Saturday, January 13, 2007

Buko Nero, Tanjong Pagar

The bummer at Buko Nero was that no photography was permitted by the restaurant. I was informed that they have in recent months started disallowing photography of the food and the restaurant. What's up with that? It was a bummer because as the saying went, a picture is worth a thousand words and I can save myself from typing stuff that'll be stinging at your bleary eyes as you read this in the dead of the night.

The consolation was that I had managed to snap a few shots before one of the owners, Tracy came to inform of their policy against photography. Consolation because I've waited almost a month for this seating after numerous frustrating attempts at calling the place with no one picking up the phone.

iPod Nano mounted onto speakers

A table's eye view

A peek into the kitchen

Pink guava juicetableware

Buko Nero is a tiny family Italian based family restaurant helmed (haha!) by it's tonsure baring chef Oscar. The space could hold what I estimated to be about 20 and it seemed that they practice single seating from what I've observed. But don't quote me on that. The waiting time for food here was excruciating. I mean a bitchin long wait. Reservations was made at 7.30pm and by the time we hit the main course, it was about 9.30pm. I understand what it is to take the time and enjoy the food and I'm aware that this place isn't exactly well staffed. Still a waiting time like that really grated. If you're ever considering this place and manage to successfully get a reservation, be sure to bear in mind that good company is of the utmost importance at Buko Nero.

The menu didn't look particularly interesting and I was not sure what I was expecting neither. So I ended up with the set dinner for the night at $38++, swapped the pasta main for a bacon & steak with blueberry sauce with a supplement of $16 (wtf!) and shared their oft mentioned Buko Nero Tau Kwa Tower with fatpig. I was told that it was possible to do dinner here for $40 so that was pretty much what I expected to pay, thinking that it was rather reasonable. My portion of the bill came up to $70 which I felt was quite pricey for the food.

Buko Nero serves a nice bread. It was small, hot and a little oily. But also nice. And free flow and beats bread from many other places. The starter was a "lemon juiced" beef carpaccio blanketed with pomelo and topped with alfafa with a smear of balsamic vinegar. It's a smear because the vinegar comes literally as a smudge on the bowl, which meant that there wasn't much of it to go round even with such delicate portions. It was ordinary as carpaccios go

Following that was an interesting pumpkin and crab soup with mint. The sweet pumpkin soup was served in a bowl the size of a Chinese teacup and had succulent crab meat. The mint leaves in the soup attempted to bring about an ethereal quality to the soup, but doesn't quite succeed becaue we were already rather hungry. The dinner also came with a palate cleanser of a mango and lime sherbet which tasted weak and diluted.

The Tau Kua Tower appeared to me like a small tau kua pile and for $17, was totally overrated. If you familiar with the squares of tau kua that can be bought in wet markets, you'll be getting a slice  of that which is probably a quarter to a third of a whole piece.

This steak wrapped with bacon was pretty decent and to the credit of the chef, arrived at a proper medium rare. It however lacked the juiciness which I was hoping for. The blueberry sauce did not have much flavour. This could have tasted much better if the flavour of those berries had seeped into the meat. It ended up with much more bacon flavour as a dish.

Dessert was an impressive chocolate and coconut cake with gula melaka coulis. This was one of the best application of brown sugar I've had. In spite of appearances (yes, the poor photography was to be blamed too), the crusty surfaced hot cake was truly stomach and soul warming. It's on the regular menu apparently and I would recommend it.

In all, a passable meal with very good service. Which still didn't quite make up for the waiting time and the considerably pricey bill which amounted so what you can do for dinner at a place like Sage. In retrospect, the food here did remind me of Sage. I just don't see myself going through the trouble of doing another reservation again for the prospect of a really small menu.


Eat-A-Lot Bear said...

Uh oh, my friends from the forest have planned a birthday treat for E-A-L Bear at Buko Nero. Now I'm wondering if we should go someplace else, or just go anyway and eat Economy Class sans meal upgrades/upsize...

LiquidShaDow said...

I would say that the food there is decent enough to go for a try (if you've not been there) unless you're looking for something really exquisite to celebrate. It's just for the experience of dining there really and the service is one of the better ones I have encountered.

Of course, being in this country, you have plenty of options, so it's pretty much your call.

eat-a-lot bear said...

I'm not a French bear, so food/place doesn't have to be exquisite, but a birthday celebration without photos is such a bummer.
Plus, don't really want forest critters to pay a king's ransom for my dinner. But I don't want to be troublesome either.
Maybe I'll get special treatment (i.e. can click away) since one of the owners shares my name!

LiquidShaDow said...

Perhaps, you can inform them when you make your reservations regarding the occasion. They might make exceptions. Will have to check with them for that though.

Colin said...

Its a good place and quite value for money if you take the set dinner. The reservations list is quite long tho.. so book way ahead in advance.

LiquidShaDow said...

The set dinner price was actually quite good. It just almost doubled with a swap in the main with the addition of a shared tau kwa tower.