Scottish fare you say?
Yes, the folks over at Singapore can now lay claim to a ‘New Scottish cuisine” dining venue barely a month-old named UsQuBa at One Fullerton.
The venue is beyond reproach.
While spearing through scallops and chewing on juicy Angus cattle from the Scot highlands, you are treated to an impressive view of the waterfront of Marina Bay and beyond, no additional view charges apply.
Whisky aficionados would be thrilled too as the curated whisky list is sure to satisfy both the novice and the enthusiast with familiar favourites of classic cocktails as well as rare and exclusive whiskies.
Suffice to say that it is a cool place for some after-work hydration as well as to tranquilize oneself after a particularly harrowing day.
I was, as expected, keen to explore the food.
‘New Scottish cuisine‘ they had called it.
Days prior to my visit, my Instagram feed was flooded with enticing images. Coupled with raving reviews, UsQuBa seemed to have taken Singapore by storm.
“What is ‘New Scottish cuisine’ exactly”, I’m sure many of you had wondered.
I’ve had the same curiosity as I slip on a loose dress, skipped lunch and got myself ready to be impressed by this new, novel cuisine.
As we drove into One Fullerton my eyes took in the majestic Merlion, the vast Marina Bay and the lighted buildings along the river.
I have never been to One Fullerton or the hotel, so it was all new to me.
Stepping into UsQuBa, we were enveloped in its warm and welcoming interiors of warm honeyed tones, dim lights, dark high chairs and striking vermillion upholstery for the booths which added pops of color to an otherwise pretty masculine space.
Now, lest you struggled to pronounce the name, allow me to assist.
It is UsQuBa; as in us-q-bar. Not that tough yes?
It is a Gaelic word – usquebaugh, which means “water of life” or “whiskey”, all in all an apt name for this restaurant.
I was all geared up to try the Scottish national dish haggis, a traditional savory pudding made with oatmeal and sheep’s innards.
Or some highlander food. I mean, what is Scottish grub like?
But as the meal progressed, there were no haggis, but we were served dish after dish of Scottish ingredients prepped with French finesse.
The staff got our meal rolling with Sundried Tomato Focaccia with slabs of cold butter.
I’ve always opined that the starter of the humble loaf should never be overlooked or underestimated as it is the first digestible item that goes on their tongue.
More often that not, the bread starter set the prelude for the rest of the meal.
Chewing through the fluffy bread, my partner and I decided that dinner will be good.
And it did, very much so, and dinner progressed marvelously.
We got down to business with the Orkney Islands Scallop Ceviche (SGD25); plump, delicate whole scallops crowned with a fold of sweet, briny sea urchin.
Both are my favourite edible sea creatures and having them on a plate certainly perked up my mood!
The fascinating element of this dish?
An innocent cloud of horseradish snow, so deceivingly delicate-looking but still packs the sting expected of wasabi.
Meanwhile the accompanying sides of apple slices imparted a jolt of crisp, refreshing acidity.
At this point our waitress hurried over and explained that every element on the plate is meant to be eaten together, as how the Executive Chef Guven Uyanik would prefer us to.
And that would be the rule for the rest of the dinner that evening.
Well, I hope she passed the message to Chef Guven that we had no problem devouring everything on that plate of scallops!
Next: Seared Foie Gras (SGD21).
Stomach juices awaken, the heavier and fatty foie gras followed. The waffle was a surprise and I suddenly had an image of breakfast in bed with molten foie gras spread on crispy waffle.
Well, I won’t complain if this was breakfast.
The foie gras was perfectly executed with the required seared crust and the portion was superbly generous for a starter plate.
The accompanying fruity sides of spiced persimmon and pickled apple was predictable, functioning in its role to cut through the fattiness of the liver as all foie gras dishes goes.
At this point, I realized that there will be no shocking hearty Scottish fare, but an elegant dinner with a menu executed with finesse; and the key Scottish element here being the ingredients flown in from the highlands.
The meal was conclusively more European than anything else; boasting of familiar flavours adeptly prepared with the precision of French cooking.
And thus when ravioli appeared next, I stopped questioning the “Scottish-ness” of the meal and proceed to enjoy the rest of the meal.
Ravioli of Pork Cheeks ($21): Pockets of braised pork cheeks was served in a pool of porcini sauce with bits of confit onion and port wine reduction.
I personally found the sauce to be heavy on the fungi flavours and it overpowered any taste from the ravioli.
However, a mention is deserved for the delicate ravioli.
I’ve read from fellow influencers that Chef Guven made the pasta from scratch and no water was added in the painstaking process.
The pork cheeks were also tenderly braised for an amazing 26 hours.
Imagine that – over 26 hours but it took me all of 2 bites to finish each of these!
The Duet of Aberdeen Angus Beef (SGD56) was one competent meat dish and I’ll recommend this to those who need their red meat.
Sourced from the renowned Aberdeen Angus grass-fed cattle in Scotland, the grilled tenderloin; the half of the duet of Aberdeen Angus beef was deliciously pink and juicy.
The other half of ribs were on point as well.
UsQuba Fish and Chips (SGD32).
This was a fine cod dish!
For the price paid, the cod was a rather huge serving and sous-vided to perfection, providing layers of flaky protein glistening moist for satisfaction in every bite.
Desserts were good as well though two particular ones that are worthy of mention were the Peanut Butter Bread Pudding with homemade kaya ice-cream (SGD11) and the Tastings of Strawberry (SGD15).
I liked the Tastings of Strawberry which comprises of pistachio cream sandwiched between pistachio biscuits topped with strawberry sorbet. Cubes of strawberry jellies swam in a pool of strawberry juice, all made in-house from actual strawberries.
This was refreshing and delectable at the same time!
But my favourite is this – Peanut Butter Bread Pudding with homemade kaya ice-cream (SGD11).
Kaya ice cream is a genius, and the peanut butter bread pudding totally calls out the PB freak in me.
For those who can’t live without their cocoa, I’ll recommend the Chocolate Delice ($15), which as a bonus, has coffee flavoured Bailey’s ice cream.
All in all, UsQuBa is a restaurant to watch.
It offers good European food using Scottish ingredients and coupled with that remarkable view, what is there not to like?
Let’s not forget that list of superb cocktails with a rare whisky collection to boot!
** This was a hosted meal, courtesy of UsQuBa.
One Fullerton Road, #02-03B
Monday – Thursday: 11:30 am to midnight
Friday & Saturday: 11:30 am to 1 am
Sunday Brunch: 11:00am – 3pm, Bar open from 3pm, and dinner from 6pm to 10:30pm.