Lunch @ Suigei Sake Salon

April 27, 2016 in Japanese

My girlfriend was excited to share her new find with me. She being a barachiraishi fan, she exclaimed, “Better than Aoki‘s (mazechirsahi).” And with that, we arranged to meet up for a Saturday lunch. =)

Suigei Sake Salon is very much a hidden gem now. But once words get out, reservation is a must as the place is small (but cosy) and has a cap on the set lunch’s availability. Yes, only 5 sets are available for each of the 3 different set lunch. My girlfriend took charge of making reservation. And because we knew what we’ll be ordering (since she was bringing me there just for their chiraishi set. Ha!), she made reservation for 2 barachirashi too.

Suigei Sake Salon is very conveniently located in Orchard. So it’s pretty straight forward if arriving by public transport. Take the train to Orchard MRT station and walk towards Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. Parking, on the other hand, may be trickier cause of parking charges. I guess one can park at neighbouring shopping malls if Marriott’s parking rate is too expensive?

And since I am one who like to try significantly sufficient dishes on the menu before sharing a review, I headed back for a 2nd visit (on my own). =p The lunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) at Suigei Sake Salon is pretty limited with only 3 options for the set lunch and some finger foods which can be ordered a-la carte:-

1) Chirashi sushi set, $33 comprised of:-


  

(A) Chirashi sushi, miso soup, small dish & oshinko (above) – As mentioned by my girlfriend, Suigei Sake Salon’s take on the barachiraishi is wonderful. There’s a good variety of fishes, and they were generous with the portion. And I don’t just mean the rice, but the sashimi toppings! And for the small dish, we were given hairy crab cream croquette. The croquette was so good! This can be ordered on its own from the a-la carte menu at 2 for $16.

  

(B) Dessert (above) – Soy bean pudding with matcha cream.

2) Tendon set, $29 comprised of:-


  

(A) Tempura bowl, miso soup, small dish & oshinko (above) – Comprised of prawn, radish, pumpkin, asparagus, fish and lotus root tempuras. With hairy crab for the small dish.

  

(B) Dessert (above) – I was given the option to choose between soy bean pudding and pumpking pudding. Since I had the former before, I went for the latter; Pumpkin pudding with whipped cream. And this was smooth, with some grains for texture. Thick, good pumpkin puree. I like.

And Suigei Sake Salon is opened by the same people behind Sushi Ichi. As taken from their website, they have collaborated with the one of the most famous Sake Brewery Suigei of Kochi Prefecture in Japan. Sake list carries mainly Suigei Sake, and over 30 varieties of selected Sake from Japan. One may also opt for their in-house bartender to create sake-based cocktail that’s not on the sake menu (pages 1, 2, 3).

Will I recommend Suigei Sake Salon? A definite yes if, and only if, one loves barachirashi. And since they share the same kitchen and supply of fishes as Sushi Ichi, the freshness of the fish is guaranteed. And it’s very value for money.

However, I did notice inconsistency in their service. On my first visit, they had a Japanese waiting staff donned in kimono attending to us. On my second visit, the bartender was running the entire show. I guess the waiting staff had to help out at Sushi Ichi. That said, I like the ambience. Good for some quality ‘me time’. Which was why I didn’t mind heading back on my own for my repeated visit. =)

SUIGEI SAKE SALON
320 Orchard Road, Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, Level 1, Singapore
6235 5514, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Mon
Service: 7

Dinner @ Katayama

April 6, 2016 in Japanese

My girlfriend was pleased with her dining experience at Katayama, and insisted I have to check out the place with her. And so I did. =) Katayama’s supply of fishes come in on Tuesday and Friday. Thus, reservation was made for a Tuesday night.

And because my girlfriend has since become a regular with them (Ie, the staff knows who she is), I made a second reservation with another friend months after my first visit for a non-bias dining experience. Well, you see… Even though I am writing out of interest, I still like to get things done properly. =p A review should be of a true (non-bias) dining experience with sufficient number of dishes tried.

That said, I was heading back to try their kinki fish, which the staff said could be done in 2 to 3 ways. And I love my kinki fish!

Reservation is definitely a must as Katayama opens only for dinner. And although the unit is not very big, they are doing pretty well as I noticed the shop is heavily patronised by regulars. On my first visit, we took counter seats while on my second visit, we took the table cause we were dining in a group of 3.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), we ordered:-

1) Edamame, $5 (above) – And this was served once we were seated. I guess one can choose not to have this if one isn’t a big fan of these soy beans.

2) Firefly squid, $5 (above)

3) Fish sperm, $12 (above)

4) Onsen egg, $20 (above) – This was pretty good, though a little pricey.



5) Sashimi platter, $108 (above) – Assortment of sayori (needle fish), otoro (premium tuna), akagai (ark shell), hamachi, kanpachi, tai (snapper), ingawa, and aji (horse mackerel). And to go with our sashimi, we were given 3 sauces; soya, ponzu with spring onion (for the thinly sliced fishes like tai) and ginger (for aji and silver fish).

6) Akagai (ark shell) sushi, $10 (above, foreground)

7) Anago sushi, $10 (above, background) – Despite being told that the sushi was $10 a pop and me finding it expensive, I went ahead to order as I was interested to try the quality of their sushi. And frankly, it was a disappointment. Don’t bother with their sushi, I say. Unless they make adjustment to the pricing.

8) Shiraishi don, $35 (above) – And this was ordered during my first visit with my girlfriend. We requested for a smaller portion as we were almost full but still greedy. And our shiraishi don had burdock, ikura (salmon roe), tobiko (flying fish roe), uni (sea urchin), negitoro and tamago. A very good variety. I was impressed.

9) Shiraishi don, $80 (above) – And this was ordered by my friend during my second visit. This would be the full portion as he did not order anything else. Sadly to say, when I compare it to the one I had on my previous visit, this was a let down.

  

10) Kinki fish (2 ways), $68 (above) – And it was for this that I wanted to come back to Katayama for the second time. During my previous visit, I was told they could do kinki fish in 3 ways. However, on the day I revisited, I was told the kinki fish was a little small to be done 3 ways. As such, I went with 2; fried and braised. And the fish was certainly fresh.

11) Braised fish and livers, $18 (above) – This was ordered with my girlfriend during my first visit. We were looking at their display shelf and was recommended to try the shima-aji, braised in the traditional cooking method. And it was a lovely surprised when the chef also included fish liver; That of mirugai (geoduck), shima-aji and kinki liver. The livers were so good! A must try.

12) Dessert, Complimentary (above) – And this was given during my first visit. I believe this is actually a privileged service as my girlfriend is considered a regular thanks to her frequent patronising.

Will I head back to Katayama? Well… No. The price was a little on the high side, and service was well… Subjective. The place is pretty small with just the chef behind the sushi counter, a waiting staff who tends to the tables and a staff who prepares the cooked food in the kitchen. Chef was on the quiet side, but he responds politely when spoken to. It’s the waiting staff, whom one can either like or don’t like. No in-between.

I had no issue with the waiting staff when I visited with my girlfriend on my first visit as the waiting staff was familiar with my girlfriend. The waiting staff is like the nosey auntie who talks loud and speaks her mind. The ‘no bull shit’ type. And it’s also because of that, when I visited again with 2 friends, my friends found her a little annoying. My female friend was given the cold shoulder cause she wasn’t planning to order much anything. And the waiting staff showed clear bias-ness towards my male friend. She kept addressing my male friend as “yan dao eh” and would come over to make small talks although we were clearly engrossed in our conversation.

Besides ordering a-la carte, one may go omakase ($100, $120, $150). The table of regulars were having the $100 omakase, which allowed me to see that the omakase included sushi, sashimi, tempura and grilled fish.

The only reason I could think that would make me head back would be for their braised dishes, which was definitely their strength.

KATAYAMA
5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, #04-01, Singapore
6738 6048
Overall: 6
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
* Closed on Sun
Service: 5

Lunch @ Aoki Restaurant [Revisit]

May 17, 2015 in Japanese

My most recent Japanese meal at a sushi-ya was more than a month ago! And in my dictionary, that’s not exactly recent cause I (normally) pamper myself with one such meal every month, at the very least. And so, when we were finally off to our (next) Japanese meal at Aoki, I was excited. Like yeah! Finally. Proper sushi. =p

Reservation is a must as the counter can only take 15 people at one seating. And thus, reservation was made for 3 people in advance by 1.5 weeks. There’re 2 seatings; 12pm and 1.30pm. We decided to go for the earlier time slot as 1 of us wanted to order Aoki’s mazechirashi. The barachirashi are prepared in limited quantity. So of course must come early.

Finding Aoki can be slightly tricky if one haven’t been to Aoki before. Located on the same stretch as units like Les Amis, the entrance to Aoki is only identifiable by Japanese letters. Which I’m assuming it’s the restaurant name. Duh. And after one pass through the draped cloth, one can’t help but feel slightly lost as one slides open the door on one’s right hand side as there’s no staff stationed permanently at the entrance to welcome confused first-timers to Aoki.

I fumbled with the sliding door (was pulling in the wrong direction. Oops) when a staff saw me and came up to me. And to get to the counter seats, one would be led down a short flight of stairs. This would be my first sitting at Aoki’s counter since I had been sitting in their cubicle for my past visits.

Priced at $115, lunch omakase entitles one to appetizer, sashimi, soup, grilled fish, tempura dish, sushi and dessert. However, I decided to customise it by requesting for ‘sashimi & sushi only’ omakase. On top of which, I went with $200 since I wanted premium ingredient. Although to be fair, I have not tried their $115 lunch omakase to know what’s served.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), we ordered:-

1) Omakase (jyo-sen), $200 comprised of:-

(A) Pre-appetizer, $6 (above) – Now, one thing that I can’t comprehend and stand is when I’m paying a significant amount for my meal, yet I am still charged for this (otoshi). $6 for a small bowl of vegetables? To me, it’s a rip off.

(B) Hotaruika sumiso (above) – Japanese firefly squid with vinegared white miso. Spring is definitely the season for firefly fly squid, and the ones served at Aoki sure were ‘fat’. Bite into the squid for an explosion of its innards. Pretty good. Although 3 would have been just nice. 4 was a little overkill.

(C) Murasaki uni (above) – Sea urchin. As we were given the best seats in the house (seated right in front of head chef Kunio Aoki), we witnessed the rock of salt being grated and sprinkled onto the sea urchin to enhance its sweetness. And the salt (that’s on the plate) looked like soft snow from afar. Ha. Sea urchin was good and creamy.


(D) Shiromi shio konbu kuro truffle (above) – Thin slice of natural white fish served with black truffles, sesame oil, lime and seaweed. And this is my all-time favourite at Aoki. I fell in love when I first had it 5 years ago, and it’s still as good after all these years! And coming at the correct season is key as this time, we were given sliced summer (white) truffles from Italy instead of the usual black. A must try!

(E) Katsuo sashimi (above) – Bonito fish sashimi. I liked how the radish sauce (kashidashi) and chives complimented the fish. Very refreshing and good. Am really glad we were given 4 slices (each) to (sufficiently) savour and enjoy the dish. Yum.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

(F) Sushi (above) – We were given makokarei (sole fish), amadai (snapper), hiramasa (yellow tail), chutoro, maguro zuke (marinated tuna), otoro, kohada (gizzard shad), ebi (prawn), torigai (heart clam), shiromirugai (geoduck), anago (sea eel), bafun uni (sea urchin), negitoro-maki (minced tuna with spring onion roll) topped with bafun uni and negitoro-and-takuan temaki (minced tuna with spring onion and pickled radish hand roll) and tamago (egg omlette). And there’s many reasons to smile about the sushi at Aoki. I’ve started to pay more attention to the shari (sushi rice), and I liked that the vinegar taste was subtle without overpowering the delicate taste of the fishes. And I got to try more uncommon fishes like sole fish, gizzard shad, etc. However, it was odd that the dosage of wasabi was inconsistent. At least 2 pieces (of sushi) were too strong.

  

(G) Soup (above)

(H) Dessert (above) – Of the black sugar ice cream, orange pudding and mochi, I liked the mochi the most! So soft and chewy. Yum. The orange within the pudding was bitter.

2) Mazechirashi, $40 comprised of:-

(A) Pre-appetizer, $6 (above)

(B) Salad

(C) Mazechirashi (above) – Sushi rice topped with mixed sashimi. Served with miso soup and pickles.

(D) Dessert – Similar to what we had for our lunch omakase.

Did I enjoy myself at Aoki? Definitely! I always opt for counter seats when I go for omakase because I like watching the chefs at work. And head chef Aoki certainly did not disappoint. Although I have to say he looks pretty fierce and intimidating. Although he assured us that it’s his ‘busy’ facial expression. And busy, he sure was. Besides taking care of the patrons sitting in his section at the sushi counter, he was also preparing food for customers sitting within the cubicles, etc.

Service was good too. When it comes to topping up of warm drinks, I liked it when staff exchanged my cup (of warm water) with a new one. And taken from their website, one may want to take note that the minimum spending (per person) for dinner is $100 for Monday to Thursday and $180 for Friday to Saturday.

And for those who like to know what’s being offered in the (normal) $115 lunch omakase, one can read fellow blogger MakeYourCaloriesCount‘s review too.

AOKI RESTAURANT
1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre, #01-17, Singapore
6333 8015, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7