Cover Photo: Keyaki

Savour a unique kaiseki experience at these Japanese establishments, without leaving Singapore

Kaiseki dining revolves around the Japanese principle of shun, a traditional belief that ingredients should be eaten in their proper season, when flavours are at their peak. Considered the epitome of Japanese cuisine, the traditional meal typically comprises six- to 15-courses, with each one showcasing a particular cooking method. Thus, the experience begins with appetisers and sashimi to whet the palate, and then followed by cooked dishes, a rice course and dessert.
 
According to chef Hirohashi Nobuaki of Ushidoki Wagyu Kaiseki, each menu is designed by the head chef based on what’s in season, and diners can’t customise their menus unless they have allergies or dietary requirements. One of the most important elements of kaiseki dining is the soup course, with Nobuaki enthusing, “dashi is typically used in most dishes such as braised vegetables and fish. If you can enjoy its soup dish, you will enjoy the rest of the menu.”
 
The sashimi course also sets the tone for the rest of the dining experience. “This course showcases the best ingredients and the chef’s skills,” states Nobuaki.
 
Although kaiseki dining is not as popular as omakase or Edomae sushi in Singapore, the island is still home to a handful of restaurants offering different memorable kaiseki experiences. Here are five to get you started.

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1. Keyaki

Head to Keyaki for an authentic kaiseki experience while surrounded by a stunning Japanese garden. For lunch, the culinary team serves a delectable eight-course kaiseki menu that begins with seasonal sashimi, such as yellowtail, scallop and bluefin tuna. Then, delight in tantalising mains, including the succulent Wagyu beef that is grilled and topped with aromatic garlic chips; and the thin inaniwa udon bathed in a light broth and topped with crisp Sakura shrimps. Book here

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Keyaki

City Hall/ Bras Basah
$ $ $ $
4
'rating'

2. Usihdoki Wagyu Kaiseki

Helmed by chef Hirohashi Nobuaki, Ushidoki puts a unique spin on the classic kaiseki dining experience by putting forward a tongue-to-tail dining concept where premium secondary cuts of meats such as Ozaki beef are presented. When you opt for the seven-course lunch menu, you’ll be able to savour the aforementioned cut prepared in three ways: grilled, braised and sukiyaki style. The latter is a showstopper, featuring the succulent beef topped with fragrant black truffle and served alongside a soft-boiled egg and steamed rice. Book here

Usihdoki Wagyu Kaiseki, 57 Tras Street, 01-01, S(078996), +65 6221 6379

3. Maetomo Japanese Cuisine Kaiseki & Sushi

For a modern kaiseki experience, visit Maetomo and savour innovative dishes by Hiroshima-born chef Maetomo Akihiro. Opt for the premium 10-course menu and dig into seasonal ingredients such as the charcoal-grilled Kagoshima A5 Wagyu beef garnished with Japanese egg yolk and luxurious black truffles, and the juicy tiger prawns dipped in tempura batter and fried until golden brown.
 
Unlike other kaiseki restaurants, there’s an a la carte menu where you can savour delectable bites such as creamy Hokkaido sea urchin, charcoal-grilled Japanese eel, and soft-grilled stingray fin. Book here

Maetomo Japanese Cuisine Kaiseki & Sushi, 39 Scotts Road, 01-01 Sheraton Towers Hotel, S(228230), +65 6219 3990

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4. Goho Kaiseki & Bar

Goho is the latest newcomer to the kaiseki scene in Singapore. Here you will be able to choose from three contemporary kaiseki menus—each one showcases five techniques such as nama (cutting), niru (simmering), yaku (grilling), musu (steaming), and ageru (deep frying).
 
Try the 10-course Ume menu, which begins with a refreshing spherical yuzu infused yoghurt to whet the palate. Then savour delectable plates including juicy duck tsukune (Japanese meatball) garnished with caviar; succulent black garlic glazed short ribs; and tender miso butter engawa served in creamy yuzu beurre blanc. Book here

Goho Kaiseki & Bar, 53A Duxton Road, Entrance via Rappu, S(089517), +65 9170 2557

5. Shiraishi

Head to Shiraishi for a taste of head chef Shiraishi Shinji’s sushi-kaiseki experience. Here, you’ll get to savour expertly crafted sushi made with the freshest seafood flown in from Japan’s Toyosu Fish Market.
 
Choose the eight-course kaiseki menu, featuring delectable appetisers and your choice of grilled or fried dish as the main dish. While the menu changes seasonally, diners can anticipate delectable fare such as fugu karaage, pufferfish deep fried until golden brown; delicately grilled beef served with Welsh onions; and hard clams steamed with sake. Book here

Shiraishi, 7 Raffles Avenue, 03-01/02, S(039799), +65 6338 3788

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