Dinner @ Ichigo Ichie 一期一江 | Kappo Restaurant in Robertson Quay

February 14, 2022 in Japanese

Ichigo Ichie opened in February 2020 at Intercontinental Robertson Quay. And if head chef Akano Eno looks familiar, it’s because she previously worked at Sushi Kimura. Back then, chef Akano san would sometimes do Monday kappo at Sushi Kimura. So it’s very heart-warming to see the founder(s) of Sushi Kimura extending the support by backing chef Akano san with the opening of her very own kappo restaurant Ichigo Ichie. I definitely love seeing more female chefs in the food industry.

For our weekday dinner, my friend made the reservation for us. And there are 2 menus; Kurenai 紅 ($350) and Akane 茜 (from $428). She mentioned we went with the regular (Kurenai) menu. But if anyone is keen on the Akane menu, that requires at least 4 days advanced notice.

The space was a mix of traditional and contemporary; Wooden tables against a black-concept open kitchen. As we had already pre-selected our dinner course, the menu was placed at our designated (counter) seats. But it was strange that while the menu was personalised (in the sense that it even had my name printed on it), the restaurant failed to incorporate my mentioned dietary requirements into the menu. But it was thankful that chef Akano san was able to replace the beef dish. And after taking my drinks order, I commenced my Kurenai plus menu, $350 $400 with:-

1) Kakigama (above) – Persimmon, yuba sauce, naga nasu, smoked hotate, kuruma ebi, murasaki uni.

2) Matsutake & uchiwa ebi (above) – Premium mushroom, slipper lobster, gingko nuts.

3) Kue shabu (above) – Longtooth grouper, matsutake.

4) Premium sashimi platter (above) – Assortment of trout and roe, marinated bonito with pickled chilli, black throat sea perch (nodoguro), flounder (hirame) and flounder fin (engawa), horse mackerel (aji), lean tuna (akami), premium fatty tuna (otoro), abalone and adult yellowtail (buri).

5) Yaki matsutake (above) – Premium mushroom, hanayuzu.

6) Shiro amadai wakasayaki (above) – White tilefish, gingko nuts, amakusa aka uni. This was really good.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Iga (beef) tenderloin cutlet was replaced with abalone tempura.


8) Donabe rice (above) – Matsutake mushroom, koshihikari rice, kegani (hairy crab) & fukahire (shark’s fin) sauce. Miso soup with shijimi clams.

9) Dessert (above) – Xing ren (chinese almond) ice cream, jasmine & peach granite, peach gum, shiso flower.

10) Roasted tea (above)

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Ichigo Ichie. It was very satisfying. And dinner couldn’t have happened at a better time. I liked how we managed to catch the tail end of matsutake mushroom season (picked from September to October). In fact, chef Akano san shared it wasn’t easy getting these as our meal was right at season end. So I truly appreciate the length the restaurant went to provide the good handful of matsutake dishes into the meal.

And onto the menu… I thought we went with the regular Kurenai menu ($350). But if one looks at Ichigo Ichie website, we should have been served the signature ‘uni & ebi somen’ dish. However that didn’t happen. And when I was presented with the receipt at the end of the meal, it showed food alone was $400 instead of $350. I’m guessing the price adjustment was for the seasonal ingredient. Thus, me calling it ‘Kurenai plus‘ menu. Or maybe my girlfriend got it wrong. We might have pre-selected the Akane menu, but I was not charged the full ‘from $428‘ because I didn’t have the exclusive Iga beef tenderloin dish? Shrug.

Chef Akano san was very busy. It was quite a sight to see a petite her scurrying from one end to the other. Though that meant every diner weren’t left out. I appreciated her level of attentiveness. When she was grilling the my matsutake mushrooms, I appreciate how she intentionally moved the (portable) grill nearer to my end of the counter so that I could see what’s happening.

Would I recommend Ichigo Ichie? Definitely.

1 Nanson Road, Intercontinental Robertson Quay, #02-07A, Singapore
Website, 9018 2897
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 19:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ IRU DEN

January 31, 2022 in Japanese

Chef-owner Javier Low has definitely come a long way since his IL DEN days. Back then, IL DEN could only house 8 people maximum. And chef Javier was pretty much a one-man show; Doubling up as the waiter, cashier and sommelier. But now? His restaurant has shifted to a new premise under the new name (IRU DEN), and he is leading a team of at least 5 people (based on what I could see during my meal). In all honesty, I was surprised to learn IRU DEN was located in one of the black and white colonial houses along Scotts Road. That’s such a jump from his Orchard Plaza days. And all over a span of 3 to 4 years? I am impressed!

Reservation has since become relatively simpler. I made the reservation for my girlfriend and I via their website. Counter seats are more popular, so do plan at least 1.5 to 2 months in advanced. Especially so for Fridays and Saturdays (They are closed on Sundays). The only con is that IRU DEN requires 2 people minimum for the bookings. No solo dining…

Between the 6pm and 7.30pm seatings, my girlfriend and I went with the later slot. We also had to pre-select our menu when reservation was made. There’s 3 options; 7 courses ($198), 10 courses ($268) and 10 courses special ($368). We decided against the $368 menu because the $100 top up seemed to be solely for the claypot rice upgrade to abalone (awabi donabe).

So while my girlfriend and I thought we were to enter the colonial house through its main entrance, there was a sign to inform IRU DEN diners that IRU DEN entrance was at the side. After taking our drinks order and settling us down with the menu, we started our 10 courses omakase dinner, $268 with:-

1) Cold appetiser (above) – Aka ebi, tosazu, nanohana pesto. I enjoyed this dish. Especially liked the sourness of the accompanying sauce.

2) Sashimi (above) – Buri, moroheiya, nasu. Wished the yellowtail pieces were bigger. Everything was gone with just a few chews.

3) Shari (above) – Goma saba, vinegared rice. Didn’t like this. The mackerel was fishy while the rice was a bit mushy.

4) Tempura (above) – Suzuki, harumaki, oba.

5) Chawanmushi (above) – Black winter truffle, avruga caviar, tori dashi.

6) Signature (above) – Bafun uni, somen.

7) Grilled (above) – Tsukune, tori, hakusai, sansho.


8) Grilled (above) – Iberico buta, presa, parsnip, gobo. One could choose between A5 Kumamoto wagyu or iberico buta. I went with the latter since I don’t eat beef due to religious reason.

9) Donabe (above) – Kegani, ebi imo, yumepirika rice. 2 mouthfuls into the dish and I was thinking “Is this right?” to myself. So while I enjoy bits of scorched rice for the extra crunch, there was simply too much of it. I tried to separate the scorched rice from the normal rice, but it was impossible. The staff came round and ask if we wanted seconds. I said yes not because the first bowl was impressive, but because I wanted to give it another chance. And the second bowl turned out better because there was less scorched rice. Phew. And naturally, I paid more attention to the staff when they prepared the claypot dish for other groups. And the staff was scarping hard at the claypot… Okie, that explains.

10) Palette cleanser (above)

11) Dessert with options of:

(A) Mont Blanc (above) – Marron, winter black truffle.

(B) Brioche (above) – Oolong, shio kombu caramel.

12) Petit fours (above)

While I wasn’t blown away by the food, it was an overall pleasant dining experience. But there was something about the portions. Although we left IRU DEN feeling stuffed, my girlfriend and I were always commenting about how small portion each dish was throughout our meal. So while I know it’s nice to give diners variety (ie, 10 courses), I felt in the case for IRU DEN, it would have been better if they did just 9 courses with slightly bigger portion. Cause you know… We diners feel better when we see substantial portion on our plate even if it’s fine dining. Yes? No?

That said, I had to make a very last minute update to my girlfriend’s dietary requirement (one day before our meal). Was very grateful that they were able to oblige despite our late notice.

Would I recommend IRU DEN? Hmm… I am on the fence. Would I see myself returning? Hmm… Probably not in the near future.

27 Scotts Road, Singapore
Website, 8923 1127
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 6
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ ESORA

January 28, 2019 in Japanese

Opened in August 2018, ESORA was one restaurant which opening I was looking forward to. And as taken from their website… Set in a heritage shophouse on Mohamed Sultan Road, ESORA is a kappo-style fine dining restaurant helmed by head chef Shigeru Koizumi. And guided by chef Koizumi san’s affinity with nature, ESORA showcases modern Japanese cuisine.

However I only got to dine at ESORA in December, 4 months after their opening. You see… I prefer to wait it out a little before visiting a new restaurant. And by the time I was ready to visit ESORA (ie, in November), most of my friends had already visited ESORA. Yes, they are super fast.. So the only way to entice them to return with me was when ESORA started serving the winter menu.

It would be nice to dine in a big group. But at ESORA, one should dine in pairs because the restaurant interestingly oddly only assign counter seats to groups with 2 or less. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) 9 course menu, $278 comprised of:-

(A) Pre-appetiser (above) – Broth made with dashi, kelp (kombu), yuzu and bonito flakes.


(B) Foie gras monaka (above) – With persimmon, kaffir lime and sesame. And for my friend who preferred not to have foie gras, she was served monaka with sea eel (anago), pumpkin and mandarin instead.

(C) Kaviari caviar (above) – With celery roots, clam (hamaguri) and yuzu.

(D) Fugu karaage (above) – Shiokombu salad and sudachi.


(E) Sashimi selection (above) – Bonito, Spanish mackerel (sawara), barracuda (kamasu) and sea urchin (uni).

(F) Steamed abalone (above) – With white maitake mushroom and yuzu.

(G) Grilled kinki (above) – With spinach.

(H) Smoked duck (above) – As we don’t take beef, the ‘omi wagyu with shiitake mushroom, onion and aged akazu’ dish was replaced with duck. We didn’t quite like this though cause of the texture.


(I) Snow crab donabe – For this, the staff came up with the claypot and showed us the crab within. And my friend had super sharp eyes because she spotted the tag on the crab. Ha! So obviously, the shells were only for display. After which, the staff brought it back to the open-concept kitchen where chef Koizumi san started portioning. And it was noticed they had done most of the works beforehand when containers of crab flesh, etc were brought out. My friend had a valid point by saying that actually gave our crab rice bowl less ‘wow factor’. Ie, they should only deshell the crab on the spot even if it meant we had to wait longer. But… I had 2 bowls nonetheless. Keke.

(J) Miso soup (above)

(K) Palate cleanser, Complimentary (above) – This was simply awesome. I would never look at pears the same way anymore. So good.


(L) Wasanbon ice cream (+ $38, Alba white truffle) (above) – Sweet potato (anno imo) and Japanese sugar syrup (kuromitsu).


(M) Petit fours (above)

(N) Matcha (above)

Although I had not dined at Odette yet, I felt a lot of familiarity between Odette and ESORA due to the largely similar colour palette used in the restaurants’ decor. My friend shared some of the staff were also transferred from Odette to ESORA, which one shouldn’t be surprised since the restaurants are managed by the same group (The Lo & Behold Group).


And as we made our way out of the restaurant, the staff were standing by at the exit with small paper bags. And in it, we were given castella cake. Such a nice gesture.

Would I recommend ESORA? I honestly loved the space and the service. I could feel the staff’s sincerity and warmth especially as they introduced every dish detailed-ly with wide smiles. So lovely! Food wise… Let’s say it was a promising start. I love the attention to details. But something just felt amiss. Couldn’t quite put a finger to it. But I am pretty sure ESORA will just get better with time. Give them a few more months! And counter seats are highly recommended for a more intimate experience. Since it’s facing the open-concept kitchen where one could watch experience everything. Keke.

15 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore
6365 1266, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Thur – Fri : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tue – Sat : 19:00 – 21:00
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun