Esquina on Jiak Chuan Road

Slow-baked Egg with Mash

Got a message out of the blue; I seized the moment to ask about dinner and we ended up at Equina, a newly-opened tapas bar by hotelier Loh Lik Peng and Jason Atherton on Jiak Chuan Road.

Side-track: It being Christmas, I thought it appropriate to get a Christmas gift. However, gift or otherwise, it’s been a while I’ve bought a feminine product, so I turned to my go-to advisors on such matters: The Faerie Imp and M Or The Food Blogger Formerly Known as The Skinny Epicurean. Both gave good advice that was reasonable and actionable. Thanks, ladies.

Chef Andy Walsh with his team

Jiak Chuan Road is hard to find. There is no road sign, which is rare in Singapore, fortunately Google Maps is my friend. Of course, it helps if you know that it’s diagonally across from Bistro Soori and a few doors down for Oriole and Hotel 81.

Esquina does not accept reservations, mainly because, I think, it’s a very small bar with space for about 13 people. And whoever heard of making reservations at a bar? Anyway, the crowd only starts coming in at 7pm and the turnover is fairly brisk.

Going out with someone that can eat is a joy when exploring new places. We decided to do the entire meat section of the menu; we also ordered the Scallop Ceviche and the slow-baked egg on mash because it’s one of those things you just gotta order right?

Aged Rib-eye with Chimichurri dressing

The Ceviche was really refreshing with the milder Yuzu cure which is a pleasant departure from the usual bone-biting acid baths in the more enthusiastic joints. And it was hard to see where the silky smooth potato mash ended and the slow-baked egg begun, the Bravas sauce added an interesting uplift to the whole ensemble.

But on with the meat. The Dry-aged (21-days) ribeye with Chimichurri I liked very much because the slight char and smoke reminded me of how my dad used to cook our steaks. She didn’t like it as it was too thin to be satisfactory. She likes it big.

Sitting next to me was an Indonesian gentleman who insisted on having wine containing the Malbec grape; he was trying to be friendly by offering us dessert but I’m not good with strangers with candy.

If you can only choose one item from the meat section, then it has to be the Ox Cheeks Oloroso with Bone Marrow Crumbs. I think the world has been taught, thanks to Thomas Harris, that the cheeks are the best parts of an animal and this is no exception. A generous serving of sweet cheeks topped with tangy capers and bacon on a fluffy bed of potato mash: there is nothing better. And with Bone Marrow Crumbs! That alone is worth standing in line for.

The Lamp Chops with smoked anchovy and black olives, taken individually was superb; the lamb chops were perfectly cooked but together, the whole ensemble was a dark bitter experience that our palate wasn’t ready for, especially after such bright flavors as the Ceviche and Ox Cheeks.

The company at the bar was brisk and interesting. People were coming in and wondering what to eat and us, having tried most of the menu, played the Devil’s advocates. There was an elderly Brit who looked like Burgess Meredith, he hailed every Chinese-looking person at the bar with the traditional “Have you eaten?” greeting in Mandarin; a regular at the bar, judging by the reception he got, he had an interesting dinner of white wine and the slow-baked egg before tottering home, just down the street.

Highlighting what we ate

As mentioned, having ate most of the menu, we were well-fed but not quite sated. One of her convictions is that there’s always room for dessert. Personally I don’t have any previous convictions as I think parking tickets and speeding fines don’t count.

So desserts it was. All of them. Well, except for the Manchego and Quince, which I thought rather out-of-place.

I liked the Crema Catalan with it’s unctuous Truffle honey that fills your entire being with a warm sweet velvet glove; if you like the Toblerone White Chocolate, you’ll like this. Sadly, it’s not a favorite with a lot of people at the bar that night because most Singaporeans don’t like powerfully sweet desserts.

By this time, there was a rather giggly and touchy-feely Indian couple next to her. As she left to do a toilet, one of the Indian girls came over and opined to me that the PX-sauce we had packed to-go reminded her of seminal fluid; which she liked. I don’t think her date was amused.

Exceedingly Uncomfortable Bar Stools – Not good for the man-parts

The Santiago Tart with Vanilla Mascarpone was a close second, I mean who doesn’t like pie? I devoured it. The Sangria-poached fruits with salted almond crumble was a mixed bag for me but she liked the PX sauce so much that she asked to take-home the remnants.

