Esquina Tapas Bar, Singapore
There's been a lot of buzz surrounding this little tapas bar in Chinatown lately (16 Jiak Chuan Road, 6222-1616), most likely due to its association with a Michelin-starred chef and his decorated past in the UK and Spain, not to mention the no reservations policy there. Tonight, I was on my own for dinner, but I wasn't super hungry yet. So I figured that this would be a perfect chance to stop by for a few small snacks on my way home from work, especially since it'd probably be easy for me to squeeze up to the counter as a solo diner if I got there early enough on a Monday night.
Fortunately, my bet was right. The staff immediately made eye contact upon approach, happily seating me at the counter. The guy sitting next to me was a regular, and he had already started pointing out to me the things to get. And while the quality of the ingredients was certainly very good, I wasn't a big fan of the modern (almost fusion-like) approach to the food. For instance, the scallop ceviche was tossed in a rather Asian-like dressing, while the prawn special tonight was done in a mild curry with thin slices of almonds. The thing I ended up liking the most was the one that was the most traditional in nature: that asparagus salad above, topped with fried quail eggs and a few bits of ham. (OK, the bone marrow was good too, but I still prefer the minimalist version at St. John's.)
Well, I take solace in the fact that it was cool to watch the kitchen at work...it was like a symphony with tonight's chef shouting orders and his staff magically delivering individual components to him over the course of the night. He was very friendly too, even taking the time to stop what he was doing to ask if I was OK. Still, the damage was nearly two bills tonight, which means that I effectively won't be coming back here again unless someone else pays. For that kind of money, I'd rather go to Santi, although I guess that's no longer an option in Singapore anymore.