Showing posts with label Buko Nero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buko Nero. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Buko Nero


C says:

The thing about Buko Nero is that if you don't make your next reservation while you're still there finishing up your current meal, you kind of lose the groove and end up not going for ages. That, coupled with just too many new places to try, meant a hiatus of almost a year since our last visit.

The set up still hasn't changed, with Oscar running the kitchen solo and Tracy running front of house. Their 5-course set dinner is still a steal at $55, especially given the audacious prices that some places are charging these days.

Amuse bouche was a hard boiled egg puree on a crisp crostini topped with confit tomato. Light, fresh and a great start to the meal.

Salad was a simple green salad with sliced nashi pear, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. It was simple but perfectly seasoned, with the ingredients paired surprisingly well.

I really like Oscar's light cream soups, so was slightly disappointed with the crabmeat and coriander bisque. It was more like a clear crab consomme thickened with beaten egg, a bit like an egg drop soup. The coriander was fairly subtle but I still have trouble getting used to the flavour.

After the white peach and calamansi sherbet, A had the rigatoni with salmon ragu that was part of the set, and I changed the main to one of the day's specials - a tagliatelle with lobster and porcini mushroom in a bisque sauce. The tagliatelle was great, really flavourful yet rustic. The rigatoni was okay, but a bit too typical.

The dessert was a ricotta cheesecake drizzled with honey, and served with a raspberry gelato. The cheesecake with honey was outstanding; perfect end to the meal.

Despite some newcomers on the restaurant scene that we're clearly enamoured with, I still have a soft spot for Buko Nero. A visit there always makes us happy, and while once a month is a bit of a stretch, we'd ideally like to head back maybe every quarter. If we can get a reservation, that is. 

A says:

Brilliant cheesecake. Very good meal. Pity it’s so hard to get a last minute reservation.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Buko Nero

C says:

We managed to get a reservation at Buko Nero just a day in advance! We called on Wednesday, and because we’re both on leave, we were pretty flexible on dates and times. Turns out they could give us 7 pm the very next day. So actually, a reservation here isn’t all that impossible, if you have the luxury of free time.

I went with the set menu, but A didn’t feel drawn to many of the elements (mainly the dessert), so he decided to order a la carte. Here’s what we had:

Amuse bouche: Wonton ravioli filled with seabass, with carrot and ginger sauce
C’s starter: Momotaro tomato with speck and citrus vinaigrette
A’s starter: Veal carpaccio with citrus vinaigrette and parmesan crisp
C’s soup: Tomato basil with crab meat
Sherbet: Papaya and thai orange
C’s main: Switched to risotto with beetroot and pecorino
A’s main: Tagliatelle with scallops and bottargo
C’s dessert: Raspberries with mint and lime yogurt foam
A’s dessert: Espresso and coconut panna cotta

The meal started out quite well, with all the starters really hitting the mark. It lost a little steam during the mains. I ordered the risotto because I was still seduced by the memory of the amazing risotto with speck that I had last year. This wasn’t as good – it didn’t have the same mind blowing flavour, and I think the beetroot made it a bit too sweet for my liking. Plus the rice was just a tad too al dente; maybe like a minute underdone.

A’s pasta was much better. Really flavourful and the scallops were nice and fresh. A few mouthfuls also suffered the same, slightly undercooked fate though.

The dessert from the set was the main thing that discouraged A from ordering it. Fresh raspberries and mint couldn’t be further from his thing. I must admit that while I wasn’t put off by them, they’re definitely not something I’d order otherwise. Still, I liked the lime yogurt foam that brightened the slightly tart berries.

A’s dessert was great. An intensely flavoured coffee panna cotta, topped with a layer of coconut and coconut shavings. A couple of mouthfuls made up for my dessert.

Dinner here is always a pleasant experience. Sure, some visits yield better dishes than others, but the homely atmosphere, and the sheer familiarity because we’ve been coming here (albeit sporadically) for so many years, always makes us happy.

A says:

As always, a mix of hits. Although the stand out this time was the espresso and coconut panna cotta. I’m glad it’s on the regular menu so I can order it again if I want.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Buko Nero

C says:

When cousin L asked if we wanted to have dinner with her and M at Buko Nero, we leapt at the chance, since our last trip was way back on 13th February. After a number of failed attempts (they were away, then closed for a private function), L managed to snag a choice reservation for 19th December – 7.30 pm on a Saturday night.

This is where it gets freaky… I went back to our previous Buko Nero posts to see what we had, since it’s been so long. And in 2008, we also went just twice, on… 13th February and 19th December! What are the odds?!

Anyway, we all had the set and swapped the main for either the specials, or interesting new dishes on the menu.

Amuse bouche: Crostini with flaked cod in a wholegrain mustard dressing
Starter: Korean pear salad with grilled saba in a ponzu and pink peppercorn sauce
Soup: Chickpea with basil and crabmeat
Sherbet: Sour plum
A’s main: Twice-cooked duck breast with anchovies sauce
C’s main: Risotto with fontina cheese and speck
M’s main: Crusted cod with bell pepper coulis
L’s main: Beef tenderloin wrapped with pancetta, in a blueberry and red wine sauce
Dessert: Chocolate cake with caramel and home-made macha gelato

The crostini and soup were both very good. The salad was alright but I wasn’t particularly keen on the texture of the Korean pear.

A and I ordered mains off the a la carte menu, and L and M ordered the specials. The duck was quite a generous serving – ten sizeable slices on a bed of pureed potato. Flavours were good, but the duck was a bit overdone for my liking.

My risotto was sheer decadent heaven. The flavours were really intense, from the cheese, to the slices of speck (a kind of parma ham) on top, to the amazing sauce that was drizzled on the circumference of the mound of risotto. Rich, creamy and oozy – three of the best words to describe a risotto and the one tonight scored on all fronts.

We didn't try L and M’s mains so both of you – do share (your views, clearly, not the food).

The dessert wasn’t one of Chef Oscar’s best, but I surprisingly liked his home-made macha gelato. Instead of the lurid green that is the Haagen-Daaz green tea ice cream, with an equally in-your-face flavour, here it was very subtle and restrained. A nice complement to the cake.

My risotto was the best dish of the night, but to be honest, I found the duck rather disappointing. Still, a satisfying and pretty reasonable meal.

A says:

Risotto rawked.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Friday, February 13, 2009

Buko Nero

C says:

We managed to get a booking at Buko Nero for dinner tonight, so for the second year running we had our pre-Valentine’s Day dinner here. I know all of you must be sick and tired of reading about our Buko Nero exploits so I do apologise, but these are really for our own record so that we remember what we had, what was noteworthy and what should be avoided in future. I promise to keep it short.

Amuse bouche: Frittata square with truffle and mayonnaise
Starter: Roma tomato with citrus dressing, olive tapenade and pecorino cheese
Soup: Green pea and Hokkaido sea scallop
Additional starter: Foie gras ravioli
Sorbet: Mandarin and lime
A’s main: Twice-cooked pork rack with honey and rosemary glaze
C’s main: Beef tenderloin wrapped with eggplant in red white reduction
Dessert: Milk chocolate cake with coconut and Gula Melaka coulis

The foie gras ravioli was one of the specials and despite it being a bit indulgent, we had it as an additional starter to share. I’m really glad we did cos it was the highlight of the meal. Even A, a consummate foie gras non-fan, was blown away by this. The filling was a bit like a foie gras mousse/pate, so it wasn't too rich. As with most of Buko Nero’s raviolis, it was made with wonton skin wrappers rather than traditional pasta sheets. As a result, the raviolis were very delicate and you could really taste the foie gras filling without it being overwhelmed by pasta. They were drizzled with truffle oil and served in a really flavourful jus/gravy.

The rest of the meal paled in comparison – particularly the soup, which is surprising because the soups here are usually quite good. Today it was a bit too powdery for me and the green pea didn’t really go with the scallop.

They’re closed to attend an Expo in Italy from 28 March to 14 April, then we’re away, so I anticipate it’ll be quite a number of months before our next visit.

A says:

This is one of the best meals I’ve had in Buko Nero in awhile. The ravioli especially rocked.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Friday, December 19, 2008

Buko Nero

C says:

I know we said that leaving a few months in between Buko Nero visits makes each visit more memorable, but little did we realise that we’d take that a bit too seriously. Our last visit was in Feburary! This visit the special menu was:

Amuse bouche: Crostini with cheese and mango
Starter: Scallop carpaccio with miso dressing and watercress salad
Soup: Pumpkin, mint and crab meat
Sorbet: Sour plum
A’s main: Squid ink tagliolini with arrabiata sauce and squid
C’s main: Seared hamachi fillet
Dessert: Hazelnut and praline cake

Both the crostini and the soup reiterated my view that Casa Verde ain’t no Buko Nero. Particularly the soup – the soups here at Buko Nero are just so much more intense, and the flavours are so much more concentrated. The scallop carpaccio was quite good but I think the miso dressing was a bit too strong and overwhelmed the rather delicate scallop somewhat.

