Dinner @ Sushi Yujo | Sushi Restaurant in Tanjong Pagar

July 26, 2022 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

I usually book myself in for a sushi meal only after my craving kicks in. But what I realised is that I typically miss one whole season by doing such. Not to say trying to make a booking with just 2-4 weeks advanced notice isn’t quite possible now, post-COVID. So these days, I try to be more diligent by securing 1 to 2 sushi meals every month, with or without my craving.

In fact, I further divided my to-try list of of sushi restaurants into expensive and affordable. Coincidentally (or not), the expensive ones are helmed by Japanese chefs while the affordable ones are by non-Japanese chefs. So yes. To manage budget, 1 expensive sushi meal and 1 affordable sushi meal per month. =)

Opened recently in mid 2022, Sushi Yujo is new to Singapore sushi scene. But not Sushi Yujo’s head chef Desmond Fong. He was previously at Sushi Jin. Though I didn’t find him familiar, but that’s because I dined at Sushi Jin back in 2014 when it was under the helm of Raymond Tan. But I digress…

Reservation was made via Chope for a weekday dinner. And in my reservation, I specifically requested for head chef. Glad I did cause it turned out there was more than 1 chef behind the sushi counter. And 2 days before dinner, the restaurant dropped me a WhatsApp text with their dinner menu. There were 4 options; Hogo Sushi set ($198), Chusei Omakase set ($198), Yujo Signature Omakase set ($288) and Premium Omakase ($348). After much contemplation, I texted back with the selection for Yujo Signature. Uh huh, I stopped going for the most expensive menu. Gasp.

I was unfortunately running late on the day of dinner and texted the restaurant at 6pm that I would only reach at 6.45pm. Thankfully it wasn’t an issue because they don’t start everyone at the same timing. Located at level 2 of Amara Singapore, the interior decor of Sushi Yujo certainly stood out with its kinetic flower sculpture which pulsated with blooming movements. I made eye contact with chefs far too many times because I kept staring at the sculpture (while trying to figure out the design). Ha. After taking my order for drinks, I started my Yujo Signature Omakase, $288 with:-

1) Appetiser (above) – Water shield, baby abalone, river crab, and baby white shrimp (shiro ebi), salmon roe (ikura) and caviar.

2) Carpaccio (above) – Sea bream with sliced truffle, caviar and drizzle of truffle oil.

3) Sashimi (5 kinds) (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro), scallop, medium fatty tuna (chutoro), flounder and sea urchin, and amberjack.


  

4) Chef’s Signature (above) – Abalone served with its liver sauce. This was really good. I wasn’t sure if I be served with any rice thereafter, so I tried to clean up the sauce as much as I could. So when the sous chef came round later with the rice ball, head chef Desmond must have noticed the (very) little sauce left and asked if I wanted more. “Yes. A little bit,” I replied. Keke. And it was also from this that I noticed their sushi rice (shari) was on the stickier side.

5) Cooked Dish (above) – King crab.

  

  

6) Sushi (5 pieces) (above) – Lightly torched (aburi) spotted prawn (botan ebi), short spine sea urchin (bafun uni), aburi tuna belly with chopped tuna, caviar and gold dust, aburi barracuda (kamasu) with yuzu pepper, and aburi scallop with foie gras, sea urchin, caviar and gold flakes.

7) Chef’s Finale (above) – Sushi roll (temaki) of chopped tuna, crispy bits and salmon roe. This was really enjoyable.

8) Soup (above) – Clam soup.

9) Dessert – Musk melon, mango and grape.

Head chef Desmond took charge of all the fish preparation. That meant he also sliced the fishes for his sous chefs to make their sushi. And it’s probably because he was busy with the fish prepping that his sous chef would do the plating of the non-sushi dishes. Including for customers seated at head chef Desmond’s end of the counter. But don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the food dished out at Sushi Yujo. Both non-sushi and sushi legs of the meal.

In fact, because I went with the $288 omakase course instead of the $348 premium omakase course, I was pretty surprised when my course included ingredients such as abalone, truffle, premium fatty tuna (otoro) and sea urchin. It made me wonder how more premium the ingredients could get in the $348 course. So knowing that I didn’t go for the most expensive course yet was able to enjoy premium ingredients, it felt good. Keke.

However, I thought they could go on easier with their blow torch. 4 out of the 5 sushi were aburi. There’s a sushi course for dinner (Hugo, $198) which serves 12 pieces of sushi. I hope the aburi pieces are kept to a maximum 4. But that said, I really enjoyed the 2 fusion sushi pieces. They were fun and tasty!

Will I recommend Sushi Yujo? Yes! But do manage expectation, and know that the food here are not 100% traditional.

SUSHI YUJO
165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Amara Hotel, #02-26, Singapore
8877 8831, Website
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ TOWA Singapore | Teppanyaki Restaurant in Clarke Quay

July 22, 2022 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Food is definitely my love language. Not ‘Quality Time’. Unless… Talking about food = Quality time? *Sheepish grin*

So while conversing about food, my girlfriend recommended me to check out TOWA. Now, that was back in November 2021. But teppanyaki doesn’t excite me the same way sushi does. So it got pushed down my to-try list until a foodie (whose taste bud I trust) raved about his meal at TOWA on Instagram in mid January 2022. That made me contact TOWA immediately via Whatsapp.

Unfortunately they only had bar counter seats left. But that didn’t stop me from trying. And in late March, I managed to secure counter seats for mid May. I wasn’t sure if TOWA practised two seatings as there wasn’t much information about their reservation system on the internet. Upon query, they replied with a text saying “Is 7pm ok for you?” And thus, dinner was fixed for 7pm.

Now… I have a goldfish memory. Having made my reservation at least 1.5 months ago, I actually forgot I specifically requested for counter seats. Upon arrival at TOWA, the staff led me to the (high) table seats. I probably was confused and didn’t think much of it, because I saw no empty pair of seats left at the counter. But I got my memory back when this guy finished his drink, stood up, and said “I should get going. All your guests are here.” It’s only then, did it dawn on me that this guy (safe to assume is a regular or chef’s friend) had taken the counter seats meant for my friend and I. We could have requested to change to our rightful seats (from table to counter) before our meal started, but we realised the counter seats wouldn’t give us much view of the teppanyaki grill. The set up of the place is a little odd. A proper teppanyaki place would have its grill right in the middle for all to see. But theirs was positioned at the corner. Hmm… And I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone settling for the bar counter seats because it’s right at the entrance, with zero view of what’s happening at the main area.

There’s no physical food menu at TOWA as they only served 1 menu ($138). And with that, my friend and I commenced our dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Cuttlefish (ika) with egg yolk sauce. Served somen style.


2) Dish #2 (above) – Homemade sesame mochi with wasabi. I enjoyed its nutty taste.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Bonito sashimi with tosazu (vinegar-based Japanese dressing) sorbet.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Spanish mackerel and oyster tempuras served in a thick, sticky sauce made with dashi and seaweed. The oyster was unfortunately fishy for me. This would have tasted better if the tempura pieces weren’t served in the sauce because by the time the dish reached us, the batter had become soggy.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Firefly squids.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Grilled tiger prawn.


7) Dish #7 (above) – And they replaced the beef dish with chicken due to my dietary requirement. And this was pretty good although it wasn’t worth the 40 minutes wait. Yeah, kid you not.


8) Dish #8 (above) – Okonomiyaki. Of just cabbage and flour. Am intentionally mentioning ‘cabbage and flour’ because the other diners (who were evidently regulars) had noodles in theirs. Hmm…

9) Dish #9 (above) – Dorayaki (Japanese red bean pancake) with milk ice cream.

Did we enjoy our meal at TOWA? Will I recommend TOWA? Unfortunately, no.

Firstly, we were already missing out on the experience of sitting in front of a teppanyaki grill. I want to see some fire action! =( Then, the food was very mediocre. Nothing shone from the dinner. In fact, there were more misses than hits. And lastly, I wasn’t too thrilled when the staff said I be charged $5 for water when she came round to take our drinks order and I hadn’t quite made up my mind. On hindsight, I should have ordered a $4 soda than the $12 lemon sour chuhai from the drinks menu. Ha! That’s me being salty. Keke.

TOWA SINGAPORE
45 Hongkong Street, Singapore
Instagram, 9245 0780
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 7

Lunch @ Sushi Sato | Sushi Restaurant in Dempsey

April 10, 2022 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Opened fairly recently in November 2021, Sushi Sato has to be 1 of the hardest sushi restaurants to book to date. Seats for the following month are released on the first day of the month at 10am, on their website. Ie, seats for June are released on 1 April 10am. And seats are taken up… Within minutes?

My first attempt at booking was on 1 December for February 2022. Despite setting reminder in my calendar, I missed it because 1 December was a weekday. Had to work. Was in meeting… And during my 2nd attempt, I loaded the website only to see just a few weekday dinner and lunch slots left. Since I wasn’t too keen on dinner, I booked myself for a Friday lunch. Yes, even if that meant taking leave.

I reached the restaurant at 12.15pm for my 12.30pm lunch appointment. And seeing no one behind the reception desk, my first thought was “Oh, they only open at 12.30pm sharp.” So instead of trying to open the entrance door, I obediently waited outside. It was only after a couple that reached minutes after me and let themselves in that I realised how silly I was. I of course waited a few minutes before entering after them… Ha.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

I walked past a private room before entering into the main space where chef-owner Yuji Sato was. The L-shaped counter could sit at least 10 people. But I was surprised to see I was the last to reach for the 12.30pm seating despite it being 12.20pm only. There are 3 options on the food menu. A friend happened to have lunch at Sushi Sato 2 days before me, and shared the difference between utsukushi menu ($280) and tomi menu (from $350) was that the latter had an additional rice bowl (donburi) with grilled fish and the sea urchin-salmon roe bowl was replaced with 2 sushi instead. So thanks to my friend, making my choice of menu was a straight forward decision.

And with that, I started my utsukushi menu, $280 with:-

1) Seasonal starter (above) – Firefly squid.


2) Chawanmushi (above) – Steamed egg with seasonal ice fish.


3) Seasonal sashimi (above) – Smoked medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and flounder.

4) Sushi #1 (above) – Marinated tuna (maguro zuke).

5) Sushi #2 (above) – Flounder fin (engawa).


6) Cooked dish #1 (above) – Mountain vegetable (burdock) tempura. This was very nice. The batter wasn’t exactly paper thin, but I felt the thickness was necessary for it to be crunchy. And the batter wasn’t just plain flour. I could taste it’s seasoned. Good choice I say because while the burdock was juicy, it would have been bland on its own.

7) Sushi #3 (above) – Japanese spotted prawn (botan ebi).

8) Sushi #4 (above) – Gizzard shad (kohada). Head chef Sato san made a joke by saying “lizard” shyly. Haha.

After serving his first sushi, head chef Sato san checked with every customer if the rice portion was fine. I noticed mine was small. As though it was specifically made that way for female customers. Didn’t say anything until after I had my fourth sushi.

His sushi rice was slightly acidic and stickier than usual, but went really well with his neta (sushi topping). But with only a small portion of rice, I was left with just the neta (in my mouth) after a few chews. It’s as though I was eating sashimi instead of sushi. So yes, I requested for more sushi rice simply because I wanted to continue tasting the rice in my mouth! :) And I wasn’t alone. The female customer beside me ask for more rice for her sushi too!

9) Sushi #5 (above) – Arctic surf clam (hokkigai).

10) Sushi #6 (above) – Ink squid (sumi ika).

11) Sushi #7 (above) – Smoked baby tuna (meiji maguro).

12) Cooked dish #2 (above) – Grilled squid legs.

13) Sushi #8 (above) – Adult yellowtail (buri).

14) Sushi #9 (above)

15) Sushi #10 (above) – Chicken grunt (isaki).

16) Sushi #11 (above) – Scallop (hotate).

17) Rice bowl (above) – Rice bowl of sea urchin and salmon roe.

18) Soup (above)

19) Sushi #12 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro).

20) Hand roll (above)

21) Dessert (above) – Strawberry, orange and warabi mochi.

I left the restaurant feeling really satisfied. The food was very on point! I especially enjoyed his sushi rice. It complemented the sushi toppings very well. In fact, I regretted not adding more sushi. My friend had mentioned the needlefish (sayori) was outstanding. But then again, it was a little tricky with my situation to ‘steal’ head chef Sato san’s attention.

My fellow diners happened to be head chef Sato san’s regulars. Like everyone in the room but me. I felt out-of-place because everyone were unconsciously (or consciously) making their presence felt by talking loudly, toasting head chef Sato san non-stop, making conversations with both head chef Sato san and the waiting staff, etc. In fact, I was thankful I wasn’t offered the drinks menu because I would have ordered just a 180ml sake while the other groups were ordering bottle after bottle. Gasp.

Although the rowdier lunch group slightly marred my dining experience, I would still strongly recommend Sushi Sato. For $280, my meal was very value-for-money especially with the range and quality of fishes served. I would recommend lunch over dinner as I heard dinner menu ranges from $380 to $580. But if money isn’t an issue, go for it I say! Though I reckon it’s going to be a challenge for a long while to secure bookings at Sushi Saito.

Can’t wait to be back!

SUSHI SATO
6B Dempsey Road, Singapore
6971 8265, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun