Craving for good Japanese food because you probably can’t visit Japan any time soon? Don’t worry, say “I trust you” to the chefs of Japan and get the very best.
An omakase meal is an essential Japanese culinary experience. Omakase literally means “I trust you” or “I leave it to you”, not something the Japanese take lightly. The diner is giving himself over to the chefs, who will turn out a dizzying showcase of courses that are typically reflective of the season’s best produce and the kitchen’s signature cooking style.
Omakase is a fine, long-standing tradition but it doesn’t work everywhere. In general, large or chain restaurants are a no-go. Places that are smaller, intimate, and which bring in produce on a very regular basis, are the places for omakase. You want to be part of the experience, so do sit near the chef. Don’t, however, go for omakase if you’re a picky eater. You should be willing to try everything and have few dietary restrictions.
Singapore has Japanese restaurants aplenty, but it’s only at these where the omakase experience is a cut above the rest.
Shoukouwa received two Michelin stars just four months after opening in 2016 and is still the only sushi restaurant in Singapore with two Michelin stars. It recently partnered with master sushi chef Junya Kudo (of two Michelin-starred Sushi Ikko in Hokkaido), who provides culinary training and consultancy to the already-expert chefs at the eight-seat restaurant. The aim: to refine and maintain the standards of the restaurant. Here, quality seafood and attention to detail is at the forefront. The omakase courses boast exceptional seasonal produce, and ingredients are flown in daily from Tsukiji Market and Hokkaido. Shoukouwa is zen-like, but is a small space, so each guest enjoys personal attention — a hallmark of the omakase tradition. There is also a selection of Wine Advocate-rated sakes to complement the menus. Prices begin at $320++ and omakase is served at both lunch and dinner.
1 Fullerton Road, #02-02A One Fullerton, 049213. Closed on Mondays.
This stalwart Japanese restaurant on Scotts Road exudes old-world charm. It is housed in a heritage black-and-white bungalow and features a kappo-style dining room with an L-shaped hinoki wood counter. It seats 11 people, and there are also two separate, private dining rooms. As a Kyoto native, Chef Hamamoto is tuned in to his home prefecture, and his omakase-menus go heavy on the produce from this region. This means the freshest seafood, such as top-quality Ensui Bafun uni (sea urchin), and the most melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef, are served in a carefully planned course-by-course culinary journey. Prices begin at $150 for lunch and $300 for dinner.
29 Scotts Road, 228224, tel: 6733 5251. Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Spanish tapas, served with sake pairings in an omakase-style meal? Admittedly, this is no typical Japanese restaurant but Bam! makes the cut in this list as its omakase menus feature Japanese ingredients. The techniques used are a fusion of Catalonian, Japanese and modern European cuisines. From $158 for five-courses, expect dishes like a cold capellini with uni, and Sakura ebi and somen in dashi broth. When it comes to sake, do pair the meal with sake (which will cost an extra $58 to $78), as chef Pepe Moncayo believes that sake brings out the umami flavours in his dishes. The pairings progress from light and clear, to rich and robust.
38 Tras Street, 078977. Closed on Sundays.
Another value-for-money omakase meal can be found at this Keong Saik Road eatery, notable in part because of the overflowing Hokkaido Rice Nanatsuboshi, featuring huge mounds of salmon roe, which chefs keep spooning on until the diners tell them to stop. For $129++ per person, the omakase includes a sashimi assortment, king crabs, and dishes made with Kagoshima A4 wagyu. The ikura rice comes towards the end, so you must save room for that.
29 Keong Saik Road, 089136. Closed on Mondays.
This Tras Street restaurant is an oasis of calm in the busy CBD. The intimate hinoki-wood sushi counter is where you want to be seated, and where you can be impressed by the chefs’ deft knife skills as they work. Omakase prices begin at $130++, for dinner. Head chef Ryosuke Harada presents a traditional edomae style of sushi, but doesn’t hesitate to use a few modern touches (the inclusion of tare sauce, a bit of sesame salt and a sliver of uni for flavour, for instance). Service is efficient and personable. Most of the omakase courses include a mini don and, if you’re lucky, you might be served the uni and ikura don — a beautiful bowl of fresh, briny, ocean flavours.
60 Tras Street, #01-01, 078999. Closed on Sundays.
While most noteworthy omakase restaurants are seafood-driven, The Gyu Bar’s chefs are intent in showing you how you can enjoy the finest beef. The restaurant serves the premium Wa-Oh Japanese beef from Kumamoto, sourcing and buying the entire animal from its suppliers. Thus, the omakase is an exploration of the many cuts, prepared in ways that best showcase the beef’s fine marbling, delicate texture and rich mouthfeel. At $138++ per person, the omakase course allows you to try delicacies like an uni-topped wagyu tartare, shin tama, and yakiniku-grilled cuts like the chuck roll. The sirloin is served with Sukiyaki and Egg Dip (in which even the eggs are imported from Japan). You finish with a rich beef fried rice with delectable charred bits. We must say that for all this, and at this quality, this omakase comes at excellent value.
30 Stevens Road, #01-08, 257878.
Most people who have dined at Shinji By Kanesaka (there are two outlets, one at Carlton Hotel and the other at the St. Regis) have described the experience as sublime. Both outlets are an extension of 1 Michelin star Chef Shinji Kanesaka’s Edo-style sushi restaurant first set up in Ginza, Tokyo and are omakase-only dining experiences. Tell the very capable chefs you are in their hands, and they will lead you towards the finest morsels of maki and nigiri, delicate soups, cleverly cooked dishes and the freshest seasonal desserts. From the understated and elegant decor, to the exemplary food, this is the best special-occasion omakase in town. Prices are from $250 for lunch and $300 for dinner.
Carlton Hotel, 76 Bras Basah Road, 189558.
St. Regis Hotel, 29 Tanglin Road, 247911. Closed on Sundays.
The local outpost of the much-lauded sushi-ya in the Ginza district of Tokyo has a steady following of regulars and connoisseurs, and is tucked away behind the lobby of Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. Sushi is the chef’s forte, and you can enjoy a nigiri-only omakase ($220, dinner only) or a complete omakase experience for $240-$430. The intimate, 14-seat eatery serves only ingredients imported from Tsukiji, and guests can thus expect fresh, season-driven produce. This, paired with the chef’s skills, make for a dining experience like none other.
#01-04 Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, 320 Orchard Road, 238865. Closed on Mondays.
This luxurious Japanese restaurant specialises in serving up a handpicked selection of the world’s finest Wagyu from reputable farms all over the globe. Their omakase is $120++ for their lunch menu and $250++ for their dinner menu. Be treated to a wide variety of premium ingredients and indulge in their wagyu specials like their Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki and Tochigi Wagyu Tataki, absolutely perfect for beef fans.
Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Blvd., #01-01/02, 248649. Not available on Monday
Now this is a restaurant with beautiful food and interior. Through the use of centuries-old Noren (dividers), rare heirlooms of Owner Chef Kimura, and fine Japanese earthern wall plastering, Sushi Kimura invokes a traditional feel amongst diners and brings out the appreciation for the four seasons. Ched Kimura has spent 20 years honing his fine art under apprenticeship of his sushi master in Tokyo. At $120++, their omakase sushi lunch course features seasonal sushi.
Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road, #01-07, 238871. Lunch unavailable on Wednesday.
By Priyanka C. Agarwal, Female, September 2018 / Updated November 2019/ Updated by Jashleen Kaur, October 2020
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