Dinner @ Cheek By Jowl

December 10, 2017 in Australian

A friend of mine visited Australian restaurant Cheek by Jowl on a few occasions and was raving about his dining experiences on instagram. And if he enjoyed the food much despite being an anti-fine dining person, it meant the food must be satisfying. And when I say anti-fine dining, I meant he’s not one who’s appreciative of small portion served on big plate. And thus, I convinced a(nother) friend to check out 1 Michelin star Cheek by Jowl with me.

Making reservation was a breeze with Chope. Instead, it’s parking that was tricky. But thankfully, my friend and I found a parking lot along Amoy Street within 10 minutes.

We were guided to our table after the staff checked our reservation. And it’s only at the restaurant that I saw they have 6 counter seats too where patrons sat facing the open-kitchen. Upon seated, we were told that we could choose between the 2-courses ($68), 3-courses ($78) and 5-courses ($88). For the 5-courses, the staff further explained it would be a tasting menu by the chef. And from the menu, my friend and I decided to go with the 3-courses ($78) comprised of:-

1) Appetiser #1, Complimentary (above) – Green olive.


2) Appetiser #2, Complimentary (above) – Bread. I really liked the bread which had cheese within. When the staff asked if we wanted seconds, we nodded our heads in unison. Keke.

3) 1st course with options of:-


(A) Roasted quail (above) – With chestnut, mushroom and mint.


(B) Smoked swordfish (above) – With grapes, mountain caviar and kohlrabi juice.

4) 2nd course with options of:-

(A) Suckling pig (above) – With morcilla, apple and cuttlefish.

(B) Barramundi (above) – With leek, bonito butter and caramelised onion.

5) 3rd course with options of:-

(A) Blackberry ice cream, liquorice, coconut (above)

(B) Burnt pear, hay panna cotta (above) – With pear sorbet, salted caramel.

6) Snack/side with options of:-


(A) Oyster smoked tomato ($5 per piece) (above)

There were additional snacks/sides which one could order from the menu. However, unsure of the portion, I decided to get the oyster only. And I honestly wished the staff promote their menu more actively. Because when I looked at photographs shared by others on instagram after my dinner, I realised the portion of the snacks/sides was small. Would have ordered the hasselback potatoes had I knew. Sob!

Do I recommend Cheek by Jowl? For a restaurant with 1 Michelin star, the menu is not crazily priced crazily affordable. The food was good though it didn’t blow us away. Instead, I reckon it’s the restaurant ambience that determine if one enjoyed one’s dining experience. It’s noisy and chilled back. So if one is looking for a not-so-formal place, Cheek by Jowl would fit the bill.

CHEEK BY JOWL
21 Boon Tat Street, Singapore
6221 1911, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Lunch @ Ginza Sushi Ichi [Revisit]

December 5, 2017 in Japanese

After a satisfying meal at Shinji, it got me craving for more sushi. And because I am one who don’t like returning to the same eatery (too soon), I decided on 1 Michelin-starred Sushi Ichi. I mean, my last meal at Sushi Ichi was in 2014; Before they relocated and before they were awarded Michelin star. So yes, it was time to return to Sushi Ichi. =)

Through Chope, I made reservation for weekend lunch. And I thought I should also add that it was a solo affair. I guess I was reminiscing much of my solo Tokyo trips. Kekeke. Having had chef Yukinori Kawakami on my previous meal at Sushi Ichi, I made a request for him again.

With Sushi Ichi located in Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, it was easily accessible. Just a mere 5 minutes walk from Orchard MRT station!

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

1) Lunch omakase, $250 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above) – Sweet shrimp (ama-ebi), mixed mushroom with chrysanthemum, and octopus braised in soya sauce.


(B) Assorted sashimi (2) (above) – Jack fish and shell fish.

(C) Dish #1 (above) – Japanese belt fish served with chestnut tempura. I always thought belt fish had many bones cause of the one I previously had, but the one served at Sushi Ichi had none. Such a joy to eat! And the chestnut was very sweet. I enjoyed it very much!

(D) Dish #2 (above) – Striped jack (shima-aji), shabu shabu.

  
  
  
  
  

(E) Nigiri sushi (8 pieces) (above) – Assortment of grouper (kue), big-eye snapper (kinmedai), marinated tuna, baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), seared premium fatty tuna (otoro aburi) and sea eel (anago), egg omlette (tamago), and rice bowl with sea urchin and salmon roe. Since I don’t count the number of sushi during my meal, it’s only when I am writing up my review that I realised the egg omelette and rice bowl formed part of the 8 nigiri sushi. Hmm…

(F) Roll sushi (above) – It was only from watching chef Kawakami san make the roll sushi that I realised red vinegar was used to season nigiri sushi’s sushi rice (shari) while white vinegar was used for the roll sushi’s. Interesting.

(G) Miso soup (above) – Soup with yam.

(H) Dessert (above)

While I was having my lunch, I couldn’t help but drool over what my neighbours were having. They had dishes like abalone, crab, etc. So when I was making payment, I enquired about the different menus. And the staff explained the quality of ingredients varied according to price. So for the lunch options, the premium ingredient in $100 Tubaki, $150 Botan and Lunch Omakase ($240) courses were lean tuna (akami), medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and premium fatty tuna (otoro) respectively. And for me who was eyeing my neighbour’s dishes, I would need to get the Dinner Omakase course at $430.

Would I recommend Sushi Ichi? Well… Honestly, it didn’t give me the ‘wow’ factor. But at least one would assured that Sushi Ichi won’t let one down (too much).

GINZA SUSHI ICHI
320 Orchard Road, Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, #01-04, Singapore
6235 5514, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Service: 8
 
* Closed on Mon

Lunch @ 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) – 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