An Evening with Chef Daniel Boulud @ db Bistro & Oyster Bar
db Bistro & Oyster Bar located in the Celebrity Chefs’ wing of Marina Bay Sands Singapore relaunched a couple of months back after its refurbishment to incorporate a seafood and oyster bar, as well as a new menu! During a recent dinner, not only did I get to sample some of the finest dishes from this French-American casual dining restaurant has to offer, it was also a tremendous privilege of having the opportunity to meet up with Chef Daniel Boulud himself, the celebrity French chef who has been immensely successful with his restaurants in the US, Canada and London, most notably the Michelin-starred ‘Daniel’ in New York.
Opened as db Moderne two years back, the restaurant has received much raves for their ever-changing menus, always full of anticipation for the surprises one would experience when dining here. This is heightened with the joining of the restaurant’s Executive Chef Jonathan Kinsella who brought with him exciting ideas and trends from across the Pacific which surprisingly worked very well with our local tastebuds. Very recently, the restaurant introduced upon its relaunch, the concept of an oyster bar that decks proudly at the entrance of the Parisian-styled bistro, offering a whole range of fresh and exquisitely prepared seafood dishes which have now become the prominent feature of their latest menus.
At the dinner, we were served two starters, the first being a Hamachi Tartare, that resonated in me to the concept of the Hawaiian Poké when it was first brought onto the table. Bitesize cubes of yellowtail were generously accompanied with chunks of avocado, cucumber and seaweed. The buttery and lush textures of the avocado created an interesting textural profile against the fresh fish as well the crunch from the julienned daikon and cucumber. Part of the avocado was worked together with yuzu into the seasoning of this appetiser that produced the core flavours of the dish which made it all the more refreshing. I especially loved the burst of aromas as one bites into the toasted sesame seeds, that contrasted against to the zesty zing from the Japanese citrus.
Kumamoto Oysters served with a yuzu kosho mignonette was also quite a surprise combination. The oysters were plump and succulent, all ready to release a wave of umami flavours. Working the condiment using yuzu kosho to compliment the oysters made the shellfish all the more “fun” to enjoy, an extension of palate sensations. I like how the astringency of the yuzu cuts through the otherwise prominently rich flavours from the oyster. The “fun” here lies in the slight hint of spiciness from the yuzu kosho, the Japanese paste which is customarily served with hotpots and sashimi. One gets to glimpse of a very well thought through compositon of tastes, in just that split-second of a slurp, all too fleeting a moment which makes one wanting to reach for the next shucked shell.
If the oyster and tartare starters were a celebration of umami flavours, the Mariniere of Clam & Crudo must surely be a serenade of the sea. A small collection of tuna, New Zealand tua tua clams as well as littleneck clams nesting on a nage, the rich sauce resulted from prolonged stewing of an assortment of vegetables and clams. One could taste the sweetness of the fennel used as well as a faint lingering of the bottle of white that went in as a base together with seafood stock. It took on an exuberant jadite green from the copious inclusion of parsley and was ceremoniously poured into our plates from a teapot upon which it amalgamated with the ivory-coloured saffron infused cream. The matrimony of these two components lent and unleashed a melange of piquant flavours that elevated those of the seafood. The crown jewels of the dish must surely be the dollop of Oscietra caviar that made the entire presentation sparkle in appeal and taste. This is a really special dish we were told, one which was on the very menu of “Daniel” in New York when it opened in 1992. After tasting it, I somehow knew exactly why its popularity has not waned the slightest all these years.
The main entree of the evening is Dover Sole Black & White, a roulade of sole fillet stuffed with thinly shaved black truffle on a Sauce “Fumet Vin Blanc”.
And this was when the evening got really exciting, when Chef Boulud made his way from the kitchen to our table with a fist-size piece of fresh black truffle, anointing each serving of the entree with a generous shaving from the knob of black gold. The unmistakable pungency of the much coveted black truffle instantly permeated the atmosphere and deliciously laced every air molecule we inhaled. I simply can’t wait to dive in and discover the flavours of the dish!
