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Archive for the ‘Spanish’ Category

Not too long ago, Anti:dote revamped its menu with new handcrafted cocktails paired with a collection of contemporary tapas.

The range of new cocktails at Anti:dote is largely inspired by talented Head Craftsman, Tom Hogan’s daily interactions with guests and people he meets, and every cocktail has a story of its own. There’s The Tragedy of Tom Dooley – a whimsically named concoction of tequila, aperol, lime juice, lavender syrup and egg white; Seger Seelbach – a blend of bourbon, hum, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, topped with champagne; as well as the refreshing Aqua Fresca, comprising mezcal, parsley, sweet turnip syrup, lime juice and Suze liqueur (all $23++ per glass).

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If you are at the bar, you must talk to Tom who’s a firm believer in educating customers of their beverage choices. Expect not just great tasting cocktails, but also an interactive session on the origins of ingredients used as well as the processes and inspirations behind each cocktail. My head was spinning with all the details mentioned – definitely info overload for an amateur drinker like me ha.

Oysters ($16++)
warm ginger sauce, red curry, celery cress

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Cocktails with tapas is a given, of course.

Carlos Montobbio, Head Chef of Anti:dote, will continue to present his own creative style of European tapas with Asian influences. The tapas selection, which introduces something new every two months, now includes delicious little balls of braised eel croquettes with teriyaki sauce and kimchi mayonnaise (my favourite out of all!), succulent oysters doused with warm ginger sauce and red curry, ingenious tuna sashimi draped over salted cod brandade to resemble sushi, and cute little pop-in-the-mouth tender octopus topped with grilled soft eggplant and crispy paprika rice.

From top left, clockwise:
crispy suckling pig, cherry miso caramel, sherry soaked Kyoho grapes ($16);
baked chocolate mousse, extra virgin olive oil ice cream , crispy bread, maldon salt ($12++);
tuna sashimi, salted cod brandade, sesame oil pearls ($16);
assorted petit fours (from $3++);
braised beef cannelloni, spanish onion, black truffle, cèpes béchamel ($16++); and
spanish octopus skewers, charcoal grilled eggplant, crispy paprika rice, confit lemon skin ($16++)

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From top left, clockwise:
scrambled eggs, japanese sea urchin, oscietra caviar ($24++);
kalamata olive spheres, rosemary breadcrumbs ($8++);
black truffle bao, braised veal cheek, foie gras, caramelised shallots with madeira ($20++);
braised eel croquettes, teriyaki sauce, kimchi mayo ($14++);
artisanal potato chips, white truffle and potato purée ($12++); and
hokkaido scallop tartar, peanut tofu, spring onion, chilled tom yum broth ($16++)

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New tapas may be good, but I’m so glad that old signatures such as the super addictive crisp parmesan pizza with olive oil caviar pesto and creamy scrambled eggs with uni are still on the menu! Black truffle bao with braised veal cheek, foie gras and caramelised shallot remains too, if you miss your dim sum or wanna try a 10bucks bao.

Crisp Parmesan Pizza ($12++)
tomato flakes, fresh pesto, olive oil caviar, sweet basil cress

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If I have to use one word to describe Anti:dote, it’d be “fun”! Just be adventurous and order the ibérica “shabu-shabu”. You will know exactly what I mean!

Paleta Ibérica Joselito ($18++)
italian burrata, cristal bread, tomato essence shabu-shabu

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Many thanks to Ruth for hosting dinner!

Anti:dote
Level 1, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
6431 5315

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I heard that UNA at One Rochester is already almost fully booked for Restaurant Week starting this weekend (try weekdays if you want to get a table!) so for those of you lucky enough to snag seats for dinner, here’s a preview of the menu ($55++) which you will be having!

