Saturday, November 3, 2018

Alma by Juan Amador: One-Michelin Star Restaurant at Goodwood Park Hotel

In the blink of an eye, Alma by Juan Amador is three years old. The restaurant has plenty to celebrate; it's not only held on to its one Michelin star for three consecutive years, but its Executive Chef Haikal Johari who was paralysed from the neck down three years ago has made extraordinary recovery.

Chef Haikal Johari of Alma by Juan Amador
It was phenomenal watching Chef Haikal walk out on crutches to greet us. He had been so badly injured in that motorbike accident that he couldn't even talk and needed a ventilator to breathe. See his journey of determination here:

Alma which means "soul" in Spanish has rolled out new dinner menus to touch the soul. Chef Haikal marries his training in European cuisine with Asian flavours to create dishes that bring both new yet familiar tastes. You'll also find a strong nod to Japanese ingredients and cuisine.

4 Courses S$117++
Wine pairing (3 glasses) S$38++
Courses include Heirloom Tomato, Iberico Pork Jowl, Bresse Quail or Ohmi, Jackfruit (dessert) and Alma's Petit Four
inclusive of coffee or tea

6 Courses S$158++
Wine pairing (4 glasses) S$58++
Courses include Heirloom Tomato, "Black Onyx" Angus, Muirgen Oyster, Iberico Pork Jowl, Bresse Quail, Jackfruit, Alma's Petit Four
inclusive of coffee or tea

8 Courses S$197++
Wine pairing (5 glasses) S$68++
Courses include Irish Oyster, Okayama Muscat Grape, Botan Ebi, Smoked Foie Gras, Aji, Aichi Egg, Ohmi, Mango, Alma's Petit Four

Here's a look at some of the courses. First up, you'll get a set of snacks that set the stage for the culinary journey ahead. 

Strawberry, Ikura, Curry Leaf (Alma's snacks)

Ikura | Curry Leaf

This is simply a burst of surprises in your mouth, beginning with the chilled sensation, the sweetness of the tomato granite and curry leaf powder melding with the rich umami pops of ikura.

Black olives, Tomato, Salted Egg Yolk (Alma's snacks)
Tomato | Salted Egg Yolk

Smoked bacon purée is the secret binding the Roma tomato tartare, salted egg and olives. Nice contrasting texture from the crispy leaves too.

Foie Gras, Smoked Eel, Grape, Coffee (Alma's snacks)
Smoked Eel | Grape | Coffee

Arriving in a retro-style paper bag is the little cube of foie gras "kaya toast". While it does have both sweet and buttery flavours, it's a lot more complex from the smoked aromas, fruity accent and goose liver richness. 

Amaebi, Sable, Frozen Yoghurt (Alma's snacks)
Sable | Frozen Yoghurt
Homemade saville biscuit with chili lemonade and lime. Smoked yogurt parfait topped with tomato powder. You have to taste it to know it. Who would have thought of smoking yogurt? Love it.

The divine Potato Bread at Alma
Alma also has amazing Potato Bread baked with coffee beans. The bread is made using dehydrated potato powder from the US, and is steamed first before baking, so it retains a supremely soft and moist centre. It is such joy tearing these buns apart and spreading the lightly smoked French butter on the soft, warm, fluffy centre.

Okayama Muscat Grape at Alma
Chutoro | Nasturtium | Yuzu Kosho

The beautifully arranged grape slices are topped with Hokkaido uni (see first photo). Under these you'll see the Bluefin tuna belly tartare marinating in a light yuzu kosho sorbet along with onions, pine nuts and mayonnaise. It's a pleasantly refreshing play of sweet, salty and spicy.

Muirgen Oyster at Alma
Spotted Prawns | Truffle Jus | Sauce Choron

The aroma is completely arresting; it's so redolent of oyster and yet you see not a single sliver of seafood. It's all deeply infused into the duo-layered chawanmushi: Irish oysters, sweet botan ebi, uni, truffle jus, and homemade sauce Choron. This one is like a drug. Inhale deeply as you partake!

Iberico Pork Jowl at Alma
Sour Apples | Black Sesame | Pork Reduction

Mmmmh, this slice of Iberico pork jowl is so tender and sweetly glazed with aka (red) miso. The smoky caramelisation from grilling on a traditional binchotan grill adds tantalising dimension as do the accompanying apples, black sesame puree, Jerusalem artichoke puree and pork reduction. It's a pity the pork serving is the size of a finger. You'd definitely be craving more of this.

Ohmi Wagyu Beef at Alma
Horseradish | Red Cabbage | Sansho Pepper

Fortunately the next course is also a meat dish. Not just any meat, but Ohmi wagyu, one of the most renowned beef brands in Japan. Meat this good doesn't need much intervention. A bit of salt, a bit of sansho pepper. This is simply given a wine and beetroot reduction, and served with horseradish potato mash and crispy seaweed.

Mango dessert at Alma
Cremeaux | Yogurt | Myoga

Tangy mango cremeaux meets meringue, gooseberry, yogurt with a touch of myoga (Japanese ginger) and calamansi foam. This is just the palate cleanser you need after the fatty meats.

Soursop popsicle
Durian mochi
Foie gras frozen yogurt
Beetroot powder tart
Gula Melaka canele

Alma has a huge collection of American wines
Alma also carries one of the biggest collections of American wine in Singapore. Wine lovers can pick from over 450 labels from around the world, mainly from USA and especially Napa Valley. This is all curated by their in-house sommelier Mr Saravana who has had 21 years of F&B experience including places like L'Atelier Joel Robuchon and Verre Modern Bistro.

Interior of Alma by Juan Amador
While it's fine-dining, Alma sports a casual atmosphere with warm, feel-good service. It's a place designed for the soul to relax and enjoy food with friends. The dinner menus are great value for a one Michelin-starred place. The portion sizes are rather dainty but they would probably suit the elegant occasions that Alma commands.

22 Scotts Road,
Goodwood Park Hotel,
Singapore 228221.
Tel: +65 6735-9937 / 9119-8928 (events & non-operational hours)
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu 6pm to 11pm
Fri-Sat 6pm to 12 midnight
Tues-Sat 12 noon to 2.30pm, Mon-Sat 6pm to 10pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays 12 noon to 2.30pm

Many thanks to Alma by Juan Amador for the invitation and hospitality.


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