RESTAU­RANTS

Wine & Dine - - CONTENTS - WORDS CHAR­LENE CHOW & MICHELLE YEE

New restau­rant open­ings and fresh menus at: Kappo Shun­sui, Guc­cio Ris­torante and Yoshi Restau­rant

Kappo Shun­sui

Find­ing this Ky­oto-style kappo cui­sine restau­rant lo­cated on the fourth floor of Cup­page Plaza is quite a chal­lenge. There is no sig­nage or store­front–only a door and a door­bell by its side. We cir­cled around a few times be­fore we de­cided to ring the door­bell, and were promptly greeted by a friendly wait­staff. She ex­plains that there is a fin­ger­print scan­ner for reg­u­lars and VIPs to en­ter with­out hav­ing to ring in.

In­side, the 19-seater space is in­ti­mate and ca­sual, fea­tur­ing dark toned walls and fur­ni­ture. We re­quested for one of the counter seats so that we can watch newly ap­pointed chef Nishi Nobuhiro in ac­tion. Chef Nobuhiro’s cre­den­tials in­clude work­ing at Tokyo’s three-Miche­lin-starred Kagu­razaka Ishikawa.

As kappo cui­sine fo­cuses on show­cas­ing five ba­sic cooking tech­niques: steam­ing, fry­ing, sim­mer­ing, grilling and raw prepa­ra­tion, din­ers can look for­ward to tast­ing sea­sonal Ja­panese in­gre­di­ents pre­pared in var­i­ous styles. The menus are priced at $150 for eight cour­ses and $250 for nine cour­ses with more premium in­gre­di­ents. We went with the lat­ter op­tion and were pre­sented with a few de­light­ful sur­prises, such as the abalone poached with kombu and sake, served with sticky rice, crab and an umai dashi sauce; as well as the blanched live oc­to­pus, boast­ing a soft and slightly chewy tex­ture, served with vine­gar marinated Ja­panese gin­ger flower and Ja­panese cu­cum­ber.

Other no­table high­lights in­clude the owan and the A4 Kagoshima wagyu clay­pot rice dish. The for­mer, com­pris­ing a scal­lop fish cake dumpling and smoky charred egg­plant, is sweet and del­i­cate with sub­tle flavours, while the lat­ter, fea­tur­ing thinly sliced wagyu lay­ered on top of per­fectly cooked rice, and then blow torched to per­fec­tion, is hearty and full of flavour.

Sake is a big part of the meals here–there are close to 100 dif­fer­ent la­bels on the sake list, avail­able from $17 per 180ml. For the full ex­pe­ri­ence, opt for a sake flight ($69) with six 45ml glasses of sake. –MY

#04-02, Cup­page plaza, 5 Koek Road. Tel: 6732 0912; kap­poshun­sui.sg

Guc­cio Ris­torante

We last saw chef Marco Guc­cio about a year ago at his pre­vi­ous restau­rant, Zaf­fer­ano Ital­ian Restau­rant and Lounge, where he served up sea­sonal dish af­ter dish in earnest. In a chefs-un­der-35 in­ter­view we did with him shortly af­ter, he ex­pressed a wish to start his own place. And now he has done it. It may be our imag­i­na­tion, but the chef Guc­cio we see to­day is more at home, and it shows in his restau­rant decor and cooking.

“It’s com­pletely Ital­ian,” he says proudly, of the 40-seater he has got go­ing here. From the sim­ple royal blue awning by the en­trance with the restau­rant’s name clas­si­cally en­graved; to the Ital­ian ma­te­ri­als used for the floors, fur­ni­ture and table­ware, each el­e­ment has been care­fully con­sid­ered. It goes with­out say­ing, so too the au­then­tic­ity of the cooking served up here. Raised in the South­ern re­gions of Si­cily and Cal­abria where his grand­mother lived, his cui­sine is in­flu­enced by the Mediter­ranean and seafood-cen­tric cooking of the re­gion, and nonna’s ad­vice to “re­spect na­ture; cook with pa­tience.” As a re­sult, says chef Guc­cio, he as­pires to el­e­gance. “I re­ally re­spect in­gre­di­ents and am pas­sion­ate about the sea­sons and their colours. I don’t like to mix too many in­gre­di­ents to­gether, nor do I think just adding ex­pen­sive in­gre­di­ents makes a dish bet­ter. No. I truly be­lieve Ital­ian cui­sine is about how you well you com­bine in­gre­di­ents and har­mo­niously match what’s on the plate. Keep it sim­ple and elegant.”