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Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno – the man behind the menu – really knows how to feed diners well. For Restaurant Week, expect 11 different tapas and grills across three different platters which will have a selection of his signature dishes. I appreciate that he chose to incorporate the existing UNA menu into Restaurant Week, instead of coming up with fancy new dishes. This means that I can always head back for the incredibly moreish grilled octopus served on a bed of ratte potatoes with paprika! I still can’t decide whether I prefer this or El Mero Mero’s more because both are so delicious! Other starters include creamy béchamel croquettes with ibérico ham, marinated olives, and grilled veggies with smoked quail eggs on paper-thin bread.

Tapas Platter
jamon ibérico croquetta
octopus galician
coca, escalivada & smoked quail eggs
marinated olives

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Mains are meaty. Very meaty. There are an assortment of grilled pluma ibérico pork with a smoky sweet marinade, hefty lamb chops with a dry rub, tasty juicy grilled prawns, and for something healthier – greens for the meal: crunchy baby gem lettuces with thin slices of pancetta and topped with blood-red pomegranate seeds.

Main Course Platter
pluma ibérica
lamb chop with horseradish aioli
grilled prawns
baby gem, pancetta & pomegranate

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It was a pleasant surprise that desserts were as good as the savoury (usually it’s a case of either or, with one being a weaker link)! I love the dark chocolate sauce which came as a dip for the freshly fried churros, so much so that I had to stop myself from drinking it literally! How gross, I know haha. Even better was the salted aerated cubes of chocolate – bitter, smooth and melt in the mouth!

Dessert Plate
crema catalana
churros chocolata
salted aerated chocolat

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I cannot imagine not being full after all that food but if you are, some of the a la carte choices are worth considering too!

Bonuelos De Cacalao ($20++)
salted cod fritters in bitter orange sauce

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Despite being deep-fried, the salted cod fritters were non-oily and had a crisp thin batter encasing a mishmash of cod and potato within. Lovely! Then there’s the famous seafood and chicken paella – it’s amazing how the grains of rice were so wet but not soggy (it’s a very very fine line!) and portions of seafood, chorizo and chicken were generous. Oh guess what, here’s a great deal: on every Wednesday nights, there’s free flow of paella and sangria for just $65++!

Seafood & Chicken Paella ($82++ for 4-6 pax)
chef’s signature paella with fresh prawns, octopus, chicken & other seasonal seafood

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I was really glad that we ordered the dover sole too. Simply seared on both sides to retain the moisture, the lightly seasoned fish was soft and flaky.

Dover Sole ($50++)
plancha-seared whole dover sole with garlic & fresh samphire shoots

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My thanks to Carolyn and Nabeel for hosting dinner!

UNA at One Rochester
1 Rochester Park
6773 0070 / 6773 0060

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Hola hola!

Don Quijote had its first Spanish Barbecue Night a few weeks ago and it was an exciting feast with great food and free-flow drinks such as sangria, wines and Taittinger champagne! Granted, the spread was not visually impressive but who cares when there’s quality (think wagyu tomahawk steaks, ‘live’ sea prawns, ‘live’ barramundi etc etc) over quantity.

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The signature Spanish Suckling Pig took 7 (7!!!) years to be perfected and it was apparently worth the wait. Comments I kept hearing include “authentically prepared”, “clean tasting” and “naturally sweet” (which as a pescetarian, I can’t understand haha). It’s currently on special promotion at half ($168) and whole ($268) portions (I heard the promo is gonna end soon since it’s too cheap compared to market price!), and 2 days advanced order is required.

P.S. Next time you come across a suckling pig, go for the ears! It’s an open secret that those crispy bits are the best part!

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Woah, bloody meat… As K said, “the bloodier, the merrier”~

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My favourite was the baked Boston Lobsters topped with cheese! I had to force myself to stop at four. Having these lobsters ‘live’ really made a world of difference… So meaty and unbelievably fresh! In fact, one of the lobsters in the pot was threatening to jump out to play, hence the black cloth as a cover.

