[Shoukouwa has just been awarded two Michelin Star from the Singapore Michelin Guide 2016!]
A relatively new restaurant opened in March 2016 by the Emmanuel Stroobant Group, Shoukouwa sits right next to Saint Pierre, also a fine dining restaurant that I am planning my next visit to. Headed by Chef Masakazu Ishibashi, he is one of the top Japanese chef, whereby his presence in the famous Ginza Sushiichi restaurant in Ginza would have rung a bell in many.
In Shoukouwa, ingredients are flown in from the Tsukiji Fish Market to ensure it’s utmost freshness and quality. Having read many reviews about him, I was looking forward to my first Japanese Omakase dinner, especially coming from that of a young Michelin-starred restaurant.
The two-star intimate restaurant can accommodate up to 8 diners by the sushi counter, facing the chefs as they meticulously prepare each course.
Menu is straightforward, offering 2 kinds of Omakase for dinner: the Miyabi (20 course at SGD 320 ++) or Hana (25 course at SGD 480 ++). The Hana comes highly recommended by the server staff, as the Hana offered the chef’s signature dishes such as the abalone. A quick glance and everyone at the table had the Hana Omakase. We gave the thumb up.
As we arrived late, dinner was in full swing. The first course was swiftly served on a flowery bowl featuring three types of appetizers; (in clockwise) Squash, tofu with wasabi, scallop with radish and tuna. It was a good starter, light and refreshing.
Scallop sashimi was served as the second course with the scallop meat being scrapped of its gigantic shell right before our eyes. It was plump and juicy with a bouncy texture. I could almost imagine it being alive and moving!
While devouring my scallop, the chef took out a bunch of crab claws and began a laborious peeling of meat from shell as the shell was super spiky that I had also almost pricked myself as I held into its end.
I loved the presentation of the crab claws. It was simple yet elegantly arranged upon a bowl sparkling with golden hues. The almost translucent crab meat glided off the bone easily, so soft and sweet in its natural flavours.
The Ebi prawn sushi was a thin layer of deshelled prawn atop vinegar rice. The rice was perfect, fatter than the normal rice grains and not overtly sticky, but enough to hold itself together as I picked it up between my fingers.
The raw flounder was zesty with a inviting palate!
The Shima sushi was served on hand-pressed red vinegar rice, that was strong in taste. As a non-rice eater, I found the rice to be extremely appetising and tasty. Coupled with a tinge of wasabi infused in it, it was an explosion of flavours which I thought could even rival that of the fishes.
The sea urchin made its appearance in the sixth course! According to the chef, the brighter-looking sea urchin is from Hokkaido where it was breed in sea water, hence accumulating a stronger flavour with a firmer touch to it. Laid across it is the sea Urchin from Kyuushi, paler in comparison, with a flabbier texture. Both were equally good, like Umami on the tongue.
The whole box of freshly imported sea urchin was almost half gone by the time we were served!
It was nigiri again thereafter. The Maguro sushi was distinguishable from its bright red colour. I found each piece of fish I ate to be so soft that they literally melted in my mouth. Again, the flavours of the rice was just right enough to not overpower the taste of the Maguro.
The Chutoro Sushi was a medium fatty tuna cut that was great as well!
Next up was a baby tuna sushi with beautiful shades of red, topped with shredded seaweed.
Moving on was one of the highlights of the day! It was definitely one of the dishes that required a great deal of skilfulness and received the most attention throughout the meal there. Instead of the usual blow-torch, the Tuna Cheek was expertly charcoal grilled by Chef Ishibashi. The smell of ‘grilled’ tuna cheek was intense; it made me salivate even before the sushi was placed before me! The result was a superbly tasty meat with a smokey taste that lingered on.
The tenth course was an array of colourful vibrant food comprising of sweet corn, ginger with rice, chopped juicy tomato and a dash of sea salt on the side. What’s commendable was the sweet corn and tomato that was crunchy and mellow in taste.
As one of the cooked dishes, the Sea Perch was served, covered with a rich layer of edamame/ soybean sauce with a grainy consistency on par with the smooth fish meat. It would have been perfect should the fish be fork-tender as well.
Next up was a ‘crab’by course that was no crap. The hairy crab meat was freshly dug out before us which reminded of a time when I had such a great trouble accomplishing that at another restaurant. Most importantly, here I enjoyed watching how the chefs worked, with due pride and dedication in what they were doing to deliver the best experience to the diners.
There were more nirigi to come…
Featuring the Snapper sushi
Baby Squid sushi (that changed my perception of the usual chewy squid I always had!)…
Tiger prawn sushi. The huge prawns were a sight to behold, with bright red skin and fleshy meat. The meats were deshelled by the chef, placed atop neatly compressed sushi rice, and deftly chopped into two pieces with one clean swipe of the knife!
The Chiba abalone, sake-braised and thickly sliced, was served with a rich matcha-like sauce made from its liver, miso, egg and oil. Again, it was so tender that barely any chewing was needed while achieving its delicateness with a slight buttery taste. Two thick slices and I am already wishing for more.
The Negitoro sushi roll was delish with the crunchy seaweed. Requested for no rice here as I was getting full already!
The sea eel was a fork tender, sweetly glazed dish that I found satisfying enough.
One of my favourites was definitely the sea urchin and Ikura on crab-stock rice. It was rich, creamy and full of decadence. Sinful yet with a good balance between the rich flavours of the toppings atop rice.
It was towards the end of the meal when I was served the Seaweed Miso soup. A simple heart-warming soup to wash down what I had eaten, which was then followed by two small pieces of Sweet Omelette.
The Omelette would have passed off as a custard dessert with its almost silky texture and sweet milky taste to it. No matter how full I am, I would gladly devour this within seconds!
Desserts was a slice of melon, muscat grapes and peaches. The Melon was not the sweetest I had ever tasted, probably because they were not in season yet. Nonetheless, they were just nice to round off the meal on a healthier note!
At such a hefty price tag, a dinner at Shoukouwa was not what one could easily afford. Yet, what was praiseworthy was the premium ingredients used that didn’t fail to surprise and the ‘performances’ by the chefs as they peeled, chopped, sliced, plated and garnished the individual dishes. The experience was fantastic and no second passed without a moment’s boredom.
Service at Shoukouwa was unobtrusive yet attentive to your needs. Dinner here was a close-to-quiet affair with occasional mumblings. Exchanged conversations between the male staffs and guests were conducted softly and pleasantly. I found speaking to the staffs, and the general manager Mr Genta Yamashita a very pleasing and comforting experience with an element of gracefulness. Even the chefs assumed a warm and humble demeanour that was none showy, yet with an air of sophistication and techniques aimed at years of experience!
1 Fullerton Road
One Fullerton #02-02A