Dinner @ Shinji by Kanesaka (Carlton Hotel)

November 5, 2017 in Japanese

Craving for good sushi, I decided to join my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) in one of her (super) regular visits to 1 Michelin star Shinji where she gets her dosage of head chef Oshino san’s sushi. And with this visit, it was also my first to dine at Shinji’s new space after their relocation to Carlton Hotel from Raffles Hotel.

My IGGF always assist with the reservation at Shinji. And what seem to be a first, I was told there’s 2 seatings for head chef Oshino san. Gasp. We were only able to secure the 1st seating at 12pm. Of which, we were required to vacate by 1.20pm for the second seating. So even before our actual lunch date, I had made up my mind to go for their sushi course once knowing that we had less than 1.5 hours. And it’s pretty seldom of me since I normally opt for omakase cause I like to have variety. Ie, not just sushi. Keke.

And at Shinji’s new space, head chef Oshino san now stood separately from the other chefs. Upon arrival, the staff clad in kimono led me down a long passage, walking by what seemed to be the main dining area where most customers were attended by the other chefs, to finally reach a room that’s small but big enough to contain a L-shaped counter for 8 and a table for 4. And yes, it’s in this room that head chef Oshino san stood alone behind the counter.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Setsugetsuka sushi course set (yuki), $180 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above)

(B) Sushi #1 (above) – Striped jack (shima aji) sushi.

(C) Sushi #2 (above) – Spanish macakarel (sawara) sushi.

(D) Sushi #3 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) sushi.

(E) Sushi #4 (above) – Ōtoro 大トロ : Premium fatty tuna (otoro) sushi. Shimofuri cut.

(F) Sushi #5 (above) – Jack mackerel (aji) sushi.

(G) Sushi #6 (above) – Lean tuna (akami) sushi.

(H) Sushi #7 (above) – Sea urchin sushi.

(I) Sushi #8 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi) sushi.

(J) Sushi #9 (above) – Needlefish (sayori) sushi.

(K) Sushi #10 (above) – Bonito (katsuo) sushi.

(L) Sushi #11 (above) – Leather jacket fish (kawahagi) sushi.

(M) Sushi #12 (above) – Mackerel (saba) sushi.

(N) Sushi #13 (above) – Slightly torched Japanese barracuda (kamasu) sushi.

(O) Sushi #14 (above) – Black throat sea perch (nodoguro) sushi.

(P) Sushi #15 (above) – Sea eel (anago) sushi.

(Q) Soup (above) – Clear soup with minced tuna ball.

(R) Rolled sushi (above) – Rolled sushi with filling of minced tuna and spring onion (negitoro), rolled omelette (tamago) and pickled radish.

(S) Dessert (above) – Japanese rice cake (mochi) in yam pudding. It’s almost like the Japanese version of our Chinese dessert yam paste (orh nee/芋泥).


2) Sea urchin rice, $50 (above) – It was of much coincidence that my IGGF’s colleagues were lunching at Shinji too. They were getting the sea urchin rice as an additional a-la carte order and I decided to get 1 for myself too. Keke. And it was so good. I didn’t notice but my IGGF said 2 types of sea urchin was used. And we agreed the portion seemed bigger than usual. It was almost to the brim of the bowl.

Honestly and seriously… Shinji doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the restaurants that’s consistently good. In my (humblest) opinion, Shinji serves the best nigiri sushi in Singapore. I especially love the sushi rice (shari) which is perfect. One could taste the vinegar yet it’s not too overpowering such that it outshine the sushi topping (neta).

Do I recommend Shinji? Definitely, without a doubt. It’s crazy how price-friendly the menu is at Shinji too. One could opt for $75 sushi course which comprised of 9-pieces nigiri sushi, maki sushi, soup and dessert. I know some non-Michelin starred sushi-ya don’t even offer any set courses cheaper than Shinji’s!

But be very punctual if one is slotted for the first seating. Else, try to make reservation for the second slot. I would reckon one definitely need to go with the second seating as I personally felt that omakase course require at least 1.5 hour for a comfortably paced meal. My IGGF and I could tell head chef Oshino san was rushing towards the second half of our lunch. And because I was also taking a little longer since I had additional order, we offered to shift to the table so that the staff could prepare for the second seating.

SHINJI BY KANESAKA
76 Bras Basah Rd, Carlton Hotel, Lobby Floor, Singapore
6338 6131, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 9
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Kagurazaka Ishikawa (Tokyo, Japan)

August 26, 2017 in Japanese

Wanting to have at least a kaiseki meal in my February 2017 trip to Japan, I decided to head over to Michelin-starred Ishikawa. And I admit I got really excited knowing I need not rely on hotel concierge to make reservation. And as mentioned on their website, I called at 4pm as it’s after 3pm that they have a English-speaking staff who could take reservation for non-Japanese speaking customers.

With only 1 menu, I started my ¥22,000 dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (appetiser) (above) – Japanese duck and winter spinach.


2) Dish #2 (deep-fried) (above) – Soft-shelled turtle, shiitake mushroom, lotus root and mitsuba green.


3) Dish #3 (soup) (above) – Hard clam and freshly-harvested bamboo shoot.

4) Dish #4 (sashimi) (above) – Flatfish and fresh sea urchin, garnished with fresh seaweed and Japanese herbs.

5) Dish #5 (sashimi) (above) – Yellowtail mixed with grated white radish.

6) Dish #6 (sashimi) (above) – Seared Spanish mackerel.

7) Dish #7 (charcoal-grilled) (above) – Horsehead snapper and shrimp-shaped taro.

8) Dish #8 (delicacy) (above) – Blowfish milt and snow crab covered with sticky crab sauce.


9) Dish #9 (hot pot) (above) – Kinme snapper with seasonal vegetables.



  

10) Dish #10 (steamed rice) (above) – Steamed rice with scallop. Miso soup and pickled vegetables. It was nice that chef-owner Hideki Ishikawa would present the claypot rice personally to every group of customers. Even to the extent of mixing the ingredients up. One may or may not be able to tell from the photographs chef Ishikawa san was a loud person with big actions. If I could, I may even use the word ‘eccentric’ to describe him. Haha. It was a side of him which I wasn’t aware of and that made my dining experience somewhat new and fresh too. I was very entertained by his gestures. And he speaks good English too; Communicating really well with locals and tourists.

11) Dish #11 (dessert) (above) – Fresh strawberry, molasses agar and crushed rum jelly on coconut soup.

The fact that I was presented with a claypot fully filled with rice, it isn’t difficult to guess that I didn’t finish my dish. At the end of my dinner, the staff passed me a paper bag containing a rice ball (onigiri) as they handed me my outerwear.

  

And it’s to note that preparation of the dishes were done by the kitchen staff rather than chef Ishikawa san. Although chef Ishikawa san do regularly head into the kitchen to check. How do I know? Being seated at the counter, I saw a kitchen staff handing him a bowl for chef Ishikawa san to try for his nod of approval.

Would I recommend Kagurazaka Ishikawa? Well… In all honesty, I was expecting more since it’s after all a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. But stars aside, I do acknowledge it’s a restaurant worth checking out although it doesn’t rank high on my list of top-restaurants-to-visit in Tokyo.

KAGURAZAKA ISHIKAWA 神楽坂 石かわ
5-37 Kagurazaka Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 新宿区 神楽坂 5-37 高村ビル 1F)
+81 3 5225 0173, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 17:30 – 00:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Iggy’s [Revisit]

July 24, 2017 in European

Having seen many food posts of Iggy’s bar menu on instagram (yes, the power of social media), reservation was made for a Friday evening. And we gave 3 weeks’ notice, but that’s only because my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend)’s and my schedules kept clashing. To secure our reservation, the restaurant requested for my credit card details.

And it was very timely that my IGGF and I were to have dinner on the immediate night after Michelin Guide Singapore announced Iggy’s was awarded 1 Michelin star for 2017. Hee.

