UsQuBa at One Fullerton is helmed by Executive Chef Guven Uyanik who uses French cooking techniques on Scottish ingredients, and sometimes there are touches of Asian flavors. Uyanik’s experience includes working for Michelin-starred chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller. On his own, when he was Executive Chef at Kee Club in Hong Kong, he achieved his own Michelin star.
I know that’s a mouthful, I can’t pronounce half the words in the previous paragraph. Ok, so here is the pronunciation for UsQuBa: us-q-bar. It’s derived from the Gaelic word, usquebaugh, which means “water of life” or “whiskey.”
Speaking of alcohol, both the whiskey sour and Negroni are unexampled. The bar is managed by Fong Chan Teng, formerly from La Maison du Whiskey. I don’t like traditional cocktails because I like sweet ones. But since Fong’s philosophy is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” we were glad we went for the traditional cocktails.
Orkney Islands scallop ceviche ($25)
Some whiskey sours have a cao seng smelly egg taste but Fong’s version is light and creamy, which balances the peaty smokiness of the whiskey. The Negroni is equally outstanding, very smooth with the aroma of orange peel oil imbued in the alcohol; most negronis elsewhere can’t achieve the balance of fruitiness with alcohol.
Each of the three starters are good. Our favorite, lobster ravioli in porcini-portwine-lobster jus (below), is robust and rich without being jerlat; the sweetest cherry tomato serves to undercut any richness (but there is none.)
The foie gras ($21) is perfectly seared on its own; crispy outside, molten inside. But I don’t quite understand the accompanying waffle. The Orkney Islands scallop ceviche ($25) isn’t really ceviche; it’s not sliced, cured in the acidity of lime, or tossed with onions and peppers. It’s whole scallops matched with sea urchin, cucumber, and horseradish snow—delicate and easy.
The mains don’t fare as well; They are good, but they don’t live up to the promise of the starters. The baked pigeon (half $32, whole $46) is cooked perfectly, tender and still pink inside, but it requires some salt, and the squid ink calamari seems to be a separate dish from the pigeon.
Like the baked pigeon, the grilled tenderloin, half of the duet of Aberdeen Angus beef ($56), is competently cooked but under-seasoned. The other half is the better half; braised short ribs are tender and tasty.
The most interesting dish, fish and chips ($32), is also the most disappointing. The cod is sous vide—and you can’t sous vide everything. Good fish should just be pan-seared. When you put fish in a water bath for hours, the process seals up the fish, which may enhance its fishiness. Although at UsQuBa, the fishiness is almost imperceptible, the fish lacks the crispy texture of fish and chips.
Like the starters, the best main is the lobster dish. The butter poached lobster ($58) comes with that delectable lobster jus.
You can tell that desserts aren’t Uyanik’s forte, but he is smart to keep them simple, so everything works and is delicious. I prefer the chocolate delice ($15), a masculine, strong dessert; although the homemade bailey ice cream comes melted, the dark chocolate ganache is forceful, counterpoised by a very tart berry compote. If Spartans ate desserts (which I doubt they did, look at their 3% body fat bodies), this would be it.
Mr Fitness prefers the softer tastings of strawberry ($15). The pistachio biscuit, pistachio cream, strawberry juice, and strawberry sorbet give varying textures and sweetness.
Eating through the course, you can grasp the measure of what Uyanik is doing. He wants to showcase the Scottish ingredients for what they are. As a result, the food is sprightly, bright, and light. With the splendid panoramic view of Marina Bay, the excellent service, the cosy decor, and the delicious, clean food, UsQuBa makes a good place for dates and business dinners.
1 Fullerton Road, One Fullerton #02-03/04, Singapore 049213
M-Th 11.30am-midnight, F & Sat 11.30am-1am, Sun 11.30am-10pm
t: +65 8723 6378
Overall rating: 3.438/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.