The Dining Edition at Marina Square is well decked with a whole host of restaurants that seek to tease the palates of customers after a long day at shopping. Nuvo, a brand new Japanese and Italian restaurant that opened slightly a month back, is part of the gourmet selection. The restaurant with its own chill out bar behind overlooks the calming road towards Suntec City. Nuvo is tucked away from sight, and it will take a first timer some time to actually find the restaurant. Because of its locality, visiting Nuvo is like being immersed in another part of Marina Square altogether, away from the crowd and into one of the more tranquil areas of the shopping centre.
While it is not the restaurant’s fault for not being visible enough, I will recommend a thorough exploration of the new wing first before venturing off and thinking the restaurant is not there. That was what I did and did I travel for a distance.
The current setting in Nuvo is minimalist with the occasional quirky touches here and there. The artwork is out of this world, and I tried my hand at interpreting its intentions and meanings.
Try reading this.
I started off with the Kabocha Soup with Onsen Tamogo ($15) and was pleasantly surprised and impressed by it. The dish looked like an inverted egg upon serve with the whites in the middle and the yolk on the peripheral. That said, the dish is instead a creamy pumpkin soup served with siphoned parmesan cheese, onsen tamago and crispy Parma ham. Indulge in the tender sweetness from the nutty and creamy pumpkin soup, followed by slight touches of cheese foam. The parmesan foam is decadently salty with the essence of smoked pungentness, adding a contrasting flavour to the sweet and mellow pumpkin soup. Break into the poached egg in the middle, and enjoy the slightly chilled essence coupled with the myriad of flavours on the outside. Top it all off with some crispy and bursts of saltiness from the crisp parma ham. With this dish, my expectations were set for a beautiful evening ahead.
The second dish of Homemade Pork Sausages ($15) was a simple yet elegant rendition of the dish with a fatty and meaty selection of Fennel and Paprika sausages. The Fennel sausages were a touch herbal bitter sweet, making the paprika rendition the better one for me. Dip the pieces in the sides of light mustard and mayonnaise, though I still say its best on its own.
The next dish of Salmon with Gobou in Shitake Broth ($25) was decently light tasting with a crisp clarity throughout. It is not the dish for heavy savoury eaters like myself and I found little to appreciate. The choice of sauteed burdock root lent a variety of crunchy textures to the dish, contrasting well with the silky salmon. The shitake broth, despite its “flavourful” description, was too light for my liking. That said, it complemented the salmon well enough, but would best appeal to connoisseurs of all light tasting foods.
The Grilled Lamb ($30/$38; tasting portion depicted) and the Roast Beef (introduced later) was almost standard fare to serve up at the dinner table. The Grilled Lamb Saddle is served with corn and a classic Romesco sauce made from crushed almonds and red pepper. The lamb is decently thick and meaty, with its slight tone of crisp metal going well with the earthy natured romesco dip. The portion is tender and seek to outshine the sides. That said, since this is a slightly smaller portion than the original serving size, the dish might not be the most reflective for its price. I do hope the original serving will be a bit more substantial as it is an excellent main to partake in.
Pizzas are in the house! For the night, I tried a special creation of Margherita with Prosciutto ($19), Fruttu di Mare ($24) and Sausage and Japanese Mushrooms ($18). Each pizza is a 12 inch portion, with about 6 slices per pizza. Thumbs up for the fruttu di Mare for its generous and hearty choice of ingredients. The rest of the pizzas could do with a touch more work for flavour, fragrance, and overall pizza crust goodness.
The choice of Roasted Beef ($35/$45; tasting portion depicted) did not sit well with me. Described as beef roasted to perfection, served with purple cabbage and drizzled with Bing Cherry sauce, the description sounded better than it looked. The beef was a touch rare for my liking, and the drizzle of bing cherry sauce was almost lacklustre in any distinct tartness or flavour. The sides of purple cabbage and sliced young corn was an almost too simple attempt at dressing the dish, and I’m still very curious to the ‘drop’ of green vegetable sauce by the side that looked like an out of place portion of cucumber seeds to me.
The Spaghettini with Sakura Ebi ($18/$23) is quite substantial in each serving and guests will be pleased with the amount of premium sakura ebi that is tossed on the top with a portion of Tobiko (flying fish roe). Aromatic wise, the dish reminded me of a good ol Mee Goreng, but its flavour was minus of any spice and lightly concentrated in the refreshing sour notes of tomato. It is definitely very different to the same dish served up at Le. The portion at Nuvo will fill the tummy quickly and might be good to share.
The dessert selection at Nuvo is limited to 3 choices and they are not always served on this beautiful brown plate. I would recommend going for their version of the Tiramisu ($15) which is distinctively homely in each layer. The sponge cake is layered with creamy Mascarpone cheese mixture and subsequently flavoured with Espresso and Coffee Liqueur. Fluffy, sweet, the subtle notes of coffee throughout, excellent.
The Earl Grey Creme Brulee with Vanilla Ice Cream ($12) did not come with any ice cream as the machine was not yet in the restaurant. In replacement, chef served the dish up with a portion of traditional Italian Hazelnut cookie with chocolate cream. It was just as good, and maybe even better. The flavours of earl grey was not too intense and acceptably portioned with the creme brulee.
On a whole, Nuvo is still in a very undefined state for me. I enjoyed a selection of their dishes like the Kabocha soup, Grilled Lamb and the select choice of dessert but couldn’t see much more fusion or distinctively Italian or Japanese cuisine in the rest of the dishes. Maybe it’s the choice of dishes that I tried that simply are more standard and traditional fare than anything else. The dishes are generally ok but do not seek to impress. The ambience is also a little sparse at the moment with mostly monotone colours, leaving the restaurant feeling a little chilly and maybe a little clinical. Its location away from the crowd does not help as well. That said, this is an innovative concept that I am interested in watching out for. If the dishes can be just as good as the Kabocha Soup starter in terms of impression, flavour and surprise, we might well have a winner in the making.
Thank you Nuvo for the invitation.
Marina Square Shopping Mall
6 Raffles Boulevard
Daily 11am to 11pm