My main sounded better than it tasted though. I guess I expected the texture of a hamachi head/cheek, where the meat is quite fatty and even when grilled, is almost melt-in-the-mouth. In contrast, a hamachi fillet is leaner and meatier, so at certain points this was a bit dry. The skin was great though, incredibly crispy, and I don’t know where they source their green peas from, but for someone who normally abhors green peas, these actually tasted very fresh and were prepared till just tender, not mushy. The pasta was better, but not one of their best.

Cake was delicious – ground hazelnuts inside the cake batter so the whole cake was just perfumed with hazelnut, and topped with shaved chocolate and praline.

One of the highlights, for me, was the bread at the start. We used to have little bread rolls which were already quite yummy, but today it was an incredibly light focaccia with tomatoes, onions and olives. I dare say that I think I’ve grown to like olives (black ones, that is. Still can’t do the green ones).

Some dinners here may be more mind-blowing than others, but they’re always satisfying and very good value for money.

A says:

Tonight’s menu was a bit too experimental for my liking. I guess I’m beginning to prefer more traditional Italian cooking. Still, any visit to Buko Nero is great. Too bad it’s so hard to get a reservation.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Buko Nero

C says:

We had our day-before-Valentine’s-Day dinner at Buko Nero this year; we were lucky enough to get a reservation at fairly short notice (about 2 weeks) – helps that it’s a Wednesday night I suppose. Anyway, the menu was:

Amuse bouche: crostini with cheese (forgot what kind) and pear
Starter: Smoked salmon and sakura ebi salad with mango and whole grain mustard
Soup: Red miso with silken tofu and crabmeat
Sorbet: Blood orange
A’s main: home-made tagliatelle with parma ham and pea, served with tomato and mushroom-based sauce
C’s main: Twice-cooked Yorkshire pork chop with honey glaze
Dessert: Milk chocolate cake with white chocolate coulis

After a slightly disappointing visit the last time, my faith in Buko Nero has now been restored. Dinner tonight was excellent. Everything was good, but for once the mains outshone everything else. A’s tagliatelle was a little on the salty side because of the parma ham, but it was also seriously delicious. I was worried that the sauce would be very tomato-ey and sour, but it barely had a hint of tomato – instead, it was just full of all sorts of yummy flavours from the mushrooms, parma ham and probably a very good stock.

The pork chop was again slightly Asian inspired – almost like char siew, with the honey glaze, but a damn tasty version. Needless to say, the fattier parts of the chop were the best, and the leaner part was a tad dry, but paired with the sauce, the mashed potatoes and some killer caramelized pearl onions, and everything just worked.

Dessert was again top notch. Chef Oscar has made milk chocolate cake many times before, but tonight’s was particularly light and fluffy, and pretty much melted in your mouth.

Random comment: Maybe it was a coincidence that today is the 7th day of Chinese New Year (known as “ren ri”, or “everybody’s birthday”), but the menu tonight seemed slightly slanted towards the new year. The salmon starter could’ve passed for a mini lo hei, the soup was pretty Asian, and the blood orange sorbet was yet another nod towards new year fare.

As much as we were keen to make our next reservation after this very good experience, I think having a few months in between visits helps to ensure that we don’t get too jaded, and allows us to better appreciate the good food.

A says:

Not coming for a few months really has made coming back much more memorable. This was one of the few times where the mains were better than everything else. I’m looking forward to our next visit.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Friday, December 07, 2007

Buko Nero

C says:

After a rather long hiatus, we made our way to Buko Nero again on Friday night. Menu for the night was:

Amuse bouche: Chilled green pea soup
Starter: Beef carpaccio with grapefruit dressing and shaved parmesan
Soup: Chickpea and spring onion
Additional starter: Wonton skin ravioli with veal puree filling and truffle red wine sauce
Sherbet: Mango with blood orange foam
C’s main: Oven-baked quail with plum
As main: seared Angus beef sirloin with sea salt, rosemary and garlic; served sliced
Dessert: Almond and honey cake

I’m not sure if it was what we ordered, but besides the ravioli (which we’ve had before), nothing really blew us away this time. Chef Oscar’s cauliflower soups are definitely his forte – the chickpea one wasn’t quite as tasty, and the texture was a tad powdery, probably because of the inherent nature of chickpeas.