Despite the prominent aromas and taste of black truffle, the sweetness from the fish was still very apparent. The flesh was firm, yet wonderfully moist and succulent. The choice of sole was excellent for its combination of creamy and flaky textures which went remarkably well against the incredibly rich white wine sauce. It was really a delicate balance of the three components, each having very distinct repertoire of flavours and I think it was rather well executed. I was delighted to taste the shavings of fresh button mushrooms on the dish as well, something which I’d not encountered in quite a while. The earthy tones and sweetness they render gave the dish a slight boost elevating it from excellent to almost magical. We indulged in “wiping off” the remnant “fumet vin blanc” sauce after the fish and truffle were done, with offerings from the bread basket, and I was that close to lifting up the plate and licking it clean.
Chef Boulud surprised us with another entree, the French classic Duck a l’Orange. The dish was very very interesting I must say, from the multiple renditions of the two main ingredients. The duck was presented in four ways on the plate, the slice of breast was just slightly cooked, with still a good amount of the rareness within and the juices flowed as we worked on it. Yet the skin was deliciously crisp and had a beautiful smokey profile of good roast. Beneath it sat a bed of “pulled duck” which I believed was braised for quite sometime until it is fork tender and develop an almost rilette-like texture which makes one think of duck confit. Then there is a small medallion of foie gras which had been seared to perfection, remaining so so creamy. And finally there is what I would like to call “duck rind popcorn”, bits of skin which had been rendered until they are so crisp that dotted the sides of the presentation for one to indulge in.
The orange components also came in several forms, the luxurious mousse which the pan seared foie gras rested on, the jus which was used to glaze the entire dish and of course fresh wedges of orange which donned the dish together with an interesting selection of radish and bok choy. But to me, the surprise element came from that two slivers of orange confit whose sweetness rounded off the dish beautifully.
Dessert was very festive, an early Christmas celebration with the Buche de Noel exquisitely crafted by Executive Pastry Chef Benjamin Siwek and his team. Drawing inspiration from the classic Mont Blanc, the plated dessert bore components of chocolate and chestnut. The smooth and luxurious mousse au chocolat and creme de marron are the prominent features of the piece while a compote of cassis was included for its sharpness and sourish hues which cut through and provided a refreshing edge to the otherwise rich flavours. The base was delightfully crunchy from the praline feuilletine, textures echoed through the cocoa bits as well as deconstructed pate sucree au chocolat sprinkled around. The highlight for me was the glace au gingembre confit, a beautiful quenelle of ginger ice-cream with bits of candied stem ginger within. The spiciness it provided together with the decadent sweetness from the chunks of marron glace really kicked in the mood of festivity.
The dinner at db Bistro & Oyster Bar was thoroughly enjoyable. The dishes presented were very well executed and consistent. For me, the Duck a l’Orange went beyond and was simply superb, while the Dover Sole Black & White would definitely be most memorable. I took a peek at their brunch, lunch and dinner menus and was delighted to see the wonderful range of delectables being offered at different times of the day. From the traditional French classics like bouillabaisse and duck confit to American favorites like their signature burgers and steak frites, not forgetting their wider selection of seafood dishes now being offered at the new oyster bar, there is definitely something for anyone who wishes for a casual yet unique dining experience at Chef Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro & Oyster Bar. I can’t wait to try out their duck confit and Saffron Tagliolini. What about you?
db Bistro & Oyster Bar
B1-48, Galleria Level
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
(across from the theatre)
Monday – Friday 12:00pm – 5:30pm
Saturday – Sunday 11:00am – 5:30pm
Sunday & Monday 5:30pm – 10:00pm
Tuesday – Saturday 5:30pm – 11:00pm
dress code: Smart casual
reservations: Telephone: +65 6688 8525
A big thank you to Philicia and Marina Bay Sands for the kind invitation.