There’s an emerging fine dining scene in Singapore and this Friday, we visited Alma by Juan Amador. Alma is an Asian-influenced contemporary European restaurant inside Goodwood Park Hotel. It was a delicious meal and I would definitely want to go back!
We selected the 6-course prix fixe for $138 SG. This option was quite affordable and you actually leave feeling quite full. Even though there are 6 official courses, they pepper snacks and break throughout, and the menu very delicately balances light courses with more filling and heavy options. There’s also an 8-course prix fixe option for $178. Both options come with wine pairing at additional cost if desired.
Of our group of six, five of us are Catholic and unfortunately did not indulge in red meats since it was a Friday during Lent. However, the wait staff was incredibly patient with us and made accommodations even though we had forgotten to call them in advance. We were able to try out their new Spring menu, which was just finalized into rotation earlier this week. The restaurant is very focused on fresh and seasonal foods so the menu is refreshed seasonally.
The meal started with these amuse bouche items presented on a grassy tree stump: smoked fish, langoustine tartare, kueh pie tee with sweet green pea, and basil financier. I really enjoyed the langoustine tartare – the cracker is actually infused with tom yum flavors and packed quite a punch on what I assumed would be a bland cracker.
We were then served a delicate truffle egg custard placed inside an egg – this was amazing! Very creamy and decadent. Each course was beautifully plated and very pristine. I was too busy to take a photo, but the presentation of the bread is very practical and fun at the same time. The croissant was buttery and flakey – the taste was on point! The presentation was in a burlap bag with heated hot stones that kept the bread toasty throughout the dinner.
There was a great mix of flavors and it was a lovely pairing of high end European contemporary cuisine with clear Asian roots.
I would have been incredibly impressed if we had ended before dessert. The fennel sorbet was an interesting touch but it simply didn’t feel or taste like dessert. The meringue was artfully placed around and on the sorbet, but lost the lightness of meringue. It chilled by the sorbet and ended up tasting a bit rubbery – like a cold marshmallow. The petit fours were quite decent but all three options (Milo Dinosaur, Lemon Custard, and chocolate mini cake) were very heavy for the end of a long meal.
The service was top notch. Our servers were at our side with wine and water before I even noticed my glass needed to be refilled. I cannot emphasize the flexibility of the staff to change up their menu for the Catholic diners and he was good-natured and joked with us throughout the meal.
The Executive Chef, Haikal Johari, stepped out to chat near the end of the meal as well. I wasn’t aware of his background before but our friends filled us in. Chef Haikal has a very interesting background, and was actually selected to play soccer for Balastier United until he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. After his injury, he decided to pursue culinary school. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s an interview between Chef Haikal and The Honeycomber’s Chef Chat series.
I want to point out that Alma took over the space of a previous Italian restaurant (Gaia) and you can tell the setup isn’t quite their own yet. Alma gives off a modern, fusion vibe but the restaurant setup feels slightly dated. This doesn’t detract from the dining experience at all, but just a personal thought.
So what’s the verdict? For a one-star Michelin restaurant, Alma is has a friendly to diners and to the wallet. This won’t become a regular dining spot, but I would love to come back again!
Alma by Juan Amador
Goodwood Park Hotel 22 Scotts Road Singapore 228221
Tel: +65 6735 9937
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm (Wed-Fri), 6pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun