Singapore gets two new fine dining options with the opening of Japanese restaurant Jinhonten and a new chef at Sushi Ichizuke.
Both venues offer omakase menus of similar styles, albeit in their own ways. One takes the seriousness out of the experience, while the other projects a spirited vibe.
Jinhonten takes the former approach. Launched in June 2022 at Shaw Centre, the Les Amis Group concept offers kappo style cuisine led by Head Chef Issey Araki, formerly of Kyuu by Shunsui, Shun x Sakemaru, and his eponymous restaurant Araki.
Araki serves one menu for lunch and dinner, differentiated by courses (eight for lunch, ten at night), and price (S$180++ during the day, S$450++ in the evening). Both meals showcase produce flown in Toyosu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Fukuoka, which are steamed, grilled, deep fried, and served raw.
Request a place at the 10-seater bar counter to watch Araki switch roles between showman and chef. He wears a mask fashioned out of a crab head when presenting a claypot of kegani (horsehair crab) and rice. He holds up steamed kuro awabi (black abalone) with chopsticks like a ninja. Jinhonten’s soundtrack keeps up with Araki’s quirky vibe; The Beatles’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is played with the folksy twang of shamisen, a Japanese string instrument.
Araki shows his serious side through his cooking. Botan ebi, murasaki uni, and Kristal caviar is a luxurious appetiser with creamy egg yolk sauce. Tender abalone is served with vinegary rice and an earthy abalone liver sauce, and the poaching liquid is turned into a comforting dashi. Oily Nodogouro (blackthroat sea perch) is tempered with pickled winter melon and fresh wasabi in a crunchy seaweed roll.
Kinki, or thornyhead, is cooked shabu-shabu style, and the light, citrusy broth balances the fish’s incredible richness. The buttery flavours of grilled Hida beef are teased out by a smooth tomato sauce. The claypot rice, or donabe, was a little hard, but redeemed with sweet crab mayonnaise and spicy pickled mustard leaves. Musk melon from Shizuoka was a simple dessert, yet sublimely fresh.
At Sushi Ichizuke, Chef Daisuke Suzuki has been manning the 16-seat arrow-shaped bar counter since May 2022. He joined the Zouk Group’s Japanese restaurant after stints at the one-star restaurants Sushi Wadatsumi in Hong Kong and Ginza Iwa in Tokyo, as well as the three-star Gion Sasaki in Kyoto.
The dishes here are primarily sushi, which features produce flown in from Toyosu market. There are three menus for lunch and dinner, with the premium omakase option commanding a S$480++ price tag.
Compared to Araki, Suzuki is more subdued, perhaps due to the language barrier. He carries a wavy perm and smiles shyly after presenting each dish, which contrasts slightly against Ichizuke’s moody interior and playlist of upbeat house music.
But Suzuki has a deft hand with shari, or vinegared short grain rice, which belies his youthful exterior. Like Araki, he serves steamed awabi with rice and abalone liver sauce, but his version is softer and creamier. Also similar is the nodoguro handroll, but Suzuki’s tangy rice brings more restraint to the fatty fish.
Suzuki also uses sudachi, a Japanese green citrus that looks like calamansi, to brighten sushi. A squeeze of it brings focus to oily isaki (chicken grunt). A dab adds zest to the silkiness of toro (tuna belly). Smearing it on uni coaxes out the sea urchin’s creamy saline character.
Dessert is also Shizuoka musk melon, which is in season right now. But a pleasant surprise is passionfruit from Okinawa, which was delightfully ripe and crunchy. Like Suzuki’s cooking, it had a pleasant acidity that was as exuberant as youth.
The post Have your Omakase two ways at the new Jinhonten and revamped Sushi Ichizuke appeared first on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.