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Another dish which K raved about was the Spanish Secreto Iberico Pork. Didn’t look very exciting but the cut was thin and juicy!

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Spanish staples: robust and savoury Fideuá Negra made in fresh squid ink and though the ubiquitous Paella was not captured in the photo below, don’t worry, it was definitely there!

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I have no idea whether the BBQ night will be a permanent monthly event at Don Quijote (this was just a test launch) but I’m crossing my fingers and toes that it will be!

My special thanks to Anil and Ken for the exclusive invitation!

Don Quijote
#01-02, Block 7 Dempsey Road
6476 2811

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After a flurry of messages which started off with a simple “wanna do Spanish?” question, I was all set to drop by Don Quijote for a taste of the exclusive market menu! Back in 2011, I gave high praises for Don Quijote and apparently, I’m not the only one who like the traditionally made Spanish fare here since the restaurant is still going strong after all these years, especially with the influx of funky tapas bars these days.

Consistency may be the secret to their success.

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I was excited to be back, since the market menu appeals to me, the seafood freak (a.k.a. pescetarian): live seafood bought daily and in limited quantities. Not to be cheesy, but the theme for our meal was clearly “fresher than fresh”!

Sangría Tinta/Bianca ($13.50++ per glass, $58++ per jug)

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Gambas al Ajillo is one of the most common tapas of Spain and of course it can be found on the ala carte menu. But why not fork out just a bit more for these ‘live’ prawns? Once the firm and “bouncy” deshelled prawns pass your lips, you will definitely think it’s worthwhile to do so!

Garlic Fried ‘Live’ Prawn ($16++)

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When this was served, I gave a heartfelt “wow!!” because the baked lobsters looked so gorgeous! And large meaty lobsters just brightened up my morning any day! The tender texture and naturally mild sweetness won me over, happy sigh.

Baked Live Baby Boston Lobster ($69++)

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Aside from the lobsters, the baked barramundi is my favourite of the day! Fresh is an understatement, seriously. The flesh is soooooo meltingly soft that chewing is practically redundant.

Baked Whole Barramundi ($45++)

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After describing the above three dishes, I already feel like I’m repeating myself over and over again. There’s only so many times I can say “fresh” without cringing. Anyway, my point is that when the ingredients are really fresh (last one, I promise!) and the cooking methods are skillfully simple, you can taste the difference and words are meaningless. Like these baked scallops. Too good, period.

Baked Whole Scallops ($27++)

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I’m not a fan of chewy squid and never will be.

Grilled Squid with Chilli & Garlic ($13++)

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We were totally stuffed but it’s wrong to leave without desserts!

Pudin de Pan y Manteqilla ($8++)
bread and butter pudding

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K is a bread-and-milk guy and he prefers the latter this time when presented with a dense milk and butter pudding and an interesting fried piece of custard-like milk.

Leche Frita ($9++)
fried milk with cinnamon syrup

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Me? Dark chocolate lava cake FTW! Incredibly dark and rich, paired with Ben & Jerry vanilla ice cream (trust the experts when they say B&J vanilla flavour is the best out there), I kind of wish I wasn’t so full so that I can finish the whole cake! Pained me to see it go to waste, argh.

P.S. this is more expensive than usual because B&J doesn’t give wholesale price! That’s 5 bucks a scoop on the plate : )

Bomba de Chocolate ($19++)
warm chocolate cake made with spanish chocolate, vanilla ice cream

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My thanks to Anil and Ken for your warm and kind hospitality on such an early Saturday morning!

Don Quijote
#01-02, Block 7 Dempsey Road
6476 2811

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Kaixo

In life, it’s all about timing.

If I didn’t go to Lolla the day right after dinner at Kaixo, I’d probably have more positive things to write now. As it is, I can hardly remember Kaixo — it’s that forgettable when compared to the likes of Lolla. Don’t get me wrong, the food is pleasant, nothing awful, just not awesome enough to linger in the mind..

