New tapas restaurant Umami 10 at Telok Ayer Street serves contemporary Japanese-European cuisine with award-winning sakes that are sourced directly from Japan. Although the street is already teeming with izakayas and bars, Umami 10 sets itself apart by focusing on melding a mishmash of cuisines with originality.
Head Chef-Owner Mark Tay has over 30 years of culinary experience in Japanese, Italian and French cuisine while Executive Chef Victor Tan is no stranger to French, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. The menu is two-page long, comprising of four categories – Bites, Cold Tapas, Hot Tapas and ‘Stressed’ (desserts spelt backwards). I thought bites and tapas are the same things but apparently not.
For Bites, the gold charcoal karaage ($15) consists of chunks of fried chicken pieces coated with charcoal powder and sprinkled with gold dust. At first glance, the chicken pieces look like real charcoal due to their shapes and sizes but they are really tender and juicy inside.
The firefly squid tempura ($25) is about two to three inches long. It is an entire little squid encased in a light and crispy batter. Despite being fried, the squids retain their briny succulence.
The tuna ceviche ($24) is tossed with yuzu ponzu and served with julienned guava, shallots and sweet pomegranate. These fruity ingredients go marvellously well with the tuna, making it a very appetising starter.
Scallops carpaccio ($26) are generously topped with truffle and basil caviar, mango salsa and sea asparagus. It is a very pleasant and flavourful experience when the tiny caviar condiments burst in the mouth upon every bite.
The restaurant ran out of sashimi and oysters on that day but the service staff recommended aged fish, which is a new food trend (is it?!). It is not in the menu yet as the chefs are still refining the dish. They use two types of fish, Hamachi (Japanese amberjack) and lean tuna. The flavour of the fish is intensified during the process of ageing, which makes the restaurant live up to its name. I feel that the fish can be aged a little more. It is definitely more umami and meaty-tasting but it is not very far off from an actual sashimi slice.
Grade A4 Sanchoku Wagyu ($48) is grilled to medium rare with a drizzle of veal jus. ‘Sanchoku’ is a philosophy of obtaining food and produce directly from source without a third-party seller. This practice promotes quality control and farm-to-table freshness. The steak is indeed delicious and presented without too much fanfare.
Instead of Asari clams ($16), we opted for yuzu clams, which is cooked in reminiscence of a Southeast-Asian style. Unlike clear Asari soup, this broth is piquant and thick, highly infused with spices and wine. It tastes somewhat like Tom Yum soup but a lot tangier. This is the ultimate umami-ness of the evening. I highly recommend the switch from the usual Asari Clams.
Depending on the choice of tapas and bites, I concluded that 5-6 dishes will suffice for two persons to feel comfortably full. However, we tipped over the scales when we ordered desserts. There are only three desserts to choose from – Bing-qi-lin (ice cream, $6 per scoop), Matcha-gato (S12) and Pick-me-up ($13). The latter two contain alcohol. Matcha-gato is a rich matcha ice-cream that contains Baileys and espresso for kicks.
Pick-me-up is a house-made three-liqueur tiramisu that is presented in an innocuous chawanmushi bowl. The spoon has to dive deep into the bottom of the bowl to get all the layered goodness of the tiramisu with every bite. It is hard to find good tiramisu so please pick this up.
The restaurant provides a casual and friendly atmosphere for work lunch or dinner, and even for family dining. They also support both local and international artists by hanging their works on their walls. Sales proceeds of the artwork go directly to the artist – the restaurant does not take in any commission.
Prices of the food are a little steep but the quality and fusion recipes make up for it.
163 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068616
M-Sat: 11.30am – 2.30am, 5.30pm – 10.30pm, Closed Sun
Tel: +65 6513 5789
You may be interested in…
–Tapasta Bar, Far East Square: Unexpectedly Delicious Food By Talented Chef from Koma at MBS
–MadASS, Raffles Place: Sister Restaurant of Mad About Sucre Serves Bento for Lunch, Tapas at Night
–Trattoria La Vita, Clarke Quay: Itameshi (Italian-Japanese Cuisine), I Love It But My Friend Says It’s Average
–Dopo Teatro, Esplanade: Itameshi Cuisine (Italian Classics with Japanese Ingredients) and Pizzas Made from 36-hour Fermented Dough
This is an invitation. Written by Cheang Shwu Peng.