Dinner @ Arakawa Osaka Cuisine

July 15, 2018 in Japanese

Always on the hunt for new places, I got to know about Arakawa from instagram (yet again). And I was excited because the interior decor look promising from pictures; Authentic in a rustic way. And to check out Arakawa, I got @zachdevours (also called IGBP (InstaGram Bottomless Pit) in my previous post) to visit with me. Because I found the place, he volunteered to make reservation by calling the restaurant. Ha!

We arrived at the restaurant on a Wednesday night. But because it was a little difficult to locate the unit, we were slightly late for our 7.30pm reservation. And with us and another group that started before us, the restaurant was half full. However, it’s interesting to observe that as it neared 8.30pm, more customers came in and soon the restaurant was running at its full capacity of 14 people. In fact, the group of 5 that came in earlier than us were reminded they had to leave to make space for the 8.30pm crowd second seating. I guess their meal must have dragged for more than 2 hours.

If anyone found head chef Seiichiro Arakawa familiar, that’s because he was the executive chef at now-defunct Han Japanese Restaurant in Odeon Towers. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:

1) $80 omakase comprised of:-


(A) Appetiser (above) – What surprised me was the crab-flavoured sesame tofu. Pretty unique. And of course, he topped it with crab innards and crab meat.

(B) Sashimi (above) – Yellowtail, tuna and salmon belly.


  

(C) Steamed (above) – Simmered duck, taro ball, peas and radish (daikon) with wasabi sauce.

(D) Grilled (above) – Japanese barracuda with (yellow-coloured) gluten.

(E) Fried (above) – Corn and pike eel tempura.


(F) Meal (above) – For the rice bowl, we were served bonito drizzled with sesame sauce.


(G) Dessert (above)

2) Oden (above) – Chicken ball ($4), fried tofu ($4) and konjak ($3).

3) Oden (above) – Fried tofu pouch with rice cake ($5) and shumai ($7).

During our dinner, we got a glimpse of the $130 omakase course as some customers from the second seating ordered it. And they were given additional cockle (torigai) for their sashimi dish, and wagyu beef instead of fish for their grilled dish. Can I just say I was glad I didn’t go with my usual of ordering the most expensive course? Phew.

Would I recommend Arakawa? Well, I wouldn’t recommend Arakawa although the number of restaurants offering kappo cuisine in Singapore is very limited. I didn’t feel the dishes justified the $80 spent. In fact for kappo cuisine, there’s another restaurant in Orchard that does it better. As for oden, I do know of others but unfortunately none are in Orchard.

That said, if one is really bent on trying Arakawa, maybe head over for their lunch menu instead.

ARAKAWA OSAKA CUISINE
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #01-34, Singapore
6733 0107, Facebook
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 03:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 6
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Kappo Shunsui

June 21, 2017 in Japanese

Hitting a dead end in my search for sushi restaurants, I texted my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) if she knew of any new ones. And that was when she shared a picture of a gold door. However, that was all that she knew of the new Japanese restaurant. Now, I pride myself as a search guru. So… The challenge (to identify it is) on. Keke.

Unfortunately, nothing turned up when I google-ed ‘new Japanese restaurant’ and ‘golden door’. No! Die, die must find out. So I analysed the photo (of a mere gold door) and concluded it should be located in an old shopping mall based on the faint reflection of the shopping mall interior. Hmm.

And fate had it that I was meeting a friend at Cuppage Plaza that night. Just when my friend and I were at level 5 and making our way to the carpark after dinner, I caught a glimpse of a familiar-looking wallpaper at level 4. One can say I was on full alert mode. Ha! Excused myself to check it out and there it was… The Japanese restaurant which my IGGF and I were looking for. Kappo Shunsui!

Unfortunately, due to my IGGF’s and my conflicting schedules, we were only able to meet for dinner 3 weeks later. And it was a huge bummer when we saw posts of Kappo Shunsui appearing on instagram just days before our visit due to the restaurant having conducted media invite. Secret, no more. Sob.

My IGGF and I arrived at the restaurant at 7pm. I honestly loved how low key the exterior was. Reminded me much of Japan. Pressing the console was akin to pressing a door bell where the staff would be alerted to open the door.

Opposite to the minimally designed exterior, the interior was designed with much attention put to the smallest details. The corridor to the toilet had floor lights in addition to ceiling lights. And yes, they have their own toilet which was nicely furnished too.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Omakase, $249 comprised of:-


(A) Dish #1 (above) – Simmered octopus, broad bean, seaweed, potato lotus, and jelly made with bonito broth, soya sauce and vinegar.

(B) Dish #2 (above) – Pike eel.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi assortment of torched barracuda, kingfish (hiramasu) and red snapper (tai). My favourite was the barracuda! We saw head chef Tomo Watanabe spritzing some liquid over the dish before it was served to us. And out of curiosity, we asked the staff what it was. The staff humorously replied “Ajinomoto.” Hahaha. But of course, that’s just water.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and vinegared gizzard shad (kohada) sushi.

(E) Dish #5 (above) – With ponzu sauce, grated radish and chili, we were served long tooth grouper (kue) and vegetables in a pot of simmering soup.


(F) Dish #6 (above) – Grilled arctic surf clam (hokkigai). And for this dish, we were treated to a (mini) performance where head chef Watanabe san slammed the clams onto the counter and exaggeratedly sprinkling salt into them before grilling it over charcoal. It was a good thing I finished my soup cause some salt went into my pot. Ha. And we loved how he put the grilled clams onto shell-looking ceramic plates. And yes, we were told the ceramic items were all head chef Watanabe san’s personal collection. Nice.


(G) Dish #7 (above) – Tomato with tomato jelly and micro tomato. How cute! And yes, we were told hand-squeezed tomato juice was used to make the jelly. A really refreshing taste. I enjoyed it much.


(H1) Dish #8 (above) – For the meat dish, my IGGF was served beef from Omi. We were told the slab was grilled on the surface before continuing to slow cook it for 1.5 hours in dashi stock. And she couldn’t stop raving about it.


(H2) Dish #8 (above) – And because I don’t eat beef, I had a fish dish instead. Was told it’s a family of cod; Abura bouzu.


  

(I) Dish #9 (above) – Claypot rice with braised red snapper head. And we gasped to know we each had half a head to ourselves! Such generous portion! We were loving it, of course. Haha. I normally share fish head with friends cause I am not too good at eating it. So for the first time, I was taught to eat the ‘correct’ parts; The jelly parts around the eye. Yummy! No more peaceful sharing of fish head in the future. Haha.


(J) Dish #10 – Almond pudding with cherry from Yamagata.

2) Homemade ‘warabimochi’ with ‘hon-warabiko’, $12 (above)

For all the excitement that my IGGF and I built up leading to our visit, I was glad the dinner didn’t disappoint. We left happy and satisfied. =)

Head chef Watanabe san couldn’t speak much English. So we depended on the waiting staff for translation. And it was through the staff that we learnt head chef Watanabe san moved from Japan (Tokyo) to Singapore with the aim of achieving a Michelin star. “Japan too tough. Too many stars,” the staff said. Haha.

But back in Japan, head chef Watanabe san opened an izakaya which was on Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list for 3 years (2015 to 2017). “Chef’s dream was to do multi-course (kaiseki),” the staff further explained. Ahhh… And hung on the walls (near the entrance) were extracted pages from the Michelin Guide. Evidence? Keke.

Do I recommend Kappo Shunsui? A big yes from me!

KAPPO SHUNSUI 割烹 旬水
5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, #04-02, Singapore
6732 0192, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Thur, Sun : 18:00 – 01:00
Ambience: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 02:00
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Lunch @ Aoyama Jin 青山 仁 (Tokyo, Japan)

December 25, 2016 in Japanese

Got to learn about Aoyama Jin through @little_meg_siu_meg‘s instagram. And thinking that we should also try the not-as-recognised restaurants (You know… Like non Michelin-starred), my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) and I decided to make reservation for lunch. And it certainly boasted our morale when they accepted our overseas reservation!

During the tele-conversation, we were asked to decide our course. And we chose ¥10,000 over ¥5000 and ¥8000. I was ready to splurge lah. However, the con was that we had to order the same menu as a group. So my IGGF had to splurge with me.

We arrived at Aoyama Jin on a bright Friday afternoon, at 12 noon sharp. And it was off to a very good start as we were impressed with its exterior. Upon entering, a lady in kimono greeted us and brought us to our private room. We were intially disappointed we weren’t allocated counter seats, but having a room to ourselves turned out to be a real blessing in disguise. We were able to take as many photographs as we wanted. Keke. And with that, we started our lunch with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Scallop and crab topped with (mixed) vinegar sauce. And what looked like caviar wasn’t caviar. It’s actually beans!


2) Dish #2 (above) – Grilled sesame tofu, served with sauce of sesame and arrowroot starch.


3) Dish #3 (above) – Soup. With dagger tooth fish and mushroom.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Thread-sail filefish (kawahagi) sashimi and its liver (kimo). And we were blown away by the plating; Served on a diamond-looking glass plate, with a maple leaf placed between the glass plate and black plate.


5) Dish #5 (above) – Spanish mackerel sashimi with its skin lightly grilled.


6) Dish #6 (above) – Sea cucumber roe and ginkgo nuts on glutinous rice.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Fried breaded matsutake mushroom. I knew it was the season for matsutake mushroom, but I wasn’t expecting it to be part of our kaiseki (traditional multi-course) course. Also known as pine mushroom, it’s nicked as the world’s most expensive mushroom due to the rare conditions under which it grow; At the base of pine trees between 20 to 60 years old. However, the number of matsutake mushrooms harvested in Japan has decreased sharply due to the introduction of a bug that kills the trees they grow under. And this was really unique. Its texture was… Creamy? So glad I managed to try such a prized item.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Half beak fish and physalis.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Fried tofu with braised duck. I was surprised to see duck on the menu cause it’s definitely one of the lesser seen meat in Japan. And this was done very nicely. I especially like the sauce.


  

10) Dish #10 (above) – Chef Fukui san came to our room personally with a big casserole (土鍋ご飯の炊き方). And he removed the wooden lid to show us the prized rice within. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to know where the rice was from due to language barrier. Though a search on instagram showed it’s 金沢コシヒカリ新米 (I hope I copied it correctly). And with hand gestures, we told chef Fukui san we only had space for small bowl of rice. And after noticing his attention to details with the past dishes, we couldn’t help but also notice how nicely chef Fuki san had shaped the rice in our bowls. Even if it was non-intentional. Although we were a little disappointed our rice was served plain. Ie, non-flavoured. Others had corn or soy bean (edamame) with their rice in the casserole as seen from pictures on instagram before our actual visit.


  

11) Dish #11 (above) – Sake pudding, chestnut ball and a cup of green tea (matcha).


12) Dish #11 (above) – And as we made payment for our meal, the staff presented us with a paper bag. And in it was 6 rice balls (onigiri). We weren’t expecting 6 because we were positive there wasn’t that much rice left in our casserole. And of course, it’s unlikely we would be given plain rice ball. Chef Fuki san had generously included tuna within.

We were very impressed with our dining experience at Aoyama Jin. Chef Fuki san paid a lot of attention to the little details. Not just to the plating of food, but also to the interior design of the place. We noticed leaves placed within the light housing on the ceiling, etc.

Would I recommend Aoyama Jin? Certainly.

But do be mindful of the time. We got so carried away with taking photographs of our food that our lunch stretched from 2 hours to 3 hours. Yes. It’s that easy to get carried away in front of beautifully plated food.

AOYAMA JIN 青山 仁
3-9-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 南青山 3-9-1)
+81 3 6721 1131, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun