Dinner @ Takayama

June 27, 2018 in Japanese

When I got to learn about Takayama through my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend), I was really interested in their dinner menu. And it was exciting that my IGGF was keen to join me in trying their dinner menu because she had been lunching at Takayama and she enjoyed the food so far.

However, I was undecided between the $280 and $380 menus. Both were 11-courses with the latter requiring at least 2-days advanced notice. In the end, I decided to go with the $380 menu because I figured I would be getting the real deal. I mean… Since head chef Taro Takayama knew my IGGF and she was contacting him directly to make our reservation, I figured he wouldn’t shortchange me. So with that, reservation was made with at least 1 week advanced notice.

Located at the ground level of OUE Downtown, it’s a 15 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT station to Takayama. My IGGF went with the 8-course ($190) from the menu while I went ahead with the 11-course menu ($380) as pre-ordered. And with that, we started our dinner with:-

1) Takayama menu, $380 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Young onion, sea urchin from Hokkaido and dashi jelly.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Tofu souffle with hairy crab and summer truffle.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Asparagus, somen and corn ice cream.


  

(D1) Dish #4 (above) – Otsukuri platter of baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), pike eel with plum sauce, big-eye snapper (kinmedai) with vinegar jelly, Spanish mackerel with homemade plum sauce and radish, tuna tartare with frozen yolk within, blue fin tuna and mackerel stick sushi (saba bozushi) with kelp. The tartare was pretty interesting as chef Taro san shared that the yolk within was marinated in soya sauce to achieve its cheese-like texture.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Sandwiched between the wafer biscuit (monaka) were foie gras (marinated with sake and mirin) and pickled watermelon skin (marinated in sake lees).

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Spotted prawn (botan-ebi) and raw egg plant in grape dressing.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone with two sauces; Sea urchin and abalone liver.


(H) Dish #8 (above) – Wild-caught eel with salt flakes, served with fermented barley and various vegetables.

(I) Dish #9 (above) – Rice with sea-caught salmon and pickles.

(J) Dish #10 (above) – Musk melon and mango.

(K) Dish #11 (above) – Pumpkin and green pea (usui-endo) jellies.

2) Alcohol pairing, $98 (6 types) (above)

It was an enjoyable meal because I had the company of my IGGF. It’s no secret that I am really shy with new faces. But with my IGGF, I was about to converse freely with friendly chef Taro san. However food wise, I didn’t think it was worth the $380 price tag.

Compared to my IGGF’s $190 8-course menu, the additional dishes that I got for my 11-course menu was somen (dish #3) and abalone (dish #7). The other differences were i) eel was used instead of hairy crab for her souffle (dish #2), ii) she got snapper with soya foam instead of blue fin tuna (dish #4), iii) huge sweetfish (ayu) instead of eel (dish #8), and iv) wine-marinated peach instead of mango (dish #10). Which honestly, I felt the dishes only justified a $280 instead of $380 menu. Even the plating between the $190 and $380 were the same. I guess I was disappointed because I was expecting more. At least 1 really special ingredient since advanced notice was even given.

Will I recommend Takayama? Well, for a traditional kaiseki experience, I would recommend elsewhere. But I would not give Takayama a total miss. If one is in the CBD area, one could still check out Takayama but stick to the $190 or $280 menu. Don’t go beyond $280.

TAKAYAMA
6A Shenton Way, OUE Downtown, #01-09/10, Singapore
6224 0864, Website
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 5
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Ryo Sushi

June 23, 2018 in Japanese

When Ryo Sushi first opened its door in September 2016, my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) said we should hurry down to try their opening special menu which was a 10-course priced very affordably and attractively at $18 but limited to the first 18 customers. However, the thing about me is that I prefer regular menus. So Ryo Sushi ended up on my restaurants-to-try list… For 1.5 years. Oops. Out of sight area, out of mind lah. Cause shortly after Ryo Sushi opened at Orchid Hotel, my office shifted out of Tanjong Pagar.

And the reason why Ryo Sushi returned back to my radar was because a foodie friend, whom I recently befriended on instagram, was also interested to check out Ryo Sushi. Yeah. And let’s call my new friend IGBP (InstaGram Bottomless Pit). Haha. But making the reservation was tricky. Tripadvisor reviews mentioned Ryo Sushi’s booking system was atrocious. And it’s claimed that one stand a higher chance of securing seats if it’s mentioned in the reservation call that one is getting the most expensive menu ($98).

In our first attempt, I called at 11.30pm and was told that they only accept reservation 1 month in advanced. In our second attempt, I called at 10.30pm but my call was not picked up. In our third attempt, I called at 10am. Thankfully they answered my morning call because I was making reservation to have dinner on the same day.

I was informed they were fully booked that night for all 3 seatings (6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm). The staff put us on the waiting list instead, and I was informed later at 3.30pm that we were confirmed for 6pm seating. Which honestly, it’s hard for me to comprehend how they managed to squeeze out 2 seats when they said they were full house when I called earlier. Was it pure coincidence that someone cancelled their reservation or was it really work of the magic words “we are ordering the $98 set”. But in any case, IGBP and I were thrilled to get our reservation confirmed.