I’ve decided I quite like the taste of quail – it’s more tasty than chicken, yet not too gamey and very tender. Tonight’s was pretty good, but no better nor worse than the one at Au Petit Salut / Bistro Petit Salut.

A’s main smelled incredible while it was cooking, but the first bite was a slight letdown. The meat was a little chewy, though to be fair it was sirloin rather than fillet/tenderloin. However, subsequent mouthfuls fared much better – the roasted garlic and rosemary really accentuated the flavour of the meat.

Dessert was very good – a very simple buttery cake topped with sliced toasted almonds and drizzled with a very fragrant honey.

We haven’t made our next reservation yet, what with all the impending festive feasting. I hope our eventual next visit is a little more characteristically “wow”.

A says:

After not going back for so long, this was a bit of a disappointment. Have I become too jaded?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Buko Nero

C says:

It’s been almost 4 months since our last visit – how time flies! We managed to secure a reservation for tonight but only at 8.45 pm, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I ate so much all day (thanks for the yummy lunch, Y and W!), that if dinner had been earlier I would’ve been way too full to enjoy it. At least by 9 pm, and after a pre-emptive Spinning class (which probably didn’t even burn off the soup…), I was once again raring to go.

The menu for the night was:

Amuse bouche: Crostini with seared steak topped with half a grape
Starter: Zucchini “tonnato”
Additional starter: Veal carpaccio with parmesan, pear and truffle vinaigrette
Soup: Watercress and crab meat
Sherbet: Strawberry and lime
A’s main: Beef tenderloin wrapped with eggplant, topped with green peppercorns in red wine sauce
C’s main: Home-made tagliatelle with porcini mushroom and cod
Dessert: Chocolate cake with caramel coulis

Joy, the crostini was like the awesome one that we had on one of our first few visits, and our reactions were the same – oohing and ahhing noises as we munched into it, trying to savour all the flavours. The grape was a surprisingly good pairing with the steak.

The zucchini tonnato was 3 ribbons of zucchini, sliced ridiculously thin, served with a thin tuna-flavoured sauce. If that sounds strange, just imagine the flavour of tuna mayonnaise, but in a cream sauce consistency. Since it’s a special occasion (*ahem*), we decided to order the starter special of the day as well – the veal carpaccio. Again, the veal was sliced really thinly, and topped with slices of pear, shaved parmesan, and a creamy mayo-like dressing. While the dish tasted more interesting if you ate all the ingredients together, we actually preferred it without the pear, but that’s because we like-a the meat.

The soup wasn’t bad, but wasn’t one of Chef Oscar’s yummier soups. The sherbet was great though, even for a non-sherbet person like myself – nice and fruity and not too sour.

The mains this time were stellar. The tagliatelle was very good – perfectly cooked, very tasty sauce and plenty of flaky cod fish pieces. But what blew both of us away was the beef this time. It was incredible – again done to a perfect medium rare, and ridiculously sweet and tender. I swear you could have cut it with a fork, and it wasn’t bland and tasteless like some fillets tend to be. The beef was wrapped with a thin sliver of eggplant, and served with mashed potatoes and a lovely red wine sauce. Wow.

A simple warm chocolate cake was a perfect end to a fabulous meal. In a way, I think the 4 month absence helped us appreciate the food more. During the period where we were eating there quite frequently (almost once a month), we started getting a bit spoilt and jaded, so the absence has definitely reminded us why we like Buko Nero so much.

A says:

The beef dishes RAWKED. Best steak I’ve had in a while. And for once, the sherbet wasn’t some weird flavour. All in all, one of the best meals we’ve had there.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Singapore 088534
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Friday, February 09, 2007

Buko Nero

C says:

After quite a long hiatus since our last visit, we were here again on Friday night, where the menu was:

Amuse Bouche: tuna baked with egg white
Veal Loin and Salted Ricotta Salad with (something I can’t spell) Salsa
Cauliflower and Basil Soup
Mango and Lime Sherbet
A’s main: Home-made pasta with bacon, turkey sausage and olives
C’s main: Crusted cod with a saffron reduction
Milk chocolate and hazelnut cake with caramel coulis

The salsa in the salad was a pesto-like dressing, but slightly more tart. It went very well with the very tender veal loin and watercress leaves, and we mopped up every last drop with the yummy bread from the bread basket. What blew me away was the cauliflower soup. Tracy said that it was made without cream, just milk and vegetable stock, and it was amazing – for something with no cream, it was still really creamy, thick and rich, and was pureed to an almost unreal smoothness.

My cod was perfectly cooked; no easy feat for a slab of fish that thick, but it was evenly cooked all the way through, and perfectly timed so it wasn’t overcooked and dry. The saffron reduction was almost like a lobster bisque, and thanks to some fried shallots tasted almost Asian. As A would say, too Asian for him… His pasta was tomato and cream-based, and although we initially cringed at the olives, surprisingly they went perfectly with the turkey sausage. Their mellow saltiness somehow paired with the stronger and spicier flavours of the sausage really well.

The cake was surprisingly light and moist, with the slightly burnt edges being the best part. Went really well with the latte that A ordered. They’re already fully booked for 9 March (can you imagine?!) so gotta try calling next week for the following Friday in March.

A says:

Everything was good as always but the only thing that blew me away this time was the soup. Still highly recommended.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Singapore 088534
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Thursday to Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Monday, November 13, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

Back to Buko Nero again on Friday night after a break for their vacation. Unfortunately Tracey very apologetically told us that we couldn’t take photos of the food, because she realised some people had been marketing photos, together with the restaurant, for a profit without the restaurant’s consent.

Anyway the menu was:

Amuse Bouche: Beef ravioli with tomato and basil sauce
Rock Melon and Rucola Salad with Citrus dressing
Chickpea and Crabmeat Soup
Orange, Peach and Coriander (?!!) Sherbet
A’s main: Beef tenderloin with chanterelle mushrooms and parsley sauce
C’s main: Rucola tagliatelle with braised duck ragu
Milk chocolate cake with coconut and Gula Melaka coulis

Again, the amuse bouche was more or less like the one we had on our last visit. Interestingly, we noticed that different tables had different amuse bouches. The tables of two had the some one that we did, whereas larger tables had something else that, from my eavesdropping, sounded like it had egg white and capers.

Salad and soup were as you would imagine them. A definite miss this time was the sherbet. I mean, coriander?! This is purely personal I guess, because coriander (cilantro to Americans) really isn’t my cup of tea. I’m trying my best to acquire a taste for it, but until then, that sherbet was definitely not something I’d have again. The coriander scented the entire sherbet to the exclusion of the other flavours, especially the peach, but I would imagine that someone who liked coriander would find it quite a delight because it was very fragrant. Just not for me.

The main course and dessert fared much better. The rucola tagliatelle was home-made, and was green because it was flavoured with rocket leaves. It was tossed together with more rocket, and an amazing braised duck ragu. The duck was tender and flavourful, and came with an incredible sauce that still didn’t overpower the pasta. Wonderful.

Dessert was really sweet but amazing all the same. The cake was moist, and had a hint of coconut, and the gula melaka coulis was like a pumped-up caramel that gave a nice Asian twist to the cake.

December looks to be hit and miss, because they’re closed for quite a number of private functions. We’ll try our best to have one more visit before 2006 draws to a close.

A says:

Buko Nero has set such a high standard for itself, that anything less than spectacular is a bit disappointing. While the food was once again good, nothing (except for the dessert) blew me away. Maybe I was thrown off by the coriander in the sherbet.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

Friday was Buko Nero night once again. The menu was:

Amuse Bouche: Chicken and mushroom wonton ravioli
Beef Carpaccio with Lemon, Grape and Mint
Cauliflower and Crab Meat Soup
Buko Nero Tau Kwa Tower (a la carte)
Orange and Passionfruit Sherbet
A’s main: Beef tenderloin with blueberry sauce and bacon
C’s main: Risotto with lamb proscuitto and marscapone
Coffee ice-cream with marshmallows

The amuse bouche was quite similar to the beef and red wine ravioli that we had on our last visit, so while it was very good, it wasn’t a new taste for us so it didn’t blow us away. The carpaccio was best eaten separately, because the lemon dressing, mint and grape combination tended to overpower the taste of the beef. But I had a mouthful of the beef on its own and it had a great intense beef flavour.

