Mikuni – A Tough to Beat Set Lunch

25 01 2015

Located on the 3rd floor of Raffles City / Fairmont Hotel, Mikuni brings together Teppanyaki, Robatayaki and Sushi, enthralling diners and leading them on a gastronomic adventure across the best of what Japan has to offer. Diners may choose to sit at the general dining area or on any one of the three counters; sushi, teppanyaki or robatayaki to watch the master chefs in action. On this occasion, I chose the sushi counter.

General dining area

Set lunches (11 choices in total) are available daily, with prices starting from $65++ onwards, providing diners with options spanning teppanyaki, robatayaki, tempura and sushi main courses. Spoilt for choice, I chose the Premium Bento Miyabi ($120++), which offered a good mix of the options mentioned. 

Sushi Counter

Starters were simple yet effective and we particularly liked the salad dressing. The thin sheets of seasoned crackers tasted somewhat like Chinese New Year Prawn Rolls.

Next up was three kinds of sashimi; Salmon, Chutoro and Scallops. Not often does one find Chutoro in a set lunch so I was pleasantly surprised.

When the mains arrived, I was totally blown away by the extensive variety and hearty portions afforded onto us.

From top-left clockwise: Kyoto Onion Soup, BBQ Eel on rice, Teppanyaki Prawns with a Golden Cheesy Sauce, a skewer of Grilled Kagoshima Beef, Mixed Tempura.

I was at a loss as to what I liked best amongst the mains, since all were top-class in execution. The draw was really the variety, where I could go back and forth between the different items without ever feeling cloyed or bored with any particular item.

Friend CW seemed to like the Teppanyaki Prawns best, which were garnished with ebiko, slices of asparagus and slathered in a golden buttery sauce.

For dessert, we were given a dense Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Crumble. 

Complimentary Matcha White Chocolate and Red Bean “Kueh” were also served as the bill was presented. A nice touch to end off a perfect weekend lunch.

What we liked about Mikuni was the consistent high quality present in every course. While meals here don’t come cheap, I found it fully justified by its value and utility. It will be tough to find a set lunch as awesome as this one.

Dining discounts are applicable to holders of the FAR card and Amex Platinum card.

Mikuni

80 Bras Basah Road, Fairmont Hotel 3F, Raffles City, Singapore 189560

Tel: +65 6431 6156





Fat Cow @ Camden Medical Centre – Holy Cow of a Set Lunch

6 10 2014

What I miss most about student life is the ability to partake in unhurried set lunches at “atas” establishments, at a fraction of the price of dinner service. Though even back then, it wasn’t easy to find restaurants that actually had set lunches worth going for, as the less dear set lunch prices usually meant getting certain items that were a poor excuse for a course. That’s what was so amazing with my first lunch visit to Fat Cow, a not so well kept secret of a Japanese Beef atelier. A typical dinner here easily runs into the $150-$300 range per pax, while set lunches are priced extremely reasonably between $26-$48++, which includes a salad, miso soup, chawanmushi, a choice between 12 main courses and dessert. Better yet, the set lunch is also available on Saturdays!

I first heard of Fat Cow from J almost 3 years back, after it had taken over the premises from Le Figue, a reputed French restaurant back in the day. It’s regretable that my first experience had come so late, for this is a gem that one should always keep close to heart.

*If you are planning on dining ala carte here, do download the Entertainer Singapore 2014 App, which contains three 1-for-1 vouchers on Main Courses here. The use of 1 Voucher already saves more than the 1-year subscription cost to the App.

Reception Area / Bar

Below is what a typical set lunch here looks like, with a partially eaten salad and sans the dessert. As mentioned above, there are 12 main courses to choose from for set lunches here, ranging from Tempura Dons, Chirashi, Sushi, Miso Cod, Kurobuta Tonkatsu, Beef Curry but most popular would be the Fat Cow Donburi (below) and the Fat Foa-gura Don.

Set lunch with half eaten salad and sans the dessert

The Fat Cow Donburi ($39++/set) comprised of A3 grade Charcoal-grilled Wagyu laced with truffle oil, with a perfectly poached onsen egg on the side. Freaking orgasmic is all I can say.

