The Esmirada Group rebrands Bodega Y Tapas to Amuse and in doing so, the entire menu is changed from Spanish tapas to one of international influence. The new menu is created by Consultant Armin Leitgeb, former chef of Les Amis, who draws inspiration from his 20 years of travelling and working around the world. The kitchen is helmed by Lee Chee Keong, Leitgeb’s right-hand man for three years. This decision to rebrand the restaurant is the correct one because it houses one of the most delicious food we have eaten this year.
Amber Bowl ($18) and Mosquito (Virgin Mojito, $9)
But even before the food, the cocktails are a must-try. We have tasted the handsome and talented bartender, Klaus Leopard’s creations at the Bosch Cook-off at Savour 2012 and the now-defunct Brasserie Wolf. Each time I try his cocktails, I’m taken aback at how creative and delicious they are. Recommended are the Amber Bowl ($18, rhum vieux du pere labat, apple juice, homemade vanilla and cinnamon syrup, orange bitters) and bestseller, P for Passion ($18, vodka, passion fruit, lime verte, cranberry, orange, minted sugar). Since we’re iconoclasts, we went for Maica ($18, rhum vieux du perre labat, fresh banana, milk, vedrenne chocolate liquor, raw sugar), which packed a punch, high alcoholic content, and at the same time, very easy to drink because it is, at its base, banana chocolate milk. Very yummy.
(Pictured on top: Beef Tartare Cone $14)
Crispy Pork Crouton with Lightly Smoked Eel ($17)
As for the food, no expense is spared for looking for the best ingredients from all over the world. For instance, the eel is caught in Holland and smoked in Paris for Crispy Pork Crouton with Lightly Smoked Eel ($17). And if they can’t find the ingredient, they make it themselves like the salmon of Alsace-style Salmon Tarte Flambe ($9) is cured in-house. Or they tried more than 20 types of chorizos (Spanish lap-cheong) and decided to make their own chorizos for the Spanish-Austrian fusion dish, Chorizo Groest’l ($16).
Chiobu, my dining partner, and I tasted 8 items on the menu and picked our top 3.
|Chiobu’s Top 3||Wise Guy’s Top 3|
|Beef Tartare Cone||Beef Tartare Cone|
|Char Grilled Wagyu Cubes Cooked in Hay||Char Grilled Wagyu Cubes Cooked in Hay|
|Spicy Lamb Burger||Ciabatta Wrapped Crispy Egg|
Grilled Spanish Octopus ($19)
As you can tell, the beef tartare cone ($14 for two cones) and Wagyu Cubes ($39 for 3 cubes) are popular choices. The beef tartare is minced from Australia-imported tenderloin, mixed with horseradish and creme fraiche, wrapped with crispy filo pastry. The reason why Chiobu picks this as her favorite is because this is the first beef tartare that Chiobu has ever liked–no sliminess. I pick this because the crispiness of the pastry contrasted beautifully with the moistness of the tartare and the creme fraiche brightened the dish.
Another favorite of ours, the beef in char-grilled wagyu cubes cooked in hay is from Australia and the hay, from Alsace, France. The beef is first cooked, and then smoked in hay for only 15-30 seconds. The smoky taste was very heavy, which was the reason I liked it. Chiobu’s reason was that she could taste the fattiness of the tenderest wagyu.
Spicy Lamb Burger ($16 for 2 pieces)
Chiobu picked the Middle-Eastern-influenced spicy lamb burger with eggplant, fennel pollen aioli and harissa as her top 3. (The lamb is imported from Australia.) The piri-piri spiciness was slight and left a pleasant tingling sensation on the tongue and the taste–you can tell from the exotic ingredients–was complex and beautiful. I didn’t pick this as my top 3 solely due to personal preference: I’d like to be able to pick up a burger with my fingers and eat it, which means the bun should remain dry, but in this case, I had great difficulty picking it up.
Ciabatta Wrapped Crispy Egg ($15)
My top 3 includes the ciabatta-wrapped crispy egg. The egg is steamed at a precise 71 degrees first before poaching in water for it to retain its shape. It is then wrapped with ciabatta bread, which in turn, is wrapped with parma ham. At the base are spinach and mushroom ragout made from veal jus. At a merest prick, the yolk bursts. The beauty of the presentation is only surpassed by its originality, genius and orgasmic taste. Do you see it now? It’s a deconstructed ham-and-egg sandwich with a lot more flavors going on. Chiobu didn’t pick this because she thought it was too salty. But the way to eat this dish is to hulk-smash it and give it a good mix so that the flavors are even; if not, the sea salt(?) will remain at one side, making a portion of the dish to be too salty.
The food is stunning and original but a tad pricy for the portions. The kitchen is open till 1am on most days, which makes Amuse an ideal supper place.
442 Orchard Road
#01-29 Orchard Hotel
Singapore 238 879
T: 6735 3476
Rating: 3.899/5 stars
PS: Thank you Chenyze and Esmirada Group for the tasting.