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Bu Pun Su

Shoukouwa, Singapore

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Finally … The famous and respectable (French) red guide book came to Singapore and shared their verdicts in the middle of 2016. Although it’s not perfect, but compared to other resources, generally I trust the judgement of Michelin the most. It’s possibly the main reason I allowed myself to have dinner at Shoukouwa (2-star) – I don’t usually visit a new high-end restaurant until it’s already operated for a year. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited the island’s ‘latest’ elite sushi-yas such as Ashino, Hashida, Mieda, Ichi & Mitsuya for their full lunch omakase but still not convinced to go all the way for their dinner. It might be ironic since after a couple of visits, I was not too fond of Ginza sushi ichi whereas Shoukouwa was supposedly its more refined version.

 

Anyway, the booking was quite troublesome. It’s one of those places that would require guest’s CC and the restaurant really checked whether your card worked – there’s some charge to your CC but it would be removed a few days later. Andre is another restaurant I can think of that’s more detailed – you need to purchase a ticket (cost a certain fraction of your meal) thus it would discourage any lukewarm diners. I think it’s understandable for Shoukouwa to do such things given the size of sushi-ya: 8 people at the counter and 6 in the private room. And similar to Waku Ghin, it did 2 seating during dinner and I went for the later one. I arrived about 8:15 PM that Sunday and the other 7 guests were already in; in fact a local couple on my left was almost half way. The other 5 people belong to a group of Mexican businessmen/women. I would consider myself lucky to be seated almost at the center in my first visit here. You would get more chef’s attention, easier to communicate as well as enjoy lots of Masa-san’s skills live and his detailed actions

 

Some of the highlights/notes of my meal (note that all guests ordered a bigger omakase on that evening):  

“Appetizers” …

- Lightly seared fresh Nodoguro (medium-rare) was tender and delicious with some of its crisp skin still intact. But I found the mixed of chopped vegetables below the fish was too strong

-Seasonal Hokkaido hairy crab was splendid with meaty, fresh and naturally sweet flesh

-The traditional and simple ‘snack’ like persimmons in tofu sauce was surprisingly really good. The sauce was versatile and balanced while the kaki was tasty and somewhat crunchy

-Deep-fried crab croquette was one of the dishes that often appeared at Shoukouwa. The crust was light yet crisp but the inside was too dense & rich with muddy crab flesh; not that suitable for my taste

-Thick and tender Chiba abalone (steamed for several hours) was splendid. The sauce containing awabi’s liver, miso etc. was very flavorful with a hint of bitter tea taste. It was served with sushi rice that I used to wipe out any leftover green sauce

 

“Sushi” …

Chef Masa made an extra effort by preparing 2 kinds of rice: one with white vinegar for white or lighter fish/seafood whiles the red vinegar used for more flavorful morsels. The rice to fish ration was just right; shari cooked ‘al dente’ and not too packed (can still comfortably taste rice grains). About every half an hour, new shari was brought in to ensure the sushi rice was served optimally all the time  

Some pieces I liked a lot:

-Buri in 2 ways (smoky in sashimi style and oily & delectable in sushi form)

-Succulent and luscious chutoro, aged for 10 days

-Shimofuri? This cut (between chu & o toro) was refined and smooth with the right texture & temperature

-Sayori was delightful, rather soft and clean

-A bowl of ikura and uni with shari. The salmon roes were generously served; they covered the whole surface of the rice. It was very decadent indeed when combined with plenty of creamy and sweet sea urchin …

 

Service delivered by a couple of gentlemen dressed in grey suits. They’re attentive, observant yet unobtrusive. Masa-san spoke fluent English and never hesitated to speak and learn more about his guests. The “worst” part was probably the restaurant’s atmosphere – very simple, a bit crammed, no windows with minimal décor. But, it’s no big deal since you would focus on the food most of the time. It would be very rare to wait more than 5 min. without any food in front of you. Overall, it was a very good meal and Shoukouwa thoroughly deserved its 2 star.  I would more likely to choose this place over Andre, JR restaurant or Les Amis assuming money’s never been an issue …

 

More comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/01/shoukouwa-singapore.html

 

Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157675603191763

 

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These days, there are plenty of good sushi-ya(s) in Singapore serving Edomae sushi … yet only one of them was rewarded 2-star Michelin. It’s Shoukouwa. This tiny sushi place hidden in One Fullerton, near the iconic Merlion park. Masakazu Ishibashi is no longer the head chef of Shoukouwa (He returned to Tokyo to open his own sushi place). Now, the chef de cuisine in charge of day-to-day operation is Yoshio Sakuta, a chef with stylist haircut. However, above him, there’s a more senior chef Junya Kudo of Sushi Ikko as the partner / consultant for Shoukouwa.

 

Shoukouwa managed to keep its high standard of serving otsumami and nigiri sushi. Now, the flow of the meals was clearer – no “mixtures” of nigiri and cooked food during my meal. To keep the price level until now, the sushi-ya reduced its quantity into: 5 appetizers, 10-11 sushi and 1 fruit. A few things I really enjoyed from this meal were:

-bright pink of poached Kinki fish had buttery texture and delicious fat; it’s served with refreshing ponzu sauce.

-tender and delicious komochi yariika was grilled and stuffed with the squid egg, creamy uni and grated wasabi

The steamed abalone was still there (not-so-thick slices this time), but instead of the matcha-like sauce, it came with the more traditional liver sauce    

 

For the nigiri part, I was impressed by the kinmedai, akami, kamasu and nodoguro. The black throat seaperch one was rather special. The chef grilled a rather large nodoguro piece with crisp skin and buttery flesh. It’s served on a small bowl with shari underneath – fragrant, a bit acidic with burst of flavor in the mouth (easily ‘dissolved’). The rests were at least good … I encountered no bad nigiri piece, even the tamago was decent

 

I’m not sure whether Shoukouwa is truly on-par with the 2-star meals I ate in Tokyo’s sushi-ya but I could say, the (food) standard remained high – dishes were prepared carefully and meticulously. Desmond acted as the manager currently as Genta already left. In contrast to the more reserved Sakuta-san, Desmond was chattier and tried to put diners at ease. While I doubt Shoukouwa will gain 3-star, this place and Ki-sho are probably my favorite Japanese dining places in the island.   

 

Pictures of the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157709611809182/with/48202545167/

 

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