Restaurant Review: Ease Into Botanico At The Garage For Comforting East-Meets-West Nosh
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The restaurant offers creative creations such as ‘Assam Laksa’ ceviche and Jalapeno ice cream that’ll surely titillate the taste buds
Singapore Botanic Gardens is Singapore’s only inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it truly is one heck of botanic wonderland.
From manicured lawns and glassy lakes to themed gardens peppered with rare flora species, the sprawling park has all the trappings of a tropical Elysium, plus it is easily accessible with an underground namesake train station.
But aside from the national blooms at the National Orchid Garden, or the primeval rainforest that hosts over 300 species of vegetation, the park serves as an idyllic setting for some dining destinations, all of which have cleverly made full use of the park’s rich foliage for an unforgettable gastronomy.
Follow the Cluny Park Way within the garden’s terrains and you’ll find The Garage, a multi-concept F&B destination hosted in the quarters of a two-storey 1920s Art Deco conserved building. A cafe concept Bee’s Knee that whips up seriously good milkshakes is situated on the ground floor, while upstairs is where bistro restaurant Botanico resides.
Boasting both a fully-airconditioned indoor hall and an air-cooled outdoor terrace, the second-floor occupant embraces the lush surroundings by speckling its menu with botanic nuances. The culinary charge is led by Chef Sujatha Asokan, a bright-eyed 27-year-old Chin-dian who explores melding European techniques, Asian flavours and her own twists for comforting, yet inventive gourmet creations.
And what better way to kick off this intertwine of delicious East and West flavours than with the Seasonal Oysters ($6 each), featuring Ireland-imported oysters that are enhanced with a fish sauce-based blend of chopped shallots, birds’ eye, big red chillies and coriander. More moreish starters follow with fried Cauliflower ($10) luxuriating in a cañarejal cheese (made from sheep’s milk) cream mixture, and the Asparagus Tempura ($14), fried tempura style before doused with a piquant miso hollandaise.
Seabass Ceviche ($17)
For Assam Laksa strikes a chord with her, Chef Sujatha has recreated the Penang classic in the form of the Seabass Ceviche ($17). Her reinterpretation comprises diced seabass that wedges between the likes of green chilli, pomegranate, shaved ginger, and glass noodles, before a 13-ingredient tamarind laksa sauce baptizes the entirety. Just when you think it’s all that to the ceviche, the chef adds a brilliant touch of a quenelle of savoury shrimp paste ice cream to cool off the fiery kick from potent tamarind laska sauce. Refreshing, multidimensional and full-flavored, the Seabass Ceviche is basically Chef Sujatha’s love letter to Assam Laksa. A worthy rival of the storied Seabass Ceviche is the Beef Tongue ($20) that is brined, sous vide before thinly slice, and then dressed with, chipotle mayonnaise, mustard caviar, deep-fried capers, and pickled celeriac.
Iberico Char Siew ($34)
Botanica’s mains continue to display the aforementioned East-West flavours, distinctly indicated by Iberico Char Siew ($34) and the “Curry” Lamb Neck ($32). Delightfully charred, the former is left in a marination of housemade char siu sauce, made from a blend of fermented yeast rice wine, oyster sauce and mirin, overnight and then smoked in an Inka oven before it is finally chargrilled. The perfect accompaniments of roasted carrot purée and honey pork jus are served alongside the pork. Elsewhere, the “Curry” Lamb Neck consists of the neck of the bleating animal that is sous vide and grilled in the Inka oven. Pairing with the meaty component are julienned oyster mushrooms that are cooked in yoghurt and vadouvan (a French blend of curry spices), grilled tomatoes, pickled onions, and finally potato foam made of baked potatoes, cream, milk, thyme, and garlic.
Jalapeno Ice Cream ($11)
While desserts signal the end of a meal, Jalapeno Ice Cream ($11) sends you on a trip with its sweet-savoury, and sometimes spicy profile. Inspired by rojak, the dessert is certainly one of the more progressive ones, where you’ll find, alongside the uncanny Jalapeno serve that is sweetened with cream cheese, the likes of charred Sarawak pineapple, dehydrated bacon financier and micro coriander. If the earlier Seabass Ceviche were to have a dessert equivalent, it’ll have to be the Jalapeno Ice Cream offering.
Address: 50 Cluny Park Road (Level 2), Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 257488,
Contact No.: 9831 1106
Operating Hours: 6pm to 11.30pm (Wednesday to Friday), 11am to 3pm, 6pm to 11.30pm (Saturday & Sunday)