These six newly opened or revamped Japanese restaurants offer omakase menus that’s entirely dependent on seasonality and quality, the chef ’s whims and your taste for adventure.
The culinary world has undergone something of a rebirth, spurred largely by post-Covid-19 sensibilities. Robots, once anathema to self-respecting chefs, are now welcomed with opened arms. Customer contact points are a cause for consternation, not celebration. Not so for omakase restaurants – yes, some have undergone recent transformations, but these are metamorphoses divorced from current events. The core ethos remains: you are at the mercy of a discerning chef and what happens to be in stock. Omakases persist to be unhurried, deliberate affairs – a luxury within, and without, a pandemic. A luxury well worth the indulgence, even if it means leaving your sanctum for an hour or three.
Kappo Shunsui has broken away from the overcrowded waters of Singapore’s bona fide Japanese culinary mecca, Cuppage Plaza, and found new ground in a shophouse on Hong Kong Street. Kappo basically means “to cut and to cook” – translating into a form of dining that’s cosier and slightly less austere, even for omakase. Head chef Shimuta “Shim” Kunihiko, who paid his dues in a variety of renowned Japanese kitchens including Chef Hirata Tasaku’s one- Michelin-starred Kodaiji Kanjin, struts his stuff with aplomb. The 13 counter seats get front row seats to the show, and if that isn’t enough, two large television screens provide a live bird’s-eye view of the action.
17 Hongkong Street, #01-01.
Tel: 6223 1278.
Two-Michelin-starred joint Waku Ghin has reopened after an 18-month-long hiatus for renovations. The dining space was given a makeover, courtesy of Japanese designer Yohei Akao that’s an amalgamation of classic Japanese minimalism and natural-material-forward design. It’s also more accessible than ever – The Bar, a new 24-seat dining area, affords diners a selection of snacks paired with handcrafted Japanese-esque cocktails and exceptional sake collections. That said, the exclusive 10-seater Chef’s Table – and corresponding 10-course menu is still available. That includes chef-owner Tetsuya Wakuda’s signature dish since day one, marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and oscietra caviar, or anything else in the celebrity chef’s arsenal that’s a happy marriage of French and Japanese techniques.
L2-03, The Shoppes, 2 Bayfront Ave, Marina Bay Sands.
Tel: 6688 8507.
Scoring a reservation at chefowner Masaaki Sakashita’s solo venture is a challenge unto itself. The Kyoto native has moved on from his days as head chef at Sushi Ishi, and Hashida Sushi before that – in fact, he hasn’t left the sushi scene since he first entered it just under three decades ago, and it shows. His cuisine is traditional at its core, and just unrestrained enough for the 57-year-old’s personality and culinary creativity to shine through. Each course is thoughtfully crafted to deliver natural and distinct flavours with only the finest premium ingredients of the season. His namesake restaurant, similarly, is minimalist chic with woody overtones, yet markedly Oriental and even a little unorthodox (if the cranes on pink Gucci wallpaper adorning Masaaki’s entrance is anything to go by). The open kitchen is where the magic happens, especially over the charcoal hearth where he would be teasing the flavours out of live crabs and other ingredients with licking flames.
26 Beach Road, #B1-17, South Beach Avenue.
Tel: 6388 1555.
Home-grown chef Nick Pa’an is the protagonist of Fukui. He has spent the better part of two decades arning his Japanese culinary stripes under the wing of Santaro Li, one of Singapore’s greats in the Japanese restaurant scene. Now, the contemporary ryokanthemed omakase joint is his new playground. Hospitality – and excellent produce a la Tokyo’s Toyosu Market, Saga Prefecture and Hokkaido thrice weekly – is the name of the game here, including a good deal of traditional techniques like warayaki, where ingredients are lightly roasted with burning straw, imparting a deliciously smoky aroma while keeping its insides moist and yielding.
25 Mohamed Sultan Road.
Tel: 6509 0909.
The Gyu Bar, as its name suggests, is an ode to Japanese beef. And that song, specifically, was yakiniku – though they’ve expanded their repertoire with sukiyaki, shabu shabu and most recently, a nine-course omakase encompassing Wagyu sourced from seven prefectures across the nation. That includes some of the rarest and most prized varietals in the region, such as Sanuki Olive from Kagawa Prefecture – so-called for the farmers’ incorporation of olives into the feed of the herd, only 1,700-strong. The beef is prepared in a number of traditional ways (including yakiniku, of course) to be enjoyed within the contemporary, warmly-lit interiors of the restaurant co-founded by chef Tomoo Kimura of the eponymous one-Michelin-starred restaurant Sushi Kimura.
30 Stevens Road, #01-08.
Tel: 6732 0702.
This restaurant may be small but the 10-seater concept offers guests an intimate dining experience that showcases the skills of awardwinning sushi chef-owners Sky Tai Koon Siang (World Sushi Cup Champion 2018) and Leon Yap (World Sushi Cup Champion 2019). Each of the two omakase menus, Shin and Sora, is divided into three “chapters’’ comprising sashimi, cooked dishes, nigiri and dessert. The Sora sushi course begins with traditional pieces, followed by bolder flavours before ending with the chefs’ winning sushi creations. There is also a supplementary section featuring a selection of Wagyu, uni and caviar items that complements the core menu, as well as a personally curated range of up to 20 sakes – both from traditional and contemporary breweries – for guests to enjoy.
331 North Bridge Road, #01-04, Odeon Towers.
Tel: 8737 4366.