The Fat Cow Donburi

I really enjoyed the Fat Foa-gura Don ($43++/set) as well, which was grilled wagyu and glazed foie gras over rice. The beef is served in cubes with slightly more bite compared to the thinly sliced beef from the donburi and I feel that this allowed for a greater realization of how tender the beef actually was. The oily, decadent pieces of foie gras was executed expertly and not overcooked, definitely something I would consider ordering if it was available as a standalone side dish. While I could go at this all day, some might find this dish slightly unctuous. Well, that’s their loss.

Fat Foa-gura Don

Feedback from E was that the Chirashi ($48++/set) was decent as well, though from her facial expression, I could tell that her pleasure points fell short of the ecstasy I was feeling. Lucky for her, we also ordered some ala carte grilled wagyu, so not all was lost that day.

We tried the grilled Grade A3 Sirloin ($120++/150g) from Saga prefecture which is on the northwest part of Kyushu island and the grilled Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye ($120++/150g) from Shiga prefecture. Unanimously, we all preferred the ribeye because the marbling was evidently better and had a richer flavor compared to the sirloin.

Now some people might ask, why do I pay in excess of $200 for a wagyu steak at those fancy schmancy restaurants when the same wagyu steak only costs $50 at Astons? The reason is because most likely, they aren’t the same. There are 3 things to look for when getting down and dirty with wagyu that might explain this price differential. Firstly, is it a cross-bred wagyu from Australia/US or pure-bred wagyu from Japan? Drilling down even deeper, wagyu really refers to Japanese beef, of which there are multiple breeds from the different prefectures (best known would of course be kobe) and each commands a different premium.

Secondly, assuming it is a purebred Japanese wagyu that we are looking at, the meat is then categorized by 2 grading metrics, one that looks at the yield of the meat (ratio of meat to the total weight of the carcass) and one that looks at the quality (marbling, meat colour, texture, fat colour).

For the yield metric, the beef is categorized either as A, B or C, with A (having the most yield) usually derived from a purebred Japanese wagyu. For the quality metric, the beef is then scored from 1-5, with 5 being the best. In addition, there is also a beef marble score (BMS) that is related to the quality metric, that scores the marbling on a scale from 3-12, where an A5 wagyu would have a BMS of between 8-12, an A4 wagyu would have a BMS of 5-7 and an A3 wagyu would have a BMS of 3-4.

Top: Saga Grade A3 Sirloin ($120++/150g), Bottom: Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye ($120++/150g)

Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye

Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye

To end off our set lunch, we were provided with a scoop of Honeycomb Ice Cream and it was delish. Again, something that I wouldn’t mind ordering ala carte if it wasn’t part of the set lunch.

Given the flawless and reasonably priced set lunch, I can openly say that this has now become my top 2 favourite set lunches locally, the other being Ember (though I haven’t had the chance to revisit after Chef Sebastian left earlier this year).

 Fat Cow

1 Orchard Boulevard, #01-01/02 Camden Medical Centre, Singapore 248649

Tel: +65 6735 0308

Website: http://www.fat-cow.com.sg/





The Sushi Bar – Best Chirashi in Town

25 04 2013

You can call it what you like, cramped or intimate but nothing will change the fact the The Sushi Bar is easily one of the best no-frills Japanese eateries in Singapore. I refrain from saying it’s the best just because I have yet to try every no-frills Japanese eatery in Singapore but frankly, it’s currently my joint favourite place to satisfy my Jap cravings, on par with Aoki.

What I mean by no-frills is not that you have to self-serve but just that it’s the kind of place where non-essentials like expensive furnishings are done away with and letting the reasonably priced food speak for itself. Don’t expect super cheap prices however. It’s still going to be a tad more expensive than places like Sushi Tei but the experience and the quality of food you get here is on a totally different level.

I would highly recommend starting of with one of their signatures, the Scallop Mentaiyaki ($13.90++). Scallop is one of my favourite sashimi but top it off with a rich savoury mentaiko (pollock roe) mayo sauce and poof, heaven on a plate.

Other favourites here would be the Chirashi (sashimi on rice). There are 3 types available to cater for people on different budgets and preferences priced at $18.90, $24.90 and $34.90 respectively. The difference would mainly be the type of sashimi used and maybe the thickness of the sashimi.

For the most affordably priced variant, you get Salmon, Swordfish, Yellowtail, Tuna, Crab, Seared Tuna, Seared Salmon Belly, Ika (Squid), Tako (Octopus), Ebiko (Shrimp roe), Ikura (Salmon roe) and Tamago (sweet egg).

