|New menu at Ola|
Three years after Ola Cocina Del Mar (“Ola”) debuted on our shores, chef-owner Daniel Chavez has decided to revamp his Spanish-Peruvian menu (note: it’s largely a Spanish menu with a handful of Peruvian dishes, Ola does not serve fusion).
Much to the relief of regulars, many of whom work in the vicinity of Marina Bay Financial Centre, the makeover affects no more than 60% of the a la carte.
In the whole scheme of things, a menu makeover is nothing much to shout about; after all, chefs refresh their menus periodically to keep them fresh and appealing. But what stood out during our recent dinner at Ola was how Chavez managed to dazzle us from start to finish with his new creations that emphasized big, hearty flavours.
From the tapas menu, Spanish octopus (S$26), a dish that Chavez already excels in, was rubbed in paprika, slow-cooked in a sous-vide machine, then smoked in the Josper oven before returning to the a la plancha. It was served with fava beans, dollops of charcoal-grey black olive mayo and fried iberico chips. While the flavours on the plate were a balance of charred-smokiness, mildly sweet brininess and a hint of umami, the perfectly springy bite of the octopus hogged the spotlight. (4.25/5)
Lighter but no less tasty, the crab salad (S$25) arrived with textures of apple (cubed apple bits and apple puree) in a light and zesty lime-based dressing with a riot of micro herbs. This salad stood out from other mostly-cloying crab salads we’ve had. Quite exceptional. (4/5)
|Catalan sausage, chorizo, chickpea stew|
Catalan sausage and chorizo in a shallow bath of savoury chickpea stew (S$22) was also a standout. To give the broth added depth, Chavez infused it with seaweed and beef stock and while these ingredients were barely discernible to the palate, they added an intoxicating aura to the broth. (4/5)
|Green pea soup, Hokkaido scallops, smoked eel|
Equally hearty although completely different in taste profile was the green pea soup (S$25) that arrived heavily studded with fresh peas. In the broth were sliced almond for texture, slices of torched Hokkaido scallop to add a touch of briny savouriness and bits of smoked eel for added umami. (4.25/5)
But the soup de resistance that night was “arroz caldoso” (S$38), an item buried, strangely enough, in Ola’s signature paella menu. Admittedly the dish contained arroz rice commonly found in paella but this was no paella. Not with that dense and aromatic sofrito-based seafood broth beaming with goodness of the sea. It was served with seasonal seafood cooked on the al la plancha. (4.5/5)
The game remained consistently strong with mains, defying our expectations.
|Australian langoustine, red quinoa tabouleh|
Sustainably sourced Australian langoustine (S$50) was cooked a la plancha and served on a bed of red quinoa tabouleh (a salad-like vegetarian dish of cubed tomatoes, chopped parsley, mint, onion, olive oil and lemon juice). It was dressed in basil vinaigrette and arrived with peas and a smidgen of avocado puree. The langoustine was off the charts luscious and that tabouleh, an equally strong contender (4.5/5).
|Charcoal grilled rib eye steak, olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes, “trinxat”|
Carnivores will adore the charcoal grilled rib eye steak (S$58) perfectly counterpointed by a mound of olive tapenade, sundried tomatoes and a hunk of Catalan inspired “trinxat” (boiled potato and cabbage “cake” that has been seared on the a la plancha). (4.5/5)
|Sour sop sorbet, passionfruit sauce, orange blossom cream|
Rarely does a restaurant get away with flying colours but Ola did with its new menu for even the dessert had us rapt – sour sop sorbet and passionfruit sauce perfumed with orange blossom cream, a sweet with a hint of acidity that in itself is worthy of a detour to Ola (4.25/5).
There’s a reason why visiting foreign chefs – including Massimo Bottura and Gaggan Anand – pay a visit to Ola when they’re in Singapore and a meal here will tell you why.
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 12 Marina Blvd, #01-06, Singapore 018 981| +65 6604 7050 | olarestaurant.sg
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.