The obsession with Japanese cuisine in Singapore is fascinating. Nearly every mall has a restaurant, from affordable franchises to top grade sashimi, the local appetite never tires for what the land of the rising sun has to offer. It could be the great variety of choice; teppanyaki, sashimi, and if you're indecisive—aburi sushi. It might be the effort that goes into the preparation of each dish, the way chefs treat it like a highly-regarded craft. Or perhaps it transcends rationale and resonates deep within, as these new menus did.
Part of the extensive narrative that began with Sum Yi Tai, Chi Kinjo is divided between a modern sushi bar and a highball den. The den is stationed lower deck for an underground mystique, but both are small-seating and unconventionally inviting.
For starters, the food was close to faultless. Together with the handmade Ming Dynasty Egg Tofu, the raw dishes like your Ceviches and Carpaccios were marinated to a perfect ratio of sauce and subject. Likewise with the Aburi Nigiri, a hefty slice atop compact, hand-rolled rice. The scene-stealer would surely be the Smoked Wagyu. You know it's good Wagyu when the scent says beef but the texture says fish (one might argue with this abstract statement but just take our word for it). Finally, the Maki rolls could use some crunch, but otherwise, faultless.
Chi Kinjo is located at 29 Stanley St, Singapore 068738.
For inquiries, call 6221 3665.
This establishment may be known foremost for its amazing bar, but the food pairs well, especially if you're more for heavy flavours. Strong on the seasonings, it's reminiscent of true late night snacks that answer the cravings of sleepy tastebuds.
Perched (heh) on the corner of Keong Saik makes the visiting crowd all the livelier, and there's something for all. Blackened Carrots for the sweet, and Chilled & Marinated Tomatoes for the sour, Chicken Liver Mousse for the salty, the list goes on. The safe bet? The Tuna Sashimi Donburi. The Instagrammable? The Golden Curry Rice.
Neon Pigeon is located at 1A Keong Saik Road 01-03, Singapore 089109.
For inquiries, call 6222 3623.
Formerly known as Kaiseki Yoshiyuki, the bar is set high with Chef Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara. Prior years as personal chef to Japanese ambassadors shows in the unrivalled, unique dashi and beautiful plating. The new lunch menu lays out a themed eight course choice of uni, beef or maguro.
Presentation upholds tradition, so the meal is not just a visual and gastronomic journey, it's an educational one as well. For example, the intentional misting of your bowl's exterior (its purpose I shall leave for your personal visit and discovery). Be warned, nothing will prepare you for the life-changing chawanmushi, a texture so perfectly fragile, it's hard to ever eat regular chawanmushi after. Seating is cosy, the perfect classroom for an impeccable lesson on Kyoto's traditional Kaiseki.
YOSHI Restaurant is located at Forum #B1-39, Singapore 238884.
For inquiries, call 6235 1088.
Clearly not your typical Japanese setting, this casual, nomadic concept from local favourite PS. Cafe divulges Japanese flavours in quaint and contemporary portions. The Salmon Tacos, for instance, sees King Salmon paired with salsa wrapped within seaweed in a form that's probably a delightful first for anyone.
Plated to be shared, there's something playful and light about the dishes that carry its free spirit. Neither are the desserts, like the refreshing Watermelon Granita, the type that leaves you too full. But with the cosy, coastal-coloured space, it's easy to slip into an afternoon lull of a pleasant food coma.
Jypsy is located at 38 Martin Road. Singapore 239072.
For inquiries, call 8188 6177.
The OG of Teppanyaki in Singapore since the 80s, Shima welcomes summer with a Hokkaido kaiseki menu. Awarded chef Hoshiba is known for his meticulousness, which you clearly see in the immaculate plating. Plus, the honour of being served what the former Chairman of the National Culinary Society of Japan prepares?
Handcrafted elements and seasonal ingredients are served sweet or chilled to beat the heat, from the suzuki sea bass sashimi to the grilled ayu river trout. Until end October, you can also enjoy a sake promotion of either of two brews that harmonises with the variety of textures of the kaiseki meal.
SHIMA is located at Goodwood Park, Singapore 22822.
For inquiries, call 6734 6281.
Kappo Shunsui might have a new chef but that doesn't mean that the quality has dipped during the transition. On the contrary, the meal we had retained its culinary nuances expected from a kappo-styled restaurant. Using seasonal ingredients, you get dishes like the Minced Oita Hamaguri and Asari Clams Soup—a fat little mollusc sitting in a flavourful broth or a showcase of Hokkaido's fresh seafood: the Charcoal Grilled King Crab that has a generous offering of meat (from just one lobster's carpus) that has a char to it.
A typical kappo cuisine utilises five primary cooking techniques—grilling, steaming, frying, simmering and raw preparation—that are done in front of customers but for Executive Chef Nishi Nobuhiro, that's part of the fun for him as he cooks with aplomb, sometimes hamming it in front of the cameras at our behest. You might not get the same dishes that we ate due to the seasonal ingredients they use but regardless of what you get, you won't leave unsatisfied.
Kappo Shunsui is located at Cuppage Plaza #04-02, Singapore 228796.
For inquiries, call 6732 0912.