MOVED: One Michelin-starred Shinji by Kanesaka at Raffles Hotel has moved to Carlton Hotel (76 Bras Basah Rd, Lobby Floor, Carlton Hotel, Singapore 189558; Tel: +65 6338 6131). The one at St Regis Hotel remains.
8 Singapore restaurants made the cut to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants: Andre, Waku Ghin, Iggy’s, Les Amis, Jaan, Tippling Club, Shinji and Imperial Treasure. After this review, Waku Ghin is the only one I’ve yet to try.
Glass Fish that came in the omakase
By the time this is published, Shinji’s outlet at OUE tower has moved to new outlet at St Regis for a fortnight. The head chef at St Regis is the same chef who served us at Raffles Hotel. Consider this a 2-in-1 review.
Lunch sets are priced at $75 (9 pc sushi), $125 (12 pc), $180 (15 pc), and $250 omakase (9 pc sushi, with additional sashimi, 2 cooked dish, soup, and fruits). Dinner sets from $220-$450. If you know what you want, you can also opt for a la carte, which the Japanese family beside us did. (Man, can this skinny 5 year-old girl eat. She ate 2 bowls of rice, plus assorted sushi.) Chiobu and I each had a $250 omakase lunch set.
The meal started favorably. The two slices of tuna sashimi (above) was topped with a spiced prawn paste (almost like belachan without the spiciness) – very different and delicious. The grilled octopus was sweet like char siew with a strangely wonderful flakey texture within. A seared fish had the aroma of charcoal. The monkfish came with monkfish liver, foie-gras-like but without the grease and fat, cleverly tinged with a sweet-salty sauce to bring out its subtle flavors.
Assorted cooked seafood, including a delectable octopus and seared fish
Monkfish has humongous liver
Horse mackerel with finely chopped, almost pureed, spring onions
But the sushi was inconsistent. Perhaps it was also because at this time, the Japanese family walked in that the chef couldn’t multitask, couldn’t take care of 8 of us at the table. Some sushi didn’t have a good balance, both heavy-handed and light at the same time: too much choking wasabi, and too little soy sauce. For example, one out of the three tuna maki sushi served to me was off-kilter. There were some good ones, of course, like a horse mackerel with spring onion; and sea urchin; but it is always the bad ones we remember: this was the first time I ate a lousy otoro (tuna belly) sushi (below). Didn’t have that melt-in-the-mouth orgasm. Quite unforgivable.
Having been to a few fine-dining Japanese restaurants, and some, like Shinji, have Michelin-starred origins in Japan, Shinji is better than some but I prefer Aoki, Chikuyotei or Ginza Sushi Ichi. While the meal wasn’t worth the value, the service was best amongst any restaurants. At no point did we wait for service. Service was always polite, quiet, unobtrusive, friendly and humorous even. We paid $585 for two.
1 Beach Road, Raffles Hotel #02-20, Singapore 189673
T: 6338 6131
Shinji by Kanesaka Menu
M-Sat: 12-3pm, 6-10.30pm
Rating: 3.438/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.