Located on the second floor of a shophouse, Yuzu Japanese Restaurant at Holland Village depends on word-of-mouth for customers. And judging from the full house on a weekday afternoon, I’d say people talk too much.
The restaurant is helmed by Tokyo-born Chef Takahashi Tadashi who has cut his culinary teeth at 2-Michelin-starred Komuro (Tokyo), 1-starred Umu Restaurant (London) and Nobu (London and Melbourne). The pricing situates itself between mid-range and fine-dining sushi-ya. Lunch sets begin from $35 while omakase from $120.
While we were at the restaurant, I thought more care needed to be given. This thought started from the first course and snowballed throughout the meal. For example, the salad, which comes with the Yuzu Special Don ($65), has creamy sesame dressing doused all over it. A better and more careful restaurant would have ensured that the dressing is not this excessive; the chef would have made certain that each leaf is evenly coated with just enough dressing. If such careless drizzling of salad occurs in an inexpensive restaurant, I would understand. But here, it’s peccant.
The Yuzu Special Don, which I had, consists of a salad; a chawanmushi; 3 tiny bowls of rice topped with negitoro (minced tuna), ikura, and uni; Japanese Wagyu-A4 beef; some pickles; and a yuzu sorbet.
The quality is extremely high and the food is very delicious and clean. The wagyu is pure bliss: thin but tender, fat but not greasy. Negitoro is not at all fishy. And uni is very fresh and firm with the taste of the sea, not slimy.
But having recently come back from Hokkaido, I somehow felt that this meal was expensive. I also felt that something was missing: sashimi. If you look through the set, there is really no bento sets that offer sashimi. This is the second instance of carelessness I am talking about. A good menu would have provided options for customers.
Right at the beginning of the meal, before we even ordered, I asked if we could include a platter of sashimi for $20/pax. (There were 3 of us, so that would be $60.) No, it wasn’t possible, the minimum amount for a plate is $40, the waiter informed us after consulting with the chef.
Now the Yuzu Special Don costs $65 and if I wanted to include another $40, I might as get the omakase at $120. So I told the waiter no. The waiter counter-offered, “How about just two slices of sashimi?”
I thought it was a great idea, and we each ordered 2 slices of chutoro. I thought it would be $20, but when the bill came, it was $30, which is exorbitant for 2 slices of anything.
Still, the chutoro is heavenly. Really very fantastic. A beautiful firm bite that gives way to umami juices.
But herein lies the third case of carelessness: the chef didn’t serve us the chutoro because our third friend was late. Instead, we were served our bento set first. We were midway through our bento set and only when our third friend arrived did the chef dish out the chutoro. I understand that it was convenient for the chef to deal with all three orders at the same time, but it is customary and tradition that sashimi should be served before the bento. It is really quite un-Japanese and unorthodox to be served according to convenience.
The 4th and last case of carelessness came with the dessert. I asked the waitress if I could substitute the yuzu sorbet to a fruit because I have diabetes. The waitress said she would check but she didn’t get back to me and shortly after, she came back with the sorbet. To be fair, the sorbet, like the rest of the food, is fantastic. It has bits of bitter yuzu zest and herbal shiso leaf.
Their flaw is that they are not thinking about what customers want but the food is so delicious that I have given much consideration to return to try their omakase to give a better and more accurate review. Alas! there are too many restaurants to visit and I have little time. However, I urge everyone to just ignore the lunch sets and go for the omakase to get the most out of your experience. I paid $111 for my meal.
Yuzu Japanese Restaurant
6A Lorong Mambong, Holland Village Singapore 277673
Tel: +65 6463 2016
12pm-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm, Closed M
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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.