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Ham Croquettes ($16++)
croquetas de jamon

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Crab Cakes ($12++)
bunuelos de cangrejo

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Braised Yellowfin Tuna ($14++)
marmitako de bonito

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Atlantic Salt Cod in Pil Pil Sauce ($25++)
bacalao al pil pil

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Pintxos (3 for $12++)
spanish tortilla, squid, prawn

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White Tiramisu with Orujo ($12++)
orujo is a kind of spanish liqueur, nice!

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Vanilla Ice Cream
complimentary cuz the air-con near us was leaking

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Kaixo
96 Tanjong Pagar Road
6225 0545

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Lolla

Since Zagat named Lolla as one of the “10 Hottest Restaurants in the World”, expectations were high. And while it’s too much of a stretch to call it a global “must go”, I’m glad to report that our dinner there was great! Really enjoyed watching our food prepared by the chefs right in front of us, and we could ogle all we wanted heh. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought Lolla seems disturbingly similar to Esquina, from the “no reservation” policy to the bar-counter-facing-open-kitchen and requisite uncomfy stools concept.

The menu is very neat: only 27 items spilt into 7 categories. We had the famous squid ink pudding topped with a generous dollop of fresh creamy sea urchin and it was as good as what others claimed! Tiny it was, but the portion was just right imo. Anything more would be richness overdose and “jerlak-y”. The waiter did a double take when we ordered two egg dishes (he concurred we love eggs thereafter haha), which ended up as our best and worst dish of the night. Scrambled eggs with bottarga was disappointingly normal, while the gently set tortilla with duck fat potatoes and smoked eel was AWESOME. I’d go back to Lolla just for it! Tofu-shimeji salad may seem boring but we liked our greens so no complaints. That was off the special menu, as was the prawn & mackerel ‘burger’ a.k.a. patty. Semi-carbon copy of Arbutus’s squid and mackerel ‘burger’, don’t you think so? Copycat or not, it was nicer than Arbutus’! Firmed packed with seafood, paired with crustacean sauce, this would make a hell of a real burger! Now give me buns.

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Sea Urchin Pudding ($19++)

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Scrambled Eggs with Bottarga di Muggine ($22+)

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Spanish Tortilla with Smoked Eel ($19++)

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Egg Tofu with Shimeji Mushroom Salad ($14++)

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Prawn & Mackerel Burger ($24++)

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Lolla
22 Ann Siang Road
6423 1228

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Esquina

15 mins before Esquina (co-founded by Michelin-starred Jason Atherton of London’s Pollen Street Social and Singapore’s Pollen) opened its door, Emma from Dancing Elephant and I were already 3rd in line, even after making a point to reach early. The staff ushered us into the narrow restaurant promptly at noon and we took our seats along the bar counter, all ready to catch the chefs in action!

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If you haven’t heard by now, Esquina does an extremely value for money set lunch on weekdays. 3 courses for $39+, menu apparently changes daily (or is that weekly?), and most of them are variations of sorts from the ala carte menu.

Almost every table ordered the salt and pepper squid so of course that had me hankering for a taste of it too. On hindsight, I wouldn’t do it again, since the squid paella and squid ink aioli that came with our mains of seabass had somewhat similar flavours. Talk about squid overdose, haha.

While I wouldn’t call this the best lunch/meal/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, I thought the food was well-executed and of good quality, especially the fresh seabass. I reckon Esquina is worth another visit, maybe for ala carte next. And yes, I’ll even put up with those awfully uncomfortable bar stools =x

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roast ox tongue, cumin cous cous, harissa dressing

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grilled romaine salad, anchovy, black olive, manchego

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salt & pepper squid, black ink aioli ($20+)

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seabass, squid paella, squid ink aioli

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frozen yogurt, pumpkin cous cous cake, moroccan spiced apricot

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Esquina
16 Jiak Chuan Lane
6222 1616

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