Just by the name "SELA" alone did not gave me any inkling that the restaurant serve modern European cuisine, but once I got to its premises at Seah Street (right across Raffles Hotel), I saw why it is named so. "Sela" means "rock" in Hebrew, and lovely white-painted stone walls are a prominent feature in both the interior and exterior of this cosy dining establishment. Minimalist-furnished in soothing tones of white and grey, with wooden furniture for added warmth, the intimate space is so elegantly beautiful!
The owners of SELA placed their faith on the solid Rock they stand, followed their passion and stepped out to start their first F&B venture. They roped in Chef Shahrom to helm the kitchen, who won first place in a cooking competition (Tutto Italiano in 2007) and went on a study trip to Italy, accumulating 7 years of cooking gourmet European cuisine behind his apron. His principle: Good European food does not necessarily have to come from a European chef.
Though SELA's menu may not be very extensive, it showcases quite a good variety of main courses for lunch and dinner, as well as a selection of charcoal grilled tapas such as the Salmon Skewers ($13). It was prettily presented on a pink Himalayan sea salt plate, which is said to impart a delicate salt flavor to the food on which it is served. Nice touch, but the fish was a tad too dry for my liking.
Being a fan of both tomatoes and potatoes, I also ordered the wonderfully tangy Grilled Heirloom Tomatoes ($10) and Duck Fat Potatoes ($15). The latter could possibly be a dieter's nightmare, with carbs cooked in fats together with saltish chorizo, but it was ooh lah lah so yummy, no one at our table really cared about the calories. We polished off the tapas in its entirely, even those little slices of pickled jalapeno were not spared.
Grilled Asparagus ($16.50) with poached egg and parma ham was faultless and pleasing, though I thought it's a simple dish which does not require an extraordinary culinary talent to have it assembled in our own home kitchen.
Standout appetizers for me were the Carpaccio of Scallops ($19.50) in Thai fish sauce chilli dressing which delighted with its light refreshing taste, and the Miso Squid ($10) paired with sweet peas and salmon roe. I would prefer the squid to be a little less rubbery but its highly aromatic charred flavors more than made up for it. Not perfect, but each savory bite was nevertheless satisfying.
The other mains which I tried were not particularly outstanding or special but decidedly well-executed in terms of texture and flavors. It's hard to go wrong with Baked Miso Chilean Seabass ($28) with its the melt-in-the-mouth creaminess, or Kurobuta Pork Cheek ($28) slow-braised to fork-tenderness. Herb-crusted Lamb Rack ($32) is a brilliant choice even if you're not a fan. There wasn't any overly gamey smell, and its meat boasted of a desired pinkish doneness and succulence. I was hooked.
Some restaurants placed an unbalanced focus on delivering their core menu well but neglected their dessert offerings, but I can safely say that this is not the case at SELA.
Far from being a secondary concern, Chef Shahrom demonstrated his innovative talent with his rendition of Lemon Cheese Tart ($14), Gula Melaka Crème Caramel ($12), Fig Sorbet ($10.50), Rice Beer Sabayon with Fresh Berries and Vanilla Ice Cream ($12). The most most most memorable was the Wasabi Ice Cream ($10.50). Anyone who tasted wasabi before would know how it stimulates the tongue and the kind of sensation it sends up the nostrils. Imagine enjoying it in ice cream form. Oh my goodness, it was freaking addictive!
My dining experience at SELA was a great one. With great ambience and good food that doesn't murder the wallet, this is a place I would recommend for a restful meal, or a not-too-extravagant romantic date.
If you're looking for ideas for the upcoming Christmas dinner, SELA do have seasonal specials on their menu, such as Turkey Breast Escalope with Plums & Feta Cheese. Wash it all down with some fermented grape juice from their extensive wine list, or some exclusive sake and Japanese craft beer. Happy feasting in this joyous season, everyone! :D
Address: 32 Seah Street, Singapore 188388
Contact: +65 6337 6358
Opening Hours: Mon -Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-11pm / Closed on Sun & Public Holidays