The past 25 years have seen Culina evolving, with a tremendous leap into what it is today. Located at COMO Dempsey, stepping into Culina brings you into a European-inspired food hall with speciality stalls, a bakery, wine bar and delicatessen, a gourmet market and modern bistro, as well as a renowned Sydney floral boutique, Grandiflora. From premium cuts of meats, sustainably-farmed fish and seafood to fine wines and other fresh produce and gourmet products, a tour around may just entice you into grabbing some of the items and whip up a few dishes like a professional home cook. Alternatively, selected products from the Culina Market that you have picked up can be prepared and served to your table right at the Culina Bistro.
Forest Mushroom Soup 3.5/5
Over at Culina Bistro, other than preparing and serving you the delicacies of your choice, a staple menu as well as a seasonal menu are available for a fuss-free dining experience. Forest Mushroom Soup, for instance, you see chunks of button mushrooms and blue foot mushrooms that are currently in season in Australia presented as-is in vegetable stock, flavoured with onions, fennel, parsley, and porcini powder. Rustic yet flavourful, simplicity is perhaps one of the best ways to showcase seasonal produces which are at their best.
Similarly, the classic pairing of Escargot with garlic, parsley, and butter allows you to get the most out of the ingredients. The crisped butter garlic is so yummy, I wonder if it is the escargots or the moreish topping that makes the hero of the dish.
Smoked Trout Tartare 3.8/5
We tried a special - Smoked Trout Tartare, featuring an ocean trout which has been tea smoked and mixed with fresh smoked salmon and crème fraiche. I like how it falls in between a tartare and a rillette. You get the delish and creamy side of the latter without losing the meaty texture of the trout.
Endive Salad 3/5
Upon request, enjoy a beautiful Endive Salad tossed with seasonal Holland quinces and blue cheese. The quinces are poached in merlot, cinnamon, star anise, sugar, and orange zest for 45 minutes until soft, and their heightened sweetness mellows the sharp flavours of the endives and blue cheese.
Hokkaido Clams 3.8/5
From the Culina Market, your chosen bag of Hokkaido Clams (market price. prep fee $15) will be transformed into a comforting pot of juicy clams in white wine, garlic, parsley, and lemon, which is reckoned to be the most ideal way to enjoy these fresh clams. They were exquisite and pleasingly softer than what I had before.
King George Whiting 3.8/5
After seeing King George Whiting appearing in several episodes in Masterchef Australia, I finally get to witness its elegant white meat. (market price. prep fee $15 - $25). The fillet is grilled and served with asparagus and lemon, leaving its delicate meat pretty much untouched. The meat is firm but extremely moist, and the olive oil dressing enhances that quality.
Grain Fed Wagyu Beef 4/5
A dish that calls for a bottle of wine and cheers will be this Grain-fed Wagyu Beef from Snake River Farms (market price, prep fee $15 - $25). A gorgeous piece of meat rich in good fats, its flavours were intense and full.
From its staple menu, we tried Octopus ($32), which is grilled and served with paprika potatoes. Firm and meaty, fluffier potatoes would have made it a better deal.
For desserts, Profiteroles ($15) is definitely crowd-pleasing with its housemade vanilla ice cream and thick hot chocolate sauce.
Apple Tarte Tatin 4.5/5
But my favourite of the evening is this Apple Tarte Tatin ($15). It has a much higher level of tartness, and that works well with the salted caramel ice cream. The puff pastry is fragile, crisp and flaky, which is a great departure from the usual thick crust pastry.
Custard Tart Armagnac Laced Prunes 3.5/5
I enjoy the Custard Tart Armagnac Laced Prunes ($15) as well, but I like the dark, sweet Armagnac prunes a lot more, wishing that it could be a prune tart with custard sauce rather than it being a custard tart.
The wine bar is very popular as well. Apparently, it is full most of the time, so be there early if you want to grab a seat.
Words and photos by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food. Note: This is an invited tasting.
Culina at COMO Dempsey
Block 15 Dempsey Road
Tel: +65 64747338
Nearest MRT: Holland Village (CC Line), Farrer Road (CC Line), Orchard (NS Line)
Daily: 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm
1) Alight at Orchard MRT station. Take Exit B. Walk to the bus stop along Orchard Boulevard (Stop ID 09022). Take bus number 7, 77, 106, 123 or 174. Alight 7 stops later. Walk to Dempsey Road. Walk to the roundabout near block 17 and 18. Walk to destination. Journey time 30 minutes. [Map]
2) Alight at Holland Village MRT station. Take Exit C. Walk to the bus stop at Block 12 (Stop ID 11401). Take bus 106. Alight 4 stops later. Cross the road. Walk to Dempsey Road. Walk to the roundabout near block 17 and 18. Walk to destination. Journey time 20 minutes. [Map]
3) Alight at Farrer Road MRT station. Take Exit A. Walk to bus stop opposite Farrer Road MRT station (Stop ID 11119). Take bus number 174 or 564. Alight 5 stops later. Walk to Dempsey Road. Walk to the roundabout near block 17 and 18. Walk to destination. Journey time 20 minutes. [Map]