Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Esquina, Jiak Chuan Road

Word from the ether is that this lot in the corner (16 Jiak Chuan Road, tel : +65 6222 1616) is run by a Jason Atherton of an El Bulli pedigree hued with some Michelin starred Ramsey and whose fame stretchs from Pollen Street Social in London to Table No. 1 in Shanghai and then down further south to the recent Pollen at Gardens by the Bay. The name itself, has sent up bars of branding which was subconsciously raised even before I stepped in. Even though I know nothing about the man nor his other restaurants.

Even though I know he doesn't cook here and probably has little idea what happens on a daily basis behind his open counter kitchen.

oysters in Vietnamese dressing
The oysters in Vietnamese dressing were....well, oysters with some tangy dressing with a light citrus punch and fish sauce. The briny shellfish weren't as chilled as I was expecting, but I suppose they tasted fine. Just what one generally expects of oysters.

salt & pepper squid, black ink aioli
What I liked about this was the use of thinly sliced green chillis with the fried squid. Never had them this way before and I think it's a level of compliment which is seldom explored. Unfortunately, the squid ink aioli tasted just like a regular aioli. Garlic, olive oil and whatever. Nada of that squid ink which in the end was just only visually interesting. As competently done as they are, I can't say that these are the best fried squids in the world neither.

smoked haddock, omelette and Manchego cheese
This was something that was probably hard to go wrong. It's as simple as cooking eggs, throwing torn up chunks of fish and cheese and then, sprinkling bits of chopped spring onions and paprika. No one operating a professional kitchen should mess something so easy up. I can do it. That being said, the flavors were expected comforting of a smokiness from the fish infused with bits of cheesiness within what tasted more like scrambled eggs.

veal sweet meat and foie gras empanada with burnt onion and caper jam
Foie gras was very good. The physical frame of this empanada dish came across as refined. The foie gras had a thin and light crisp on the exterior while the innards were a little pink, soft and rich. There seemed to be a sweet and salty combination on the upper crust which was a little different and I thought it was pretty good. Empanadas likewise in it's refinement had a light and soft crust which was really nothing like the traditional street food puff. Onion jam was very good.

wild berry and sangria ice cream
Not bad. Not amazing neither.

chocolate mousse, olive oil jelly, coffee soil espresso drizzle I think...
Quite unfortunately for me and possibly for Esquina, this was the first item that I felt was outstanding. It had gotten till the last item before deep impressions were set. The chocolate mouse was rich, smooth and creamy and I liked the bitter aroma in them.

The olive oil jelly for me was mind blowing in a simple way I hadn't quite anticipated. Textually, it reminded me of a very soft pak tong ko (white sugar kueh?). They were redolent of the fruity aromas of the oil and was seeped in a very moderated level of sweetness that wasn't excessive nor too little.

Coffee soil tasted like crushed coffee biscuits. Not impressionably awesome like what I've had once, but I guess they served their purpose well as contrast for the entire dessert. I would order this again. Yeap, I endorse this!

I think we like Lolla much better than here.

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