Review: Alma

Review: Alma

At this one-star Michelin restaurant, a quiet and comfortable ambience meets a bold and unusual European-Asian menu in Singapore's Orchard Road

It's not the easiest of places to find - even though it's right in Singapore's shopping belt of Orchard Road. On the grounds of five-star hotel Goodwood Park, Alma by Juan Amador is a cosy place fit for a quiet European-Asian business lunch. The interior is not too antiseptic, but classy and comfortable, with curious paintings decorating the one-star Michelin restaurant. 

Heirloom Potato. Photo: AFN

A chew-and-crunch exercise that was thoroughly delicious. This one's not for the careful eaters, so take a big spoon of it and chew through potato gnocchi, crunchy sweet potatoes and brittle truffle crackers. The flavours are quite a complex but consistent flavour of potato that seeped through the dish, and is especially strong in the soft, doughy knobs of potato mochi. The crisp-thin salty potato chips and harder, snappy truffle chips worked perfectly well with alternating textures of mochi, and the milder flavoured sweet potato cubes. An exquisite melody of textures that is anchored by the star ingredient of potato, made in just enough ways to impart subtle differences in flavour.  

Salt Baked Celeraic. Photo: Alma

Three words: nutty, seaweedy, subtle. Celeraic, a hard, nutty, turnip-like texture with a celery-like flavour, shines slowly in this gem of a dish. Like many celeraic dishes, this one too, uses salt to enhance its natural flavours, in particular, bringing out the gentle sweetness of the white root vegetable. The lovely green top is a sponge-like layer of soft wakame (seaweed), adding a welcome side of salt to liven up a mostly mellow bowl. Go slow and you'll also appreciate the hints of grape that disappear with each bite. You'll most likely polish it up in seconds.

June Plum. Photo: AFN

An absolute refreshment - the June Plum is a crushed "cocktail-like" shot of expertly blended elderflower, a strong yuzu kosho base and tarragon herb, the last ingredient no doubt flavoured this ice-cold treat with its herby licorice fragrance. It's quite a mastery of flavours, and each one was distinct in taste, even the milder elderflower was not eclipsed by the yuzu kosho condiment - a fermented, salted mix of citrusy yuzu and spicy bird eye's chillies. A must-try, an impressive dollop of flavour that's incredibly well-executed. 

Hojicha Dessert. Photo: AFN

If you're an adventurous eater with a bit to spend, you'll like this textural play of a dish with chestnut, pear, white truffle and toasted rice. Hojicha might be the name of it, but what stands out most are the hard smoky snaps of truffle crackers, sweet caramel brittle and melt-in-your mouth chocolate thins. These smoky, sweet and bittersweet flavours are held together by a well-balanced and almost sorbet-like hojicha ice-cream and dots of toasted rice. We're grateful for that centrepiece, without which this dish would not work. It's quite an unforgettable end to our meal, with us savouring each lingering chocolate and every satisfying crunch. 

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