Le Papillon

Posted on June 14, 2006 by Aun

I first met chef Anderson Ho in 1998. He and another young chef named Jimmy Chok were at the helm of a fantastic little restaurant called Fig Leaf. I loved eating there. These two young chefs prepared lovely European and fusion dishes. The food was good. It wasn’t too refined or sophisticated, but it was delicious.

After his stint at Fig Leaf, Anderson (unlike his partner Jimmy, who went on to run and work in a number of well-reviewed restaurants) disappeared from Singapore’s restaurant scene. Instead of moving to another restaurant, Anderson accepted a position with SATS, the in-flight catering company responsible for the meals served on Singapore Airlines, as well as many other airlines. I remember my disappointment when I heard about his decision to work at SATS. I liked Anderson’s cooking and I couldn’t believe that the only way I’d get to eat something prepared by him was by buying a ticket on SQ. Fortunately for us Anderson fans, in 2003, he and his award-winning photographer brother Edmond, produced a deliciously beautiful cookbook. Menu Degustation is a treasure trove of innovative fusion recipes. My wife S and I have enjoyed cooking many of the dishes found within its pages. And, through this book, we’ve become even bigger fans of Anderson’s. So, you can only imagine our glee when we found out earlier this year that Anderson was finally returning to a restaurant kitchen. He and his brother have opened a small, bright and peaceful Modern French place called Le Papillon, located in the new Red Dot Traffic Building.

I’ve had quite a few meals at Le Papillon since it opened on 8 May 2006. All of them have been good, with some better than others. S and I went back again for lunch this past Monday. We had a small but lovely meal. S started with one of her favorite dishes here, marinated goat cheese with pesto on watermelon and Pedro Ximenez reduction (pictured top left above). This is something she’s had every time we’ve visited Le Papillon. She tried it on our very first visit and she’s ordered it ever since. The combination, while unexpected, is very good. It’s sweet, tart, juicy, crisp and cool. I started with sautéed Hokkaido scallops served with an herb risotto, asparagus and morel mushrooms (pictured top right above). This is a nice, hearty and tasty dish. For her main, S had another of our favorites, Anderson’s confit of crispy pork belly and sautéed tiger prawns on green tea mousse, served with a rocket and spinach salad (pictured at the very beginning of this post). For my main, I had a roasted king fish with slow-cooked oxtail, truffle cream and herbed mashed potato (pictured bottom left above). Both these dishes are very good. The pork is succulent; the meat is soft and skin crispy. The prawns are cooked perfectly and the mousse full of flavor. The fish is nice and light. And paired with the oxtail and mashed potato the dish takes on a rich sensuality. Another favorite main course is Anderson’s beef tenderloin served with what he calls an oxtail parcel — braised oxtail wrapped in Filo pastry. As you might already surmise, all of these dishes are duos of sorts. i.e. dishes composed of two equally delicious propositions. And this is something that I like very much about the food at Le Papillon. Anderson pairs ingredients expertly, creating the kind of food that I’d love to be able to cook for friends. Over the years, Anderson’s food has become more mature. It is cleaner and more refined than it used to be. And somehow both simpler and more sophisticated. I envy his technical skills tremendously. And, because almost every dish on his menu sounds great to me, I am very inspired by his palette.

Anderson and his restaurant show great promise. If he and his team can iron out a few understandable opening kinks (and upgrade the desserts, which while good are not as good as the rest of the food), it could quickly become one of Singapore’s top tables.

Le Papillon
28 Maxwell Road, #01-02, Red Dot Traffic Building.
Tel: 6327-4177.
www.le-papillon.com.sg

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. jenjen June 14, 2006 at 6:41 am

    This sounds like a great restaurant with lots of potential. It appears to me that Singapore has a really great food/dining scene. You guys know how to eat.
    Must visit sometime!!!

  2. Kendrick June 14, 2006 at 7:32 am

    I tried making a reservation a while back, unfortunately though, they don’t take kids below 6 years.

  3. LPC June 14, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Yum! Le Papillon sounds enticing. It’s nice that Le Papillon is able to use produce from Asia, like Hokkaido scallops, for their French dishes. For most French-food chefs, desserts are not their forte and one of the ways is to hire a good French-pastry chef to have a complete and rich menu… this is also true even for French chefs in Paris!

  4. Gustad June 14, 2006 at 10:14 pm

    pesto on watermellon… thats new

  5. Fanny June 15, 2006 at 5:04 am

    What a wonderful post. Your very-nicely-described love for Anderson’s food and your pictures really show how much you like this place and this chef.
    I wish i could book a flight to Singapore and eat at le Papillon.

    xoxo
    Fanny

  6. Kat in Hat June 15, 2006 at 11:51 am

    hi CH,
    I haven’t posted a message on your blog in a while. Just wanted to thank you for the great tips you’ve shared. I started visiting your blog about 3months ago on the recommendation of a friend of yours/colleague of mine. Am now hooked.