The soup was wonderful; I wish we could have ta bao-ed a whole tureen of it and had huge bowls of it with crusty baguette and lots of butter. I really don’t know how Chef Oscar manages to take a none-too-pleasant tasting vegetable, and turn it into an awesome soup that still tastes like cauliflower, but with none of its dodginess.

The tau kwa tower was interesting – we decided to share it this time because it’s their signature starter and we hadn’t tried it after so many visits. It was pretty good, mainly saved by the sauce which both sweet and slightly tart, and the shitake mushrooms that topped the tau kwa. It was worth trying but I don’t think we’ll order it again.

A’s beef was great as usual, and the blueberry sauce was really interesting. It wasn’t as sweet as I expected, just very concentrated and almost like a red wine sauce. My risotto, which is from the a la carte menu, was an unexpected delight. The rice had a good bite to it, it wasn’t too soupy, and while the risotto with the marscapone was a tad bland on its own, it was absolutely perfect when combined with the intensely flavourful lamb proscuitto. Even A, who is not a risotto fan, liked this and even preferred it to his main.

The coffee ice-cream was a major caffeine jolt. It was home-made and seriously high on espresso flavour. The little pieces of marshmallow embedded in the ice cream added a nice touch.

Note: Buko Nero is closed from 17th September for their summer vacation. They’re back in the beginning of October so we have to wait until then to try and make our next reservation.

A says:

Great as usual. I just hope their sherbet isn’t some weird fruit flavour next time.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

Time certainly flies. Friday was Buko Nero night again, and this time we had:

Amuse Bouche: Ricotta cheese and Watermelon crostini
Melon, Rucola and Lamb Prosciutto Salad
Broccoli and Green Pea Soup
Lime and Plum Sherbet
A’s main: Rigatoni with Braised Cod and Salmon Ragu
C’s main: Wonton skin Ravioli with beef filling and red wine reduction sauce
Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel and Toasted Almonds

The amuse bouche was quite refreshing thanks to the watermelon. The salad was great – the lamb prosciutto (parma ham) was surprisingly not that salty or strongly flavoured, just subtly smoky, and went perfectly with the sweet honeydew melon and peppery rocket. The soup was better than I expected, for a green pea soup, and the broccoli florets were nice and crunchy, not overcooked and mushy, but the soup was a tad too salty for my liking (cue Zhang Ziyi…).

A’s main was the standard set one, and while he liked it, it pretty much reinforced my view that I’ll always change the pasta dish in the set menu to either one of their specials, or a main course from the menu. The rigatoni was fine, tasted good and all, but it was nothing spectacular given that you know what Chef Oscar is capable of.

Like my ravioli, for example. I had this on our second visit to Buko Nero, before we started ‘atetoomuch’, and it was one of the dishes that sold me on this place. It was briefly on their fixed menu, and I was half hoping to be a pig and order it as a separate dish tonight, but to my dismay, it wasn’t on the menu anymore. Luck was definitely on my side though, because Tracy came and recited the specials for the night, and the ravioli was one of them! Woo hoo!! I think my joy was a little too evident though… think she got a bit freaked out… Anyway, the ravioli has a minced beef filling, and it uses wonton skin rather than pasta so it’s much lighter. It was served with some oyster and shitake mushrooms, and the sauce, which was a red wine reduction, was truly amazing. It was packed with so much flavour that your tastebuds just explode when you take the first bite.

Enjoyable as always. No luck so far in getting a reservation for September, because apparently they’re going away for a 3 week summer holiday, so all their regulars are trying to fit in one more meal before they shut down for 3 weeks. I’ll try calling again next week, but if unsuccessful, looks like we have to wait till October.

A says:

Food was good as usual. Prosciutto was the highlight for me. I had to go with the pasta this time cause I likea the salmon.

Our previous trip there

Monday, June 26, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

Time for our monthly trip to Buko Nero again. We’ve waxed lyrical about the place often enough, so a short post this time, just detailing what we had. The menu for the night was:

Chicken Breast Salad with Mango Dressing
Cream of Cauliflower soup with Smoked Salmon
Mint and Honeydew Sherbet
A’s main: Beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon, with cranberry glaze
C’s main: Parpadelle with portobello mushroom and white asparagus
My Grandmother’s Cake with Vanilla Coulis

The amuse bouche was a grilled swordfish belly crostini with mayonnaise. The swordfish belly was nice and fatty, and almost melt-in-the-mouth, and had a nice smoky flavour, but it was nowhere near last month’s seared steak one.

