Esquina - Singapore

There are a few things I miss terribly about food in Singapore.  

The first is being able to cook a proper meal at home.  I miss browsing grocery stores and markets, buying my own food and the actual act of putting things together and seeing what happens.  Unfortunately, there is simply not much we can do about that.  Our apartment has the smallest kitchen I have ever had with two hot plates (that don't get hot) and no oven.  It's become a joke that we have to turn the stove on 10 minutes before we want to cook anything.  Anyways, we have resorted to making two things: noodle soup and a stir-fry that is not really fried.

The second thing I miss is small plates (tapas), which is one of my favorite ways to dine.  Fortunately, there are solutions to this and one of them is called Esquina.  Matt took me here for my birthday knowing how much I love both small plates and open kitchen counter seating.  I don't know, but does anyone else find eating while watching chefs cook the most entertaining thing? 

Esquina is Jason Atherton's very successful attempt to bring some culture to Singapore.  The style is creative small plates in a casual urban setting.  The menu is pretty short, and at the time of going they offered a tasting menu that quite frankly didn't make any sense, it was cheaper to just order the tasting dishes on their own. 

For vegetarians and non-vegetarians, you must get the beetroot and burrata.  I am a big sucker for anything with burrata and this was my favorite dish of the night.  There is also some truffled honey and raspberry that give it a very rich but refreshing sweetness.

We also tried the pork crackling with salt cod and herring roe, though I was a little disappointed that the pork crackling itself was pretty bland so the dish as a whole lacked flavor.

A benefit of watching the kitchen is you have a chance to see all the food being plated and choose what to get.  The sea trout with heirloom carrots seemed to be a popular choice so we had to try it out ourselves.  The trout was perfectly grilled and very tender inside.  There was a lot of flavor in the fish itself, and even more flavor with thin piece of bacon on top.  The pistachio crumbs were a nice addition since I love pistachios and it works really well in savory dishes. 

Second fav of the night was the beef tartar, although I've certainly never had beef tartar like this before. The accompaniments of sea urchin mayonnaise, egg dressing, seaweed and foie gras really made this dish stand out.  The flavor resembled sour cream and onion potato chips, except ten times better, obviously.

We finished up with the pork and foie gras (yes more foie gras!) mini-burgers, which were supremely tender and flavorful.  It came with some sauerkraut that paired really well.

The downside of Singapore is really good non-Asian food does come at a price, but fortunately it's well worth it at Esquina.  Five plates (enough for two) + bottle of wine = SG250.


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