The new Element and Element on Tras Street at Amara Hotel is a unique, all-embracing restaurant-bar concept that features an international buffet spread (expect usual suspects of seafood, sushi, roasted meats and more), brews from Toby's Estate and the choice to order selected dishes from the hotel’s other restaurants such as Thanying, Silk Road and Cafe Oriental.
However, the main draw is the excellent Basque cuisine by young Spanish chef de cuisine Mikel Badiola that gives plenty other Spanish restaurants here a run for their money.
Picking up cooking when he was 14, the 22-years old already has culinary school and experience working 3-Michelin star chef Martin Berasategui at his eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, San Sebastián.
Highlights from his pintxos (the Basque equivalent of tapas) include the Pantumaca, toast of intensely flavoured 5J jamon iberico balanced with juicy, grated tomatoes and drizzles of olive oil; meltingly tender Roasted Piquillo Peppers ($12) stuffed with cod fish bechamel and bathed in a piquillo cream sauce; and the bacon- and shallots-stuffed Mushroom Brochettes ($12) that is both earthy and savoury.
Delicious and worth repeat visits are the Basque Tuna Stew ($28) and Basque Fish Soup (a pintxo, $16). Both made using a flavoursome fish bone stock, the former is homely with sweet, creamy local potatoes and hearty chunks of fish while the latter is robust and complex. Made with cayenne pepper, onion, garlic and oven-roasted bread, it is briny, peppery, sweet and a hint of bitter all at once.
Great for sharing are off-menu special Squid Ink Risotto ($38), Fried Calamari ($18) coated with a light dusting of semolina flour and is more succulent than crispy and one of the best Spanish Omelettes ($10)—thick with onions and potatoes cooked just right.
If you still have room, do ask for desserts. There is the Honey Jelly layered with yoghurt and walnut cream that reminds us of breakfast, the seemingly-ubiquitous Cheesecake—a full-flavour creation taught to him by Chef Ferran Adrià of now-defunct elBulli—and the standout Cold Strawberry Soup (each $9) that packs a mellow, deep-flavoured punch of garlic.
Element and Element on Tras Street Amara Hotel Singapore, Lobby 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088539
Tel: +65 6879 2607
Operating hours: Lunch (Monday to Friday, except Public Holiday) 12pm to 2.30pm Dinner (Daily) 6.30pm to 10pm Brunch (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday) 11.30am to 3.30pm