To me, minamalistic Japanese fare with high quality ingredients is the best.
Earlier this year in April, Shinji by Kanesaka opened its doors at St Regis hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel situated at the prime location of Tanglin Road and along the heart of the city’s premier shopping district of Orchard Road. Seems like a highly fitting location for a restaurant set-up by Michelin-starred sushi maestro Shinji Kanesaka. This is his second outlet in Singapore (the outlet at OUE is now closed).
Upon entering the restaurant, I had a deja vu feeling reminiscent of a scene in the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”. The spacious yet conservatively sized restaurant was mainly occupied by a central counter with surrounded seating, behind which stood the chefs who were busy at work preparing sushi and sashimi for the seated guests that had arrived before me. But unlike the quaint little sushi house of Jiro in the film, the restaurant here also had extra seating accommodation in the form of one to two tables at the side, as well as a private dining option for a group of up to 6 guests. There is also a sake bar that greets patrons at the front door, just before they make their way inside to the counter and tables.
Service wise, I was pleased with the friendliness of the staff and chef. The attention to detail which they paid to each guest was commendable, and for the price I would of course have expected nothing less than great service. Each time before my tea was finished, there would be a friendly female server on hand politely asking to fill up my teacup. In addition, my finished bowl or plate would be promptly cleared in a short time after I was done with the dish. The chef (at least for my chef of the night) too was no exception to quality service, when my dad pointed to his ginger and said “more ah, more ginger’, it was promptly served up on his plate in a few seconds.When a grain of rice fell from my sushi and onto the plate as I picked it up with my chopsticks, it would be promptly wiped away and the plate cleared of any other ‘falling debris’ before the next sushi was served up.
My favourite part was when my dad and I were served the same dish of sushi, it was a relatively large piece and when I was served mine, the chef had sliced it into 2 halves for easier consumption. My dad’s piece was left as a whole. Oh joy are the perks of being a girl – preferential treatment from the Chef ;p
MENU and FOOD
The dinner menu was simple and consisted of 3 choices – 2 Omakase sets and a Sushi set. I went for the Sushi Edomae set ($220) that comes with 15 pieces of Nigiri sushi, a maki roll, soup and fruits. My dad had the Omakase WA set ($300) that came with an extra appetiser, assorted sashimi and assorted cooked dishes. The sushi was fresh and the seasoning flavourful. The sushi rice was certainly different from the average sushi we eat outside at casual sushi outlets. There’s an extra flavour to the rice that was similar to the flavour of sushi rice I tasted at Aoki, but I can’t quite put a finger to what it is. But all in all, it was a delightful treat indeed especially for those looking to taste simplistic but quality Japanese sushi fare.
Dad loves white pickles so he asked for a serving of them before the start of our meal, and I must say they were heavenly tantalising.
Dad’s Omakase set came with a decadent and oh so beautiful looking bowl of sashimi – Uni (Sea Urchin Gonads) wrapped in raw fish accompanied with Ikura (salmon roe).
My starter consisted of monkfish liver and raw tuna sprinkled with Ikura and radish. The fish liver was really really good! My favourite I’ve eaten so far.
Next came the nigiri sushi, there was tuna in the likes of otoro and chutoro. There were also horse mackeral topped with pureed spring onions and eel served in two variations – salted and grilled. While there were a number of delightful tasting and fresh sushi served up, I was abit disappointed with the tuna ones as they did not blow me away with a melt in your mouth sensual experience that I was expecting for Shinji’s standards.
Shorter Spike Uni
What did light up my night and my tastebuds though were the servings of Uni sushi. I was served 2 types of Uni, one that looked more slimy and soft which the Chef described as “Shorter Spike Uni” and another that was firmer in texture and a slightly duller orange colour which the Chef described as “Longer Spike Uni”. I found his description really amusing and yet so endearing ;] Our Chef told me that the “Longer Spike Uni” was better and more delicious right before I gobbled down the heavenly looking piece of sushi with pure happiness.
Longer Spike Uni
I agree with the Chef. I was in love with both Uni sushi but the “Longer Spike Uni” that came without a seaweed wrap was slightly more heavenly in flavour and texture!
One of the joys of eating at Shinji is the experience of the delicate preparation process. During the preparation process, I had a front seat view of the Chef deshelling a majestic looking prawn, removing its shell and stripping the flesh clean. I also got to enjoy the little thrill of seeing my negitoro maki (chopped/minced tuna rice roll) being made from scratch, from the chopping process to the rolling… all the way to the plate. Seeing a Chef attend exclusively to your entourage and preparing every single dish from scratch gave the dining experience that extra personal touch and a dash of extravagant feel.
I had a delightful and satisfying dinner at Shinji and will definitely be back again, though probably on a more important occasion like my birthday. The service was lovely and the food good, not to mention the wonderful ambience. Although depending on who your fellow diners are that night, it could range from quiet to annoyingly noisy.
For those looking to be wowed by extravagant dishes with exotic combinations of flavours (e.g. the likes of a sinful but oh so tempting Shiok Maki), they will most likely be disappointed by the delicate and straight forward ingredients of the sushi offerings here (not to mention comprehending how 15 simple raw fish/seafood on rice can be worth hundreds). But in all honesty, it is the ambience, the art of the sushi making, the attention and respect that is put into each sushi preparation and of course the very lovely service that we pay the extra dollar for. So unless you really love your sushi and the art commited to preparing it onto plate, you might like to consider something less wallet breaking. Otherwise, Shinji by Kanesaka is a lovely sushi dining experience that every sushi lover should try:)
RESTAURANT: Shinji by Kanesake
SPIED AT: The St. Regis Singapore (Lobby), 29 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247911
OPERATING HOURS: LUNCH: 12.00 P.M. – 3.00 P.M. DINNER: 6.00 P.M – 10.30 P.M. (Closed on Mondays)
CONTACT: +65 6884 8239