    Last week, I made fresh pasta for the first time eschewing all the other books on my shelf in favour of your Bertolli advice. Amazing results. I finally bought a pasta machine – the one and same that kept getting re-gifted amongst my parent’s friends.

    Oh and here are some tips you might be interested in…I found the Barton/Betj tea shop in basement of Siam Paragon where you can also find the isi thing-ey in their kitchen wares dept.

  7. gwenda June 15, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    sounds promising :) and i like the inclusion of a quote from your post to the photo collage thing. great typography.

    and congrats on the mention in The Guardian!

  8. zhonghuarising June 15, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    Le Papillon sounds delicious. Your blog is an excellent resource for finding out what is happening on the Singaporean restaurant scene. Thanks so much for your timely reviews!

  9. Jeanne June 16, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    That sounds absolutely divine. I am very interested in the goats cheese/pesto/watermelon combo – and it looks quite possible to try out at home. *Stunning* photographs as well!

  10. Claire June 17, 2006 at 9:57 am

    an unrelated comment, but i just went for the Taste of London in Regents’ Park and had an amazing time. The whole concept of exhibiting the top dishes from the top resturants to the masses is a brilliant one that should be done in Singapore.

  11. eatdrinknbmerry June 27, 2006 at 3:21 am

    Chubby hubby, those are killer photos! You’ve got a great eye.

  12. halfblack July 12, 2006 at 12:19 am

    chubby hubby takes outstanding drool worthy photos, and writes exceptionally well with much passion. a fantastic website which i visit every so often primarily for his writing and the photos.

    however, i don’t necessarily always agree with his reviews. le papillon is a case in point.

    having heard much about anderson and his reputation, i was eager to check out this exciting new restaurant and finally managed to find time to do so two weeks ago.

    the hokkaido scallops sounded so promising on the menu but ultimately disappointed. nothing at all like the hokkaido scallops i’ve had the pleasure of tasting both in hokkaido as well as in top japanese restaurants here.

    tried two of the soups and found them mediocre, particularly the morel mushroom soup, which was too diluted, topped with foam that was too ‘thin’ as well as soggy shaved morels that had no flavour.

    in any case, i found the menu overpriced by singapore standard, especially considering le papillon’s location and culinary refinement. in my opinion, it is a far cry from iggy’s or les amis and as a reference, i find S$16 – S$18 for soup excessive.

    the decor at le papillon is lovely in it’s simplicity and elegance (located in the historic but somewhat gaudy red ‘red dot museum). i am hopeful that their food will improve but they certainly have quite a bit of work ahead of them.

    peace.

  13. Chubby Hubby July 12, 2006 at 9:16 am

    halfblack: Wow, I’m sorry that you had such a disappointing meal. Anderson has talent but he does seem to have good and bad nights. Fortunately, the times I’ve gone, most things have been very good — with only the occasional dish being not so great. I do agree that the prices, especially for his tasting menu, are a bit steep. But it seems that prices in all “modern european” restaurants in Singapore have become higher and higher over the years. I just recently went to Infuzi at Biopolis and was shocked at the a la carte prices. Anyway, hopefully, Anderson or one of his friends will read your comments and take them seriously. Thanks for leaving your feedback. Good, honest opinions like yours are the most important thing for restaurateurs. I also hope that you’ll give them a second chance. I’ve discovered that some restaurants that have really disappointed me on my first visit are able to really wow me on my second.

  14. halfblack July 14, 2006 at 1:06 am

    appreciate your comments chubby hubby.

    i didn’t mean to sound harsh. i do want to support local talent and see them grow. i was and am still somewhat ‘in the business’ so i know there are many reasons why chefs/owners make certain decisions and certain compromises sometimes.

    it’s just that sometimes chefs ‘try too hard’. perhaps it’s a question of ego or just being too ambitious too soon.

    i feel that they need to take things a step at a time. do simple dishes but do them well. when they can do it well, improve it and take it a step higher.

    understand the fundamentals of each dish. never forget the essense of what that dish is about and keep focused. be patient, hone their craft and one day greatness will prevail.

    just my two cents. hope everyone has a great weekend!

  15. Timothy F September 18, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    My friends and I just came back from L.P. and we had the usual affordable set lunch. I just want to exhort the rest of the readers who have never been there to go now. The food is really exquisite and delicious (especially the warm Caesar salad). A very memorable lunch for me:)

  16. Jin Xian April 29, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Le Papillon just closed down! I am so heart broken. Would you know what plans Anderson Ho has next?

  17. Chubby Hubby April 29, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Jin Xian: He’s now cooking full-time at Muse at the National Museum.

  18. Blooming Tea Guy December 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I can say the food scene in Singapore is great, with so much diverse of culture, they’ve got so much to offer. By the way, what’s the reason why Le Papillon closed down?

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