120 bottles produced each year from Chef Tetsuya’s own label, Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo M exclusively for Waku Ghin. It’s sweet and clean with notes of melon, pear, and grape; the perfect accompaniment to a carpaccio of soft, fatty Toro tuna, pan-seared fillet of Ayu with daikon and fennel, and Chef Tetsuya’s signature dish of marinated Botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietra caviar. A decadent triumvirate that set the bar high for the rest of the meal; how on earth could this be topped?
The white wine part
Next up came steamed Hokkaido king crab with lemon scented extra virgin olive oil, and an introduction to executive chef, Masahiko Inoue, who’d be dazzling us with his skills in the open kitchen. Watching the level of skill and precision during the cooking process was a real treat. The aforementioned king crab, for example, was placed atop a thick bed of sea salt doused in water with only a bamboo leaf for company then covered with a cloche and steamed for few minutes. A cooking technique developed and used only at Waku Ghin that resulted in a perfectly cooked piece of soft, sweet crab. Insert a “wow” here.
We moved on to Tasmanian abalone with white asparagus and butter sauce, followed by braised Canadian lobster with tarragon (it came with a buttery bisque that takes 20 hours to make. Yes, 20). A warm bread roll was served to accompany the latter and was the perfect vessel to mop up the delicious sauce. More wow’s required here.
The wine pairing for these dishes was an exquisite 2016 Pierro Chardonnay created exclusively for Tetsuya’s. Next time you’re in Margaret River visit the Pierro winery itself and you’ll discover a vineyard blazing a trail for quality Aussie Chardonnay. Our bottle was smooth, not overly-oaked, and delicious when paired up against the buttery sauces, and fresh, zesty crab.
The red wine bit
The most astonishing thing about this 10-course journey is that at every step of the way you think the next dish can’t possibly be better than the last. But it is. And then the Wagyu arrives to show the shellfish who’s boss. Our Japanese Ohmi Wagyu was cooked medium-rare and served with wasabi, citrus soy, and fiendishly addictive garlic ‘crisps’. A5 grade beef; wow. Wasabi grated in front of us using a circular motion (to ensure just the right amount of heat was imbibed into finished product); wow. A 2016 Powell & Son Shiraz (there’s only one barrel in the world of this, and quelle surprise, it’s only available at Waku Ghin); wow. Best dish so far? Quite possibly.
‘Main’ courses demolished, we were moved through, red wine in tow, to the dining room at the back of the restaurant with sweeping views across Marina Bay for dessert. Here we enjoyed a warming bowl of chicken consomme, with steamed rice and snapper. The perfect full stop to the savoury elements of our foodie odyssey.
A perfectly balanced menu ensured room for dessert wasn’t compromised (phew!). A ‘pre-dessert’ comprising Japanese musk melon, Cointreau granita, and fromage blanc sorbet was light, fresh, and the perfect palate cleanser. And then followed a main dessert of wild strawberry with orange blossom honey cream. As with the rest of the menu, these seemingly simple dishes were executed with precision and were nothing other than a joy to eat. Meal over, a myriad of divine petit fours and Japanese tea or coffee was served to wrap things up. At this point reality sunk in that the meal was finished; cue genuine sadness the experience was over.
A final thought…
Let’s not beat around the bush; dining at Waku Ghin is an extravagance that the majority would find hard to justify. But we can confirm the 4.5 hours spent dining here was one of the most amazing foodie experiences we’ve had. Ever. From the service, to the wine, to the food, to the sommelier, to the interaction with the chefs as they cook in front of you; it’s all on another level. If you’re a true foodie we urge you to treat yourself; Waku Ghin will blow your mind.
Specially for Urban Journey readers: Enjoy a complimentary welcome drink when you dine at Waku Ghin! Simply quote Urban Journey when making your reservation. Valid until 31 August 2018. Not applicable to The Bar.
Masterclass & Lunch
21 July, 11:30am | S$250++ per person
As Waku Ghin celebrates its 8th anniversary, they would like to extend their gratitude for the support with the invitation to a masterclass with Executive Chef Masahiko Inoue, who has been working with Tetsuya Wakuda for over 12 years. Pick up tips and techniques on how to prepare Japanese wagyu and Australian grass-fed beef. Then, watch culinary magic unfold over a private 6-course lunch menu that uses the freshest and most premium ingredients.
Limited spots available. Call 6688 8507 or email [email protected] to book now.
Waku Ghin, Level 2 Dining, L2-01, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, 018972, Tel: 6688 8507
This article is sponsored by Waku Ghin.