There are not many oden restaurants in Singapore–the only other one I can think of is the now-defunct Ginza Yoshihiro at Marina Mandarin–so the bar is low if you want to open an oden restaurant. But subpar standard is not the Japanese way; and Kamoshita at Neil Road sets the bar so high it is better than many izakayas in Japan, and certainly better than the Bib Gourmand ones we had in Hokkaido.
Kamoshita is opened by chef-owners Koki Miyoshi and Naoki Kaiyama; the former worked at Mikoto at Robertson Quay prior to opening Kamoshita. They serve omakase at $60 / $80 / $100. Because they are an izakaya, it is expensive to order non-alcoholic drinks: we had green tea for $5 a cup (but we also ordered sake, $31 a carafe).
What is unique about the 20 types of oden here is that they don’t add soy or miso in the broth; they use a dashi stock of kombu, bonito, and mackerel, without any soy sauce or MSG. Traditionally, hot oden is taken with warm sake, but here, they have both hot and cold oden, usually served with mustard, which is popular with young Japanese.
The Pacific Saury sashimi ($18) is superb. It’s the type of fish that may be a little “fishy” but here, that “fishiness” is kept to a minimum, even desirable to give it an edge. It comes with grated ginger and sweet shredded onion. Very nice.
Curiosity kills the cat (get it? the cat paper in the photo?). Wanted to see what is so special about the deep-fried gingko for $12. It isn’t special. Skip this.
They make their own cheese and the assorted 4 types ($20) are so marvellous that Mr Fitness proclaimed it’s the best ever. The cream cheese soaked in miso has boosted its umami. Smoked radish stuffed with cream cheese is just ok. The other two come on a sweet cracker like 旺旺: one is soy sauce boiled konbu mixed with cream cheese and the other, crab butter, which is my favourite. You can truly taste the crab through the cheese. I also like that they use a sweet cracker because it plays off the saltiness of the cheese, but I know some people don’t like sweet food. You can tell them that you want a mix of cold and hot oden for the omakase oden ($25). I won’t go into details for every item but they are amazing; they are one of the best oden I have eaten. Although they are soaked in one big (copper?) pot, they are fished out and cooked individually so that each broth for each item tastes differently.
For example, each broth has something different added to it. The radish has a mustard (or wasabi, they taste alike), so the broth is exciting. I think the onsen egg has a hint of green tea? (I may be wrong) which is rather interesting and delicious. The fish cake is AMAZING, out of the world; it’s so smooth that it’s more cake than fish. The chicken dumpling (pictured below), which is like 狮子头, has a fantastic texture; there is cartilage (I think) so it’s crunchy.
The grilled radish with sea urchin (above right, $15) comes a la carte. It’s nice; there are layers of flavours. First you taste the radish which mellows into a funky seafood uni sweetness. But since other “ordinary” oden items are so unique and delicious, this uni radish although delicious does not seem worth it.
The piece de resistance, claypot ($29), can feed 3 to 4 people. It is a speciality from Ehime Prefecture, and takes 40-45 minutes to cook. (So make sure you order it right from the start.) It is steamed with sea bream. Although it looks pale and unappetising, it is bursting with flavours. So sweet and complex. It also comes with a sauce which tastes like the Chinese fermented black beans. It’s nice with the sauce, but the sauce may overpower it; on its own, it is already fantastic. MUST ORDER this.
It seems like the items are value-for-money, but they really add up and the bill came up to $160 for two persons. Still, you can really tell the effort that goes into the creation of the food. It’s the type of food that you know the chefs have substance and can do traditional Japanese cuisine but they choose to innovate and create new things; they choose not to be contented with the old; they choose to seek a newer world; they are strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. That’s why Kamoshita is a cut above many restaurants.
5 Neil Road Singapore 088806
tel: +65 6221 3950
Ambience/ Decor: 6/10
You may be interested in…
–Sushi Hashida, Mandarin Gallery: Probably One of the Best Sushi Restaurants in Singapore
–Sushi Kimura, Palais Renaissance: Better Than Michelin-Starred Sushi Restaurants
–Shiraishi, Ritz Carlton: Strangely, Tempura is Better Than Edomae Sushi
–Yuzu Japanese Restaurant, Holland Village: Great Food and Four Cases of Carelessness
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.