We see signs of the dis­ci­plined, har­mo­nious pair­ings he speaks of in the sig­na­ture dishes he has here. Some are car­ried over from his days at Zaf­fer­ano, such as his an­tipasti of raw Si­cil­ian red prawns from Mazara ($32), here paired with a green pea coulis and ri­cotta cheese; poached and pan-seared Sar­dinian oc­to­pus, sea­sonal veg­eta­bles, ‘salmoriglio’ dress­ing ($40); and 48-hour sous vide US prime beef short ribs, parsnip purée, sautéed veg­eta­bles, veal jus ($44). He has in­tro­duced some lesser-known items on the menu as well, such as Mediter­ranean monk­fish, sautéed baby ar­ti­chokes, pur­ple cau­li­flower cream ($44). He says he likes this meaty fish be­cause it is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Italy, as the Mediter­ranean Sea has “the best monk­fish in the world”.

Through sea­sonal tast­ing menus (start­ing from four cour­ses at $98) that will change at least four times a year, he hopes to serve up creative dishes us­ing the fresh­est in­gre­di­ents of the sea­son. For his cur­rent sum­mer menu for in­stance, he has in­cluded a tortelli stuffed with braised pi­geon, cel­ery root puree, seared wild pi­geon breast and vanilla essence, which, like the monk­fish, re­quires an enor­mous amount of fi­nesse and tech­nique. He has some ideas swirling around for his Au­tumn of­fer­ings, but he will wait to see what in­gre­di­ents he has be­fore he com­mits to the menu. Work­ing with what she had on hand was what nonna did, and what he would do too. –CC

20 Gem­mill Lane. Tel: 6224 1684

Yoshi Restau­rant

Some things change but some things stay the same. Yoshi Restau­rant, for­merly Kaiseki Yoshiyuki, gets a re­fresh in its name and con­cept, but for all in­tents and pur­poses, its DNA re­mains in­tact. The chef be­hind it stays the same af­ter all. Chef Yoshiyuki Kashi­wabara, for­mer chef to the Ja­panese diplo­matic mis­sions in San Fran­cisco and Sin­ga­pore, was trained in Ky­oto kaiseki cui­sine at Ky­ory­ori Hosoi in Saitama pre­fec­ture. He has al­ways favoured art­ful sim­plic­ity in hon­our­ing sea­son­al­ity and the qual­ity of in­gre­di­ents. This re­mains true in this it­er­a­tion of the restau­rant.

His nine-course menu, Yoshi’s omakase, stays, start­ing from $328, but the price range of the other meals has been ad­justed quite sig­nif­i­cantly. Where it would have started from $258 for a seven-course din­ner, the ba­sic set now starts from $158 for an eight-course menu. The sets are also themed around pop­u­lar key in­gre­di­ents such as maguro, wagyu and uni. True to the kaiseki style in chef’s back­ground, the meal still comes in main cat­e­gories such as ap­pe­tiser, has­sun or ‘sea­sonal sec­ond course’, soup, kobachi or ‘small bowl’, sashimi, grilled dish, rice, dessert. For in­stance, the eight-course maguro set ($158) we re­cently tried fea­tured premium maguro sourced from ‘Tuna king’ Yuk­i­taka Ya­m­aguchi san from Tsuk­iji mar­ket. Some high­lights were a has­sun fea­tur­ing konasu or baby egg­plant from Kochi pre­fec­ture, hamo fish, and oc­to­pus; a trio of akami, chutoro and ootoro sashimi and a lovely grilled tuna jaw, served on the bone with man­gangi tog­a­rashi (a higher or­der ver­sion of shishito pep­per) and pick­led radish. These cour­ses were topped off by a lus­cious dessert of musk melon, ky­oho grape, red bean yokan and uji matcha.

The themes are set to change, such as pos­si­bly fea­tur­ing a kani set when it’s crab sea­son from Novem­ber to Jan­uary. But the in­gre­di­ents would tailor to the price and theme ac­cord­ingly. At lunch, don­buris (from $58) are also avail­able while sake pair­ing op­tions can be cho­sen for ev­ery kaiseki meal. –CC #B1-39, Fo­rum The Shop­ping Mall, 583 Or­chard Road. Tel: 8188 0900

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