Chirashi ($18.90)

For the $24.90 variant, the main difference is that you get more Ikura and Scallops!

Chirashi ($24.90)

Lastly, for the Premium $34.90 variant, you get additional Uni (Sea Urchin) and a Sweet Shrimp as well. Seriously, what more can you ask for in a Chirashi. The chef is quite flexible so do sound out if you don’t like stuff like tako and seared tuna and they will replace it with similar priced items.

Premium Chirashi ($34.90)

Given that 2 of my friends ordered this again (on top of their Chirashi), it’s safe to say that the Salmon Aburi Roll ($13.90) is worth a try as well.

2 Portions of Salmon Aburi rolls

The Tofu Cheesecake ($4.50) is their sole dessert option on the menu. Not as good as Sun with Moon’s but should still prove to be a delightful ending to an extremely satisfying meal.

Oh another plus point is that all prices here are nett. Queues can get quite long so do try to make reservations.

The Sushi Bar

14 Scotts Road, #03-89 Far East Plaza

Tel: +65 9625 0861





Ito Kacho – A Japanese-Korean styled BBQ that promises to salivate

21 01 2013

Having spent a white Christmas and New Year’s in Korea, I must have gone through quite a few BBQ meals but being on a budget, sad to say I didn’t get to have much premium fare this time round and I was craving some good quality wagyu and kurobuta badly (the black pigs in Jeju Island just isn’t the same as the ones from Japan). So the invitation to dine at Ito Kacho, a Japanese-Korean styled restaurant that specializes in BBQ meats, arrived at the perfect moment.

Barely a month old, it seemed that there were already a few who were in the know of this joint when I dined there on a Thursday night, unperturbed by the relatively extravagant fare (they specialize in wagyu after all). I guess Ito Kacho clearly illustrates the distinction between affordability and value, where an average meal costing $100 while unaffordable by normal standards, might still be considered to be of great value given the premium ingredients used. Of course, it’s possible to dine at Ito Kacho whilst on a budget to, if you stick to items such as their Kurobuta Ramen ($15.80++) but if you are planning to go for their signature BBQ, do be prepared to spend more as they offer mainly premium cuts of meat.

They take their meats really seriously at Ito Kacho. Nothing is left to chance and their Wagyu is air-flown in chilled rather than frozen, ensuring that the nice marbling doesn’t get damaged during the thawing process.

I’m not a fan of kimchi so I would personally avoid ordering the Kimchi Moriawase ($9.90++) aka Assorted Kimchi – Chinese cabbage, cucumber, white radish or the Namuru Moriawase ($8.90++) – Cinnamon fern, white radish, spinach, beansprout. The notion of paying for something that is usually given out free at Korean restaurants just doesn’t seem all that appealing.

The Dashimaki Tamago ($6.90++) wasn’t as sweet as how most Japanese joints do it so it’s great for those who love a mild eggy flavour. Personally however, I would rather save the stomach space for the noteworthy BBQ.

From bottom right clockwise: Kimchi Moriawase, Namuru Moriawase, Dashimaki Tamago

Likewise, the Jikasei Potato Salad ($11.80++) or Homemade Potato Salad was nothing to shout about, very much similar to all the other more affordable potato salads available elsewhere.

Here’s where the fun begins. For beef, we sampled the Wagyu Tomobara ($36/$49++ for 80g or 120g) which is the short ribs also known as kalbi (in korean) or karubi (in japanese), the Wagyu Kainomi ($22/$29++ for 80g or 120g) which is the flap or bottom sirloin, and the US Jo-Karubi ($22/$29++ for 80g or 120g), listed in order of decreasing preference. Wasn’t as charmed by the US Jo-Karubi as it was a little too chewy compared to the wagyu.

What’s so different about wagyu from other types of beef you might ask? I guess there’s many answers to this because they are really worlds apart. Some might metaphorically coin wagyu as beef foie gras, supple and delicate because of the substantial amount of fats that interlace between the lighter than usual colour of beef. For “normal” types of beef, you have a choice to cook it rare all the way to well done but the same cannot be said for wagyu. Given the high fat content, the fats start melting really quickly upon cooking and medium rare should be the furthest you should grill it for so as not to lose the luster of the fats. Personally, I guess when I do go for wagyu, I’m looking for the melt-in-your-mouth feel while for “normal” beef, I go for the immense meaty flavour that materializes when you begin to chew on a piece of steak.

