Lunch @ Sushi Sato | Sushi Restaurant in Dempsey

April 10, 2022 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Opened fairly recently in November 2021, Sushi Sato has to be 1 of the hardest sushi restaurants to book to date. Seats for the following month are released on the first day of the month at 10am, on their website. Ie, seats for June are released on 1 April 10am. And seats are taken up… Within minutes?

My first attempt at booking was on 1 December for February 2022. Despite setting reminder in my calendar, I missed it because 1 December was a weekday. Had to work. Was in meeting… And during my 2nd attempt, I loaded the website only to see just a few weekday dinner and lunch slots left. Since I wasn’t too keen on dinner, I booked myself for a Friday lunch. Yes, even if that meant taking leave.

I reached the restaurant at 12.15pm for my 12.30pm lunch appointment. And seeing no one behind the reception desk, my first thought was “Oh, they only open at 12.30pm sharp.” So instead of trying to open the entrance door, I obediently waited outside. It was only after a couple that reached minutes after me and let themselves in that I realised how silly I was. I of course waited a few minutes before entering after them… Ha.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

I walked past a private room before entering into the main space where chef-owner Yuji Sato was. The L-shaped counter could sit at least 10 people. But I was surprised to see I was the last to reach for the 12.30pm seating despite it being 12.20pm only. There are 3 options on the food menu. A friend happened to have lunch at Sushi Sato 2 days before me, and shared the difference between utsukushi menu ($280) and tomi menu (from $350) was that the latter had an additional rice bowl (donburi) with grilled fish and the sea urchin-salmon roe bowl was replaced with 2 sushi instead. So thanks to my friend, making my choice of menu was a straight forward decision.

And with that, I started my utsukushi menu, $280 with:-

1) Seasonal starter (above) – Firefly squid.


2) Chawanmushi (above) – Steamed egg with seasonal ice fish.


3) Seasonal sashimi (above) – Smoked medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and flounder.

4) Sushi #1 (above) – Marinated tuna (maguro zuke).

5) Sushi #2 (above) – Flounder fin (engawa).


6) Cooked dish #1 (above) – Mountain vegetable (burdock) tempura. This was very nice. The batter wasn’t exactly paper thin, but I felt the thickness was necessary for it to be crunchy. And the batter wasn’t just plain flour. I could taste it’s seasoned. Good choice I say because while the burdock was juicy, it would have been bland on its own.

7) Sushi #3 (above) – Japanese spotted prawn (botan ebi).

8) Sushi #4 (above) – Gizzard shad (kohada). Head chef Sato san made a joke by saying “lizard” shyly. Haha.

After serving his first sushi, head chef Sato san checked with every customer if the rice portion was fine. I noticed mine was small. As though it was specifically made that way for female customers. Didn’t say anything until after I had my fourth sushi.

His sushi rice was slightly acidic and stickier than usual, but went really well with his neta (sushi topping). But with only a small portion of rice, I was left with just the neta (in my mouth) after a few chews. It’s as though I was eating sashimi instead of sushi. So yes, I requested for more sushi rice simply because I wanted to continue tasting the rice in my mouth! :) And I wasn’t alone. The female customer beside me ask for more rice for her sushi too!

9) Sushi #5 (above) – Arctic surf clam (hokkigai).

10) Sushi #6 (above) – Ink squid (sumi ika).

11) Sushi #7 (above) – Smoked baby tuna (meiji maguro).

12) Cooked dish #2 (above) – Grilled squid legs.

13) Sushi #8 (above) – Adult yellowtail (buri).

14) Sushi #9 (above)

15) Sushi #10 (above) – Chicken grunt (isaki).

16) Sushi #11 (above) – Scallop (hotate).

17) Rice bowl (above) – Rice bowl of sea urchin and salmon roe.

18) Soup (above)

19) Sushi #12 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro).

20) Hand roll (above)

21) Dessert (above) – Strawberry, orange and warabi mochi.

I left the restaurant feeling really satisfied. The food was very on point! I especially enjoyed his sushi rice. It complemented the sushi toppings very well. In fact, I regretted not adding more sushi. My friend had mentioned the needlefish (sayori) was outstanding. But then again, it was a little tricky with my situation to ‘steal’ head chef Sato san’s attention.

My fellow diners happened to be head chef Sato san’s regulars. Like everyone in the room but me. I felt out-of-place because everyone were unconsciously (or consciously) making their presence felt by talking loudly, toasting head chef Sato san non-stop, making conversations with both head chef Sato san and the waiting staff, etc. In fact, I was thankful I wasn’t offered the drinks menu because I would have ordered just a 180ml sake while the other groups were ordering bottle after bottle. Gasp.

Although the rowdier lunch group slightly marred my dining experience, I would still strongly recommend Sushi Sato. For $280, my meal was very value-for-money especially with the range and quality of fishes served. I would recommend lunch over dinner as I heard dinner menu ranges from $380 to $580. But if money isn’t an issue, go for it I say! Though I reckon it’s going to be a challenge for a long while to secure bookings at Sushi Saito.

Can’t wait to be back!

SUSHI SATO
6B Dempsey Road, Singapore
6971 8265, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Lunch @ Kotuwa | Sri Lankan restaurant in Little India

March 31, 2022 in Sri Lankan by thywhaleliciousfay

Although I wasn’t impressed with my meal at Cloudstreet, I was still very much interested by what Sri Lanka-born and Australia-trained Rishi Naleendra is bringing to the food scene. Kotuwa, 1 of the 4 restaurants under his belt, is a casual Sri Lankan restaurant. Since I never had Sri Lankan cuisine before and was keen to know more about it, I felt it’s only appropriate to visit Kotuwa where food was presented in its most traditional manner.

Was glad my friends were open to trying a new cuisine. Reservation was made for a weekend lunch via their website.

And having no experience with Sri Lankan cuisine, we asked the staff to help us out with the food menu. And the meal already felt fun because the staff were really excited to make recommendation. We were starting on a high! I simply love it when staff are happy and passionate about what they are doing. The staff, who were also Sri Lankan, pondered hard before suggesting which dishes were best for us newcomers to try. I really appreciated the honesty in their recommendations. One of them said “You could easily get these 2 dishes outside. So I will recommend you to try this instead”.

And with that, my friends and I commenced our lunch with:-

1) Plain hopper, $5 (above, left)

2) Egg hopper, $7 (above, right)


3) Crab cutlet, $16 (above) – Sri Lankan style croquette, with spiced crab meat brandade.

4) Wambatu moju, $8 (above) – Sri Lankan spiced eggplant pickled in coconut vinegar.

5) Pol sambol, $8 (above) – Fresh shredded coconut with chili and lime.


6) Polos ambula, $18 (above) – Baby jackfruit cooked in coconut with toasted Sri Lankan spices.

7) Gova mallum, $14 (above) – Cabbage tempered with fresh coconut and turmeric.

8) Chicken kottu, $24 (above) – Chopped up rotti cooked with vegetables, eggs and gravy.

9) Chicken curry, $24 (above) – Chicken cooked in light coconut gravy.

10) Black pepper kithul pork, $26 (above) – Crispy pork belly with black pepper kithul caramel and guindilla pepper.

11) Watalappam tart, $16 (above) – Coconut custard with jaggery, pistachio, candied orange and spices.

12) Chocolate biscuit pudding, $16 (above) – Marie biscuits and Valrhona chocolate parfait.

Would I recommend Kotuwa? A definite yes. Am really glad my friends and I came as a group of 4 because it allowed us try many dishes from the menu. We would have loved to give the crab curry a try, which also came highly recommended by the staff, but we weren’t sure if we were keen on getting our hands dirty. Haha. But yes, my friends and I enjoyed every single dish. I came to learn Sri Lankan cuisine is all about the spices. So if one likes strongly flavoured food, Sri Lankan cuisine might just be up your alley!

Come with an open mind and ask the staff for recommendation if unsure. The only recommendation which we didn’t follow was ordering the hoppers instead of rice. Rice might be a better option to enjoy with the different dips. But we insisted on hopper because we haven’t had those before.

And somehow, I felt if I had visited Kotuwa first, I might have appreciated the dishes at Cloudstreet a bit better. Hmm…

KOTUWA SRI LANKAN RESTAURANT & BAR
2 Dickson Road, Wanderlust Hotel, Singapore
Website, 6970 7838
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Sat – Sun : 11:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tues

Dinner @ Sage by Yasunori Doi | French Restaurant in Orchard

March 27, 2022 in French, French Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Before Sage was created by chef-owner Yasunori Dori, he was at Bistro Etroit which opened in late 2019. But head chef Yasunori san left Bistro Etroit on 31 October 2021. And opened Sage in January 2022, jus 2 units away from Bistro Etroit…

As for me? Although I returned from my overseas work stint in mid July 2021, I couldn’t secure myself a slot at the notoriously hard-to-book Bistro Etroit. My foodie friend @zachdevours aka InstaGram Bottomless Pit (IGBP) often shared Bistro Etroit was insanely value for money. I mean, $88 for 7 items (bread included), that’s a deal hard to beat. So when head chef Yasunori san left Bistro Etroit, there was a glimpse of hope that I might just get a reservation at his new restaurant.

There has been a change to Sage’s reservation system. Then, I followed their Instagram to receive updates of when seats were released. Now, it’s released on the first day of every month at 12pm. And it’s a good thing I made my reservation early in January 2022 for my March 2022 dinner because Sage now requires minimum 2 person. Uh huh, I went to Sage as a solo diner.Solo dining is getting a little addictive. But don’t get me wrong, having company is always best!

Sage requires pre-selection of the menu course when reservation is made. Between classic course ($148) and omakase course ($208), I opted for the latter. However, when I was at the restaurant and (re-)informed the staff of my dietary restriction, the staff recommended me to go with the classic course. He explained the highlight of the omakase course is the wagyu tenderloin rossini.

If one opted for the omakase course, it’s pretty much a fixed (tasting) menu except for the dessert which one could choose from 5 options. 6 options if including the cheese. But for the classic menu, I was told to choose my second appetiser, fish dish, meat dish and dessert. I didn’t have much time to digest the menu, and mostly went with the staff’s recommendation. And dining in March 2022, it was the Spring menu. I commenced my Classic course, $148 with:-

1) Cherry tomatoes (above) – These large vibrant red cherry tomatoes were placed at every seat. Most of us thought it’s just for display. So when head chef Yasunori san shared we could eat them, we all responded with either puzzled expressions or gasps of surprise. Haha. And for curiosity, I took just 1 to try.


2) Starter (above) – Trio of chilled Japanese pudding with sea urchin, (savoury) cake with gingko nut and 2 kinds of cheese, and caviar on mother of pearl spoon. The caviar was my replacement for beef tartare.


  

3) Bread (above) – Homemade sesame focacci with flavoured butter. The moromi butter was made with butter, sea urchin, white miso and chili pepper.

4) First appetiser (above) – Japanese cherry tomato gazpacho with stracciatella and huile d’olive sorbet. Head chef Yasunori san told us to eat slowly. The intention was to make sure the sorbet has melted. He joked if we didn’t, we would be having just tomato soup.

5) Second appetiser (above) – Canadian lobster and scallop mousse terrine with lobster bisque sour cream sauce.


6) Fish (above) – This was really good! The crust of the pan-grilled butter fish was thin and crisp, and the fish was firm and juicy. I ain’t sure if it was intentional but because the brown sauce was poured onto the plated green gravy (and vegetables), I got a beautiful brown-green sauce from dipping the fish into it. Pretty.


7) Meat (above) – Taiwanese style 4gen pork belly stew and seasonal white asparagus with hot spring egg. With only a fork and knife, I wasn’t too sure how to consume this. I requested for a spoon because I thought I was going to finish the egg in 1 big mouthful. But head chef Yasunori san told me to poke at the yolk and enjoy it as a dipping sauce. Ahhh!!!

8) Cheese or Dessert (above) – Gluten-free chocolate terinne with pistachio ice cream.

In terms of seats arrangement, there’re 6 counter seats and 2 tables seats. I thought it was really nice how head chef Yasunori san would leave his kitchen and check in with the table customers. I remember reading someone’s post mentioning how head chef Yasunori san looks happier now that he opened his own restaurant. I can’t make the comparison since I never been to Bistro Etroit, but head chef Yasunori san certainly does look happy. And when a chef is happy, it shows through the food.


Leftover bread cling wrapped for us to take back!

I wanted to order warm water, but was told they don’t serve any. Instead, was informed they charged $12 for still or sparkling water. That’s per VOSS 800ml bottle. I decided to just order (more) alcohol. Haha.

Would I recommend Sage? Hmm… I think it’s worth visiting at least once a lifetime. It’s a pity I didn’t get to try head chef Yasunori san’s famed curry rice because it’s beef. But when I was talking to him, he mentioned he could prepare non-beef curry rice with the lobster bisque. Oh well… Should have checked in with chef when placing my order instead. But do note if one wishes to try his curry rice, it’s only available for the second seating.

SAGE BY YASUNORI DOI
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #01-36, Singapore
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sun : 17:45 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon