“Is the onion from Japan?” The Ex asked. “It tastes very sweet; doesn’t have the choking pungency.” Yes, meat, produce and even eggs are imported from Japan 4 times a week. The owner wishes to create a Japan in Singapore, so even the exquisite cutlery are imported from Japan.
Chef Shinji Morihara, whose 20 years of experience includes being head chef at Marriott (Japan and Shanghai), Four Seasons (Hong Kong) and the now defunct Inagiku, creates 3 different kaiseki courses for dinner, starting from $98. Lunch starts from $23.
The most expensive, Yume course ($288), has 7 dishes including a starter, a steamed dish, sashimi, grilled beef, soup, tempura and dessert. Initially we thought it was exorbitant but as the meal progressed, we had a growing sense of wonderment at one of the best meals we had this year.
The only dish we didn’t like was the starter, a salad of Japanese tiger prawn, cucumber, persimmon and walnut in tofu cheese cream, the chef’s own dressing. It was a bit heavy for us at the start of a meal and the cream overpowered the taste of other ingredients.
But the second dish, steamed egg, was “the best chawanmushi I have,” exclaimed the Ex. The chawanmushi had plump short neck clam that burst in the mouth; the juiciest winter melon; Japanese pond algae!!!; topped with brunois of tomato. While the Ex thought the tomato could be overwhelming, I loved how it reminded me of the Chinese dish, tomato-with-fried-egg. This dish gave a feeling of bliss.
Another fantastic dish was the Japanese Omi beef tenderloin with organic vegetables. At grade A4, it was tender with a nice bite but not greasy. The vegetables were worth a mention: pumpkin, lotus root (so delicious, almost like potato chips), french bean and a mushroom that brought tears to my eyes.
But the Ex and I both agreed that the dish of the night was the shima aji (striped Jack) fish, mochi and chrysanthemum in a hot pot (pictured above). The fish was first fried to bring out its flavor in the soup (my mom fries her meat before making them to soups too). As a result, the soup was lip-smacking awesomeness. The natural sweetness of the fish soup exploded in the mouth. A side note: the presentation of the dishes was extremely elegant and even the hotpot was gorgeous.
The hot pot was a tough act to follow but this penultimate dish was perfect too. The angel prawn, made to a tempura, sprinkled with ume (plum) powder, was a unique breed whose flesh was so beautifully sweet. Different from the seafood sweetness, the sweetness of the premium Japanese rice “Yamazato Seiryu Mai” was enhanced by cooking the grain in imported Japanese spring water.
The dessert was immaculate too. I said to The Ex, “Be prepared for the best melon you’ve eaten in your life.” It was as juicy as watermelon and will burst when you press it with your tongue on the roof of your mouth — as sweet as puppy love. The Japanese Kyoho grapes were sweet too, and when paired beautifully with wine jelly, the two items seemed to become one, giving a complexity of sweetness. The rice biscuit sandwich, with caramelized apple, azuki beans and ice cream in different sections, gave different kinds of flavors with each bite.
Have I already mentioned how exquisite everything was in the restaurant? Each dish had a change of cutlery, and every piece of cutlery was exquisite, exquisite, exquisite, adding to the elegant ambience. Look at the bottega fan-coaster.
The collection of exquisite sake cups from all over Japan.
I picked a gold cup with an embossed carp for my sake and the server informed me that it was the most expensive one and cost more than $500. The Ex picked a hexagon one (behind the gold); each side has a different motif and the inside of the cup has a beautiful gold painting of a bonsai tree.
The most expensive sake costs $3200. Only 10 bottles are exported from Japan each year. The Ex whispered, “Are we going to drink that?” No, we had the Hokkaisan Ginjo ($66), which was light and smooth. Even a teetotaler like me had 3 shots. When it was poured into the cup, a sweet melon fragrance immediately assaulted me. Very delicious.
The service was top-notch, the ambience refined, and the food spectacular but what I treasured most was the experience. I felt like I was living inside an instagram photo, very dreamy with soft focus around the food. One of the best meals I had this year. It is a little pricy but (I think) understandable because of the cost of ingredients, the rent, the setup, and the tedious preparation of the food. Even if you live in Johor or Batam, it is worth making the trip to–
31 Ocean Way, The Quayside Isle #01-12, Sentosa, Singapore 098375
T: 6734 9930
Tue: 5.30-9.30pm; W-Sat: 12-3pm, 5.30-10pm; Sun: 12-9.30pm. Closed on Mon.
Rating: 4.132/5 stars
ps: Thanks Wendy for the hospitality.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.