When I teach a safety class to my construction workers and ask them to introduce themselves, I’d ask them to tell me their animal spirits. But first, I’d introduce myself as an example, “Hi, my name is Wise Guy and I’m a dolphin.” (although lately I’m fat as a panda.) So I feel for the two wild dolphins, my bros, captured and died at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). But whatever misgivings you have about the dolphins–RWS has very clear and reasonable answers to their deaths on their FAQ–the S.E.A. Aquarium is really worth a visit. More on that later. Let’s talk about Ocean Restaurant in the Aquarium first.
I cannot stress how beautiful and romantic the restaurant is, everything bathed in azure, dining beside the aquarium. This is probably the most SPECTACULAR restaurant in Singapore now. Who cares for a skyline view restaurant? My BFF, who was with me, wanted to change his Valentine’s Day Dinner from Salt to here (but sorry, it has been fully booked for dinner. Lunch is still available.) Schools of fish swam in vortex, then in a swift movement, dispersed in all directions and in another beat, pulled back and came together as a vortex again. It’s not uncommon that huge creatures, such a spotted shark (I think) or this manta ray, swimming up to the glass that I wondered if we were watching them or they, us. Being in the restaurant is like being in a dream. It was hypnotizing, fascinating.
It may seem ironic and cruel even, that we eat fish while sitting beside an aquarium but Celebrity Chef Cat Cora, the first and only female Iron Chef from Iron Chef America, is dedicated to sustainably sourced seafood and locally grown produce in Singapore and around the region, hence the light and healthy food at Ocean has Mediterranean-Californian influences with an Asian flair. Very admirable ethical stance. The third thing she stressed to us was how important her family is to her and therefore, the food is designed for the entire family from children to grandparents. After all, she and her partner, Jennifer, have four kids between them.
The lunch menu starts from $45++ and dinner $85++, rather reasonably priced considering the ambience. The specialty is Coq Au Vin Asia ($34), a lemongrass-saki braised spring chicken with roasted ginger, Thai chili and bok choy. We didn’t try the chicken but we had the 5-course set dinner promotion (2-28 Feb 2013) at $158++. You can also order the dishes as a la carte with bigger portions
Sous Vide 48ºC King Salmon is another Chef Cora’s specialty, that comes with sustainable caviar, prosecco pear crushed almond, vine tomato jelly and garden cress. It tasted like candy on salmon, which I liked, although my punctilious BFF thought it was strange to start a meal with something sweet. I do wish it was bigger because as an amuse bouche, I couldn’t get much out of it. You can order this as an appetizer, in a much bigger portion of a strip of about an inch by 5 inches long at $26.
The sakura shrimp risotto (a la carte at $28) is cooked in morel mushroom-black truffle butter ikura, with a seared Hokkaido scallop topped with roe and gold flakes. As you can see for yourself, the risotto wasn’t quite the texture of a risotto, too gruel-y, superlatively thick, creamy and cheesy, even though only a touch of reggiano was added; the scallop could be fresher; and the sakura shrimp could be rid of its smell.
Although my BFF rightly pointed out that it tasted like Assam Maggi Mee, sourish and spicy, the vongole of Manila clams (a la carte at $20) in garlic broth with spicy chorizo and toasted sesame croutons was, to me, rather comforting and light.
For the mains, there is a choice between the grilled Basque Wagyu striploin (a la carte $120) with leek bread pudding and roasted sesame-coriander OR King Salmon (a la carte $46) with Mandarin-Habanero glaze, meyer lemon cous cous and hot house cilantro.
Of the two, the King Salmon is indubitably superior. The steak had chilli, which overpowered the taste of beef, and needed to be tenderer. The King Salmon, on the other hand, was cooked very well. The top layer was seared gently so that when you slice it, you can see the cooked thin layer and the raw middle. It, however, could be fresher, less fishy and more innovative as it was another sweet, candied dish, similar to the first salmon dish, the amuse-bouche we had. The cous-cous is worth a mention: zesty and softer than most cous-cous, quite appetizing.
“After Eight” Mint Variation, of course, is inspired by the “After Eight” mint covered with chocolate. The chocolate mousse covered a layer of orange jam within, which was sweet but not cloy, chocolatey enough but not heavy. The accompanying in-house made vanilla ice cream was fantastic, rich but not sweet.
22 Sentosa Gateway
Marine Life Park, S. E. A. Aquarium
T: 6577 6869
Rating: 3.101/5 stars
How to Get to Ocean Restaurant, S.E.A. Aquarium, Resorts World Sentosa
1. If you don’t want to visit or pay entrance fee to S.E.A. Aquarium, the main entrance is at West Zone Carpark, B1M, near Equarius Hotel.
2. But I strongly encourage you to buy tickets and enter through the S.E.A. Aquarium, which is conveniently at the entrance of RWS.
To be honest, the Maritime Experiential Museum, which allows you to touch the exhibits, tracing the sea routes, is baloney. Zheng He is featured heavily, but he was never part of our Singaporean culture and the link between him and SIngapore is too tenuous to be taken seriously. But at the end of the museum is the Typhoon Theatre, which gives you an exciting experience of being onboard a 9th-century Chinese junk in midst of a typhoon. The winds howl, lightning strikes, torrents fall in sheets, and then the ship sinks! And when the ship sinks, it opens up to this spectacular view:
The Southeast Asia Aquarium (S.E.A. Aquarium) is the largest in the world, housing 100, 000 marine animals from 800 species. There are 10 zones, according to the geographic locations where the animals are found.
When I was at the Aquarium, I was behaving like a kid, jumping up and down, fantasizing how the stingray would go so well with sambal, and molesting starfishes. It was such a blast. Here are some more reasons to convince you it is worth a visit:
Shark Seas (200 sharks, 12 species). The Hammerhead shark sings, “Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh, you can’t touch this”:
You know the grumpy cat meme. This is a grumpy shark meme. “NO.”
So I wasn’t the only one molesting starfishes.
Coral as pretty as Chef Cora.
Aliens don’t only attack America. We have some in Singapore too!
Fishes are a grumpy lot huh? “NO.”
S.E.A. Aquarium (includes Maritime Museum) Ticket Prices
Adult $29; Child $20; Senior $20
Adult $88; Child $58; Senior $58
Ticket Prices to Typhoon Theatre
Adult $6; Child $4; Senior $3
PS: Thanks, Matt, Khushil, Juan, Xinyi, Mark and RWS for the tasting. Thanks to the competent and articulate usher, Joaquin, who brought us on a guided tour around the Aquarium. It was a blast.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.