Dinner @ Esquina

January 9, 2018 in Spanish

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

Dinner @ Bōruto Singapore

January 15, 2017 in European, Japanese

Pictures of Boturo’s dishes occasionally appeared on my Instagram feed. And because I liked what I saw, I texted my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) and got her interested too. Keke. So yes, reservation was made through Chope for a Friday night. And in my reservation, I requested for counter seats too.

Boruto was a 8 to 12 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT station. It was drizzling on the night of our dinner, and I was thankful I had my umbrella as the route from Raffles Place MRT station was not sheltered.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), we ordered:-

1) Somen bread sticks, $6.80 (above) – Deep fried Japanese ‘mee sua’ tossed with seaweed, sesame powder & sea salt. This dish shouldn’t be on the menu at all. Since my IGGF and I were sitting at the counter, it meant we could see what happened at the kitchen. And my heart dropped when I saw the staff take out a handful of noodles and drop it into the oil. I guess we were misled by the word ‘bread stick’. We were anticipating fried dough fritters coated with noodle pieces. Give this a miss.

2) Ahi tataki, $12.80 (above) – Sliced tuna tataki with black olives, Japanese leek, chili & wasabi yuzu dressing. Besides the slightly spicy dressing, we enjoyed this.

3) Tako truffled, $22.80 (above) – Octopus from Hyogo in usu-zukuri style with black truffles. The dish’s clean taste reminded me of Aoki‘s white fish with truffle. The only difference was that Boruto’s version was with octopus, which we felt was sliced a little too thin. But a must order, nonetheless.

4) Hotate to cauliflower no grill, $18.80 (above) – Grilled Hokkaido scallops, cauliflower cream, curried cauliflower florets. Scallops were big and juicy, although I was slightly disappointed to see just 2 pieces. The scallops looked oddly sadlonely, served on a big shell.

5) Shirauo mentai tempura, $12.80 (above) – White bait marinated with spicy rod roe served in tempura style with sauce remoulade. This was fried to perfection! A must order.

6) Puffs champignon, $10.80 (above) -Fried mushroom puffs with truffled puree, sweet paprika mayonnaise.

7) Foie gras + aka miso, $18.80 (above) – Roasted foie gras with buttered sweet corn and burnt aka miso. And I certainly didn’t expect foie gras to work well with red miso paste. A must try.

8) Tori-take roll, $15.80 (above) – Crispy chicken roulade stuffed with shiitake jam, drizzled with sauce chinase. With most of the dishes served in bite size, the chicken pieces felt oddly big in our mouth. We reckon this would be better if it came in smaller size; Rolled more tightly.

9) Uni pasta v1.1, $35.80 (above) – Braised cappellini in sea urchin and yuzu sock, topped with fresh sea urchin roe & Hokkaido white wasabi. My IGGF and I intended to order our noodles at the later part of our dinner. But when we were placing the first batch of our orders at 7.10pm, the staff informed they were left with the last portion of sea urchin. What! Upon hearing that, my IGGF and I immediately ordered it. Haha. But with this, I concluded pasta with sea urchin is just a novelty. It looked good but failed the taste department. And there was a slight bitter after taste; Innards were not removed fully.

10) Truffle hiyashi somen, $15.80 (above) – Cold somen tossed with confit egg yolk & shio konbu, topped with truffle molecules & sakura ebi. My IGGF was excited about the truffle molecules. However, we couldn’t taste any truffle when we bit into the small balls. Instead, the truffle taste came mostly from the sauce. And frankly, this dish was brilliant. A must order. And one could also top up with additional sea urchin (if there’s still sea urchin left).

11) Warabi mochi, $6.80 (above) – Jelly-like confection made from bracken starch & coated with kinako. We were on the fence for this. The mochi tasted as though it didn’t set properly during the making of it as it lacked that ‘bounce’ texture.

12) Truffle creme brulee, $8.80 (above) – Truffled milk custard with burnt sugar glaze. Truffle oil was added to the caramelised sugar layer, and it was fascinating to taste the very faint truffle taste.

13) Chocolate surprise, $12.80 (above) – Half cake, half souffle, liquid center. Served with homemade vanilla ice cream & crushed peanuts. A very rice chocolate cake. A must order.

I definitely recommend Boruto. Except for the 2 misses (somen bread sticks and uni pasta), we were very happy with our orders. Our plates were cleared promptly, and the staff didn’t allow our glasses of water to go empty. The restaurant’s peace was slightly disturbed though when a group of ladies came in later, sat at the high table behind our counter seats, and told at the top of their voices. It was so bad that the pair sitting beside me requested for a change in seats.

80 South Bridge Road, Golden Castle Building, #01-01, Singapore
6532 0418, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Tapas bar)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 16:30 – 00:00 (Sake bar)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ FOC Restaurant

December 24, 2014 in Spanish

With FOC Restaurant, Michelin starred Nandu Jubany has launched his debut outside of Spain. FOC being pronounced as ‘fock’ (that’s what I heard as when I called to make reservation, or was it ‘fog’), and not F.O.C.

So yes, reservation was made 2 weeks in advance for a weekday evening for 3.

I meant to check them out 2 months ago, but our then reservation got messed up. Was pretty (in fact, very) sure our then reservation was accepted, but we were turned away when we turned up at the entrance cause of a private event. Definitely not cool.

