I recently had the misfortune of dining at the newly christened Tierra Nuestra, a purported “fine dining sensation” that offers selections from “Asian and fusion” cuisines. It was the first, and last time. This restaurant is not meant to appease your palette.
Let’s get something straight: “Tierra Nuestra” means “Our Earth.” In Spanish. There’s nothing Spanish on the menu (and boy what a menu it is). Go figure.
The interior is grand, a definite one-up on similarly priced Asian restaurants in the city. The architecture is conceived and designed by Architects Inc, and blows the likes of Yum out of the water. Adorned with grey slate and dimly lit, the restaurant gives the mediocre restaurant a high-end feel. The tables for two people, though in the path of servers hustling food, seem practical and elegantly tucked into the dividers. That’s up till the maître d’ decided it would be a good idea to squeeze the three of us on one of them, effectively blocking the passageway and leaving ZERO room for any food on the table. My knife had a large stain on it and someone else’s spoon was splattered with something else. Great start! And so, this review began writing itself in my head.
The menu was massive! Three pages (two columns per page) listed millions of items that they could not have had the ingredients to prepare correctly, ranging from “Korean Henry’s (as opposed to regular Henry’s) Chicken” to “Red Riding Black Mushroom Chicken” to “Zingory Szechuan Beef.” We didn’t order none of that shit. We went with the Dynamite Prawns and Tempura Roll for starters, Mio Shatami chicken, TN Korean Crispy Beef, Red Curry Prawns, and Tierra Nuestra Special Chow mien for our main course.
We were served welcome drinks that began to make us feel rather unwelcome. The mint margaritas (virgin) evoked creative comments from my table. One diner said, “tastes like my garden, grass and all.” The other said, “someone has constructed a sugar mill somewhere in my throat.” I will reserve my comments here, except to say it was disastrous and we did not finish the drinks. Next.
Our appetizers were fashionably late to dinner, about fifty minutes after we had wanted them. In the meantime, we entertained ourselves by fidgeting with our chopsticks, making up games and challenges. It was the most fun I had all night.
We were served a “Maki Roll” first. We did not order this roll, and asked the waiter if he had made a mistake. He removed it from our table, then brought it back to our table within a grand total of 15 seconds. “You didn’t order this but we want you to taste it, it’s a special one,” the maître d’ offered. Must be good if he’s boasting. It wasn’t edible. We had no idea what went into the Maki Roll and attempts to stomach it did not make it easier. Cardboard, plain and simple. We had it swiftly removed by the apologetic waiter. Oh, and the sushi was served with tongs. Yes, tongs.
Next we were brought something we had actually ordered, Dynamite Prawns. Fluorescent and bare, the prawns were coated in a corn-flake batter and fried, after which they were doused in sauce. I liked the kick that they had and the flavor certainly made up for the shitty presentation.
The Mio Shatami chicken was bone dry and charred to ashes. It was accompanied by stir-fried peppers and a weird hybrid of egg fried rice and garlic rice. It lacked flavor and we ran through a large bottle of water before reaching the halfway point of this entree, after which we gave up and sent it back.
The TN Korean Crispy Beef was spicy but not crispy, Thai but not Korean. It was a hot mess of soggy vegetables and had a skimpy portion of meat. Decent at best, but certainly not up to the mark. All in all, there was not much to be said here.
The Red Curry Prawns were perhaps the best item we had all night. The curry was not as spicy as I would have liked it, with no option to increase or decrease the chili factor. However, it was rich and flavorful, and the prawns were fresh. Paired with steamed rice, it was a nice reintroduction to something more familiar. This was our go to when we found other items unbearable.
The Chow mien was full on desi style, much like Hsin Kuang. That is to say good for people looking for that kind of thing but disappointing for those who were looking for authenticity. Fortunately, I was looking for the desi kind, and found the combo of beef, chicken, prawns, noodles, and vegetables pleasing and the good kind of eggy.
This was also when we got our Tempura Roll, which was a deep fried plastic coating atop jalapenos, rice, prawn (I still refuse to believe there were any prawns present), and what tasted like mango. Or avocado. Could have been anything really. True train wreck.
We were gearing up to leave and never come back when we were told that we didn’t order the best item on the menu, the Thai Grilled Prawns. Shit. Someone ordered the Thai Grilled Prawns for us. Shit.
The crown jewel of the menu was not grilled, or Thai, or Chinese, or Korean, or Malay… and so on. It was a sorry pile of mismatched prawns on a bed of what I assume was some kind of green. It tasted of leeks and spring onions, and not much else. One bite in and one step out the door.
With exceptional service and a unique setting, Tierra Nuestra has much thinking to do. With a Spanish name and oodles of menu items that need to be seriously overhauled or scrapped, and with a strong inclination to serve each appetizer and main course with tongs, the Chinese/Japanese/Fusion restaurant needs to be axed, restaffed, and re-branded with a different cuisine and chef to make it worth a second visit. And I’m talking bare minimum. Good fucking luck!