Element at Amara Hotel – Hearty Flavours of Spain
After a nice, long, relaxing weekend, away from the hectic nature of work, school and life, waking up on Monday morning can be extremely difficult. Here’s a tip to perk yourself up: start to plan your next weekend or a dinner date with your friends!
Last week, I visited the new Element at Amara Hotel which is simply amazing. It is an integrated F&B experience where you can find a variety of choices all under one roof: international buffet, Spanish a la carte, Spanish set, Spanish pintxos, popular choices from Thanying, Silk Road and Cafe Oriental.
Before we go into a la carte selections, we had some dishes from the international buffet. They have sushi, sashimi, seafood, charcuterie, local and dessert spreads. A highlight to look out for is the unique “Duo of Rice” from Asia and Spain, featuring Spanish seafood paella and a rotation of popular Asian rice dishes.
To entice you, the new Chef de Cuisine Mikel Badiola is an eye candy. He is only 22 years old from Basque Spain. Chef Mikel picked up cooking when he was 14 years old where he joined a txoko, a traditional gastronomic society where all the males come together to cook, eat and socialize. Then, he went to culinary school and worked at several restaurants. At age 20, he join 3-star Michelin chef, Martin Berasategui at his restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, Spain.
Chef Mikel’s cooking has an attractive Basque Country regionalism, especially in his pintxos such as the Cod Fish Bechamel in Piquillo Pepper ($12/2pcs) and Mushroom Brochette in Oporto Sauce ($12/2pcs). They serve one of the tastiest Spanish Omelette ($10) as well. It is thick with potato and onion. Nothing fanciful about it, just hearty goodness.
Calamari with tartar sauce ($18) is not as crispy as what I have eaten at other restaurants. That’s because spanish don’t do crispy calamari. Instead, they prefer it to be more juicy. Hence, the squid here is coated with semolina flour which makes coating more crumbly than crispy.
Spanish love fish and seafood and no wonder – Spain is surrounded by water on three sides! Chef Mikel’s fish stew is done well and used in Basque Fish Soup ($16) and Basque Tuna Stew ($28). The fish bones are simmered for long hours to get the flavourful taste.
For the Basque fish soup, it is made with fish stew, oven roasted bread, cayenne pepper, onion and garlic. May not be the most appetizing picture but the brown stew is thick and smoky from the bread, and the slightly spicy fish stew made the entire dish more rounded. As for the tuna stew, chef takes great care with the cooking time to ensure that the tuna is not fully cooked, hence displaying a slightly softer texture. Simple but perfect for summer!
Cochinillo Asado or Roast Suckling Pig ($88 for 3 pax) is one of the most typical dishes in the cuisine of Castilla, especially the city of Segovia. Chef Mikel takes pride in the tenderness of its roast pig. It has a perfect crispy crackling with very tender meat. I thought it was a tad salty that night. Nonetheless, it pairs well with either the amara sauce which is similar to Thai style chilli or the sweet brown sauce.
We tried a variety of dessert but the most memorable one is definitely Cold Strawberry Soup with Fruit Brochette ($9). Why special? You have eaten bruschetta before right – an Italian antipasto made with grilled bread topped with garlic and topped with olive oil, salt and pepper. But Chef Mikel blended all the bruschetta ingredients together with strawberries to create dessert. From the look of it, you may think that it is just another ordinary strawberry juice. But you are wrong! It has the sweetness from strawberries, refreshing sourness from tomatoes and most importantly, the kick from garlic. I call it garlic strawberry juice. Very shiok (but avoid kissing your partner thereafter).
My favourite is the honey jelly yoghurt with walnut cream ($9), which I believe will attract the masses more. Typically, we eat yoghurt during breakfast. But for the people in Basque, they eat yoghurt during dessert time. Both yogurt and honey are great for the digestive system, and the combined tastes are delicious. But to make it a little different, chef makes the honey to little jelly cubes and you get a slight nutty flavour from the walnut cream.
After a hearty dinner at Element, you can chill out at Element on Tras Street. The bar’s outdoor terrace pulses with the buzz of the street and the cool rhythms of the DJ. Choose from a wide selection of international beers available from bottle or tap, including Italian Peroni beer served on tap. Or if you are a coffee lover, you can enjoy a cup of Toby’s Estate Coffee and watch the world go by!
Address: 165 Tanjong Pagar Road (enter through hotel lobby)
Tel: +65 6879 2555
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