Dinner @ Esquina

January 9, 2018 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

Wanting a casual yet fun place to celebrate my friend’s birthday, I remembered Esquina which I last visited in 2012. Yes, that long ago. And having enjoyed my previous dining experience at Esquina, I was confident it won’t disappoint. Celebrating birthday of a important special person you see. Keke. And thus, reservation was made for a Tuesday evening via Chope.

Knowing that it’s notoriously difficult to find a parking lot in Outram Park, one can say my friend and I were very lucky because we easily found an empty parking lot along Teck Lim road. Or… Maybe it’s because we arrived pretty early at 7.20pm? Hmm.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was that the interior was brighter than it used to be. And this time, I managed to get my preference of counter seats. Yeah.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Tsarskaya oyster, jalapeno ponzu, salmon roe, pickled ginger flower, $7 each (above) – I am very sure I have not gotten over my phobia of oysters. A slight taste of fishy-ness could make me cringe. So thankfully this didn’t. But, it’s not like I would recommend this dish as a ‘must order’ too. But hey! That’s coming from a person who’s careful with oysters. So I guess oyster-loving customers may enjoy this.

2) Esquina’s Spanish omelette, $6 each (above) – Confit onion, potato, crispy bread, olive oil caviar. Instead of an eggy omelette, its texture leaned towards a pancake instead. And that of course made me, a pancake lover, really excited. But that instead made my friend, who loved his eggs, a little disappointed. Haha. And it was through our interaction with chef that we learned the batter was created by blending the ingredients before cooking. Ahhh. Thus, the pancake similarity. This dish has a ‘yes’ from me.

3) Iberico bellota “5J” with pan con tomate, $30 (above) – This was a little too much in terms of portion for 2 people. But I enjoyed this nonetheless.

4) Potato and truffle “gratin”, burnt onion sauce, organic egg yolk, iberico ham, $20 (above)

5) Dingley dell pork jowl, chipotle mayo, pickled pear, $14 (above)

6) Pigeon, forest berries escabeche, burnt rosemary polenta, crisp shallots, $24 (above)

7) Spanish suckling pig, rhubarb and apple chutney, mulled wine jus, $32 (above) – Really good.

8) Sea urchin and lobster paella, saffron aioli, snow peas, $32 (above) – And of all the dishes we had, this was my friend’s favourite. And it’s not hard to see why. Instead of serving the lobster meat, the paella was cooked in rich lobster broth. Thus giving it the rich and flavourful taste. A must order.

9) Strawberries, basil sorbet, olives, marshmallows, vanilla chantilly, $14 (above)

10) “BBC”, textures of banana, beer ice cream, warm caramel sauce, $15 (above) – If one only has stomach for 1 dessert, one should just go with this. It was also highly recommended by the staff. My friend and I wished there was more of the banana cake.

11) Chocolate ganache on toasted brioche (above), Complimentary – Topped with olive oil caviar and sprinkle of sea salt. Depending on one’s pace, this complimentary sweet bite would be delivered either timely after the mains or after one finished one’s meal. And the latter happened to us. Imagine our grateful but horrific faces when the dish was presented because our stomachs were already bursting.

So did dinner turn out as how I imagined? A definite yes. Personally, I always find it special to dine at the counter. The whole experience of watching the chefs doing their magic in the kitchen. Head chef is probably still not used to our Singlish way of pronouncing, so I was really appreciative that did not deter him from mingling with the customers. That said, we also had some difficulty understanding his heavy Spanish accent. But thankfully, the wonderful staff rescued us by chipping in the conversation too! Keke.

So yes! As with my previous review, I would again recommend Esquina. Food was enjoyable. Price was pretty decent. Ambience was great. And staff (chef included) were professional and friendly!