On my side of the bar, there was a Japanese couple who were astonished at my date’s ability to converse in Japanese. After failing to pick-up his Japanese colleague, the Japanese salaryman tried to pick-up my date, but as I said, I’m not good with strangers. Finally, he left the bar with the by-now really drunk Indian couple.

And then there is the famous Black Olive Sorbet with Strawberry Gazpacho. The main impression from most people is that it’s too savory to be a dessert. I agree but would recommend it as a cold starter instead. It’s a good mix of flavors that will whet the appetite.

Oozing! It was ooooozing!

Esquina the tapas bar is a really nice place to have a quick dinner or simply hang-out after work. They have tables al fresco if you want a more intimate bar experience. With a few exceptions, we liked the food a lot and there’s a seafood array at the end of the bar next to the toilet where you can order off-menu stuff like clams.

One complaint was that the cast-iron seats were not ample-buttock-friendly. Mr. Loh made an appearance and we gave him feedback about the chairs. Esquina is a nice place to hang-out but it can be a pain in the ass.

Nevertheless, it’s casual, chatty and fun. Not too terribly expensive; bill came out to be slightly above $150 for all that food. We didn’t order the “Ferran Adria” beer mainly because she doesn’t drink and I’ve had it before (meh…). Chef Andy had just gotten into town a couple of days earlier and looked wasted, however the food was impeccable. We’d go back there again since we had so much fun but only after they refresh the meat section of the menu. 🙂

Esquina is at 16 Jiak Chuan Rd. Singapore, Tel: 6222-1616, Opening Hours: Mon-Fri noon-3pm; Mon-Sat 6-11pm. They’re not open for lunch as yet.

Scallop Ceviche

Confit Rabbit & Seafood Paella – Al dente but meh…

Ox Cheek Oloroso – If you order just one item, it should be this

Croquetas – Good! It was crisp on the outside, velvety smooth on the inside and packed with the salty-sweet ham flavor

Lamb Chops – Not so good

Iberico Pork & Foie Gras Burger – It was too subtle for my palate to discern anything but pork in a soft bun

Bone Marrow Crumbs

Repeat after me: Bone! Marrow! Crumbs!

Crema Catalan with Truffle Honey – Strong impact on the senses; not for everyone

Sangria Poached Fruits with salted almond crumble and PX Custard – She packed the remnants of the PX Custard home, ’nuff said.

Black Olive Sorbert

Santiago Tart – I liked it!

Posted on 12th Jan 2012 in Modern European, Spanish


There Are 5 Comments


imp commented on January 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Don’t bother with the Estrella beer. It’s too floral and not layered. If I don’t like it, you won’t like it. It’s like…very close to ahemmm….sparkling grape juice.

And what is this? Such a sociable place Esquina is? How’s the vibe like if we (as in 2 diners) just don’t talk to the rest of the other humans? 13 seats are so small that it could be a boo-boo if we’re stand-offish simply because we’re not in a mood to socialize.


ahsiang commented on January 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

yea, 13 seats is was too small.


ivan commented on January 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

@ahsiang: Well, with the rather painful seats, you can be sure the turnover will be brisk. 🙂


ivan commented on January 18, 2012 at 10:27 am

@imp: I agree. It’s not a drinking beer, it’s meant to go with food but I think the Lemongrass flavors are a tad too assertive.


senna commented on February 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

Love the dessert

Post A Comment

The comments are closed.


Recent Comments ?hhis is vital a? you would certainl? nnot want a pet dog entrance do?r to open...

Rexic: Would have agreed with you but then I saw Pontian wanton mee with nacho cheese...

ivan: Thanks! I just think it’s a tired argument that doesn’t make sense.

Bugger: Btw, kacang puul looks amazing!

Bugger: Hear! Hear! So called “authenticity” is a great hurdle to emergence of new...

MervC: I like they way they bring out the massive chunk of tuna, and the great knife skills,...

ivan: Yes you are. 🙂

MervC: Look like Hashida Sushi. Am i right?




Cha Xiu Bao

Chubby Hubby

Makansutra Forum

My Inner Fatty

Nibble & Scribble

NYT Diner’s Journal

Only Slightly Pretentious Food

Serious Eats

Tamarind and Thyme

The Girl Who Ate Everything

The Wong List


View Stats