From bottom left clockwise: Wagyu Tomobara, US Jo-Karubi, Wagyu Kainomi

It’s always a joy to eat wagyu but thread carefully, as many restaurants are guilty of sullying the name of the almighty wagyu by using a cheaper cut of cross-bred wagyu, which I believe does not offer the same flavour and texture as the pure breed ones from Japan. The commandment in George Orwell’s  Animal Farm stating that “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal” than others holds true for wagyu as well. Apart from the issue of being fullblood (aka cross-bred) or purebred, another issue one contends with when ordering wagyu is the Grade and Beef Marbling Score (BMS), which both relates to the quality of the wagyu. The Grade (scored from 1-5 with 5 being best) is scored based on marbling, shine & colour, texure & grain and sheen & quality of fat, while the BMS is scored from 1-12 (with 12 being best) and this quality gauge is a key determining factor on how wagyu is priced.

A separate matrix is used to score USDA (US Department of Agriculture) beef, which is usually categorized as “prime”, “choice” or “select”, in order of decreasing quality. The “prime” grade would be the Japan equivalent of a minimum of a Grade 3 or Marbling Score of at least 5.

The Kaisen Moriawase ($36++) is catered for seafood lovers, where you get a good mix of King Crab, Giant Tiger Prawn, Hokkaido Scallop and Squid. Not a fan of King Crab but definitely took to the grilled prawns and hokkaido scallops which were fresh, evident from its sweet flavours and firm textures.

The Boneless Chicken Leg ($9/$12++ for 80g or 120g) is worth ordering as well, which was naturally tender and made even more flavourful with the marinade.

We also tried the Tsubo-Zuke Kurobuta ($19++ for 180g), which is a cut from the collar or neck of a pig. Unlike the beef we had earlier, the pork collar had been marinated for a more pronounced flavour. I wouldn’t have thought that anything would come close to the wagyu earlier but I think that this grilled kurobuta was definitely on par in terms of palatable-ness and tenderness.

We had the Ishiyaki Bibimbap ($15++) as a staple. Nothing extraordinary, just the usual rice mixed with minced Meat, vegetables  dried Seaweed and sesame. I would actually recommend skipping this and just opt for white rice to go with the grilled meats since you can find better Bibimbaps elsewhere.

We ended off the tasting with a simple scoop of Ice Cream ($5.80++). There’s 4 flavours to choose from such as Black Sesame, Matcha, Vanilla and Chestnut (in descending order of preference) and I would suggest sticking to either the Sesame or the Matcha.

What Ito Kacho specializes in, it does really well. Other peripherals might not shine but that’s easily overlooked as you distract yourself with the ooohs and ahhhs of the sizzling BBQ meats.

Special thanks to Ito Kacho for hosting the tasting and Hungrygowhere for coordinating the event.

Ito Kacho

333A Orchard Road, Mandarin Gallery #04-08

Tel: +65 6836 0111





Shunjuu Izakaya – Defining Sumiyaki

26 09 2012

Shunjuu Izakaya is a sake dining bar specializing in sumiyaki, and carries over 40 types of sake. Having discovered it over summer thanks to one of my NUS law friends (who had been frequenting this place during her law internship at the expense of her associates, jealous max…), I decided to organize a friend’s birthday dinner here given that my virgin experience had been a positive one.

I have mentioned this before in one of my previous posts but I think now’s the perfect time for a refresher course on Grilled Japanese foods 101, whose terms we are so guilty of mixing up. Sumiyaki means “Charcoal Grilled” (Sumi meaning charcoal and Yaki meaning grilled). Kushiyaki means “Grilled on a Stick” (Kushi meaning Stick), in short Japanese Satay. Yakitori means “Grilled Chicken”, so it is more specific than Kushiyaki or Sumiyaki which can be used to refer to other types of grilled meats or seafood too. Robatayaki (meaning fire-side cooking) refers specifically to a method of cooking; hearthside grilling.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.

