Saturday, May 4, 2019

Alma by Juan Amador: A Citi Four Hands Kitchen Review.

👍 Imaginative, Asian-fusion'ed European Cuisine. Service is warm and inviting.
👎 Tonight's dinner a tad inconsistent: A few dishes were a little on the weak side.

For April 2019 Citi's 4 Hands Kitchen moves back to Goodwood Park Hotel's Alma by Juan Amador, where resident Chef Haikal Johari hosts Le Normandie (Bangkok)'s Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier! The two chefs hold 3 Michelin Stars between them, so the darling and I were pretty excited to be back to try out their 6 course dinner menu!

The dinner starts off with some Snacks, which include a one-bite Strawberry chips with salmon roe and sour plum sauce, Foie gras mousse with apple jelly, Fish tartare cracker, and chili-spiced Prawn tartare cracker topped with frozen yuzu powder. We especially liked how the richness of the foie gras mousse was cut by the tart apple jelly, and the contrast of flavours, textures and temperatures in the Prawn tartare.

Alma by Juan Amador Snacks Alma by Juan Amador Snacks
Alma by Juan Amador Snacks

To cleanse the palatte before the start of the dinner proper: Alma's Potato Bread with Smoked Butter. It might be a bit strange to fawn over bread, but this is one of the better presentations we've come across. The bread's served in a box on a bed of warm coffee beans, which keeps it warm and provides an amazing coffee aroma at the same time. The smoked butter is pretty damn good, too.

Alma by Juan Amador Bread

Onwards to the first course, then: the Monkfish Liver, served with beetroot, beef tartare with gochujang paste, and mustard ice cream. Truth be told I'm not entirely on board with ice cream as an appetizer - it's difficult to undo almost two decades of "no ice cream until you finish your food" brainwashing - but otherwise this appetizer was delicious and decadent.

Alma by Juan Amador Monkfish Liver

We then move on to one of Chef Arnaud's signature dishes: Caviar Et Oursin (Caviar and sea urchin with potato foam and champagne sauce). This was probably the standout of the night for me: The Potato foam having substantial body to carry and hold together the briny umami and textures of the caviar and uni (buried at the bottom, strangely enough).

Alma by Juan Amador Caviar et Oursin

Next up was Asperges Vertes Pertuis: Roasted Green Asparagus with Anis and Olive Oil 'fruiteee noire.' According to the server the asparagus was cured for 6 hours prior to a slight roasting on the grill. It was a well cooked stalk, but overall we didn't think the asparagus brought enough to the table, even with the accompanying sauces.

Alma by Juan Amador Asperges Vertes Pertuis

Moving on then to the Maquereau de Ligne: Wild Caught French Mackerel with Fennel, Anis, and a Liquorice-based sauce. Yes, liquorice. If you are one of the few people who like the taste and aroma of liquorice*, more power to you. I am not one of those people, however, and so I ate the fish and greens without it.

* The darling disagrees vehemently. She argues that my prejudice against liquorice tainted my judgement, and that the mild pungence actually complemented the flavours of the mackerel and fennel perfectly, so this was the standout dish of the night for her.

Alma by Juan Amador Maquereau de Ligne

The last savoury course is instantly recognizable as Chef Haikal's handiwork: Ohmi Beef with Ramson (wild garlic), Gobo (burdock root), Yuzu Kosho, and a crispy potato stack. The Ohmi naturally was delicious - it is one of the big three Japanese Wagyus alongside Matsusaka and Kobe after all. The accompanying potatoes, gobo, and vegetable were also nice, but I didn't think the dish needed the watercress sauce so I left it untouched.

Alma by Juan Amador Ohmi Beef

Wild Strawberry headlines the 6th - dessert - course, atop umeshu jelly, chantilly, and smoked koshihikari rice puffs. We quite liked this fruity, not overly sweet dessert.

Alma by Juan Amador Wild Strawberry

Before we say good night, though, we have a cup of (included in the dinner price) coffee & tea alongside Alma's Petit Fours:

- Chocolate cake with Pear jelly
- Green tea tart
- Raspberry with Gochujang square
- Jackfruit and passion fruit macaron

Alma by Juan Amador Petit Fours

The 'sticker price' of s$218++ (per pax) is a little high considering that Alma usually only charges s$158++ for its 6-course degustation dinner menu. However with Citi's discounts we ended up paying s$109++, which is pretty good value, and we left the restaurant well fed and more or less extremely satisfied.

Alma by Juan Amador is at Goodwood Park Hotel. Reservations recommended; Non-Halal.

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