Gunther’s Restaurant – Singapore’s Address for Modern French Cuisine

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I always like to think of myself as adventurous, curious and with an insatiable appetite – both for the unknown, but also for good food. As with holidays, I usually try and steer clear of the same destinations and restaurants twice, simply because there are so many different choices out there. And quit while you’re ahead. The first time may have been great, but what if the second experience doesn’t quite match the predecessor, thus spoiling the entire memory and highlights of the restaurant and that meal?

However, one man who has made me throw away all that logic and reasoning is Gunther Hubrechsen, owner and Chef of the renowned Gunther’s Restaurant. Hidden away on Purvis Street, Gunther is more than well known for bringing honest but sophisticated French fare to Singapore’s chic fine dining scene – and he never disappoints. Hailing from Belgium, Gunther arrived in Singapore 2002 and opened his namesake dream in August 2007 after helming the famous Les Amis for over five years. A culinary master to put it mildly, he has created an extremely loyal (and ever-growing) fan list for himself. I for one, probably went to Gunther’s first in early 2008, and have been going back several times a year ever since then – the man is not only a genius, but he is the most consistent genius that I have ever known. Every dish he works on tastes exactly the way I remember it from my earliest memory of it. And that is no easy feat to accomplish, year after ear. At the expense of sounding ultra-pretentious, I keep going back to Gunther’s as he is my ‘comfort food when it comes to fine French dining’ – the wait staff know me by first name, the order rarely changes, and I always leave eagerly, but greedily looking forward to the next time. I will happily take that mark of quality and consistency over today’s majority of nouvelle Chefs who are constantly trying to re-invent themselves, but losing their whole identity in the process of keeping up with the competition.

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But don’t just take my word for it. The accolades and the awards are further proof if you need it. Cooking and training since the young age of 16, Gunther’s years of experience at renowned European restaurants in Europe and then Singapore have made their mark in the culinary arena. His cooking philosophy earned him ‘Rising Chef of The Year’ at the 2006 World Gourmet Summit; ‘San Pellegrino Chef of the Year’ for both 2009 and 2010; ‘Asia’s Top 20 Finest Restaurants’ in The Miele Guide since 2008; ‘New Restaurant of the Year’ in the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence 2009; ranked # 84 in the prestigious ‘San Pellegrino World’s Best 100 Restaurants 2010’; awarded ‘Restaurant of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Caterer of the Year’ at the World Gourmet Summit Excellence 2012; voted #43 at the inaugural ‘Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013’ sponsored by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Are you getting the picture? This could take a while.

The vision behind Gunther’s? Simply, the man himself and his passion for food and cooking.

“The product itself makes me passionate about cooking. The freshness and flavour that varies from each produce makes me want to create good and homely dishes out of them. I wanted the focus to be on my food and my guests to feel at home when they come,” says the Chef modestly.

“Cooking is my passion and I do simple, honest food that comes from the heart, but takes a lot of effort”.

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Gunther’s food is down to earth – like the man himself – yet deftly executed to perfection with elegance and finesse. His gift lies in his ability to reinterpret classic dishes and flavours, breathing new life into them in terms of both perfect taste and elegant presentations.

While you simply cannot go wrong with anything on the menu or the specials tray, his must-try signature dishes (in my humble opinion) include the gratinated onion (S$18), Cold Angel’s hair pasta with Oscietra caviar and truffle oil (S$60 – this is not a dish you want to share!), the Carpaccio of Wagyu Beef “Tartare” style with crispy potato (S$35); the 21 days Dry aged Côte de Boeuf (serves 2 at S$125 per person), and finally, his delicious fine apple tart ‘à la dragées’ with Havana rum raisin ice cream (S$25) and the classic Crêpes Suzette, flambéed tableside of course (S$35).

Have a particular craving? Gunther will accommodate all special requests (within reason), turn any dish into a half portion for sharing, offer impeccable wine pairing for each course – in my experience, there’s really nothing he can’t or won’t do.

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As for his private, personal side that not many people know about, Gunther says that if he had not become a Chef, “I would be someone constantly creating something, working with my hands, like a carpenter”. Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about him:

1. What is your comfort food? “After so many years in Singapore, local food has become my comfort food”.

2. What has been your most memorable creation so far? I would say it is the “Fine apple tart ‘à la dragée’. “I love the intrigued look on the guests’ faces when they see the apple tart. The approach in making the apple tart is far from the usual tarts; it is so thin yet bursting flavour and essence”.

3. Top 3 ingredients you can’t do without – “Impossible to decide, because for me, every season has its own top three. I can only tell you that fresh ingredients are always top on my list”.

4. One thing not many people know about you? “If I tell you then everybody will find out”.

5. Complete the sentence – ‘Food is…’ – “Food is the easiest way to make you happy”.

So the next time you’re in the mood for real fine dining, albeit honest and unpretentious plates, there’s one address in town you should head to.

www.gunthers.com.sg

Bon appétit!

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