Shunjuu doesn’t seem to receive much publicity nowadays but back in the heyday, it used to be a major contender for dining awards, evident from its wall of fame. I guess extra publicity is redundant now anyways, since a full house during weekends is more or less assured for this sumiyaki heavyweight. So, reservations are recommended. The general consensus is that dinners here can work up to quite a fair bit but I believe that with strategic orders and abstinence from booze, dinners under $40 are still very possible, which in my view is reasonable given the quality of the food.

We took up a very friendly auntie staff’s suggestion and got the Tofu with Century Egg Sauce topped with Ebiko. It was a great opener to the meal and on hindsight, we should have gotten individual portions and not go through the pains of having to share something so tasty.  A similar one can be found at Fukuichi Japanese Dining at TripleOne Somerset, which happens to be one of their signatures.

For first timers to the restaurant, it’s really easy to get lost on what to order so I would suggest going for the prix fixe sets which comprise of an assortment of 5 grilled items, and further supplementing the meal with additional orders. There are 3 different sets available, of which Set A and B are meant for 1 pax, while Set C is meant for 2 pax.

For Set A ($20++), you get a stick of Beef Short Ribs, Asparagus rolled with Pork, Chicken Meat Ball, Golden Mushroom rolled with Beef, and Pork Belly.

The Golden Mushroom should have been rolled in beef but due to its unavailability, we got ours rolled in pork instead, which turned out great and is definitely one of the highlights from Set A. My other favourites from the set are the Chicken Meat Balls and the Beef Short Ribs. I usually scoff at meat balls but the ones here are clearly legit, hands down best chicken balls I have had the pleasure of eating.

from left: Chicken Meat Ball, Pork Belly, Asparagus rolled with Pork

Golden Mushroom rolled with Pork, Beef Short Ribs

For Set B ($28++), you get a stick of Grilled Ribeye, Scallop rolled with Pork, Rice Cake rolled with Pork, Chicken Wing, and Goose Liver. The star would be the Goose Liver, whose wobbly interior is encased by a smoky lightly charred surface. Less memorable items included the Scallop rolled in Pork. I could hardly discern the bland scallops whose flavour was overpowered by the savoury marinade from the pork. The Grilled Ribeye was also slightly too chewy for my liking and was not as tasty as the Beef Short Ribs from Set A.

from left: Chicken Wing, Scallop rolled with Pork

From left: Goose Liver, Ribeye, Rice Cake rolled with Pork

Apart from the grilled items, Shunjuu does their staples amazing well too. The Udon with Sesame Sauce ($7++) is served chilled which contrasts with spicy sesame sauce it is served in, causing a tingling sensation to the throat as one slurps it down. The spiciness of the sauce is of a right level which makes the dish super addictive.

The Garlic Fried Rice ($8++) is worth ordering too, as the pearly grains are evenly cooked with bits of aromatic crisp garlic bits garnishing the dish.

My favourite staple though is the hearty Fish Porridge ($12++), which is on a totally different league from what is available from hawker stalls. It has a naturally sweet flavour and creamy consistency, with very generous chunks of Salmon and Mackerel.

Instead of having desserts at Shunjuu, I would recommend heading to Laurent Bernard’s Chocolate Bar just opposite for their ice creams there chocolate tart.

Al Fresco area of Laurent Bernard’s with Shunjuu in the backdrop

Another enjoyable dinner at Shunjuu Izakaya cements Shunjuu’s status as one of the best sumiyaki restaurants around. Competition is stiff however, so next stop for sumiyaki will be Kazu at Cuppage Plaza, where we learn who defines sumiyaki best.

Shunjuu Izakaya

30 Robertson Quay, #01-15 Riverside View

Tel: +65 6887 3577





Hanayoshi – A Lesson on Wagyu that I didn’t get to Eat

26 06 2012

It has been almost a year since I last met up with E but as they always say, better late than never. It was a friendship fostered in the days when revelry was the in thing, where both of us had the luxury of time and energy to groove on the mambo dance floor, a hobby that we used to share.

I picked Hanayoshi as our dinner spot. After all, online reviews were promising and the ability to survive in the competitive dining district of Tanjong Pagar/Outram already says quite a bit in itself. It was surprisingly quiet on this Saturday night though, with only 2 other tables being occupied excluding E and myself.

