Fukui, Mohamed Sultan’s newest resident, is named after Fukui Prefecture, which borders the Sea of Japan in the Chubu region and is known for its rocky cliff, incredible dinosaur museum, crab and soba.
Everything about the restaurant is nod to its namesake — from the serene, ryokan-like interiors with wall installations of the prefecture’s mountains to its sake list — except that it’s run by an affable Malaysian chef called Nick Pa’an. Previously he cooked at Santaro Japanese Restaurant, and was part of the team that served our founding father Lee Kuan Yew and his family during a private dining event.
So no, he’s not some Japanese chef from one of Fukui Prefecture’s famous sushi restaurants. He’s a Malaysian chap who geeks out over Japanese food — fish, in particular. And if that bothers you, then please make reservations elsewhere. If it doesn’t, Fukui will feed you properly and with the best ingredients sourced from the Land of the Rising Sun.
In the name of omotenashi — which essentially translates to Japanese hospitality — we start our dinner with sake from one of the most popular breweries from Fukui prefecture. A palate cleanser, the Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo has subtle hints of tropical flowers, honey and a dry, quick finish. Our first dish in the 11-course dinner, a small bowl of raw young sea eel swimming in tangy ponzu and topped with tobiko and sea grapes, set the bar pretty high from the get-go. What comes next is equally delightful: straw-smoked A5-grade wagyu striploin with enough tenderness and tension to make a beef lover go weak in the knees. The treasure box of sashimi is expectedly fresh, with botan ebi, everybody’s favourite ootoro, ark shell, saba with grated ginger, leatherjacket fish and a heady uni “sushi” that’s wrapped with olive flounder.
Before we get to the medley of sushi, we tuck into a series of hot dishes. There are six of them, so describing them all here will take as long as the meal itself, but noteworthy ones are the grilled, succulent kinki fish and the steamed king crab doused in thick, dashi-based broth and garnished with uni and caviar. Chef Nick’s love and respect for seafood is evident in his fancy, complex and texture-rich creations. With sushi, he dresses them with a two-year-old saltwater eel sauce that imparts more oceanic flavours than conventional soy. We devour red seabream with yuzu, akami, Spanish mackerel, aka ebi, and negitoro. A light and sweet giant clam soup with mushrooms and some Japanese fruits cap the Zen menu.
Is it the very best omakase in Singapore? No. But it’s pretty solid and does its thing with grace and enthusiasm. All that raw tuna most certainly don’t hurt either.
Fukui, 25 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 238969, +65 6509 0909.
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