At which restaurants should you leave the creation and selection your meal in the good hands of the chef? We narrow the selection to the top restaurants in Singapore:
For fine dining in a zen setting
The walk in to the restaurant – under the sheltered wooden walkway, past the zen garden and over the koi ponds – sets the tone for this rooftop Japanese restaurant. By the time the kaiseki set (traditional multi-course meal, $140-$200) is laid before you, you’re relaxed and ready for the seasons to come at you (gently). Expect as-fresh-as-you-can-get items from sashimi to lobster teppanyaki to seared wagyu beef cubes to supple strands of udon in delicate broth. What we like most about Keyaki is that though it has been around since 1987, yet this Pan Pacific stalwart doesn’t rest on its laurels. From 12 to 31 August 2013, Keyaki will be featuring special Omi Wagyu kaiseki menus (from $150++ per person) that will feature the beef as sushi, cooked teppanyaki style and steamed. Like its tuna kaiseki menus before, it imported a whole Omi Wagyu cow and created dishes out of it.
Keyaki Japanese Restaurant | Address: Level 4, Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard | Tel: 68268240 | Opening hours: noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-9.30pm
For fresh sashimi and decently-priced kaiseki
Colours and flavours play out beautifully on the plates here as Chef Nobu pays particular attention to his seasonable menu. In particular, the sashimi, as the fish is flown in almost daily from Japan, and the savoury dashi stock, which is a signature element used across the menu. Too bad about its interiors, which is a little too stark for our taste and can give off an uninviting vibe. It does not help that its location, smack in the middle of the Central Business District, leads most diners to treat it as a quick, eat-and-get-out space. The restaurant deserves more time and attention for its well turned-out, decently-priced kaiseki (traditional multi-course) menu. A la carte orders are available, but really, why waste your money on that when you can feast on the freshest produce flown in from Japan?
Kumo Kaiseki | Address: 12 Gopeng Street, Icon Village #01-58 | Tel: 62258433 | Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm
Matsuo Sushi Restaurant
Your friendly neighbourhood omakase
Yes, Matsuo’s service can be shifty. But if you’ve had the omakase (chef’s selection) set ($80++ to $130++ per person) – and this is what you should stick to – and witnessed the camaraderie between the chefs and the regular Japanese clientele, you would be willing to overlook it. Not that they’re not happy to welcome new customers – even if you’re not sitting at the bar, Matsuo’s chefs (including chef Matsuo himself) will keep a corner of their eye on you as you slurp up the fresh half-shell oyster-with-daikon-and-soy-sauce starter, take in the fat slices of sashimi, inhale the tender stewed beef slices, and struggle to finish up the last sushi pieces with thick, buttery slices of fish. To the diners at the counter, the chefs will joke and clear their plates. Or, as we noticed, if you prefer to sit and eat quietly on your own, they’ll happily leave you be.
Matsuo Sushi Restaurant | Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, Podium Block #01-17 | Tel: 63562603 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6-10pm
Teppei Japanese Restaurant
For great quality, reasonably priced omakase
Sorry guys, but you’re going to have to wait till 2014 to check out this 18-seater omakase restaurant. Chef Yamashita Teppei’s restaurant has become so popular for its well-priced ($40, $50, $60) high quality set menus that it’s booked out till then, and we understand why. Our outing saw us taste some of the freshest sashimi we’ve had – tuna that was perfectly fatty and melted in your mouth, a delicately sweet scallop that we wanted triple portions, and a single tempura prawn served piping hot with a crisp semi-sweet batter. The standout for the meal had to be the bara chirashi, a deluxe version of chirashi, with raw chunks of salmon, tuna, eel and other raw fish that almost outweighed the mould of lightly vinegared rice beneath. We can’t wait to go back, hopefully chef Teppei will read this and take pity on us.
Teppei Japanese Restaurant | Address: #01-1863, Orchid Hotel | Tel: 92294941 | Opening hours: Daily noon-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm
For more fine dining options...
For equally high-end, good quality dining, go to Best Japanese fine dining restaurants.