With their third anniversary, Alma by Juan Amador is introducing a slew of brand new dishes with their set menus at attractive prices. There is no denying the exquisiteness and quality in their dishes that earned them a Michelin Star three years in a row, I did go in with very high expectations.
Before we start, I wanted to give a quick mention of Executive Chef Haikal. We learned that Chef was in a life-changing accident in 2015 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. He has since made leaps and bounds with his recovery but his continued passion and ability to create exquisite dishes is a testament to his talent and we wish him a speedy recovery.
On to the food. The new dinner set menus come in 4-course ($117++), 6-course ($158++) and 8-course ($197++) options. Diners can pair the menus with the great wine expedition wine flight to go with the dishes at $38++, $58++ and $68++ respectively.
I don't usually recommend having too much bread before your meal, but these freshly made golden buns, made from potato flour and coffee grounds was almost life-giving (if I do say so myself). The outer layer was crispy but the inside was soft as a pillow, with hints of smokiness that left a warm feeling in my heart and stomach.
We couldn't try every dish from each of set meals but here are some of the highlights from all three courses.
The Okayama Muscat Grape was a refreshing start. The uni was so creamy and smooth, while the Muscat grapes had sweet, refreshing crisp that created a surprising balance between the unique ingredients.
The Muirgen Oyster was a chawanmushi concoction made with Irish oysters, and a Charon sauce laced with uni, giving it a rich flavour of the sea. The kale bits added another layer of savoury crisp that balanced the overall umami flavour of the dish.
The Iberico Pork Jowl was amazing. A nice balance of savoury and umami, and so incredibly tender. It was topped with sour apples, again, adding a great play with contrasting flavours and texture.
But the Ohmi Beef had me craving for more. It's hard to describe how good it is because, at the root of it, the flavours were so simple, but encapsulated exceptionally into a neat little chunk. With the side of horseradish mash potatoes and crispy seaweed chip, we loved how consistent and creative the kitchen was with the play of flavours and textures.
The Mango dessert (that's the name, Mango) was anything but just mango. Sitting on a bed of calamansi foam, the dessert was a touch sour for me, but surprisingly, it didn’t overpower the sweet, tangy and spicy flavours from the mango and ginger, which was overall, really refreshing.
We ended the meal with some sweet endings in the form of Petit Fours. They were all a sweet delight but the stand out for me was definitely this mini durian and yuzu creation which was full of surprises. I was expecting a stronger taste from the durian but it was surprisingly mild, and even complimented the yuzu tanginess. The soft outer mochi hid a hazelnut centre that again, balanced out every aspect of the mini confection.
Alma by Juan Alamdor hit all the right nails in the head when it comes to fine dining. Intricate, luxurious and impeccable flavours with an amazing and insightful service. If it is one quibble with Alma, it would be that we didn’t expect quite so much Modern Japanese influence to be in the dishes. I was definitely expecting some dishes with a bit of a Spanish flair. But having said that, my expectation does not negate the outstanding dishes that were created, and the European elements and cooking techniques that were expertly executed. Overall, I thought that it was still an amazing place to wine and dine.