A word of advice from me. Make reservations to sit at the counter on the ground floor rather than on the 2nd floor. Firstly, you get a great view of the chef’s masterful cutting techniques and will probably get the chance to interact with the master during the meal, but most importantly, you also get to avoid the cramped 2nd level. The tables are packed so awfully close to one another in an enclosed area such that private conversations aren’t at all private. So there goes all the socially inappropriate jokes you could have cracked during the course of the meal, making one feel constipated holding so much crap in.

“Age” literally means deep-fried while “dashi” is a japanese soup stock, often made by simmering ingredients such as kelp, fish parts or mushrooms. Put together, an Agedashi Tofu simply refers to Fried Tofu in Dashi Sauce. No complaints about the ones here, but no glowing comments either. It’s just too standard fare that you already know what to expect.

We shared a serving of the Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab too which was decent but not amazing, as the crab meat tasted a bit flat, while the seasoning was on the salty side.

I really wanted to try the Wagyu and Sashimi Set but found out that they do not serve set meals during dinner. Dang, it would have been quite a steal for $42++. Yea, there’s the option of ordering a grilled piece of Wagyu but at $90 (if I recall correctly), it’s not quite as tempting. Why the stark difference in price you ask? Well, not all Wagyu are equal, some are more equal than others and I postulate that the $90 ones are just a tad more equal. So lesson to learn is not to swoon straight away when you see the words Wagyu and probe a little deeper into its marble score. Wagyu originated from Japan and just like every other Asian country, Asians love competition, scores and grades. As such, Wagyu is scored with a number between 1 to 12 based on factors such as the extent of marbling and colour of the meat, with 12 being the most premium. As a general guide, scores of 6 and above are already considered to be relatively good cuts of Wagyu. For the $90 cut of Wagyu here, the menu states it scores a 12. Time to swoon folks.

However, still being a student does have its limitations and I had to rein myself in, ordering the Chirashi ($45++) instead. Quite a good spread of fresh seafood like salmon, tuna, kingfish, swordfish, shrimp, uni and ikura but missing my favourite scallops 😦

E got herself the Udon Noodles in Hotpot and commented she could make it at home. There wasn’t any reason to doubt her. After all, she’s one of the 2 co-founders of Strictly Pancakes, Singapore’s first dedicated pancake cafe. Go support her shop if you can! Simple as it might seem, I have had some hotpots that would be difficult to replicate at home given the flavourful stock used. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say that this is one of them as it fades into mediocrity.

Given all the hype from the online community, I admit I expected better. The Chirashi is also giving me an Aoki craving.

Hanayoshi

21 Duxton Road

Tel: +65 6225 5567





San Sui Contemporary Japanese Dining & Bar – Expensive Food for a Cheap Experience

13 05 2012

If you have been to Butter Factory, you might have noticed San Sui’s flagship outlet at One Fullerton, which specializes in Sumiyaki. I tend to mix up the various terms of Grilled Japanese foods and I’m guessing quite a few of us are quite guilty of that as well, so I’m just going to list a few terms to clear the air once and for all. Sumiyaki means “Charcoal Grilled” (Sumi meaning charcoal and Yaki meaning grilled). Kushiyaki means “Grilled on a Stick” (Kushi meaning Stick), in short Japanese Satay. Yakitori means “Grilled Chicken”, so it is more specific than Kushiyaki or Sumiyaki which can be used to refer to other types of grilled meats or seafood too. Hope this clarifies things a bit.

San Sui has now opened its second outlet at Clarke Quay, choosing this time to specialize in modern Japanese Dining. I attended their restaurant launch last week and got the opportunity to tour the restaurant and sample some of its food offerings. This is the second restaurant launch that I have attended and based on experiences, it’s usually not very interesting unless you bother to mingle with random guests there (which we did today by mingling with some Japanese magazine journalists). Food and booze were free flow, though not review worthy since it was geared towards atas catering, rather than a preview of what’s actually available on the restaurant menu. Anyway, here’s some pics from that event.

Open Kitchen Area

As we left, we were given a nice little goodie bag as a memento, which had a nice little wooden box-cup for drinking sake in and some $50 dining vouchers for use at their restaurants (subject to a minimum spending of $100).

So instead of just blogging about the restaurant launch, I thought it would be a great idea to include what San Sui Contemporary Japanese Dining actually serves so I decided to make a reservation there for a Friday 7pm dinner.

