The Elements @ The Amara Hotel Singapore

Recently, I was invited for food tasting at the newly renovated Element and Element on Tras Street. It was a summon to see some elements at play!

When the phrase “elements at play” was mentioned, I’d immediately thought of the 5 Chinese Fengshui elements, Earth, Fire, Metal, Water and Wood. I was partially correct. While the elemental textures I mentioned were clearly incorporated into the interior decor as well as in the stunning display of the 27 metre buffet counter that sprawled the length of the restaurant, the elements which Bing later revealed were as follows:

Barista Element – Specialty and artisanal coffee from Toby’s Estate Coffee, an Australian company where owner Toby Smith personally travels around the world to source the best green coffee beans which would then be micro-roasted and blended to suit Singapore’s taste profile. The coffee would be freshly extracted from an in-house Mirage Triplex 3-Group coffee machine, promising more aromatic tones and higher acidity featuring single origins. Now you see why I’m excited? High on caffeine! Lol…

Individualist Element – Flexible dining where you eat (can order signature appetisers from the other F&B outlets in the hotel) and sit or stand as you please.

Designer Element – Where designer Joris Angevaare of designphase dba oversaw the facelift of this corner space in Amara Hotel and drew inspiration from the word Element to create an open fluid interior with clean lines and sophisticated finishes with dynamic interaction gravitating from the interior and all the way to the outdoor streetscape. The subtle chic and relaxing tones together with Asian-accented weaves on warm earthy palette were elements meant to highlight the colours of food we would be savouring.

Heritage Element – International buffet which is a must for every established hotel, so I don’t think much of this.

Hip Element – Where you move to the groove of cool rhythms played by the DJ (Mondays through Saturdays 6pm- 10pm) while the bartenders whip up your favourite cocktails, pump up a glass of Italian Peroni on tap or better still take your pick of impressive New World wines from their 340-bottled see-through-floor-to-ceiling cellar.

Techno Element – State-of-­the­‐art boy’s toys like prized sculptures as well as being a haven for techno mavens.

There were many more elements at play but my poor brain couldn’t absorb anymore. Less I forget what this post is about, one final element at play that I MUST mention is the Basque Element. This is where the young chef de cuisine Chef Mikel Badiola steps in.

Hailing from San Sebastian about 2 months ago, 22 year old Mikel ushers puissance and ingenuity to the Element kitchen, catering a wide selection of pintxos (pronounced as pin chos – the equivalent of mainstream Spanish tapas), an à la carte options and set menus that resonate his spirited Basque heritage.

Mikel started cooking at the tender age of 14 when he joined a local txoko which his grandfather and father are members. Txoko is a closed gastronomical society where male members come together to cook and experiment new ways of cooking, eat and socialise. The first record of txoko dates back to 1870 in San Sebastian. A couple of years ago, Badiola apprenticed under 3-michelin-starred Chef Martin Berasategui at his nominative restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, Spain. Afterwards, Mikel worked in London before returning to Spain as Head Chef at the Real Nuevo Golf Club where he was talent-scouted and contracted to The Elements at The Amara.

Chef Mikel may be only 22 years of age but he is holding fort (Basque cuisine) here at The Element.

Chef Mikel may be only 22 years of age but he is holding fort (Basque cuisine) here at The Element.

Brocheta de Champinon con Salsa Oporto - S$15 for 2.<br />Mushrooms brochette in oporto sauce.<br />I liked the juicy succulent earthy-flavoured mushrooms with meaty texture albeit vegan style. The sauce hinted of spice, sweet and sour (from port wine?)

Brocheta de Champinon con Salsa Oporto – S$15 for 2.
Mushrooms brochette in oporto sauce.
I liked the juicy succulent earthy-flavoured mushrooms with meaty texture albeit vegan style. The sauce hinted of spice, sweet and sour (from port wine?)

Where did your eyes roam to? If you were me, there's only one answer - the leg of ham!

Where did your eyes roam to? If you were me, there’s only one answer – the leg of ham!

Element On Tras Street-0034

Pan tumaca is basically bread with tomato but top it with a slice of 5J jamón ibérico and it’s heaven!
Toast of Grated Tomato and Iberico Ham – S$15 for 2.
Drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil just before serving.
Lubricating the regular marbled flecks greatly enhanced the cured meat’s smoky flavour.
Tony said the ham was aged for 27 months, if that was true it is even more precious than jamón ibérico de cebo, which takes 24 months to cure.

Element On Tras Street-0133

Basque in style with Spanish Pintxos.

Element On Tras Street-0110

Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Bacalao – S$12 for 2.
Minced cod fish with bechamel sauce intricately filled in piquillo pepper (capsicum sheath).
Surprisingly, even with bechamel sauce, the dish was light as air.

Element On Tras Street-0164

Calamares con Salsa Tartara – S$18.
Calamari with Tartar Sauce.
Basque style of fried calamari is not meant to be crispy but succulent.
Squid is my favourite seafood and I liked them in between soft and chewy.
Chef Mikel did it the way I liked so it was a thumbs up from me.

