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