16 Jiak Chuan Lane, Singapore
6222 1616, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
* Closed on Sun
Service: 8

Lunch @ Ishi 石

December 31, 2017 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

It feels like it has been a while since I found a promising new sushi restaurant. So when I chanced upon ISHI, I got really excited. Keke. And thankfully, my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) was equally interested to check out ISHI which is apparently opened by the same group who launched Izy Dining and Bar. With that, reservation was made for a weekend lunch. =)

But please be mindful that they are located in InterContinental Robertson Quay and not InterContinental Bugis. Imagine my horror when I reached the latter and couldn’t locate the restaurant. Blur me. Thankfully, I was early. So I managed to cabbed down to ISHI within 10 minutes. But yeah, I was late for our lunch reservation by 5 minutes. Oops.

After alighting from my taxi, the hotel staff showed me the (external) escalator which I was to take to level 2. Upon entering, I immediately noticed that ISHI’s kitchen was completely open. Interesting. And from the lunch menu, I ordered:-

1) Lunch omakase, $180 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Botan-ebi, kelp and salmon roe paired with vinegar jelly and topped with gold flakes. It honestly couldn’t get any better. My girlfriend and I were in love. Haha.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Chawanmushi. And it being December (winter), it’s the best season for shirako. So yes! Tara shirako (cod’s milt) was served in my egg custard. So nice.

(C) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi. Assortment of chutoro (medium fatty tuna), kinmedai (big eye snapper), ishigakigai (giant clam) and shima aji (striped jack). And just in case I didn’t know what a shell fish was, head chef Masaaki Sakashita very friendly cutely took out the shell for me to see.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – And instead of wagyu beef, head chef Masaaki san replace mine with braised abalone. And I seriously, seriously love the bowl.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Sushi (7 pieces). Flounder, kamasu (barracuda) with Okinawa salt, maguro zuke (marinated tuna), hokkigai (arctic surf clam), sawada (Spanish mackerel), shiro-ebi (baby white shrimp), and otoro (premium fatty tuna). And for the Spanish mackerel, head chef Masaaki san added a twist by swapping wasabi with Tasmania mustard. So yes, it was very interesting cause the mustard beads would go ‘pop pop’ in the mouth. And it’s crazily brilliant how the combination of Spanish mackerel and mustard actually worked.

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Rice bowl.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Miso soup.

(H) Dish #8 (above) – And we got a Santa-looking strawberry since we dined during the Christmas (long) weekend. Too cute. And besides the cake, we were also told the whipped cream is handmade.

2) Tempura mori, $35 (above) – Upon hearing anago was one of the ingredients included in the assortment, I immediately went “One tempura mori please.” Keke. Besides anago, there were prawns (2 pieces), mushroom, pumpkin and onion.

My IGGF and I really loved our dining experience at ISHI. The ambience, the food and the service. Head chef Masaaki san was really friendly. I like how he knew when to join in our conversation and when to give us our space. In fact, my IGGF and I found head chef Masaaki san really familiar. And upon asking, we learnt he was previously at Hashida Sushi. Thus, the subtle similarity in terms of the executing and plating.

I strongly recommend ISHI. And what’s best is that one can enjoy dining without burning a hole in one’s purse. Will definitely return to ISHI for more meals.

1 Nanson Road, Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay, #02-06, Singapore
9829 8239, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tue – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Restaurant Ards

December 27, 2017 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

“That place don’t allow smoking,” my friend replied when I texted to say we’ll be heading to a restaurant in Marina Bay. So in the end, for my friend’s (smoking break) need, I scrambled to find us another venue. And since we often ate Japanese and French cuisines, I thought it would be interesting to have Chinese Asian for a change. Just a few days ago, I chanced upon Restaurant Ards on instagram where Ards is an acronym for ‘Asia, roots, distinct, singular’.

And thus, with reservation made via Chope, my friend and I arrived at the restaurant on a weekday at 8.30pm. Restaurant Ards being a fairly new restaurant, it was only occupied on the ground level although the restaurant spanned across 2 storeys. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Piquant illustration, $188 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser, Complimentary (above)

(B) Touch of asia (above) – First dish of our 15-courses meal was thinly sliced (almost) raw carrot. Served nachos-style with fillings within.

(C) Soy bean skewer (above) – Skewered housemade soy bean tofu served hot on a charcoal grill with crispy black moss.

(D) Origin pickle (above) – Pickled pumpkin garnished with mint and dill.


(E) Fragrance osmanthus (above) – And our next dish of oysters was served in a grand manner. To the extent that my friend, who normally don’t take picture of food, couldn’t resist but reach out for his phone too. Keke. After putting the steamer down on our table, chef-owner Ace Tan went on to pour osmanthus tea into the steamer to ‘trigger’ the dry ice. So yes, it was a very bubbly dish. It took almost 3 minutes before the oysters were visible. And placed on the oyster was cream cheese twigs, while beneath it was osmanthus jelly.

(F) 21″ egg tart (above) – Egg custard with mentaiko fish roe in homemade butter crust, topped with (raw) corn kernels, corn crackers and cured mullet roe.

(G) Mum’s chicken soup (above) – A very comforting dish made with chicken essence (extracted from herb-stuffed chicken after extended period of steaming), winter melon, fish maw and chicken-vegetable floss. My friend and I wished the portion was bigger cause it was really good.

(H) Tea mantou and ginseng honey butter (above)

(I) Ear of the sea (above) – 18-hours slow braised abalone served with noodles. I enjoyed this.

(J) 33 ingredients (above) – And we were told the rice ball was made with 20 types of grains. With the remaining 13 ingredients comprised of mushrooms and others. Haha. Chef Ace lost me halfway through his long introduction. I need to work on my memory. The rice’s round shape reminded me much of the days when my late uncle would shape the (Hainanese chicken) rice into balls during Lunar New Year eve’s dinner. But of course, the texture and taste of the ones served at Restaurants Ards leaned towards that of a rice dumpling instead.

(K) Fish on fish? (above) – My friend and I were shown the wine-steamed clams before it was taken back for plating. Our dinner took place on a day when the chefs decided to experiment a different way of cooking the fish. Ie, sous-vide. And unfortunately for us, the fish served on the fish-shaped plate was too raw. You know… It’s tough to slice through under-cooked fish. Unsure, my friend and I enquired with the staff, to which chef Ace came up and offered to further cook the fish. But we turned him down citing that we would enjoy the fish if it’s meant to be eaten that way. Coincidentally or not, my friend and I had really bad stomachaches after the dinner.

(L) Art of beef (above) – And since I don’t consume beef (due to religious reason), my dish was replaced with scallop. I was glad my scallop also had the charcoal-powder crust as what’s done with the beef. And yes, my friend ate his wagyu too soon for me to snap a picture. Sob. Though he did share that the beef wasn’t impressive. And interesting enough, as we were sharing our feedback towards the end of our meal, chef Ace mentioned they were still in the midst of determining which beef grade would be best suited for their preparation method.

(M) Coconut kafflr ice (above)

(N) Desserts’ heritage (above) – And this was Restaurant Ards’ take on local dessert cheng tng (清汤); Barley cooked in syrup with water chestnuts, bird’s nest and grated almonds. And I was surprised to find out that it was a warm dessert as I tucked into it.

(O) Tropical fruits basket (above)

(P) Our childhood memories (above) – Mango and passionfruit jelly with pomelo was chef-owner Ace’s while coffee jelly with cream cheese was chef-owner David Lee’s.

Our dining experience was an interesting one at a progressive Asian restaurant. Restaurant Ards was a good alternative to hotel’s Chinese restaurants for fine dining. Sorry, Asian and Chinese cuisines are almost the same to me. However, our dining experience at Restaurants Ards was only good as an one-time experience as the food was not ‘wow’ enough for us to return. But despite that, I won’t totally rule them out.

Noting that Restaurant Ards is still works in progress, I would give them more time to iron out the teething problems. And I really hope it works out well for chef-owners Ace and David. After interacting with chef Ace during our dinner, I could sense his passion and sincerity. I really applaud their courage in bravely pursing their dreams of wanting to showcase Asian cultures and to bring a unique dining experience though creative natural cooking techniques and Asian ingredients.

76 Duxton Road, Singapore
6913 7258, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun