Lunch @ Shinji by Kanesaka (Raffles Hotel)

April 3, 2015 in Japanese

I’ve long heard about the Japanese restaurant at Raffles Hotel. Oh yes, I’m referring to Shinji by Kanesaka. Friends who have dined at Shinji raved about their sushi. They said I haven’t quite tasted sushi till I tried Shinji. But with my stubbornness of not wanting to check out restaurants that’re located within hotels, it has taken me a long while to finally visit Shinji. Haha. And with that, reservation was made for lunch on a Saturday. Reservation is a must, by the way.

Taken from Shinji’s website, Shinji is an extension of 2 Michelin stars chef Shinji Kanesaka’s edo-style sushi restaurant and it’s his first venture outside Japan. Omakase menu is executed by a native Japanese team of artisan chefs with head chef Koichiro Oshino at the helm. And head chef Oshino has worked with master chef Kanesaka for more than 20 years.

Upon entry, one would enter the counter area which could sit up to 15 people. There’re private rooms too, but I believe the entrance to the private rooms are different cause halfway through our lunch, the chefs began preparing food for a big group. But I did not see the big group walk in. And it’s brilliant that there were different entrances to minimise disturbance to our dining experience. Taken from Shinji’s website again, the restaurant was designed by Junzo Irikado, with organic materials like wood and paper flown in from Japan to provide for the restaurant’s furnishing and fixtures. And one highlight is the restaurant’s main sushi counter which was singularly carved from the trunk of a 220-year-old Japanese cypress or hinoki tree.

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

1) Omakase special (yume), $250 comprised of appetiser, assorted sashimi, assorted cooked dishes, nigiri sushi and maki sushi, soup and Japanese fruit:-

(A) Tai (above) – Snapper.


(B) Bafun-uni (foreground), murasaki-uni (background) (above) – Short spine sea urchin, violet sea urchin. Salt was also given to be used sparingly to enhance the sweetness of the sea urchin.

(C) Kobashira with awabi kimo (above) – Adductor muscles of clam with abalone liver. Clam was skewer grilled (yakitori). And I really liked the slight smokiness from the clam and chef Oshino’s creativity in using abalone liver as its accompanying sauce. So good.

(D) Aoyagi (above) – Orange clam.


(E) Katsuo (above) – Bonito.

(F) Shiro-ebi with uni (above) – Baby white shrimp with sea urchin. One of my favourite combinations!

(G) Kinmedai (above) – Big-eye snapper. Served with gravy and topped with egg-mayonnaise. Except for the Japanese kai-lan, I really enjoyed this dish.

(H) Momotaro (above) – Tomato. I did not really like this. Not because I am a bring-on-the-meat person, but it was acidically sour. But I finished this especially after witnessing the behind-the-scene; A long knife was used to slice off the skin of the small tomato, thinly. Wow. That’s some skill.


(I) Assorted sushi & makimono temaki roll (above) – Kanpachi (greater amberjack), sawara (Spanish mackerel), wakaremi (dorsal fin of tuna), shimofuri-otoro (shimofuri being the cut of partial-chutoro & partial-otoro of tuna where it has snowflake-like marbling), aji (jack mackerel) topped with spring onion and ginger puree, kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn) served boiled and halved for ladies, maguro zuke (marinated suka tuna), sayori (needlefish), temaki roll (hand roll) of crisp seaweed wrapped around warm shari (sushi rice) and strips of otoro & cucumber, preserved pickles (foreground in last picture) and custard-styled tamago (egg) (background in last picture). I especially enjoyed the sushi course of my omakase. I got to try many premium cuts like wakaremi and shimofuri-otoro which were my firsts. And it was indeed the shari (sushi rice) that set Shinji apart from their counterparts. The shari had more flavour with its stronger vinegar taste. And it’s because of this that one must eat sushi in the correct manner where the topping should touch one’s tongue first. Yes, it makes a difference. A newly-made friend (waves to @lailian27) who also frequents Shinji shared with me of how every sushi is made of 150 rice grains. Oh yes, apparently someone verified that fact too! And that fact showed the consistency in every sushi. Wow.

(J) Negima-jiruScallions and tuna soup. With kelp too, tuna was served in the form of a meatball.

(K) Dessert (above) – Our omakase set was to come with fruit (melon). However, it being spring, Shinji had its seasonal dessert of monaka which is a Japanese sweet with filling sandwiched between thin, crisp wafers. Shinji’s version was with azuki beans, matcha ice cream and glutinous rice that’s pink from sakura essence. I requested to change my dessert of fruit to monaka. But chef Oshino was very nice to give me both. All thanks to my friend who’s a regular too! Keke. Sakura leaf (not pictured) was also given for one to wrap the monaka with. But I chose not to cause I did not like the slightly bitter taste the leaf leaves behind.

2) Chirashi, $50 – Rice which was uniformly mixed with a generous amount sea urchin, and further topped with minced tuna. So good.

I totally enjoyed my lunch. It was one of my most memorable Japanese meals in Singapore. We were spoilt by chef Oshino with the beautifully executed dishes. And remember how I always feel short changed when vegetables were served for my omakase? I’m so glad I was given none at Shinji. Well, just 1 dish of tomato is acceptable for some balance. Ha!

And service was impeccable. Staff were friendly and polite. The same goes for the chefs too. Chef Oshino had a pretty good humour! But what I really liked about Shinji was the ambience. It was very… Tranquil. I was able to detach myself from what’s happening beyond the four walls and concentrate on the meal. I finally understand why friends flock to Shinji whenever they’re stressed. Haha.

As I came with a friend who frequents Shinji, my omakase meal was somewhat customised to her preference. Which wasn’t a problem cause we’ve similar palates. Keke. Chef Oshino served us 2 different types of sea urchin cause my friend loves sea urchin. So really, to have a memorable omakase meal, even if it’s one first time at Shinji, always let the chef know one’s likes and dislikes. Or be a regular at Shinji (which I think isn’t difficult cause one really do crave for their sushi) and have one’s preference remembered by the chefs. Ha!

Sushi? Shinji, for sure! They have reasonably priced sets which wouldn’t cost one to break the bank. For lunch, 9 and 15 pieces of nigiri sushi are priced at $75 and $180 respectively. If not, there’s 15 pieces at $220 for dinner. All come with maki sushi, soup and dessert. =)

1 Beach Road, Raffles Hotel, #02-20, Singapore
6338 6131, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2016.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant has moved to 76 Bras Basah Rd, Carlton Hotel, Lobby Floor.
UPDATE 3: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.

UPDATE 4: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2018.

Dinner @ Tomi Sushi

August 28, 2014 in Japanese

It being my birthday month (Oh my, it still is!), I did my usual google-ing to sass out restaurants (which I deem) suitable for family meals-out; Good food, not too expensive (since we are a big group) and nice environment.

With the help of Instagram too, I came across Tomi Sushi. And I thought it will be a nice change to try a different Japanese chain restaurant. Having 2 outlets qualify them as being a chain restaurant, right? =)

I was not able to make a reservation as their line was engaged for all my 3 attempts. But fortunately, we were seated promptly when we arrived on a weekday evening. And what stood out was the variety of set menu that Tomi Sushi offered.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Kappa sushi, $4 (above) – Instead of one chunky strip, the chef went the extra mile of slicing the cucumber into very thin strips.

2) Otoro sushi, $30 (above) – We ordered this as part of their maguro promotion where 2 pieces were going for $15 instead of the usual $30. And for the price, this was justifiably good.

3) Tamago Tsumami, $8 (above) – Served cold, this densely layered egg omelette was exactly how a good tamago should be.

4) Harasu shioyaki, $12 (above) – Salmon belly. I am not one who normally order such, so thank god for my brother. It was so good! Salmon was succulent and tender. A must try!

5) Sashimi (above) – This was ordered from the chef’s recommendation menu. We chose to have kuromutsu (sea bass) sashimi at $34 and akagai (ark shell) sashimi at $18. Besides sashimi, one can also opt to have it as nigiri sushi or whole (only for fish option).

6) Tokujyo chirashi, $54 (above) – I was having a craving for chirashi, thus this order. Tomi Sushi takes pride for using Koshihikari rice, and I certainly enjoyed the rice which was still warm when I tucked in. I liked how pieces of adequately-sized seaweed were placed between the sashimi and rice. But in terms of variety and value, one may prefer their set menus.

7) Unaju set, $45 (above) – Besides the eel, the set included salad, fruits, chawanmushi and miso soup.

8) Chicken teriyaki gozen, $35 (above) – Sushi, sashimi, tempura, noodle and fruits came along with the teriyaki chicken. Chawanmushi was an additional order at $6.

9) Sushi gozen, $54 (above) – Generous portion which was enough for 2 to share! We topped up $3 to change the miso soup to noodle (udon).

Tomi Sushi is definitely an ideal place for family meal-out or big group gatherings. They also have different soy sauces for sushi and sashimi. But unfortunately, we couldn’t taste the difference. Ha. Service was good as our drinks got topped up regularly and it was not too difficult to get their attention as we ordered additional dishes throughout our dinner. Their a-la carte dishes maybe a little pricier than other chain restaurants, but rest assured it’s because one is paying for the better quality of food.

238 Thomson Road, Velocity, 02-76/77, Singapore
6255 2355, Website
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 22:30
Ambience: 6
Value: 7
Service: 6

Dinner @ Sushi Kou

July 23, 2014 in Japanese

I was doing my research for an affordable and decent Japanese restaurant (to bring my family to) when I google-ed up Sushi Kou. What made me interested was their affordable omakase sets priced at $50, $80 and $100. With a nod from my (birthday) brother, I quickly called to make reservation. However, I failed to realise it was actually nearing midnight.

Me : Hi, I like to make a reservation for Saturday, 7pm.
Him : Oh, wow. I cleaned up everything. Thought I can go home already. But I am very happy you called.

I was actually left confused till I looked at the clock and realised how late I made my call! So yes, I was very touched that although I called way past their closing hours, the staff still made the effort to pick up the phone. With a good sense of humour too. =)

We arrived on a Sunday night and were led promptly to our table.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Pickled seaweed, Complimentary (above)

2) Stamina roll, $18 (above) – Avocado & omelette roll topped with whole roasted eel.

3) Sushi & mini udon set, $18 (above) – Set came with chawanmushi and dessert, which was jelly. I was disappointed with the toppings of the sushi. The colors looked so bad and non-appetizing.

4) Gindara teriyaki set, $25 (above) – Grilled silver cod. Set came with chawanmushi, rice, miso soup and dessert. The set is priced at $18, but we opted for additional sashimi. Thus, $25. Sashimi comprised of tuna, salmon and squid. For additional sushi (instead of sashimi), it’s $26.

5) Unagi set, $29 (above) – Similarly, set came with chawanmushi, rice, miso soup and dessert. The set is priced at $22, but we opted for additional sashimi. Thus, $29. For sushi, it’s $30. And the unagi was really good!

6) Katsu jyu zen, $18 (above) – Cutlet with egg on rice set. Set came with chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert. My brothers and I actually grew up eating katsu don (oh yes, I remember how excited we will be whenever Mom brought us out to eat Japanese when we were little kids), so this was good comfort food. Thick, juicy pork cutlet made a little soggy by the omlette. Yum.

7) Special kaisen don set, $26 (above) – Assorted seafood on sushi rice. Set came with chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert.

In the end, we did not try the omakase sets because Sushi Kou require us to order for 2 people, minimum. And the sets had to be of the same price. Meaning, if my brother and I were to go with omakase, we had to order two $80. We cant order one $50 and one $80. As such, we decided to go with the set menu which offered us more variety!

If you are interested to know more about their omakase sets, you can read fellow blogger MissTamChiak‘s, although hers was a media invite.

Generally, I was pleased with our dining experience. Decent food at very affordable prices. You know how the price plays an important role when you are paying for a big group. =p And for the price we were paying, I felt we were getting a good deal cause we’re dining in a proper restaurant. You know how it’s different when you are dining in a restaurant compared to an outlet which is one of the many (franchised) branches? The service for the former is definitely more attentive.

So yes, I definitely recommend Sushi Kou!

1 Tras Link, Orchid Hotel, #01-16, Singapore
6444 8433, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8