New kid on the block. The Orchard Plaza block to be exact. There’s been mixed reviews on this new restaurant along busy Orchard Road despite the good business it’s been pulling in daily. Like most, I was drawn to their reasonably priced Omakase (SGD99++ for 7 courses). I also like the fact that it is a small restaurant, seating just 14 people. And the cuisine, Spanish-Japanese…. hmm.. why not 😉 !
The restaurant is fairly busy most of the week; but my Sunday evening reservation saw an empty restaurant. Not that I minded the Chef’s attention all to myself! Our 7-course Omakase begins…
Straccietella & Baguette– pretty straightforward, this one. Although I doubt either is homemade, its still a very pleasant start for me since I never say no to cheese! And what’s not to like about Stracciatella? The creamy cheese was presented nicely chilled with a good douse of EVO and freshly ground black pepper. Hot toasty baguette cold creamy cheese… a winning combo.
Salmon Confit & Iberico Pork & Foie Gras Pâté with Salsa Berde – I did prefer the Foie Gras pâté to the salmon. It was dense and flavorful; with an oily buttery taste. Don’t get me wrong, the salmon was a tasty piece of fish and the onions and Ikura worked very pleasingly with it too. I just didn’t pick up any unique special-ness in the “confit-ed” fish. But like I said, absolutely nothing bad about it. “Confit” just got me carried away for a moment!
Bafun Sea Urchin with Scallops, Snow Crab Tartar and Clams Gelee – Buried underneath the golden Uni is a juicy ceviche of crabmeat and scallops. The 3 come together in a cold tongue tingling sensation within the mouth! The creaminess of the Uni engulfs the flakey snow crab and juicy scallop. A delightful little package!
Black Cod Fish , Onion and Almond Terrine with Port Wine, Poached Egg & Jamon Iberico Pediota. Homemade Almond Milk – The magic here lies in the silky almond milk; tying all the other ingredients together like a big bear hug! The Cod was cooked perfectly. Fork tender and smokey from the hot pan. Jamón Ibérico serves the salty role, the onions a touch of sweetness; the poached egg yolk combines with the almond milk like perfect DNA! The newly born buttery sauce adds a new level of flavor to the entire ensemble.
Seafood Paella with Mussels from Spain, Aka Ebi, Aomori Squid & Aioli Sauce – This was rather ordinary for me, despite the use of Japanese produce. I did not find the wow factor here. Firm rice complete with little charred bits, fresh seafood, and the mandatory aioli, nothing short. But for me, just another paella.
Signature Iberico Pork Pluma – At first sight, I’d thought we were having beef. But it was in fact pork. As far as (most) Asians are concerned, our pork has to be cooked thoroughly before consuming. They say raw pork will make you mad :-O ! So I was quite taken aback to see how pink our pork was. Nonetheless, I took a bite without persuasion and was amazed by how good it was. I asked Chef Watanabe on the popularity of this medium-rare pork. And it seems it’s been well received so far and apparently, many of his customers are pork eaters, not beef. Chef explained that premium Iberico Pork is used on top of ensuring immaculate handling and cooking. Having said that, he is happy to cook the pork well-done for customers who are still uncomfortable. Our pork steak was fantastic as it is! There’s no funky porky smell. No bloody aftertaste. Not even the faintest drop of blood jus on the plate like you’d find on most beef steaks. Pluma, a cut of the pig towards the end of the neck, has a high amount of fat and yields very tender and juicy meat. The steak is further enhanced by a sweet balsamic glaze. If all pork tasted delicious like this, many of us might just start to see medium cooked pork differently.
Semi Frio – Smooth, rich and creamy! I couldn’t say no to this thick tiramisu mousse!
Mixed Berries , Strawberry Sorbet, Marscapone Yogurt – Fruits, sorbet, yogurt doused in soda! Refreshing! And like a much needed Alka Seltzer after a heavy meal, except better!
The drinks list is comprehensive, from Sake to beer, wine and champagne. Or you could bring your own prized bottle like we did; Corkage at $50.
Ao Ringo is a spin-off of The Ringo Restaurant in Tokyo. Centered around food, art and music, both specializing in Spanish-Japanese cuisine. The ambiance at Ao Ringo feels trendy and sexy, with chill house music in the background. Bar counter seating around the open kitchen so you could watch the chef churn out your meal. Young Chef Yasuo Watanabe speaks a slew of good English. And worked independently throughout our 7-course meal. Making time in between to explain his creations and some chit chat. I’d think Ao Ringo’s off to a good start despite the simple menu. They’ve nailed the concept; so it’s only a matter of injecting more creativity and more surprises. And I have a feeling Chef Watanabe’s got more to this than meets the eye!
AO RINGO @ #01-44 Orchard Rd, 150 Orchard Plaza, Singapore 238841. Phone +65 88799837
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post.