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Opened by world renowned Iron Chef Cat Cora, Ocean Restaurant is her 7th restaurant and the 1st in Asia. It offers a one of a kind dining experience. Guest can dine right next to the world’s largest aquarium-spectacular 18.2 million litre Open Ocean Habitat which houses more than 100,000 marine animals from over 800 species, including huge manta rays.
We made reservations a few weeks in advance. Upon requesting for a table next to the aquarium, I was informed that tables will be allocated on a first come first served basis. We arrived early and were glad that our efforts were rewarded!
Mirrors are installed on the other side of the restaurant so that diners can still enjoy the view (albeit it’s a reflection) should their backs face the stunning aquarium.
Ocean Restaurant features seasonal, light and sustainable seafood with Californian and Mediterranean accents, with Asian influences. Most of the service staff seemed pre-occupied, perhaps because of the closed door event that was going to take place in the afternoon. The sweet and friendly waitress who attended to us assisted with picture-taking eagerly. She informed us that Ocean Restaurant changed the set lunch menu recently. Her command of English was not very good so we communicated in Mandarin. Each course was served at a tortoise-slow pace. We welcome this as it gave us ample time to admire the magnificent view. I get the feeling that this is deliberate.
Set lunch cost $60++ for a starter, main and dessert. Choices are limited but well-selected. Diners can choose from 6 starters, 6 main courses and 3 desserts. If do not wish to have the set meal, the minimum spend per pax is $38+. Drinks are on the high side- $8 for still or sparkling water and $6 for a glass of soft drink or bottled juice (no tap water).
I expected a bread basket but there was none. Usually fine dining places always have complimentary bread. Oh well. Perhaps the restaurant should look into this because food servings are petite; we didn’t feel full at the end of the meal.
Cabbage and Bacon Soup with Chicken liver mousse, toasted brioche and truffle oil ($18). The creamy, savory soup went well with the toasted brioche in the middle, adorned with onions and spring onions which gave a nice crunch.
42°C Sous Vide Salmon ($24) served with textures of lemon and dukkah spice. Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture blended from nuts, seeds and tasty spices. The most distinct flavours I detected were peppercorn and cumin. The right way to enjoy this dish was to get a bit of everything into one bite. Flavours combined beautifully- subtle smokiness from the soft and fresh salmon, lemon textures provided sour and zesty flavours while dukkah spice added a wow factor. A must-try signature dish!
Cooked for 12 hour hours, the tender and well-marinated Miso braised Kurobuta Pork Belly ($35) with crispy skin blew us away. Served with sautéed wakame, fermented bean curd and rice cracker.
Slow Cooked Salmon, creamed cauliflower, Hazelnut and Cauliflower Tempura ($34). Although it’s thoroughly cooked, it tasted a bit too raw for me. But this is my personal opinion as I dislike raw meat. Hubby loved it though; to him it was heavenly. Just barely cooked tenderness retained oils of the fish, coupled with bursts of flavour from the caviar; it was the best salmon dish he ever had. The cauliflower tempura added a special touch to the dish, I have never tried it before and am glad to say it was well fried. It didn’t feel oily and was satisfying.
Mont Blanc ($22). Smooth chestnut paste with hints of alcohol atop crunchy hazelnut meringue, with vanilla ice cream. An excellent dessert.
Chocolate, passion fruit and banana combinations can never go wrong! My Chocolate Passion ($18) consisted of banana stew, 68% Cocoa Ice cream and Passion fruit espuma. I loved the small sponge cake underneath the ice cream; it was great for mopping up the plate. Don’t wish to waste a single bit! Fresh rosemary herbs added a unique flavour to the dessert.
Athough the food was not filling, I felt the hefty price is justifiable as the quality of the food is good, while the ambiance is breathtaking and romantic. I appreciated the peaceful setting. One can comfortably admire the marine animals without being disturbed by screaming children or getting shoved over by unruly people (common occurrences in SEA Aquarium).
Attention seeking Stingray which swam past our table more than 20 times, lol!
Oh look, here come the manta rays! They remind me of Batman’s car…cool and sleek!