Ocean Restaurant by Iron Chef Cat Cora (Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore)

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Setting
Entrance to Ocean Restaurant at Resorts World Sentosa

The world’s first female Iron Chef, Cat Cora, set off a frisson of excitement when she joined the string of – predominantly male – celebrity chefs in anchoring a presence in Singapore via the newly opened 63-seat Ocean Restaurant (“Ocean”) in S.E.A. Aquarium.

Indeed, Cora’s heavyweight name lends presence to this Resorts World Sentosa newbie – not only does she have a clutch of eateries to her name, she is also a co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates TV series and an executive chef of Bon Appetit magazine.

Interior of Ocean Restaurant
View of the aquarium from our table

But the hype is as much about Cora as it is about Ocean’s dream-like setting in the world’s largest oceanarium where every table affords a visually arresting view of ocean wild life (watch out for the manta rays with schools of cleaner fish gliding by) through a gargantuan floor-to-ceiling glass panel that lines the entire length of the dining room. Thick carpets with anemone motifs and mini lighting domes with inlaid pearl shells complete the ocean-themed décor.

What to expect?

The food, whilst well executed, attracts less fanfare.

In line with the restaurant’s ocean theme, the focus is on sustainably sourced seafood prepared with Cora’s Californian-inflected Mediterranean finesse and a healthy dose of Asian ingredients (yes, its fusion). There is also a clutch of meat dishes on the menu to cater to diners who shun shellfish and fin fare.

For a convenient induction to Cora’s cuisine, the 5-course set dinner (S$158++) is a good place to start.

Sous vide 48 degree C King salmon
Sakura shrimp risotto
Grilled Basque wagyu striploin with leek bread pudding
 

Cora’s signature dish of sous-vide salmon topped with pearls of sustainable caviar wins plaudit for the velvety-creamy texture achieved through precise kitchen execution. The morel mushrooms-flecked risotto with a crowning glory of truffle butter-seared Hokkaido scallop is also a crowd pleaser, thanks to the addition of salty bits of toasted Sakura shrimps. Meat lovers will appreciate the chunk of guilty pleasure via the grilled Basque wagyu striploin alongside a brick of leek bread pudding.

Vongole of Manila clams with spicy fennel sausage, black garlic broth

But not all the courses hit the sweet pot: the black garlic broth with de-shelled Manilla clams and a disc of spicy fennel sausage landed flat on our palates with barely a hint of garlic essence although the accompanying plank of toasted sesame crouton was warm and crisp. Cora’s rendition of seafood ceviche got lost in translation with petite chunks of prawn and lobster in a coconut infused cream bath that lacked oomph.

Seared Hokkaido scallops on buckwheat noodles

Those who wish to veer from the set dinner will find luck with a clutch of items from the a la carte but truth be told that none we tasted raised eyebrows. Consider the intensely savoury consommé of Alaskan king crab and chopped celeriac dumpling (S$24) served with a wedge of lime or the plump discs of seared Hokkaido scallops on a bed of chilled buckwheat noodles in a refreshing honey-yuzu vinaigrette toss – delicious but not spectacular.

But this is, after all, Cora’s turf and there will always be fans who are drawn to her celebrity star power. In the absence of star-struck fans, the aquarium backdrop remains a dependable draw and we foresee it will be Ocean’s biggest trump card.

Ocean Restaurant | 22 Sentosa Gateway, Marine Life Park, S.E.A Aquarium  | Tel: 65-6577 8888

For picture story, visit www.facebook.com/bibikgourmand

© Evelyn Chen 2013

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