Saturday, March 28, 2015

See Singapore! The dining experience at Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora

For the first time ever, a guest post! My family was generously invited by the Singapore Tourism Board to check out their beautiful country. Since my baby Piero didn't have a passport yet and his vaccines weren't complete, we had to decline. Imagine my amazement when the Singapore Tourism Board extended their invitation to anyone I want to go! So I asked for volunteers and Kaye Estoista-Koo, an entertainment, lifestyle and travel writer, was the lucky pick! Kaye will regale us with her fab four-day trip, which I hope will encourage my readers to visit Singapore. I know I want to go! Enjoy!

You know you're in for a really good weekend when your first dinner in Singapore is at the Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora. Located to the left side of the S.E.A. Aquarium's main habitat, Ocean Restaurant is one of the best places to dine with fish, sharks, manta rays and more swimming lazily by. 

Over dinner, we found out that Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew would spend hours here just to gaze at the ocean and feel relaxed. After five whole minutes of anticipating and guessing which of the 100,000 marine animals would swim by next, we all definitely felt the pull of the ocean.

But let's talk about the food first (I'll post later on exactly how much fun the S.E.A. Aquarium can be for you, hubby and your kids of all ages.) Cat Cora opened this restaurant along with Resorts World Sentosa. As soon as you walk in the door, the ocean just engulfs you but you instantly feel at ease. People come here dressed up and ready for a good time. 

The menu is undeniably pricey but dining meters away from a zebra shark, a two-headed manta ray and fish that look just like Nemo and Dory is truly priceless and worth the pricetag. I went for the 6-course tasting-menu in order to fully appreciate the finest creations from the first female Iron Chef. I was not at all disappointed. 

The names alone tell you you're in for a good time: like the 42-degree Celcius Sous Vide Salmon that came with a very light and fresh citrus minestrone. It came out so pretty and tasted oh-so-heavenly I was glad there weren't any salmon in the giant aquarium beside me. 

My seatmate from Hong Kong already started on her Smoked Eel (she picked a 4-course tasting menu) so when mine arrived, I had already appreciated this dish's very unique presentation from checking out her plate. It is food architecture at its finest—layers of crisp sunchoke jelly in between duck liver terrine and the smoked eel. I actually felt bad about destroying such a masterful piece of culinary art but my stomach was very thankful I dug in. 

Imagine a soup that you can smell and taste as soon as it comes near you and that's what I had when my multi-grain butternut soup came out. The heat and flavors were just right to prepare me for my entree, the pan seared toothfish a.k.a. Chilean sea bass. 

I must confess, the moment I saw this item I knew I would order the 6-course tasting menu—even it meant being stuffed at the end of the meal. The sea bass was glorious and even without the lettuce, chorizo and passion fruit reduction on the side, I would have gobbled this up all by itself. 

Noel Hawkes, the Executive Director of Sentosa Harbourfront Business Association, had already started on his beef wagyu ribeye rossini, and from across the table, I was salivating. The chefs had cooked it to the consistency I wanted (medium rare) so that when I started eating the seared duck foie gras along with the beef, the flavors just exploded in my mouth. And did I tell you it came with wild mushroom and confit potato with truffle on the side? That's like my favorite things all on one plate! 

I thought I couldn't eat anymore but when the waiters mistakenly served my grapefruit panna cotta to Noel and served me a lemon kind of sorbet instead, I somehow managed to consume it all. The Ocean Restaurant thinks of everything, too. When they noticed my visible delight with each and every dish, a sommelier approached and recommended a white wine to go with the seabass. 

Suffice it to say that the weekend trip to Singapore started off on a very, very high note in a place that felt like the bottom of the ocean but minus the icky decompression issues and only the best and most majestic floor-to-ceiling glass azure view of the aquarium. And if you're like us, you'll have eaten up substantial space on your smartphone as you don't just take pictures, but video any and all sightings of the giant manta rays (that looked like two dolphins side by side), schools of silvery fish and all the other interesting fish and marine life that glide by.

By the way, after you soak in this surreal experience, you'll understand why not a shred of shark's fin is served in any Resorts World Sentosa restaurant. It's taken from an animal that is so endangered it would be inhumane to keep hunting it just for a bit of fin. 

More tomorrow on this eggciting Singapore series!

Kaye Estoista-Koo is a guest writer for Topaz Mommy specifically for this #yoursingapore #thegreateggventure series. Kaye is a lifestyle and features writer for the entertainment website, a contributing writer for Manila Bulletin's lifestyle and travel section, a website content writer, an events script writer, and the go-to of a PR group that would like their various brands to be highlighted in a major TV station. 

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