Estuary: Pescatarian’s paradise with aged fish and luxurious claypot rice

·6-min read

Estuary, located in the basement of Palais Renaissance, is a pescatarian restaurant which soft-launched on 28 May 2022. The menu features oysters, seafood, and veggies with only one beef dish! There’s even a bar offering a selection of craft beers, wine, and cocktails for those who enjoy a boozy night out.

estuary - restaurant interior
estuary - restaurant interior
estuary - restaurant sign
estuary - restaurant sign

Estuary exudes a laid-back and funky Californian-ish vibe with its minimalist decor, catchy tunes and green fauna. Pink neon lights with the words “The World Is Your Oyster” and “Go With The Flow” add a touch of fun, and syncs well with the restaurant’s goal of offering sustainable seafood and vegetables.

estuary - aged fish
estuary - aged fish

The kitchen is helmed by Chef Polo Seah and Chef Gary Lian who are originally from Malaysia. If you take a closer look behind the kitchen counters, you’ll spot numerous whole fishes like salmon and turbot, hanging inside an air dryer which ages them up to 14 days, depending on the fat content of each individual fish.

Besides sourcing for sustainable ingredients overseas, Estuary also works with local farms like Ah Hua Kelong and Artisan Green.

What I tried at Estuary

estuary - oyster platter
estuary - oyster platter

I arrived at the restaurant at 6pm, just in time for their Happy Hour (4.30pm – 7pm) which offers half price for their live oysters that’s available for the day. I went for a 1/2 dozen platter which is their minimum. It consists of two Shigoku from the USA, two Geay la Friandise from France, and two Golden Mantle from Canada (S$3 each for all). Estuary freshly shucks them on the spot— love it!

The oyster platter came with lemon and three exquisite sauces— strawberry hot sauce, ginger flower ponzu and red wine mignonette.

The strawberry hot sauce packed a punch with its spiciness and has a subtle sweetness coming from the strawberries. The ginger flower ponzu was tangy and reminded me of eating rojak, while the red wine mignonette had crunchy shiok textures coming from the chopped shallots which complemented well with the piquant vinegar-based sauce.

oyster closeup
oyster closeup

The Shigoku, to me, was the mildest of the three and had a sweet taste of cucumber and melon notes at the end. Chef Polo studies which bay the oysters are from, and according to him, the Shigoku oysters eat cucumbers and melon, which explains the flavour profiles— I was flabbergasted! The Geay la Friandise was plump and juice, and had a robust taste of the sea.

On the other hand, the Golden Mantle was sweet and smooth with a seaweed flavour towards the end— no prizes given if you know the reason. The three sauces were a perfect match with the oysters and provided different experiences depending on which combination you choose to have.

estuary - sourdough and garlic
estuary - sourdough and garlic

From the “small & garden” section of Estuary’s menu, we tried their Rye Sourdough (S$13) which consisted of a huge, perfectly sliced sourdough rye, and a plate of garlic confit that’s drenched in extra virgin olive oil and freshly chopped herbs. The “balsamic vinegar” which we thought it was, turned out to be first-drawn soy sauce that’s specially brought in by Chef Gary, whose hometown is situated in Kuching, Sarawak.

estuary - closeup of bread
estuary - closeup of bread

The soy sauce’s consistency was as thick as dark soy— it was fragrant and wasn’t overly salty. It’s definitely the perfect accompaniment to this garlic confit which I refer to as liquid gold. My colleagues, Sonia and Rachel, oohed and aahed about how fantastic this liquid gold was! We tried smearing the garlic on the rye and dipping it back into the oil, each time giving us garlic euphoria. The garlic confit will go well with anything on the menu— I highly recommend you order this!

estuary - claypot rice
estuary - claypot rice

We were encouraged to try their Sarawak Bario Claypot Rice (S$35). Who better be serving it, than the native chef himself, Chef Gary? It was a spectacle to watch as he explained to us the components of the dish, before tossing them altogether in the claypot.

It consisted of home-made crab head butter, hamanaka ogawa uni from Hokkaido, trimmings of their aged fish (nothing is wasted), ikura roe, spring onions, and Bario brown rice as well as sarawak soy sauce from his hometown.

estuary - closeup of claypot rice
estuary - closeup of claypot rice

As soon as the first spoonful of rice entered my mouth, I was instantly hit by the intense smokiness coming from the rice. The umami flavours from the melted sea urchin and crab head butter were further enhanced by the mini explosive pearls of ikura roe. The whole combination was a pot of deliciousness and I would order this again on my next visit!

estuary - spinach
estuary - spinach
closeup of spinach
closeup of spinach

The Baby Spinach (S$17) was a refreshing palate cleanser after having the heavily-bodied mains. The spinach which are locally sourced, were toasted and tasted really fresh. It paired really well with the sweet chunks of compressed golden pear, crunchy granola and pecans. We are ready to savour the next dish after this.

estuary - aged barramundi
estuary - aged barramundi

We were looking forward to the three days-aged Barramundi (S$32 for 200gm) which is also locally sourced. I asked Chef Polo for the reason to age fish, to which he replied, “Aged fish makes the meat more flavourful and tender due to the breaking down of the enzymes. It also gives a crispy crackling effect on the skin.”

With that explanation in mind, three of us proceeded to try the Barramundi. It was served with baba ghanoush— an eastern Mediterranean eggplant dip similar to hummus.

estuary - closeup of fish
estuary - closeup of fish

The baba ghanoush had a really intense cumin taste which was a tad too salty for us, masking the Barramundi‘s natural flavours. I took a second bite of the fish alone with just a light squeeze of lemon. It was fresh and firm but if you ask me if it tasted differently from any other regular fish— the answer is no. The skin was chewy and crispy at the same time, and I really think more experimentation is needed for Estuary to improve the fish just a little to make a difference.

Final Thoughts

bar area
bar area

Palais Renaissance is a mall that I would seldom step into and Estuary has managed to add some flavour to this place with its funky music and casual vibes.

Estuary has hit the jackpot in terms of getting their food right and providing top-notch service. I’ll definitely return and order the claypot rice and rye sourdough with garlic confit again— and would like to try out the other selections.

To make a reservation, click here. Do take note that Estuary currently offers dinner service only.

Expected damage: S$20 – S$90 per pax

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