Located in Hilton Hotel, it’s a 8 to 10 minutes walk from Orchard MRT station. It being a revisit, I noticed Iggy’s has changed their entrance from being centre of the wall to the side with their recent renovation. And in my opinion, I felt that was a good move because with their old entrance, it was difficult to locate the door when there’re events in the ballrooms as people would crowd in the lobby and block the view of Iggy’s entrance. Yes, Iggy’s shared the floor with a few ballrooms.

My IGGF and I arrived punctually at 7pm. However, the staff accidentally seated us at the main dining area although I mentioned in my email that we were making reservation for their gastro-bar menu. As the dinner menu (pages 1, 2) differed from the bar menu, we were re-led to the bar counter.

And from the bar menu, my IGGF and I ordered:-


1) Eggs & eggs (2 pcs), $39 (above) – 63C egg, truffle potato “espuma” and kaluga queen caviar.


  

2) Pintoxos, (4 pcs), $26 (above) – Pickled kohada “escalivada” on toast.


  

3) Sardine on ohba leaf, Complimentary (above) – Sardine from Scotland, topped with ponzu sauce and salmon roe (ikura). We were surprised when head chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive personally presented this. “On the house,” he said. Awww. Such a lovely gesture! And this was so good. My IGGF and I agreed this should be put on the menu.


  

4) Croquette (4 pcs), Complimentary (above) – And it’s stated on the menu that the croquette, which cost $16, were made with jamon iberico filling. As we really wanted to try this, my IGGF and I enquired if it was possible to do 2 pieces without the jamon iberico since my IGGF don’t take pork. Unfortunately, the waiting staff checked with the kitchen and informed us that it was not possible as the filling were pre-made. However, imagine our confused but happy faces when the staff came up with croquette and informed us that the kitchen had specially prepared 2 pieces with mushroom filling and 2 pieces with shrimp filling. We were further surprised to learn that it was (again) on the house when we were making payment. Although we didn’t get to try the original flavour, I certainly recommend ordering this! Fried to perfection; Crisp exterior with creamy interior.


5) Ceviche, $28 (above) – Oyster, finger lime, shallots and lemon snow.

6) Tomato Garden, $18 (above) – Heirloom tomato, cucumber and basil.

  

7) Fish tacos, $22 (above) – Mackerel, chipotle emulsion, avocado mousse, skate and sambal, red onions.

8) 2017 Iggy’s burger (2 pcs) (above) – Toriyama wagyu, onion & epoisse, amelia tomato. Now… It’s probably a known fact that I don’t take beef. But having heard much about their burger, I really wanted to try. And we were definitely 2 very happy and satisfied diners because we were informed the kitchen could do 1 pork burger (above, left) and 1 beef burger (above, right) for us. Yeah! And this was so good. We were each raving about our burgers. The pork fillet was thick and juicy. But what I really loved about it was the steamed brioche bun used. So soft and fluffy!

9) Capellini, $34 (above) – Sakura ebi, lobster oil and kombu, sorrel. In 2 serving sizes ($26 and $34), we went with the bigger portion of course. Keke.

10) Watermelon, $10 (above) – Palette of scented compressed watermelon. I won’t deny we were a little disappointed to see a very simple plating of 4 watermelon cubes on our respective plates. But it become an interesting experience when we were told the pieces were flavoured with mint, shiso, basil and gin lime respectively and my IGGF and I tried to identify the flavour to each piece.

11) French toast, $14 (above) – Bourbon ice cream.


12) Petit fours, Complimentary (above) – Green tea macaron, coconut truffle, kiwi bon bon and white-chocolate-soursop popsicle.

My IGGF and I were very impressed with dinner. Although we were only having the bar menu, our dining experience certainly wasn’t any less stellar than the dinner menu’s. Every dish was so good! If it wasn’t for our dietary restriction (of no beef and pork), we probably would have gone on to try every dish on the menu!

Iggy’s? I would definitely recommend them. And if one can’t make it in the evening, one could consider their lunch menu (pages 1, 2) instead!

IGGY’S
581 Orchard Road, The Hilton Hotel, Level 3, Singapore
6732 2234, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch Seating)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sat : 19:00 – 21:30 (Dinner Seating)
Value: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun
Service: 8