Element On Tras Street-0155

Tortilla de patata – S$10.
A variation of Spanish Omelet with chunky Potatoes and Onions
I’m an egg and onion person but not so much a potato lover.
The other bloggers liked this dish.
The potato was cooked through yet firm not mushy.
The seasoning was light and the mouthfeel not greasy.

Element On Tras Street-0127

Sopa de pescado – S$16.
Or simply Basque fish soup cooked with oven-­‐roasted bread.
I loved what the burnt bread did for the soup, except here, the char was induced by oven.
Burnt bread soup as it was originally known was fresh bread the Basque fisherman brought out to deep-sea when fishing and after a few days, the stale bread would be toasted and dunk in fish broth to prevent wastage while they were still at sea.

Element On Tras Street-0082-2

Amaria – Amara Hotel’s take on Sangria.
This was welcomed by my parched throat.
I ate the fruits, pith and rind from the oranges too and like this.
I had a chance to drink this again on another occasion and confirmed I do like it.

From the multi-concept cuisine, one gets to savour International buffet and Asian fare:

Element On Tras Street-0178

Wide selection of crisp salads and dressings.

Seafood spread with Crayfish, Prawns, Spider Crabs, Oysters, Scallops, Clams, Mussels and Lobsters!

Seafood spread with Crayfish, Prawns, Spider Crabs, Oysters, Scallops, Clams, Mussels and Lobsters!

Seafood buffet – click on the pictures below for carousel viewing:

Asian fare – click on the pictures below for carousel viewing:

Element On Tras Street-0207

Baked Ham.

Dessert Station – click on the pictures below for carousel viewing:

There are many food items which I did not take pictures of. The standard fare of Japanese sushi and maki. The artisan bread stand,  more cured meats and cheeses, the many sweets from the wide array of dessert and fresh fruits to dip into the dark warm chocolate fountain. The duo rice counter offering Spanish paella and a Chinese rice dish (menu changes every now and then). The ramen and tempura corner. The roast meat counter, etc… etc…

In my opinion, Chef Mikel has a light hand when it comes to seasoning, perhaps that’s the characteristic of Basque cuisine. I’m not sure, it’s my first time eating food from the Basque region. I liked that the food has a clean taste, not cluttered or cloudy. One can easily have heavier richer food cravings satisfied from the buffet, which I did with some ramen and chicken wings, roast pork belly, and tempura.

Let’s not talk about the cooked dishes and buffet. I shall brief on my experience with Chef Mikel’s pintxos and a la carte dishes. The mains I didn’t like was the Porterhouse Steak; the cut lacked fat marbling, it was tough and rather dry. I am not a fan of potatoes so the Tortilla de patata did not sit well with me but the other bloggers liked it. The items I adored were the Pan tumaca with 5J jamón ibérico, Sopa de pescado with cod fish chunks, Marmitako de Atun – a Basque tuna stew with potato and pepper at S$28 (not shown), it is a very delicate stew and finally the tongue twister, Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Bacalao. As you can see, my taste that night leant towards light foods and bar bites. Perhaps, the Amaria was setting the tone of my mood.

I also liked the Honey Jelly Yoghurt with Walnut Cream dessert which was more like a breakfast item. And yes, the coffee from Toby’s Estate!

Amara Sauce.<br />This was a door gift for bloggers to bring home. I haven't had a chance to try the sauce as I have been eating out often. It looks like Thai sauce.

Amara Sauce.
This was a door gift for bloggers to bring home.
I haven’t had a chance to try the sauce as I have been eating out often.
It looks like Thai sauce.

The elements at play on Tras Street.

The elements at play on Tras Street.

Element and Element on Tras Street
(Inside Amara Hotel)
Address: 165,Tanjong Pagar Road,
Singapore 088539.

Tel: (+65) 68792555, 68792607 (Direct).

Operating hours:
Breakfast (Daily): 6am – 10.30am
Lunch (Mon – Fri, except PH): 12nn – 2.30pm
Brunch (Sat & Sun, PH): 11.30am – 3.30pm
Dinner (Daily): 6.30pm – 10pm

Prices:
Spanish lunch set menu starts at $38;
Pintxos start below $10.
Lunch: S$45.
Dinner: S$55.
Saturday and Sunday Brunch: S$48.
Wednesdays: Ladies’Night – cocktails on tap at S$2.98 each.

Date visited: 12th and 28th February 2014.

Happy discovering 🙂

P.S. My camera was in repair at the time of tasting (12th) and these pictures were taken on another occasion (28th), so some food I have tasted were not shown in this post.

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Comments
2 Responses to “The Elements @ The Amara Hotel Singapore”
  1. Lignum Draco says:

    So many elements make for a higher price tag. But I’d be prepared for the sacrifice in this case. It looks good.

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