Jinjo at Shaw Centre Orchard, by the Les Amis Group, is a modern sumiyaki restaurant helmed by chef Makoto Saito. “Sumi” means charcoal and “yaki” means grill, so the restaurant specialises in charcoal-grilled food, using seasonal ingredients sourced from Japan.
Weekday set lunch starts from $22 but we were here on a weekend.
For starters, we ordered ankimo, which is hard to find. It comes soaked in a sweet sauce. I haven’t had ankimo in some time and in my memory, it is pretty orgasmic but here, it tastes like chicken liver. It’s nice, but I don’t think I am willing to pay $12 for it.
The other appetiser, umaki, is unagi (eel) wrapped in omelette. Can’t really taste the unagi; perhaps it should be thicker.
The best food here is really the kushiyaki or grilled skewers. Each one is better than the next, each one grilled till it’s crisp as if they were deep-fried.
All of them are worth ordering. The hatsu (chicken heart) is tender and juicy, not at all icky. I usually don’t like sunazuri (gizzard) but this one is chewy, not tough, and tasty. The bonjiri (bishop’s nose or chicken backside) has a texture like fat. Magical.
Jinjo is known for its nodoguro ($30) or Ishikawa black throat sea perch, a rather rare fish. The other occasion I can remember having it was at Ashino. However, Jinjo did not have it the day we were there. It wasn’t in season.
Perhaps the gindara or miso-glazed cod is not in season too because while it is decent, it isn’t excellent. Mr Fitness who was with me and who has eaten the cod I pan-fried said that my cod tasted better. It’s really the ingredient; I use a high quality cod.
Donabe is Japanese claypot rice and they serve three versions here: truffle (5g, $55), unagi ($35), and seasonal ($45). Each claypot, which takes 35 minutes to cook (so order it at the start of the meal), can serve two bowls shown in the photo below.
The truffle donabe is not bad. It is not immediately delicious but there is a subtle sweetness that requires one to pay attention to it. And once you discover the sweetness, it tastes awesome.
But the truffle is somewhat hard. And we had a donabe at Kamoshita, which was divine and almost half the price.
We spent $168 for two persons. Come here for the grilled skewers which are a class of their own, but all things else, they can be quite ordinary.
Shaw Centre #02-19/20, 1 Scotts Road, Singapore 228208
Tel: +65 6732 2165 / +65 9625 9012
12pm – 3pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm daily
Price / value: 6/10
Decor / ambience: 6.5/10
You may be interested in…
–Ikki Izakaya, Metropolis @ Buona Vista: Not Authentic Japanese but Hella Great Experience with Live Band
–Rakuichi’s Playbook, Keong Saik: Excellent Japanese-Fusion Cuisine and Cocktail Bar at Affordable Prices
–Kamoshita, Neil Road: Oden Izakaya, Better Than Japan’s Restaurants
–Sumire Yakitori House, Bugis Junction: New Offerings at Established Japanese Restaurant
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.