My 富二代 rich friends predicted that Ki-Sho at Scotts Road will receive Michelin stars. They have been to the best restaurants in the world; they know what they are talking about. And after trying Kisho’s lunch omakase, I believe they are right.
Ikura and akagai in Kyoto radish puree; tempura seabass wrapped with oba leaf; glass fish with kombu; squid
Although Ki-sho is housed in a gorgeous black-and-white colonial building (free parking!), the sushi bar only takes up a room for 10 seats. This is the sort of artisanal and personal touch worthy of its hefty price tag: $150-$250 for lunch and $300-$450 for dinner.
Sashimi: aji mackeral, seabream stuffed with uni, otoro, hirame
Kyoto native Chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto, formerly from Waku Ghin, brings a traditional style back to omakase, following a strict structure in serving dishes. Not only does Ki-sho hand-pick their own sake from small independent family breweries in Kyoto, they have their own brand of sake—it is sweet with a spicy aftertaste—all carefully curated by their trained sake sommelier Makoto Iwabuchi. (If you’re a sake fan, it’s worth checking out Ki-sho sake bar on the second floor, usually open at night time.)
Karei; squid; akami; scallop
What I like about Ki-sho’s omakase: the cooked dishes are as delicious as the sushi. In most Japanese restaurants, chefs are usually strong in an area, but weak in others. But Hamamoto’s culinary skills are such that all dishes—cooked and sushi—are evenly excellent, without any transitional nadir.
For cooked dishes, the ingredients are combined in a wonderfully smart way. For instance, the nabe (hotpot) dish consists of poached kinki fish and fugu shirako in a textured grainy dashi broth tinged with yuzu (above). The broth is almost like a porridge, very sweet, but it doesn’t overpower the freshness of the dish. By masking the delicacy shirako in the broth, people who may find the idea of eating fish sperm repugnant will willingly imbibe its sweetness.
Another umami-rich dish I enjoyed immensely is the luxurious kegani or horsehair crab: shreds of crab meat, uni, prawn paste, and gold foil! I felt like a millionaire just by eating this.
The seafood for the sushi is delivered from Japan at least twice weekly. Of course, some are aged to maximize the flavors before serving. When chefs sear sushi, they use a blow torch, but Hamamoto uses a piece of white hot charcoal to aburi the otoro (above). So hipster. Usually, I’d say, otoro is best enjoyed on its own, but this searing brings out an amazing smokiness that mellows into the richness of the otoro.
The Hide beef sushi (ab0ve), aged 18 days, is wrapped around the sushi rice, made from 3 types of rice, tinged brown by dark vinegar. So fat, tender and juicy, I rolled my eye in bliss.
My favorite variety of uni: tastes like peanut butter!
But Hamamoto can be heavy-handed at times. A piece of my sushi had too much wasabi; the scallop sushi had too much salt; and the squid too much lime. Fortunately, when the spiciness or saltiness or citrus-ness dissipates, the subtlety of the seafood still comes through.
Not a mushroom; it’s an octopus’s sucker!
Dessert is one of the most important courses of the meal because it is the last thing you eat, it’s the last chance the restaurant has to leave an impression. And Japanese restaurants are usually neglectful of desserts, serving the generic fruits or ice cream.
But Hamamoto is smart enough to serve amazing desserts. I was surprised and elated. Warabi mochi, matcha white chocolate, ice cream monaka, honey dew granita on honey dew. All are perfect, with the right amount of sweetness, and the right texture.There should be a spin-off shop selling Ki-sho Sweets.
Ki-sho will most likely go into my Top 10 Restaurants of the Year 2016. Reservations are highly encouraged. With good reasons, it is packed almost nightly, sometimes with two seatings.
29 Scotts Road Singapore 228224
T: +65 6733 5251
M-F 12pm-2pm, M-Sat 6.30pm-10.30pm
Service: NA (tasting)
Overall Rating: 3.667/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
This is a hosted meal.