Replacing Spanish tapas bar Bodega Y Tapas at Orchard Hotel is Amuse by Armin Leitgeb, the latest restaurant under the Esmirada Group. Amuse is careful to label itself not as a tapas bar, but a fun and casual communal dining-bar that serves an eclectic cosmopolitan selection of affordable small plates.
For dinner that night, four dishes left a particularly deep impression on me. Starting with the ciabatta wrapped egg (default version comes with prosciutto), a hearty piece of artwork precariously balanced on a deep earthy bed of spinach and mushroom ragout. Right after that was another stunner, the crispy crouton (I had mine without the layer of pork terrine, no love lost there) lying over a lovely piece of smoked eel. I have an undying love for anything eel (think unagi and anago in Japanese restaurants) so this was naturally a hit with me! Wish there’s more eel in each serving though.
Next was the beautifully plated grilled octopus with a liberal drizzle of interesting pumpkin seed oil. Now, I’ve always been weary of octopus, mussels, abalones, squid, oysters blah blah since they have a tough chewy texture, no like. So whenever I come across one that defies my biased expectation, it’s a relevation. Like the spectacular octopus carpaccio at Procacci last year! So. Amuse’s tender, no-rubber-images-flashing-through-my-mind version has officially become the benchmark for octopus in my life, haha.
Last but not least on my list of favourites is the grilled hamachi kama, i.e. yellowtail collar. Nothing fancy, hard to screw up, just fresh fish deftly grilled, very soft and juicy meat, yumsss.
Besides the food, of special mention is the bar’s signature P for Passion ($24++ for a combo of cocktail and shooter), a refreshingly sweet concoction of vodka, Vedrenne Triple Sec, a whole passion fruit, cranberry, orange juice and homemade crushed and minted sugar, phew what a mouthful!
P.S. There’s surprisingly no dessert menu, sadness. We tried our luck and the chef fixed us an impromptu Napoleon. Very unremarkable so either get your fix elsewhere or try the potent chocolate-banana-milk Maica ($18++) liquid dessert from the bar!
Marinated Salmon ($10++)
chips, pickled vegetables
Ciabatta Wrapped Crispy Egg ($15++)
spinach, mushroom ragout
Crispy Crouton with Lightly Smoked Eel ($21++)
horseradish, Dijon mustard, greens
Grilled Spanish Octopus ($19++)
heirloom tomatoes, Austrian pumpkin seed oil
Tomato “Bouchot” Mussel Risotto ($19++)
olives, basil oil
Grilled Hamachi ‘Kama’ ($25++)
Prawn Tempura ($20++)
fennel, herbs, wasabi mayonnaise
From left, clockwise:
Spicy Lamb Burger ($16++)
fennel pollen aioli, eggplant, harissa
Beef Tartare Cone ($14++)
horseradish mousse, filo pastry
Char Grilled Wagyu ‘Cubes’ Cooked in Hay ($39++)
mushrooms, lettuce, sauce Mignonette
puff pastry, custard cream, berries
A big thank you to Chenyze from Sixth Sense Communications for inviting and hosting!
#01-29, Orchard Hotel
442 Orchard Road