But I was hard up about wanting to dine here, so a second attempt was made. Thus, this visit. Ha! So… To make sure one’s reservation is on, one must receive the confirmation call from the restaurant the day before. If not, ring them up on the day itself to double check! =)

My friends arrived early at 6.30pm and feedback that the restaurant was empty. But when I reached at 7pm, they were already running at 60% capacity! And I liked the ambience, especially their ingenious idea of using head moulds (which I read were heads of the owners), traditional Spanish wine decanters (porrons) and pepper grinders to light up the place.

And in my opinion, I felt we were given the best seats in the house. Ha. We took counter seats and were seated at the end where we could watch the main action. I say main action because it was where the head chef (I overheard the staff calling him “Cap”) would do the final touch before sending the dishes out. Awesome view. Keke. And to my delight, there were hooks beneath the counter table for customers like me who need to hang my heavy and bulky bag. =)

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), we ordered:-

1) Vieiras a la brasa con caldo de bonito y caviar de soja, $16 (2 pieces) (above) – Grilled scallops with bonito stock and homemade soy caviar. As there were 3 of us, we ordered 1.5 portions. Gigantic pieces of lightly seared scallops presented on a big shell which went well with the soy caviar.

2) Bunuelos de bacalao con pure de manzana, $12 (5 pieces) (above) – Cod fish puff fritters with green apple puree. Thinking we would be served something similar to fish tempura (haha), FOC surprised us with airy, fluffy balls. This was interesting although 1 of my dining partner did not like it. I guess he wanted to see the physical pieces of fish. Well, I don’t blame him. He was pretty hungry since he reached (early) at 6.30pm.

3) “Cansalada” confitada con pure de coliflor, $14 (4 pieces) (above) – Confited pork belly with cauliflower puree. I did not like this. While the meat was tender and almost melt-in-the-mouth, it was too fatty. I did not like that one of the crispy skin was red. An indication that the pig skin with the red stamp was used. Something which I personally prefer not to have / be used.

4) Gazpacho de sandia con helado de aceite de olive ahumado, $12 (above) – Watermelon “gazpacho” with charcoal smoked olive ice cream. A cold dish, my dining partners liked this, but not quite for me. I couldn’t quite make out of the complex taste. But I appreciated the initiative by the staff as the dish was spilt into 3 portions for our easy sharing.

5) Cochifrito, $14 (2 pieces) (above) – Crispy pork tacos.

6) Bocadito de carrillera de ternera con nueces, $16 (2 pieces) (above) – Braised beef cheek with nuts and homemade grilled steam buns. I don’t take beef, but my dining partners said this was really good. It was also recommended by the staff as their must-order.

7) Bocata de foie-gras a la brasa y shitake marinado, $22 (2 pieces) (above) – Grilled foie-gras with marinated shitake and green apple. Similarly, we ordered 1.5 portions. I really liked this! From the crisply fried buttery buns to the melt-in-the-mouth pan fried foie gras. Sinfully good.

8) Pulpo a la gallega, $22 (above) – Octopus Galician style, prepared with paprika, olive oil and potatoes.

9) Chuletitas de cordero a la brasa con berenjena a la brasa, $22 (2 pieces) (above) – Lamb ribs with yogurt and eggplant. Another must try!

10) Huevos estrellado con chorizo, $10 (above) – “Scramble before you eat” eggs with Spanish “chorizo”.

11) Arroz negro con mariscos y “all l oli”, $22 (above) – Black Mediterranean squid ink rice with seafood and garlic mayonnaise. This was really good although it was more on the wet side. We were left with 3 more spoonfuls when the head chef asked if he could clear our pan, which of course I turned him down (cause we wanted to finish it all) with a wide smile. And I’m not too sure if he took a double look cause he’s happy to see us excited over his food or because of my (possibly) ink-stained teeth. Haha.

12) FOC hamburguesa de chocolate, $12 (above) – FOC chocolate burger. A cute dessert where bun was made of vanilla ice cream coated with white chocolate, patty of chocolate mousse, cheese was mango and tomato being represented by strawberry.

13) Tarta tatin, $8 (above) – Apple pie with ice cream. This was good although the ‘skin’ of salted caramel was a little too intense when consumed alone. And I realised the ball was meant to be presented as an apple. However, the stick/ stalk was accidentally left out as the head chef happened to be busy at the stove to plate our dessert properly before sending it out.

14) Espuma de crema catalana, Complimentary (above) – “Crema catalane” FOC style. We were surprised to have this on the house. Did I charm the head chef with my (possibly ink-stained) smile? Haha. $12 on the menu. With ice cream beneath the thick later of foam, this was their version of creme brulee. A bit like eating cloud. Ha.

It was a good meal although a little expensive. But that’s only because we ordered a lot. I wanted to try more but the stomach couldn’t take in more food. Haha. Glutton me at work.

I always enjoy my meals especially with a good view. This time being able to see preparation of the dishes in kitchen and seeing how the head chef goes around making sure everything was done properly. And they mean business when they say ‘charcoal grilled’ for there was an oven with charcoal within.

When we received our confirmation call, we were told the table would be taken back by 9.15pm for the next seating. And the 2 hours were more than enough to eat comfortably if one was worried. So I say, grab the phone and make reservation!

40 Hongkong Street, Singapore
6100 4040, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Thur : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun