Lunch @ Mizuki Tempura and Sushi

August 10, 2017 in Japanese

It was through sheer luck and pure randomness that I got to know about Mizuki from instagram. And it being Japanese cuisine, the first person that came into my mind was my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend). Not surprising. Keke. And reservation was made for a Saturday lunch. And between sushi and tempura, we went with sushi first because I know my IGGF loves her sushi.

And yes, when there’s a first, it means there’s a second. My IGGF and I headed back for their tempura too. Keke.

Mizuki was conveniently located in Ngee Ann City (or better known as Takashimaya to some). It’s a 8 to 10 minutes walk from Orchard MRT station. A cool walk too since it’s air-conditioned throughout. Keke. And if one is familiar with Ngee Ann City’s layout, one should take the lift that’s facing Takashimaya Square, from the Food Village side. By exiting the lift on level 5, Mizuki would be on one’s immediate left.


Sushi counter

And from the sushi lunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Matsuba, $250 comprised of:-

(A) Seasonal appetizer (above)

(B) Sashimi #1 (above) – Sea urchin from Kyushu.

(C) Sashimi #2 (above) – Japanese spotted prawn (botan ebi).

(D) Sashimi #3 (above) – Flounder (hirame) served with its liver.

(E) Sashimi #4 (above) – Yellowtail.


(F) Steamed egg (above)

  
  
  
  
  

(G) Nigiri sushi (10 pieces) (above) – Assortment of baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), giant clam (ishigakigai), big eye snapper (kinmedai), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), aburi premium fatty tuna (otoro), striped jack (shima-aji), marinated tuna (maguro zuke), violet sea urchin (murasaki uni), short spine sea urchin (bafun uni) and scallop (hotate). For the striped jack, Taiwanese chef Angus wrapped it (together with ginger, shiso leaf and chives) with thinly sliced cucumber instead of seaweed. And it was my first having the scallop of my sushi soaked in hot soya sauce before it was pressed flat. Nice! I really enjoyed it.

(H) Roll sushi (above) – This was awesome; Thick maki roll with various cuts of tuna (otoro, chutoro, akamiand negitoro), pickled radish and chive. I really liked that it was so big that a piece would fill up my entire mouth. It was an explosion of flavours in my mouth. Really good.

(I) Miso soup (above)

(J) Dessert

Because my IGGF and I truly enjoyed our lunch at the sushi counter, we were unanimous about returning to Mizuki for their tempura. So right after we finished our sushi lunch, my IGGF and I made reservation for our next meal at the reception. Keke.


Tempura counter

Similar to our first meal at Mizuki, my IGGF and I arrived on a Saturday. However, instead of meeting at our usual 12pm, we arrived at 1pm as I had an appointment prior. Which unfortunately caused us to miss out on the abalone tempura (only available on the a-la carte menu) as it was sold out when we reached. Sob.

And from the tempura lunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my IGGF and I ordered:-

1) Sea urchin tempura, $40 (above)

2) Koubai, $100 comprised of:-

(A) Seasonal appetizer (above)

(B) Seasonal vegetable (above) – Lotus, fish cake, sweet potato, yam and egg plant.

(C) Seafood tempura #1, #2 (above) – Prawn.

(D) Seafood tempura #3 (above) – Flathead (megochi).


  

(E) Seafood tempura #4 (above) – Crayfish (zarigani).

(F) Seafood tempura #5 (above, left) – Squid.

(G) Seafood tempura #6 (above, right) – Scallop. We were a little bummed when ours were served a little overcooked. Our neighbours’ scallops were served raw in the middle.

(H) Seafood tempura #7 (above) – Sea eel.

(I) Vegetable tempura #1 (above, left) – Pumpkin.

(J) Vegetable tempura #2 (above, right) – Lotus.

(K) Vegetable tempura #3 (above, foreground) – Corn.

(L) Vegetable tempura #4 (above, background) – Green chili


  

(M) Kakiage with rice and miso soup (above)

(N) Dessert

And for dessert, we were allowed to choose between ice cream and pudding. And it’s only natural that my IGGF and I ordered different items in order to try more. Keke.

  
  

So yes, we managed to try (clockwise) pumpkin jelly, yam ice cream, tomato jelly and houjicha ice cream.

Would I recommend Mizuki? A big yes from me. And if I really must choose, I would say their tempura fared better than the sushi. The tempura batter was thin, crispy and not greasy. Definitely one of the better tempura restaurants in Singapore.

But don’t get my wrong. We enjoyed our sushi meal too. Although the only grip I had was that thee sushi was only served individually for the $250 course. My IGGF ordered the Midori set ($48) and her 8 nigiri sushi were served together on a plate. Though it may not be much of a deal to others.

Nonetheless, I highly recommend Mizuki!

MIZUKI TEMPURA AND SUSHI
391 Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City Podium Block, #05-32, Singapore
6734 6308, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Aoki Restaurant [Revisit]

July 14, 2017 in Japanese

It has been a while since I last dined at a sushi restaurant (in Singapore). But afraid to be disappointed by new places, I decided to return to restaurants which I previously dined at.

And it was through Aoki’s website that I learnt the restaurant was in the midst of renovation and was scheduled for re-opening in mid June 2017. Perfect! That would be akin to eating at a new restaurant although it really wasn’t. Haha.

Reservation was made for a weekday dinner. And as per my previous dining experience at Aoki, I requested for chef-owner Kunio Aoki.

My friend and I arrived a little late for our reserved time of 8.30pm. At 8.40pm, the restaurant called which I quickly updated we were making our way down from the carpark. Oops. And as requested, we sat at head chef Aoki san’s end of the counter.

While most sushi-yas are increasing their prices, I was surprised to see friendlier prices on Aoki’s omakase sets. During my last lunch at Aoki, omakase was priced at $200. But this now cost $125 instead on their current lunch menu. Wow.

And from the dinner menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) which included seasonal menu (pages 1, 2), my friend and I ordered:-

1) Omakase course, $200 comprised of:-

(A) Pre-appetiser, $7 (above) – Otoshi. A cold dish of cooked tuna.

(B) Appetiser #1 (above)

(C) Appetiser #2 (above)

(D) Appetiser #3 (above)

(E) Sashimi #1 (above)

(F) Sashimi #2 (above)


(G) Soup dish (above)

(H) Grilled dish (above)

(I) Tempura (above)

  
  
  
  

(J) Sushi (above)

(K) Miso soup (above)

(L) Dessert (above)

2) Thin sliced white fish sashimi with truffles, $115 (above) – Not too sure where the extra $5 came from since the menu stated the dish cost $110. So I am guessing head chef Aoki san may have adjusted the portion and included an additional slice to allow my friend and I to have 3 slices each. I think. And for me, this was always a ‘must order’ dish.

It was a nice dinner at Aoki. I wouldn’t say it was fantastic as the food served were ‘safe dishes’. But for the amount we were paying, the omakase course was value-for-money. The only gripe I had was no introduction of the dishes were given. Except for the obvious (dishes) like marinated tuna (zuke maguro) sushi, my friend and I didn’t know what we were eating. And compared to the new decor of black-gold wallpaper against the brown furniture, I actually preferred the previous decor of Aoki which was more Japanese.

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

Lunch @ Sushi Tokami 鮨 とかみ (Tokyo, Japan)

May 28, 2017 in Japanese

The one thing I realised from my November 2016 trip to Tokyo was that I didn’t have enough sushi meals. So when I was planning my February 2017 trip, I made sure I didn’t commit the same mistake. Ha. And with a (large) number of sushi-yas that I wish to try in Tokyo, I was glad to secure a reservation at 1 Michelin star Sushi Tokami successfully. But that came with much hassle; I went through my brother’s friend’s cousin’s boss who got as many as 3 (Japanese) staff based in Japan to make the call. Gasp.

But the thing was… Before I received news of the successful reservation (which came in only 3 weeks after I first contacted my brother’s friend with my request), I was really anxious and went to contact head chef Hiroyuki Sato on my own. Sheepish grin. Which head chef Saito san did respond, but only after my lunch reservation was successfully secured through my brother’s connection. And through our exchanged messages, I learnt that he was leaving Sushi Tokami by end March 2017 to start his own restaurant and was currently doing dinner service only. Being really keen to try his sushi (which I heard so much of from Japanese food instagrammers whom I follow), I asked if I could change my reservation from lunch to dinner. Unfortunately, he was overseas for the period I was in Tokyo! Sigh.

And one could say I still went ahead with my meal because I was ultimately grateful to my brother and his friend (whom I know personally). Also because I thought maybe… Just maybe, my review would be useful for those who are considering to visit Sushi Tokami after head chef Saito san’s departure.

For my 12pm lunch appointment, I reached the restaurant which was located in the basement at 11.55am. But I was told to return at 12pm. I guess they were still preparing. Thus, I couldn’t just wait by sitting at the counter? Unfortunately, as the lift lobby was too small for me to stand around, I ended up heading back to the ground floor and spent my next 5 minutes waiting at the main entrance of the building.

And there’s 3 menus for lunch. Each with varying number of sushi pieces. 10 pieces was priced at ¥5000, 13 pieces ¥8000 and 16 pieces for ¥12,000. And from the menu, I ordered:-

1) Menu #3, ¥12,000 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Sashimi. I thought I heard second chef Shota Oda said hobo (red gunnard), but I ain’t sure.

  
  
  
  
  
  

  
  

(B) Dish #2 (above) – I was excited over the sushi leg of my lunch course because I heard much of their sushi rice (shari); Rice originated from Niigata cooked in traditional ceramic Japanese pot (olla) with the addition of red vinegar fermented using natural sake yeast. A demonstration of edo-mae sushi tradition. And for the 16 pieces of sushi, I was given the usual self-identifiable pieces like squid, different cuts of tuna, gizzard shed (kohada), mackerel (saba), etc. However, for the remaining toppings (neta) which I had difficulty in recognising, I only managed to get the name of a few (like baby snapper, sillago, sea perch) because chef Oda san didn’t have the English name to all of the fishes. With the owner of Sushi Tokami also being the founder of Yamayuki (a specialty shop dedicated to tuna located in Tsukiji Market and a time-honored brand in the market), it’s of no surprise that the cuts of tuna were good. However, besides the quality ingredients and distinct vinegar taste in the rice which I enjoyed, I wasn’t impressed much by chef Oda san’s sushi due to his inconsistency. The size of the sushi rice (shari) became bigger from my ninth piece with significantly more wasabi. I couldn’t help but wonder (then) how better the sushi would taste if it was made with the magical hands of head chef Sato san. That said, I was glad chef Oda san included the sea urchin sushi where cold and warm sea urchins were paired and served together. It’s a dish which head chef Sato san got his inspiration from his chef friend chef-owner Shinobu Namae of L’Effervescence.

(C) Dish #3 (above) – Miso soup.

  

(D) Dish #4 (above) – And the tuna tossaki hand roll was a specialty at Sushi Tokami. Tossaki being a rare cut from the base of the tuna’s head.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Rolled omelette (tamago). And the version served at Sushi Tokami was ‘creme brulee’ inspired where the top surface was caramelised. Nice.

Including GST and service charge, lunch came up to ¥12,960. Would I recommend Michelin-starred Sushi Tokami? It was a good meal but… No. Not with the departure of head chef Sato san. The meal (by chef Oda san) wasn’t impressive enough for me to recommend others to try. A definite no for travelers who wish to make full use of their limited slots for meals in Tokyo. There are better sushi-yas.

In fact, this meal just reinforced the fact that I will continue to try to dine at where head chef Sato san is. One should see how he serve his pacific sardine sushi. So gorgeous.

SUSHI TOKAMI 鮨 とかみ
Ginza Seiwa Silver Building, 8-2-10 Ginza, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 中央区 銀座 8-2-10 銀座誠和シルバービル B1F)
+81 3 3571 6005, Website, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun