Hand on my heart, I don’t recall having tasted a more exquisite roast beef than this. Chef Akane said it is because she uses the rump which is more tender. Well, she knows best because I couldn’t get enough of those velvety-soft slices, especially when they were presented on steaming hot, fluffy kombu-cooked rice (imported from Nagano prefecture), and smothered in a superb sweetish, slightly viscous egg dashi sauce. Truly oishii in my opinion.

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Located on the second level of the same building as the Intercontinental Hotel in Robertson Quay, Ichigo Ichie seats 10 comfortably along an L-shaped counter that faces an open kitchen, and very soon, will have a table for 6 guests in a screened-off section.
When I visited for lunch, I ordered the 6-course $128++ Tasting Menu and Chef Akane Eno’s take on our local hawker dish of prawn noodles was one of my favourites from all the courses.
Served chilled, the slippery-smooth al dente somen came in a sauce made from Japanese tiger prawn stock, and topped with fresh, perfectly-cooked prawns. What propelled this to “OH WOW” status was the housemade Yuzu Chilli, a paste of salty and zesty heat. What a stunner.

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Literally translated, “Ichigo Ichie” means “One Life, One Moment” and is meant to indicate an experience to cherish. And although it is suppose to be written as 一期一会, there is clever wordplay here with Chef @akane.eno’s phonetically-similar family name replacing the last character. Hence: 一期一江.
I visited within a week of the restaurant’s official opening and from what I experienced, everything seems to be in a tip-top state already.
At $128++, the 6-course Tasting Menu I chose was the less expensive of the two (the other is $188++), and I enjoyed it very much. Not only were the ingredients of high quality but Chef Akane’s culinary skills ensured they were showcased to their best. When you watch her and her team in action, you can tell the food here is prepared with so much heart.
Shown above is the Chawanmushi with Baby Sea Eel, Bamboo Shoot and Ume. I learned from my foodie friends @szeliang888 and @alanloveshisboys that this seasonal fish is also known as “Noresore”. Besides being amazed at how Chef Akane managed to retain its smoothness in the steamed egg custard (because once cooked, the fish becomes flaky), I was impressed by the extreme liquid-like texture of her Chawanmushi. A stunning start to a very satisfying Kappo meal.

Chef Akane Eno’s identity is everywhere in this restaurant of hers. Not only are her Tasting Menus (2 for lunch, 2 for dinner) christened after shades of red because her first name, “Akane”, means “deep red” in Japanese, but some of the crockery she presents her food on are pieces she has been collecting for years. Like the one seen in the above photo which is a dish shaped like a traditional Japanese string instrument. It appeared in the second course of my $128++ Lunch Tasting Menu, featuring an assortment of cold appetisers: baby bluefin tuna and flounder sashimi, Spanish mackarel marinated in miso to be eaten with a kumquat, Hokkaido scallop cooked in a sauce then smoked in Sakura chips, a mix of blanched seasonal vegetables, and broad beans.

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In this age of Tinder and hook-ups, the relationship I have with @sgtakayama is considered old-fashioned because it’s been a long and sweet courtship. It began with a lunch shortly after they opened almost two years ago, then an dinner event held in conjunction with a Japanese glass artisan company, and late last year, I attended a 4-hands pop-up with Executive Chef Taro’s friends from Osaka. This slow and steady pace of discovering what he and his team are capable of, has finally led to me declaring that my heart is well and truly won. Sealing the deal with a kiss was the Omakase dinner I had a few days ago. Here is what was served:

- A stunning cold appetiser of Japanese hairy crabmeat with yuzu zest and chopped Japanese yam, crowned in marinated Oscetra caviar and served with Japanese yam ice-cream.

- Deepfried spring roll filled with creamy #Shirako (cod sperm sac) that proved a dazzling study in contrasts.

- A parade of different sublime Sashimi including raw Snow Crab leg (a first for me), each given a little extra kick in flavour with housemade condiments such as cured red fish roe, soya sauce, radish with ponzu sauce, cured egg yolk.

- Airy-light Monaka Wafer (Japanese rice biscuit) sandwiching a marvelous combo of foie gras ice-cream, turnip with yuzu skin, pickled watermelon rind, chopped ginger flower and roasted chilli.

- A huge boiled Japanese abalone sliced and plated with plump tempura-style Tottori shiitake mushrooms, abalone liver cream and abalone stock sauce.

- Palate-cleansing Somen in clear dashi (seasoned with a pinch of salt) and served with juicy, sweet Japanese pear and a splash of matcha-infused oil.

- A fantastic beef course showcasing A5 Wagyu poached in a dashi flooded with Japanese leeks, then dressed in a housemade sauce of sesame, vinegar and soya milk, plus a dash of chilli oil. Two helpings were absolutely necessary.

- Superb Snow Crab and Uni Claypot Rice that was exceedingly fragrant, fluffy and sweet-in-seafood-flavour. It was accompanied by a bowl of miso soup with clams and some assorted pickles.

- Dessert of Japanese pomelo with housemade orange ice-cream and orange bits (with rind still attached) mixed in honey wine jelly. This was paired with a Mikan-flavoured Sake for maximum enjoyment.

- Piping hot Houjicha financiers that was simply mind-blowing.

Profoundly delicious, this was a meal that has made an indelible impression, and has me pining for more.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
If food with “zhup” (gravy) gets you weak in the knees, this pizza has your name on it.
The story behind @bjornshen’s “Pizza Vongole” harks back to when he was toiling away as a dishwasher in a cafe (it was his second job ever). His break came when the head chef left and everyone got moved up the rung, which meant he got to do prep and work the pasta station. It was then that his first ever professionally-cooked dish happened and it was a plate of Pasta Vongole. And that has led to the existence of this pizza.
Topped with plump Sunset clams (that have been sautéed in white wine, butter and herbs), heirloom tomatoes, cow’s milk mozzarella, sharp Pecorino cheese, crunchy sea asparagus and an Asian-tasting spring onion oil, it is a fragrant, full-on briney-sweet, fusion experience. One thing’s for sure, it is also wet. This pizza DRIPS with so much clam juices, a puddle is inevitably left on the plate. But that is also what makes this pizza special because that luscious liquid is a siren call for all crusts. Just do what @iamjaynedoe did - wade in, sop up and enjoy.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
After the most un-pizza of pizzas “Pizza alla Banh Mi” which brought up the rear in the succession of toppings-laden baked doughs doled out by Bjorn Shen, I would vote this as my second favourite from that night’s Omakase.
Named “Pizza Black”, it is inspired by a meal he had years ago in Osaka, Japan, at a little unassuming joint called “I Love Pizza” (sadly, it doesn’t exist any longer, he returned to check). That was Bjorn’s first taste of Neapolitan-style pizzas. To say he was blown away by it is probably an understatement. So in tribute of the life-changing squid ink Margherita and cheese creation he inhaled that fateful evening, he created this.
On the poufy crust (made from a 3-days-aged dough with 70% hydration level) is a sea of squid ink sauce, thick slices of baby zucchini, smoked octopus, cow’s milk mozzarella and pecorino. To finish, he threw on basil, splashed some olive oil and grated octopus bottarga. The final taste was a whack of flavour upon flavour upon flavour. Multifold and intensely umami, I couldn’t help but eat it with an expression of incredulous delight.

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I’ve never had “Dwaeji Gukbap”, a traditional type of Korean Pork Soup till today and I like it very much.
The broth has a milky appearance, some body but isn’t sticky. It takes time to boil a proper one from pork bone. Other parts of the pig are then added—in this case, the belly, ears and cheeks —followed by some seasoning such as sesame oil.
At #myunggakoreanbbqrestaurant on the top level of Beauty World Centre, saucers of spicy Korean chilli paste and fermented krill (it’s just like cinchalok) are served on the side. An order of this soup also comes with a bowl of rice and of course, the standard complimentary Banchan (assortment of Korean pickles), so yes, it is meant for one ($18++). However, since the portion is large and the #soup is rich, I feel it is ideal for sharing. So just add a bowl of rice as well as another dish to make it a nice meal for two.

P.S. I also suggest sprinkling salt into the soup as it seems to enhance the flavour more.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G

I am calling it: 2020 is going to be the Year of the Pizza in Singapore. How can it not with @bjornshen’s @smalls_sg ready to welcome the public from 1st February and the insanely popular private dining @CasaNostraSg strongly rumoured to be opening a restaurant in the coming months? Let’s also not forget the stalwarts of #Neapolitanstyle #pizzas on our little red dot like @cichetirestaurant @lukasingapore and @trattoriaoperetta, who are still slinging out genuinely tasty stuff.

But allow me to direct your attention back to the ballsy Smalls Pizza Bar.

It’s tiny. So tiny it fits 4 customers and Bjorn. That night at our tasting, after my foodie friends and I had shoehorned ourselves into place, he started by sharing the inspiration behind Smalls. It seems everything on the Omakase menu ($125++ per pax) was inspired by his experiences at various pizza eateries while growing up in the ‘80s and early 90’s. Which was why a parade of playful takes on classics-from-that-era landed first. Think spicy, juicy Hot Chicken Butts (yums!), delish meatless Meatballs “Alfredo” with maitake, a refreshing Heirloom Tomato Salad with kelp, and an Oyster Cream with Trout Roe - perfect to swish slices of his first pizza, a garlic bread-inspired Pizza Aglio Olio, in. Naked save for garlic oil, this was the ideal vehicle to show off the Neapolitan crust he’d been slaving over since Smalls was but a spark in his noggin.

Aged for three days and boasting a higher-than-average hydration level of 70%, his baked crust was a wonderful thing of airy crunch and soft chewiness. Whatever it was topped with: squid ink sauce, baby zucchini, smoked octopus, cow’s milk mozzarella, pecorino, basil, olive oil for Pizza Black, or heirloom tomatoes, sautéed Sunset clams, pecorino and sea asparagus on Pizza Vongole; or filled with, as in the case of the Pizza alla Banh Mi which I’ve done a separate post about since I was smittened from first bite, MASSIVE tastiness reigned. He even did a version of the Stuffed Crust which I thought was a lot of fun.

There were two desserts at our sneak preview and I must admit, although the finale of Neapolitan Cookie (a piping hot molten chocolate chip cookie topped with strawberry compote and vanilla ice-cream) was perfectly fine, it was the first, a sweetish burrata and tomato that resonated more with me.

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This was the last savoury course by Chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi from our dinner last night.

A simple yet stunning dish, it featured Sanma (Pacific Saury) cooked with ginger and spring onions. After being presented to us as shown in my photo above, one of the chefs went promptly to work, breaking up the grilled pieces of Sanma to mix them in (rather aggressively I might add but not that I mind - aggression is sexy...) with the rice. By the time the contents of the pot was scooped into the waiting wooden bowls, the fish had become so fine and well-integrated with the rice grains, it was nigh impossible to tell them apart.

Fresh (not chilled, nor farmed) ikura was spooned on as the last touch. The taste was truly sublime. Of course I had to have seconds.

H O S T E D

Only until 15th November 2019 is the Aki Matsuri Omakase Dinner Menu available at Fat Cow. It is one designed for Wagyu lovers as Head Chef Shigeru Kasama and his team (including Chef Nigel Loh who served us when we visited) have flexed their creative muscles to develop a menu that showcases the best of Kumamoto beef in various preparation styles. Priced at $250++ per pax, the 12-course set is sheer indulgence as it comprises of:

1. Aki Chinmi Moriawase - this platter has a glass of Fat Cow’s own sake warmed up, shark soft bone, abalone liver, koji miso on Wagyu, cream cheese miso yaki and tsubugai umani.

