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Oishii desu: Where to go for all types of delicious Japanese cuisines

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 7 min read
Oishii desu: Where to go for all types of delicious Japanese cuisines
Photo: Akanoya Robatayaki
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Akanoya Robatayaki
#01-01 Orchard Rendezvous Hotel Tel: 6732 1866

For an immersive and authentic robatayaki experience where the sights, sounds and smells of seared dishes permeate your every pore, look no further than Akanoya Robatayaki at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel. Launched in 2008, the Japanese grill restaurant by Akashi Group is now headed by a second-generation team of young and dynamic food connoisseurs — chief operations manager Javier Goh, head chef Brandon Teo and general manager William Liou — offering a more modern dining experience for discerning gourmands.

Along with the change of hands comes a complete overhaul of the restaurant’s interiors, which now include additional booths, private rooms and bar, and the main robatayaki dining counter dressed to look like a mini marketplace of thrice weekly air-flown ingredients such as kinki (deep sea rock fish), hotate kara (live scallops), hamaguri (clams) or shin jagaimo (young potatoes).

The new look is also complemented by a refresh menu that adds more elegantly plated dishes using popular cooking techniques such as ageing meats for more complex taste profiles, and pickling or fermenting to give flavours more dimension.

Of course, the highlight of your experience at Akanoya is undoubtedly the buzzing open kitchen where the chefs grill the premium ingredients over bincho charcoal and serve them on a large paddle board.

Some highlights include Omigyu Zabuton featuring grilled A5 chuck beef served with young potatoes cooked in beef fat; Kamo duck that has been aged for two weeks and served with a dense, luscious black garlic puree aged for two months in a thermocirculator; and Maguro No Hohoniku, a bluefin tuna cheek aged for four days which boasts a flavourful, fatty and deep tuna flavour.

See also: Restaurant JAG relocates to STPI Robertson Quay, delving further into the realm of vegetable gastronomy

To sample the best picks from the ala carte menu, chef Teo has also rolled out a seven-course omakase menu ($228++). Soon, the restaurant will also offer a supper club menu for late-night diners to graze on till the wee hours of the morning. For tipplers, the bar, managed by Liou, offers a selection of rare sake plus reinventions of some classic cocktails with a Japanese twist.

Ken Japanese Restaurant
#01-17 Goldhill Plaza Tel: 6250 1321

See also: Lip-smacking festive bites to check out this holiday season

A hidden gem for traditional kaiseki-style dining, Ken Japanese Restaurant (formerly known as Yamato Japanese Restaurant) is a bustling 31-seater eatery tucked in the corner of Goldhill Plaza at Novena. Its currently helmed by the young and dashing English-speaking head chef Ryo Endo, who has 10 years of experience honed in Miyajima and Hiroshima.

For lunch, diners can choose between a six-course omakase menu ($88), or from the Grand Menu — hearty lunch sets or ala carte favourites such as Wagyu Shabu Shabu ($80) featuring slices of quality A4 Kagoshima beef, and Kaisen Don ($43) starring 10–12 cuts of fish including seasonal sayuri (Japanese half beak) and sawara (Spanish mackerel).

For dinner, we recommend the omakase menus inspired by the three sacred treasures of Japan — five-course Tsurugi ($98), seven-course Magatama ($138), and nine-course Kagami ($188). All the menus will include appetisers, a sashimi platter, tempura, a rice dish, soup and a dessert.

To give customers an authentic multi-course ryokan dining experience and the bounty of spring’s harvests, Endo showcases a large number of ingredients — including the sake — indigenous to his hometown of Yamagata. Some unusual ones include ika (green eye squid), firefly squid, baby eel and sea bream roe — all very tasty, beautifully presented and worth the splurge!

Sushi Sato
6B Dempsey Road Tel: 6971 8265

Opened last November, Sushi Sato is the eponymous omakase restaurant by master chef Yuji Sato who has 26 years of experience as a shokunin. His calm, methodical presence is a reflection of the serenity of his 15-seater eatery located in the tranquil Dempsey neighbourhood.

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Dressed like a mini ryokan with a miniature zen garden, blonde wood-clad architecture, and windows with washi paper, the heart of the cosy restaurant is Sato’s centrepiece nine-seater bar counter made of fragrant 200-year-old hinoki wood.

Serving exclusive produce from Japan — flown in four times a week and seen only in the top echelon of restaurants, Sato prepares his raw dishes in front of the customer for a more intimate and authentic experience. He may choose to punctuate the sushi course with small dishes such as grilled fish or sashimi in between.

Depending what’s flown in for the day, the dishes can range from signature ika somen where the live squid is skilfully sliced into noodle-like strands, to poached ankimo (monkfish liver), or hand-chopped toro-taku roll — often the finale for his dinner menu. His sushi rice, featuring three Japanese red vinegars combined with specially selected Tsuyahime rice from the Yamagata Prefecture, has the right amount of stickiness with a firm bite.

Lunch courses include the Uruoi ($220), Utsukushi ($280), and Tomi ($350), while dinner is a choice between the Omakase ($380), Kokoro ($480) and Kiwami ($580) featuring Sato’s signature dishes. To complement your tasting menu, Sushi Sato also offers three exclusive types of sake from the famed Takagi Brewery priced between $698 and $1,988.

#03-14 ION Orchard Tel: 6974 6782

Established in Tochigi, Japan in 1999, sen-ryo is well-known for exceptional authentic Japanese cuisine that is masterfully crafted by a team of shokunins using quality ingredients imported from Toyosu Fish Market and around the world. In 2005, the brand launched in Hong Kong to overwhelming response, and has since grown to a total of 13 outlets there, with its first Singapore outlet opened at ION Orchard last April.

To celebrate its first anniversary in Singapore, sen-ryo is introducing three new teishoku set lunches: Salmon Shioyaki Set ($26.80), featuring grilled salt and pepper-marinated Norwegian salmon paired with radish and topped with ikura; sen-ryo Kushiyaki Set ($20.80), a five-stick skewer dish of ebi, hotate, tsukune, shiitake and onion served with Japanese rice, chawanmushi, miso soup, salad and pickles; and Madai Ochazuke Set ($19.80), a rice bowl with sliced sea bream, bonito flakes, radish and leek, along with a pot of Japanese green tea broth to pour into the rice.

The highlight of the new anniversary menu also features the addition of two new premium dishes: Ise Ebi Sashimi ($168), lobster sashimi from the Mie prefecture served on a bed of ice; and Kaki Soy Nabe ($38.80), featuring a hot pot of Hyogo oysters in a Japanese soy milk-dashi base brimming with chewy kuzukiri noodles, tofu, vegetables and shiitake.

Diners who spend a minimum of $80 per bill will receive a limited-edition condiment bowl, while stocks last.

Ki Teppan & Rogama
#B1-08/09/10 Palais Renaissance Tel: 6466 0014

From the people who gave us Ishinomaki Grill & Sake at the basement of Palais Rensaissance, Ki Teppan & Rogama opens next door to offer diners an upscale dining experience that marries teppanyaki cooking with rogama delights grilled on the binchotan.

The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Chi Pin Han and Janice, Ki is the Japanese translation of “Chi” (the owners’ surname) and is also inspired by “Kishu”, the prefecture recognised for best bincho production in Japan and where the Ki sources its binchotan charcoal from.

At the heart of Ki is the passion to pursue and showcase the best and most unique seasonal ingredients from around the world which Chi himself, formerly a chef at Keyaki for 17 years, personally sources.

The best seats in the open-concept restaurant are by the teppanyaki counters where a skilled chef will put on a sizzling show expertly pairing protein with premium vegetables for a more complete tasting.

Ingredients on the menu change every fortnight depending on change of seasons, but you are assured plenty of seafood such as live abalone grilled with a sauce made from its liver, fresh lobster from Australia paired with a wine reduction gravy, and sweet Akashi Madai from Hyogo. The highlight for us would definitely be the buttery soft wagyu beef from Kumamoto prefecture, served with a side of moreish mushrooms cooked with the beef jus.

As for rogama dishes, we enjoyed the kurobuta pork belly from Kagoshima seared on the binchotan, as well as sweet potato from Ishikawa, and garlic from Aomori, known as the best prefecture in Japan for garlic and home of black garlic.

We also highly recommend the garlic-fried rice (also available at Ishinomaki), which gets its bright yellow hue from Mangetsu eggs from Aichi prefecture, also known as “moon eggs”.

Sets range from $60 for lunch and $120 for dinner, and include an appetiser, soup, chawanmushi, main course, teppan vegetables, garlic-fried rice or steamed rice.

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