As good as the pasta here is, my parpadelle wasn’t as good as A’s tenderloin, mainly because it lacked oomph, being a vegetarian dish. The sauce was very delicate and tasty, with a slight hint of tomato, but somehow I felt that something was missing. It was probably the lack of a strong flavour among the ingredients – previous pastas here have contained scallops or clams, and the flavour of the seafood/shellfish have infused the pasta and the sauce with a distinctive taste that was lacking this time.

A’s tenderloin was great as usual. The sweetness of the cranberry glaze made this different from the usual tenderloin dishes that we’ve had here so far, and provided a good contrast to the meatiness of the dish.

The cake looked ordinary but tasted a lot better. Apparently it was flourless, and it had a dense but still light texture. The almost-burnt bits on top were especially yummy.

Didn’t manage to get a booking for next month yet, because they’re closed from 16th to 24th July. Hopefully we can get a table for 27th July.

A says:

Brilliant as always. Also got the latte this time so very happy.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Guest post: Buko Nero

My friend G and her husband M decided to try Buko Nero after reading our reviews on it, and actually managed the unthinkable - they called and managed to get a reservation for the very next night!! Unbelievable! Maybe it's just us that keeps having trouble getting reservations, even when we call up to a month in advance.

Anyway, this isn't about how the good people at Buko Nero don't like us... G has kindly agreed to let me post her review about the place, so without further ado, I give you - a guest post from G:

G says:

Ok, (drum roll please) my review of Buko Nero. Overall, we thought the standard of the food was high. Good ingredients and tastefully presented. We both had ala carte items. Starters: me - Scallops on a bed of salmon carpaccio. M - tau kwa tower. Mains: me - today's special of tenderloin with bacon on bed of potato mash and baby asparagus. M - beef tenderloin as per the menu. Accompanied by a bottle of 2004 chianti. No desserts, just 2 espressos.

I liked my starter, it tasted good and was very pretty to look at. The scallops had little dollops of ebiko roe on them. Unfortunately, there were only 3 of them. Gone in 3 bites :-( Guess I'm used to hefty portions. Tau kwa tower was very tasty, I liked the mushrooms in it too. I preferred this to my own starter although M said it was quite heavy in taste for him but both of us agreed that it was very well plated. It smelled heavenly too.

Mains were done rare, just the way we ordered and the way we both like our meat. Excellent taste and good quality cuts and well plated but again, they were too small for the both of us. The cut was slightly smaller than the size of my palm. It was thick though.

Service was very polite. Both servers wore Birkenstock! - big plus! There were only 3 tables of diners when we arrived at 8pm and a couple who walked in managed to snag a table.

Ambience. Very chic with all the cream and dark brown tones. Nice music. I liked the book shelf with all the quirky decoration although the plastic chairs were a minus. M found the glass tables a little clinical but we both liked the water tumblers. They're from Bodum and we were arguing for a while whether they were glass or plastic cos they were so light! Also, it was good that they used proper balloon wine glasses for our red wine. And we had 2 buckets of bread, the second of which I only had one slice cos M polished off all the rest! M's a bit of a bread monster. He makes his own bread at home.

So yes, it was all very nice but we could have done with MORE! I am so greedy! But yes, very pleasant.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

We did our May pilgrimage to Buko Nero on Friday night. This time, I ordered the full set menu, while A changed the main course to one of the specials. The set for the night consisted of:

Rocket & Parmesan Salad with Pink Peppercorn Dressing
Cream of Cauliflower with Sea Scallops
Strawberry and Lime Sorbet
Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Mushroom Ragu
Baked Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese

The amuse bouche for the evening was the best that I’ve ever had at Buko Nero – crostini with a slice of seared rare steak, topped with a green apple salsa. Both A and I had the same reaction to this dish: pop the whole thing into your mouth, and the first experience is the crunch as you bite down onto the crostini. Then you get the tart sweetness of the green apple, and you’re like “mmm…”. And then, as you chew even more, the full flavour of the beef hits you, and the interplay of all three as you’re finishing the mouthful is mindblowing. A and I kept making yummy noises and sighs as we kept getting more and more of the taste of the beef as we kept chewing. It definitely wasn’t tenderloin, because it was way more flavourful. Maybe ribeye or sirloin? Or perhaps it was US beef.

The salad was pretty good for its simplicity. The cauliflower soup was excellent – not too rich, the cauliflower taste was dominant though not overpowering, and there was a very generous helping of scallops inside. Delicious. The sorbet was, well, sorbet… which is never really my cup of tea.

My rigatoni main course was pretty good, but I think this is probably the last time I don’t switch the main course. It was a well-executed pasta dish but nothing close to the standard of the specials that Chef Oscar whips up. The tomato sauce base had some grated parmesan cheese which made it less sour, and the spicy sausages were really good – bursts of spicy, fatty flavour whenever you bite into each piece.

A switched the set dinner pasta to the pasta special of the day - Squid Ink Pasta with vongole and sea scallops, in an aglio olio-based sauce. This, like the tagliatelle we had on our last visit, was wonderful. The pasta again tasted wonderfully home-made, and the sauce had the benefit of the clams to give it an incredibly strong flavour.

The cake was interesting – it was a strong coffee-flavoured cheesecake, and the cheesecake base had a nice gingery flavour to it. It came with caramel sauce and dusted with icing sugar. Washed down with a latte (me) and a cappuccino (A), it was a perfect ending to another great dinner here.

And whoopee, we managed to secure a reservation for 21st June! Can’t wait!

A says:

Wah rau! The beef starter thingy was (as EMF would say) UNBELIEVABLE! Highlight of the night! I could probably eat a whole tray of those things.

Although the mains didn’t blow me away as much as usual, the rest of the meal was outstanding as always.

Note to self: The latte here is way better than the cappuccino. Order that next time.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

After waiting a whole month from the date we made our reservation, on Friday night we finally made our way to Buko Nero, a little hole-in-the-wall (literally – that’s apparently what the name means in Italian) restaurant along Tanjong Pagar Road. This was our third time there, and as always, we ordered the set menu but changed the main course to an item from the specials of the day.

After making a conscious effort not to have a second helping of the delicious breads, the complimentary amuse bouche arrived - today’s was tofu and tomato crostini. At first I thought the sauce was balsamic vinegar, but it was actually distinctly Asian; tasted a little like dark soya sauce mixed with sesame oil and ginger. Interesting and very nice.

Next up was the starter, which was beef carpaccio with lemon dressing and parmesan cheese, and topped with some alfalfa sprouts. The lemon dressing was refreshing without being overly sour and tart, but I think the parmesan cheese, though generously sliced, slightly overpowered the taste of the beef, so that essentially we just tasted parmesan and lemon.

The soup course was a seafood and spring onion bisque. This was yummy – the soup was incredibly flavourful and chock-full of seafood, and the tomato-based bisque wasn’t too sour. A and I slurped up every drop.

A tropical fruit granita came next, to cleanse our palate before the main course. Surprisingly, the only flavour that I could discern was guava; I couldn’t figure out what other tropical fruits went into it. This was nice and refreshing, but we did have to wait a while before it arrived, which I found rather surprising given that it’s the only non-cooked course. Maybe the granita needed some time to get frozen…

Main course came next – I had the beef tenderloin wrapped with bacon and topped with foie gras cubes, and A had the home-made tagliatelle with scallops in an aglio olio sauce. Mine first: mmmmmmm… The medium rare I ordered was perfectly done, and the bacon infused an amazing flavour into the already juicy and sweet tenderloin. The foie gras cubes added an interesting and luxurious touch to an already delicious dish. I had a couple of mouthfuls of A’s pasta, which was so simple yet so tasty. The delicate sauce relied on the scallops to provide its flavour, but what really blew me away was the home-made tagliatelle. Pasta-wise, it was the best I’ve ever had – it was cooked to a perfect al dente, and it was the first time I’ve had a pasta dish where I didn’t consider the pasta to be just an inconsequential carb.

Dessert was milk chocolate cake with caramel coulis. This tasted better than it looked. It looked like an ordinary slice of chocolate-flavoured butter cake, but it was moist, surprisingly chocolatey, and topped with mini maltesers and a kick-ass caramel sauce.

Alas, when we tried to make our next reservation, they were already fully booked for the month of April. I’ll have to call them sometime in April in the hopes of securing a spot for May. Wish me luck!

A says:

Without doubt, one of our favorite restaurants. Food almost always rocks. It’s like fine dining without being too serious (or expensive). The place is run by a husband and wife team so be prepared for service to get a bit slow when it’s busy. Maybe if we were the chatty sort that makes friends with proprietors, we’d be able to get preferred reservation places.