2. Snow Crab Chawanmushi with kani miso sauce: the rich sauce is marvelous with the egg.

3. Shimofuri Wagyu Sashimi Negimaki: we found the raw slices of beef with leek, gold leaf and three sauces very delicious.

4. Kaki Ume Wan: comforting seafood soup with an oyster.

5. Seiro Mushi: one of my two favourites from the menu, the extremely soft beef tastes incredibly refine as it’s steamed with pure spring water from Kyoto.

6. Sukiyaki: the other favourite of mine is this course with beef simmered briefly in a sweetish sauce and served with raw egg and freshly shaved truffle.

7. Aki Tempura Moriawasi: this delectable assortment of battered ingredients include shiso leaf-wrapped Wagyu tenderloin, large, sweet chestnuts, gingko nuts and shimeji mushroom, sprinkled in some sea salt flakes.

8. Zabuton Grill: sinking my teeth into the thick, juicy slices of charcoal-grilled Wagyu chuck flap left me in a state of bliss.

9. The Fat Cow Wagyu Sandwich: the very soft toasted buttery brioche and breaded Miyazaki A4 chateaubriand tastes even better swiped through the accompanying tangy sauce.

10. Wagyu Striploin Aburi Nigiri Sushi: served in a glass bowl and topped with Bafun uni, this is “surf & turf” in premium form.

11. Chef’s Special Donabe Truffle Meshi: cooked using pure spring water from Kyoto, the supremely fragrant and appetising Japanese claypot rice has truffle shaved on right in front of you. If you decide to skip second helpings, Chef will pack the remainder in a box with more truffle for you to take home.

12. Musk Melon and Yuzu Ice-cream: ending the decadence with sweet fruit and citrus coldness is lovely.

Every guest is given an elegant sake cup as a souvenir too. I like the design a lot because to me, it looks like Mount Fuji when it’s upside-down.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
“YES, YES, YES" is only answer when an invitation to Esora comes your way (thank you Annette!).
When I entered the restaurant, it was apparent Autumn had arrived with beauty and grace in their beautiful space. Framed by the updated floral centrepiece behind the open kitchen, Chef-owner Koizumi and his team worked quietly, as though in deep reverence of the fine ingredients they handle.
Our menu, curated by Chef himself, comprised of lunch and dinner items. We also got to try the tea-pairing as well. A few people had told me it elevates the dining experience - they‘re right. The five teas, of which only one was served hot, complemented the dishes very well, adding new flavour dimensions of floral, smoky, milky and vanilla-sweetened, to each deliciousness.
We began with Chef Koizumi's special dashi, an opener-of-appetite made of two kinds of kombu and a touch of yuzu. An airy-light monaka wafer sandwiching foie gras terrine, Japanese persimmon and a myoga salad was next. Then came the inevitably-breathtaking Esora Hassun, a tableau on a tray with the splendour of the season captured in six edibles nestled in fall’s vivid foliage. We enjoyed them in the recommended sequence, starting with the barracuda sushi in nori wrap and ending with the Shiitake mushroom flan adorned in abalone before cleansing our palate with a Japanese gooseberry. Chef’s wife Maasa arrived at this point, bearing a pot with a stunningly presented pigeon prepared in two ways, and plated with lime kosho. The closing carb of hairy crab donabe was exceptional - so comforting and sweet with plenty of shredded crab meat.
For dessert, we had a pretty pear sorbet that reminded Annette of her favourite Solero popsicle. After that was the magnificent wasanbon caramel ice-cream served with housemade kuromitso and an avalanche of finely grated Tokushima white truffle. It was ambrosial! Autumn’s petit fours tasted as lovely as summer’s (the melon ice-cream mochi was for me, the best of the lot).

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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