I have lived in Singapore for over a decade now and one thing I'll say about the food scene in this modern Asian metropolis is, it's cut throat. For the average restaurant to survive on the island city it has to be good, consistent and value for money, everything else is a bonus. Whether it is the next Michelin star or a local eatery consistent great offerings keep restaurants alive here. A good example would be the fact that in 2016 over 50 establishments (chains included) shut their doors and that does not include the swathe of bars and coffee shops going out of business. I've seen a lot of mediocre places open and close within a year. The Singaporean diner is a tough one to please so if they made it on a recommended list they are good. On my list you'll find an honest account, and in some cases a sell by date but I will do my best to explain the exact experience encountered.
Alma by Juan Amador
Date of visit: 9 June 2017
Alma is one of the greats in my opinion. After recently receiving their Michelin Star in 2016 the establishment has been under the watchful leadership of Chef Haikal Johari and his right hand Sufian Zaini and that was who I expected to see upon this visit but as things go in Singapore, there is always a surprise. At the helm this fateful day was Chef Mirco Keller ( Head Chef at the Water Library Chamchuri, Bangkok, Thailand). The menu had been revamped and we decided to go with the full experience.
Kicking of the night with a glass of Pierre Paillard Champagne (N.V) which consists of only 2 grape varieties, pinot noir and chardonnay and presents with a wonderful golden color. Almost intentionally oxidized on the palate it drinks well and refreshes before the main event. The wine for the evening was a 1996 Haut Brion (one of my all-time favorites).
Looking around the room was still relatively empty save for an interesting table on the far left (from the entrance) consisting of a group that was determined to have a great time and from what I can tell members of the Remy Martin Louis XIII club (it was the huge Louis XIII bottle that gave it away). Perhaps one of the friendliest groups I have encountered in Singapore, more on that later.
Dinner began with Gazpacho (gazpacho Andaluz, prawn, lobster rouille and passionfruit) an incredible play on texture and layered flavors that deconstruct on que in the mouth. Accompanied with the freshness was a mild spiciness that revealed itself in layers before your mind gets distracted by the crunch and pop of the passionfruit seeds, a great way to make an initial impression.
By 19:30 the restaurant began to fill and our next dish arrives Beef Tartare (with bone marrow and mustard ice cream), awesome! We were advised to mix the components together and jump in, sound advice as the layers of flavor unfolded with mustard leading and the texture of the beef adding structure.
Next up were the Octopus, Scallop followed, Cod Ice Fish and then the main event…Pigeon which I absolutely love. It is an acquired taste but chef had prepared this in a daikon dashi eliminating the gamey flavors and replacing them with a sublime, subtle mix of cherry sweetness (red wine sauce) and smooth textures.
Dinner being over is where it all gets interesting, remember the Louis XIII crowd I mentioned? They decided to send us a glass each and came over to strike up conversation and become acquainted. We in turn shared a glass of wine, business contacts exchanged and celebration ensued. Alma living up to its moto of “Getting together with good friends and enjoying incomparable dishes”.
GOODWOOD PARK HOTEL
22 SCOTTS ROAD
+65 6735 9937