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Best seats in the house: New prix fixe menus at Shoukouwa Shinjidai and Iru Den

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 6 min read
Best seats in the house: New prix fixe menus at Shoukouwa Shinjidai and Iru Den
Saint Pierre and Shoukouwa had a baby and called it Shoukouwa Shinjidai — the latest dining concept by Emmanuel Stroobant’s F&B group Food Inc.
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Shoukouwa Shinjidai 
#01-03/04 Conrad Singapore Orchard Tel: 8010 9939
Operating hours: Open Tuesdays to Saturdays for  lunch (1pm)  and dinner (6pm and 8:15pm).  Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Saint Pierre and Shoukouwa had a baby and called it Shoukouwa Shinjidai — the latest dining concept by Emmanuel Stroobant’s F&B group Food Inc. 

Formerly known as Taiga Dining, the omakase restaurant at Conrad Singapore Orchard (previously Regent Singapore) will now be managed by Stroobant’s hospitality group, with a few key changes — the interior, for one. While the 13-seater hinoki wood counter and statement ambient ceiling light remain signature details, the enclosed womb-like entrance is now opened up to reveal a walkway of natural stepping stones, akin to sister establishment Shoukouwa. The walls also look more industrial, painted with manly grey hues and detailed with concrete finishes. 

Rather than a muted playlist of generic tunes, Shoukouwa Shinjidai only plays a bussin’ playlist of modern pop-jazz and soft rock — the songs Stroobant grew up with — to tie in with the progressiveness of the menu. His wife Edina Hoong, who is also the group’s marketing communications director, describes it as a “fun place with serious food”.

Jointly created by Stroobant and Kazumine Nishida, the chefs of two Michelin-starred Saint Pierre and Shoukouwa have transferred their star Singaporean chefs — Gabriel Low and Luqman Nul Hakim — to helm Shoukouwa Shinjidai, which will be managed by pioneering chef Kanekuni Taiga. 

The name Shinjidai (新時代)) refers to “a new age”, which aptly describes the restaurant’s kaiseki-inspired cuisine prepared with an innovative edge. Just by presentation alone, you can already tell this place is a marriage of Saint Pierre’s refinement and Shoukouwa’s superb flavours. To complement the contemporary kaiseki experience, tableware was specially ordered from various prefectures: glassware crafted in the Sumida and Taito districts of Tokyo, Aritayaki porcelain from Saga, and tableware from award-winning Nousaku based in Toyama.

See also: Japanese flavour secrets revealed

Each course showcases seasonal ingredients of the highest standard that are reimagined for avant-garde palates. Currently, there are three tasting menus: Kaze ($250++) or Mio ($380++) for lunch; and Mio ($380++) or Yume ($480++) for dinner. Prices vary according to the number of courses and type of ingredients used, but every menu will showcase a myriad of cooking styles, from raw delights to steamed or grilled specials.

Each quirkily named course takes after a song, such as Hey Big Spender — a trio of caviars featuring a spoon of La Maison Nordique Oscietra caviar; shiro ebi and La Maison Nordique Shadi caviar with a side of crispy seaweed shells; and somen with uni sauce, topped with N25 Kaluga caviar.

See also: Local chefs who creatively blend European cooking techniques with flavours drawn from their Chinese heritage

Other highlights include Like a Virgin — a sashimi starter featuring little dishes of marinated hamachi filled with fresh greens; hotate sashimi; and kinki fish sitting in its bone broth. For the sushi course, we enjoy Rule of Threes — a trio of nigiri sushi topped with akami, chutoro and otoro.

Another standout is Whet My Appetite — Amela tomato filled with Bafun uni and tenshi ebi in a lovely ponzu dressing. 

There are also hot dishes such as Born To Be Wild — slow-cooked monkfish beautifully plated with petals of picked persimmon.

Another pretty and flavourful dish is Sweet Child O’ Mine, featuring generous amounts of hairy crab and rice in gazami crab roe sauce, crowned with petals of pickled watermelon radish.

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The best way to enjoy your meal here is with a sake pairing — just ask the beverage manager for recommendations. They also go extremely well with the medley of desserts — musk melon and crème caramel, plus petit fours of genmaicha chocolate bon bon and pâte de fruits.

Iru Den
27 Scotts Road  Tel: 8923 1127
Operating hours: Open for lunch (12pm–2.30pm)  and dinner (6pm–11 pm).  Closed on Wednesdays and Sundays

Tucked away from prying eyes, behind the black-and-white colonial houses of Scotts Road, you’ll find one of Singapore’s best kept dining secrets, Iru Den, helmed by young and talented local chef-owner Javier Low. 

Formerly from Iggy’s, Low ventured to Kyoto in 2016 to work at Michelin-starred Cenci to learn more about Japanese-European cuisine. He returned to Singapore in 2018 to open Il Den, a tiny 12-seater one-man kitchen, where he established a devoted cult following of discerning foodies. In 2021, he opened Iru Den, pushing the boundaries of progressive cooking, drawing inspiration from Modern European and Japanese cuisines. 

Here, multi-course tasting menus seamlessly integrate diverse influences, all while celebrating the Japanese focal tenets of seasonality. Produce is prepared and freshly cooked just enough for the day. From dry-ageing meat and fish to choosing to grill low and slow in place of a sous vide bath, Low’s more delicate, considered approach to cooking showcases the skill and technique required to allow the pristine beauty and flavour of an ingredient to shine through.

Iru Den’s latest menu starts with a selection of tasty snacks like wagyu tartare and Oscietra caviar served in a pie tee shell; nori-wrapped tamago and grilled burdock; and diced shima aji with pickled wasabi and onions in a tartlet shell.

After that, a refreshing salad of aged and seared toro sawara is served with seasonal vegetables from Japan and Taiwan.

The chawanmushi here is done differently (even better than the original) with the perfect ratio of egg to dashi for a silky texture, and finished with a poultry jus of slow-roasted chicken bones. It’s topped with sautéed jumbo Nameko mushrooms for the extra umami kick.

An Iru Den signature, the chilled somen is swathed in a sauce of wasabi leaves, sake, mirin and uni before being generously crowned with more uni. It’s also topped with Taiwanese Red Prawn, lightly grilled with prawn butter and served with wild herb pesto.

Dishes here reflect the intensity and savoury richness that Singaporean diners love. The grilled meats, for example, like the dry-aged F1 Iwate Beef and Irish silver hill duck, are exceptionally juicy and tender with a complexity of flavours. Another that stood out for me was the ayu (sweet fish), lightly battered and fried, and served with braised bamboo shoot and charred spring onion puree. The medley of sweet, salty and savoury was pure joy in my mouth.

Another unforgettable dish was the flavour-loaded donabe, a signature rice dish cooked low and slow with an intense seafood bisque. It’s finished on high heat to achieve a crisp, charred exterior, and receives a final flourish of grilled sakura ebi, mizuna, mitsuba and bamboo shoots. 

Ending off the meal, the petit fours like the chocolatey nougatines and warm shiro miso madeleines are delightful.

To enjoy the flavours of the season, diners can opt for a five-course business lunch ($88++); eight-course lunch ($188++); six-course dinner ($188++); or nine-course dinner ($268++). A beverage-paired flight of sake, wine and non-alcoholic tipples, is available at $80++ for four glasses, and $120++ for six glasses. 

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