And we started our dinner with:-

1) 18-course sea urchin menu, $98 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Edamame.

(B) Dish #2 (above, left) – Hijiki seaweed salad.

(C) Dish #3 (above) – Truffled onsen egg with salmon roe.

  
  
  
  
  
  

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Sushi assortment of flounder (hirame) with pink Himalayan salt, snapper (matai), squid, scallop with kombu crumble and a dash of fresh lime, striped jack (shima-aji) with citrus and pepper, big-eye snapper (kinmedai), prawn (namba ebi), marinated tuna (maguro zyke) with yuzu zest, medium fatty tuna (chutoro) with soya foam, salmon roe, and sea urchin (bafun uni).

(E) Dish #5 (above) – Crab hand roll. And I liked the attention to small details; Chef Louis added (3 to 4) slits to the seaweed before passing us the hand roll. The slits made it easier for eating.

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Super mini rice bowl of sea urchin (bafun uni) and salmon roe.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Miso soup.

I went to Ryo Sushi with no expectation and I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed the dining experience. Don’t expect top quality for the sushi topping (neta) since we get what we pay for. But the sushi was pretty good. Although chef Louis could use less “thank you so much”. A “thank you so much” would follow after his every introduction of the sushi. Hmm…

And while I was having my dinner, I noticed everyone but one was having the $98 menu. So one could still get reservation with the $68 menu (which is also 11-course, but without sea urchin). The $18 menu is only for walks-in which I personally think would be quite hard to get unless one try to walk in during lunch. And for lunch service, Ryo Sushi also offered a $38 menu in addition to the $68 and $98 menus.

Do I recommend Ryo Sushi? I certainly do. But I hope one’s experience won’t be marred by the reservation process before the actual meal.

RYO SUSHI
1 Tras Link, Orchid Hotel, #01-06, Singapore
6443 3463, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 11:45 – 14:45 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Lunch @ Ki-Sho [Revisit]

March 17, 2018 in Japanese

After a re-visit to Saint Pierre, I decided to re-visit Ki-Sho next. And my string of re-visits should be surprising since it’s known (by now that) I prefer checking out new eateries. Just saying. Keke. But I guess one can say I was curious about Ki-sho’s lunch menu. And because Ki-sho only does lunch service on weekdays, I only managed to drop by when I applied leave to extend the long (Christmas) weekend longer. Haha.

I arrived at the restaurant punctually for my 1pm reservation. And from the lunch menu, I ordered:-

1) Taihaku, $250 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Seaweed with ark shell, scallop and vegetables.

(B) Dish #2 (above, left) – Yellow tail (buri).


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Crab, tofu, sea urchin, mushroom, lotus root and salmon roe (ikura) with dashi vinegar jelly.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Tilefish (amadai) with its scales fried to crisp and battered baby yam from Kyoto served in yuzu-plum sauce.

  
  
  
  
  

(E) Dish #5 (above) – It’s stated on the menu that the $250 course includes 8 pieces of nigiri sushi, 1 aburi otoro sushi and 1 aburi hida beef sushi. Mine had a slight variation since I don’t eat beef. For my 8 pieces, I was served lean tuna (akami), Spanish macakarel, striped jack (shima aji), spotted prawn (botan ebi), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), premium fatty tuna (otoro), charcoal-grilled (aburi) black throat sea perch (nodoguro) and sea urchin. As for the beef, it was replaced with tuna-yolk-urchin which I honestly enjoyed very much. However, it was disappointing that while I was seated at the correct half of the counter where head chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto stood, my sushi was made by chef Tohru san instead. I wasn’t aware there was more than 1 chef in-charge of the food, especially sushi making, since there was only chef Hamamoto san when I previously came for dinner.


(F) Dish #6 (above) – Rice bowl of chopped spotted prawn (botan ebi), tuna, salmon roe and sea urchin.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Soup with sesame-soy tofu.

  

(H) Dish #8 (above) – Warabi mochi, matcha chocolate, wafer with ice cream within and musk melon.

Was I happy with my lunch at Ki-sho? Well… It was a good meal. But I ain’t going to lie. I arrived with the expectation that I would be served by chef Hamamoto as with my previous meal at Ki-Sho. So I was disappointed when I wasn’t. I guess I need to be very specific in my future reservations.

And because I was sitting beside a group who went for the $450 omakase, I left the restaurant regretting having not opted for the more expensive course. My neighbours were served precious ingredients like 1-week aged wild caught baby tuna (meiji) and wild caught ‘lost bonito’ (mayoi katsuo). Of course, one wouldn’t know what seasonal ingredients the restaurant have for the day. But ah… I couldn’t help but feel it was such a waste. It’s not everyday that one get to eat such rare delicacy even if one goes for the $450 omakase. Sob.

KI-SHO 葵匠
29 Scotts Road, Singapore
6733 5251, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun