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More meat on seafood menu

But sustainable produce is still the focus at celebrity chef Cat Cora's restaurant here

Published on May 26, 2014 7:47 PM

The focus may be on sustainable seafood, but there are now more meat options for carnivores looking to dine at Ocean Restaurant in Resorts World Sentosa's S.E.A. Aquarium.

The restaurant, which was opened in February last year, is fronted by Mississippi-born celebrity chef Cat Cora - better known for being the first female Iron Chef.

She was in town recently to launch the new lunch menu.

On the change, the chatty 47- year-old chef says: "We pride ourselves on seafood and fish, but we wanted to put more meats on the menu for diners, while also maintaining our vegetarian options.

"We changed about 70 to 80 per cent of the menu to keep it fresh for local diners as we want to have a local following too. It's not just about a great view but a great dining experience."

Highlights on the new four-course lunch menu ($60++) include kingfish tartare with watermelon, passionfruit and tomatillo ice; white onion soup with crispy bread, caramelised onion and cheese; and crispy skin barramundi with parma ham floss - which is a spin on the local pork floss.

Choices for the meat main course include a braised-seared beef short rib ($10 supplement) sauteed pea vine, king oyster mushroom and soya with black truffle vinaigrette; and crispy boneless confit of duck leg, Japanese sweet potato, caramelised hazelnut and pomegranate molasses.

The dishes are served a la carte.

Appetisers are priced at $20 each, fish and seafood mains at $22, meat mains at $26 and desserts at $18.

For dinner, there is a four-course menu ($138++) which features a tartare of pink shrimp, dashi jelly, compressed watermelon, avocado and yuzu-soy reduction; and wagyu beef onglet (hanger steak) with grilled blood sausage, celeriac puree, sauteed rucola and marrow jus.

Cora is looking to change menus on a quarterly basis, to "keep evolving".

And where possible, the Greek American chef uses "sustainable and ethically- sourced" seafood on the menu, as well as ingredients from regional or local farms.

For example, the restaurant's blue swimmer crabs are from the Philippines, while a rare toothfish is farmed in Penang. With Ocean Restaurant's chef de cuisine Yew Eng Tong, 36, it also sources sustainable fish from New Zealand and Australia.

Cora, who also spent some time in Johor Baru visiting fruit and fish farms, says: "In Singapore, finding eco-friendly produce can be a challenge. That's why we reach out to other sources. But we don't procure anything that is overfished or not eco-friendly. That is not an option."

The mother of four boys, who lives in Santa Barbara, speaks passionately about eating sustainable produce at home.

She says: "It's not just foodies or chefs eating organic. There was a big push in restaurants and now, folks at home also demand it. It has taken years for the transition but it is happening."

Her advice?

"Start with buying fresh items such as organic meats or sustainable fish first. Then worry about the other ingredients such as onions and potatoes. One should constantly ask and confirm the sources," says Cora, who runs Mediterranean- Greek-influenced restaurants in the United States that feature sustainable produce.

She adds: "It's a myth that chefs eat lobster, foie gras and truffles all night every day. But I make sure we have high quality yet simple food. We'd eat an organic chicken or have fish tacos with sustainable fish."

The chef, who travels 200 days a year, is a mentor on Food Network's new show America's Best Cook. She also runs her own shoe line and is working on her memoirs slated to be launched next year. She has a new restaurant opening in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this year.

Despite her busy schedule, she says firmly that she will be coming to Singapore more frequently and working closely with chef Yew to "maintain the level of success" at Ocean Restaurant.

Unaware of the exit of Michelin- starred chef Guy Savoy's eponymous restaurant at Marina Bay Sands three months ago, she says confidently: "I plan on staying put, as long as RWS will have me. I'm extremely happy and Ocean Restaurant is here to stay.

"With Eng Tong telling me about Singapore's food trends and me telling him about what's happening in the United States, you get the best of both worlds."

Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora opens daily from 11.30am to 10.30pm at the S.E.A. Aquarium, Level B1M. For reservations, call 6577-6688 or e-mail