Over the phone, I thought it was unusual when the staff asked if I was going to use any vouchers (apparently there’s also a Groupon deal going on). When I said yes, I was then told that it was full house at 7pm and 8.30pm was the next available time slot which I readily took up. Based on pure conjecture, I hypothesized that they might have implemented a policy dictating a limit to the number of voucher users the restaurant can take during peak timeslots (so as not to risk turning away full-paying customers). I only say this because when I was already around the area at 7pm, I decided to try my luck at the restaurant and see if there was sufficient space to accomodate G and me and true enough, the restaurant was pretty empty and we were allowed in immediately. Personally I don’t believe in discriminating between diners with dining vouchers vs regular paying customers but I guess Goldman Sachs was right in saying Groupon is food stamps for the middle class (source: GSElevator Gossip on Twitter).

I received a message from the management of San Sui shortly after this post was posted so I will be including their comments in purple as tastes are subjective and my palate might not be refined enough to appreciate the subtleties of the few dishes that I tried. Hopefully, this allows for a more balanced and objective blog post. The management have also assured me that they do not discriminate between diners with or without vouchers. From a business point of view, our main aim when participating in group purchase programs is to attract more diners at non-peak hours.

Before I start on the food though, I’m going to make one thing clear. I found the food horrendous and the fact that it costs a bomb just adds oil to the fire. I won’t be back even with a dining voucher. The only thing that is laudable is the plating.

The Warm Foie Gras Bamboo Sushi ($18++) was meh. The flavour combination of Foie Gras, Ikura and Cucumber was actually good but my qualms were that the foie gras wasn’t fatty enough, tasted flat and it was almost at room temperature when it was served, making me question if it had been cooked beforehand and just left at a corner. And considering that I (and most presumably most other people) bought into this dish almost entirely for the foie gras, its imperfections were just amplified further.

The Grilled Colorado Lamb Ribs ($18++) was very disappointing. It’s a great specimen that can be used to highlight the difference between nice marbling and just having a lump of fats and there was an unforgivable “chao ta” burnt taste. I wouldn’t be far off in saying you can get something better off Giant Hypermart’s Grilled Meat section.

Management comments: “The Colorado Lamb Ribs is different from the Lamb Rack, which is a more common cut of meat available at most restaurants. We selected this particular cut for its prized marbling and the ‘chao ta’ flavour you picked up is due to the use of Binchotan charcoal from Japan which imparts to grilled foods a characteristic charred but not burnt aroma and taste. The virtue of this charcoal is that it burns at higher temperature, which seals in the juices during the cooking process.”

I ordered the Kurotara ($40++) aka Pan Roasted Black Cod Fillet with Sakura Pesto, Honshimeji Mushrooms & Wakame Salad for main, thinking that nothing could ever go wrong with Black Cod and San Sui is the first restaurant to prove me wrong. The fish was slightly fishy and almost entirely bland so I didn’t finish it just to drop a hint of my displeasure. I couldn’t detect any Sakura in the Pesto, but that was inconsequential since the pesto sauce wasn’t a good complement to the fish anyway. The best thing about the dish was the salad because I like seaweed.

Management comments: “The Sakura leaf used for the Kurotara possesses a very light and delicate flavour while the homemade pesto sauce is quite different from traditional pesto as besides omitting garlic and Parmesan cheese, we used almonds instead of the usual pine nuts. This renders a mild pesto which does not overpower the light Sakura flavour. We are sorry that you felt it was bland.”

Somen ($38++) is a Japanese Noodle made from Wheat Flour and Salt. It is usually served cold with a dipping sauce on the side but the one here is served warm. Topped with Hokkaido Bay Scallops, Lobster Claw and a Prawn & Shiso Dumpling, I joked to G that it was a high class Wonton Mee and tasted as such. It was better than the Black Cod, though a little too simplistic in both its taste and preparation to pay a premium for.

Management comments: “The highlight of the Somen is to showcase the clean and natural flavours of each ingredient, an elemental virtue of Japanese cooking. The base of the soup is definitely meant to be more broth-like.”

Given the limited number of dishes we managed to try, it won’t be fair of me to say that the restaurant sucks entirely. So I’m just going to say that I’m not going to take my chances there again though I am appreciative that the management took the time to care about my feedback.

San Sui Contemporary Japanese Dining & Bar

3B River Valley Road, #01-06

Tel: +65 6336 7737








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