Updated: Apr 29, 2019
The Full Book
We've been patronizing this calm and serene sushi-ya since they first opened in 2017 at upscale Palais Renaissance mall on Orchard Road. The building of choice is, well, meh, but once inside and seated at the 150-year-old hinoki wood counter, in front of master sushi chef Tomoo Kimura, everything else fades away.
The prices initially startled starting from $120++ at lunch or from $280++ at dinner per diner. But as dining out in general got more expensive in Singapore, my appetite for higher spending in a fine dining restaurant grew too. For the past three years or so, we have become used to paying $200-$300 plus taxes per head without drinks at casual eateries which serve serious eats, regardless whether they're Michelin-starred or claimed as Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, or totally unappraised. And so it seems restaurant prices are hiking in neighboring countries too, and not many people are undeterred by this. Because, FOMO.
Another thing that friends do take into account are the lower dining out prices in Tokyo or Kyoto but with comparable freshness and seasonality of produce. Take for example Sakura Japanese Restaurant at Hilton Tokyo Odaiba. We spent a breezy lunch there at just SGD$80 per person, and got at least 8 different kinds of seasonal sushi including saltwater uni, plus appetizers and dessert.
However, we're living in Singapore. And what's amazing to note about this country is that one can find almost any kind of global cuisine on this very tiny island-state. My go-to for sushi here is #1 one-Michelin-starred Sushi Kimura for three reasons, provenance, integrity and value - what you pay is what you get.
We started off our lunch with dinner omakase. Say what? When I contacted the restaurant a few weeks before my visit, I requested for chef Kimura and the full-blown omakase menu, and if he didn't mind, uni extravaganza please. It was two years ago but I remember vividly tasting 8-10 different types of uni on a very special weekend by chef Kimura during the peak season. Since then I couldn't shake off the intensity and excitement of that meal. So here I was to relive it.
Here was baby octopus, squid, nanohana vegetables (relative to broccolli) and dashi jelly.
This never gets old. Every visit, at the 12-seater counter and two private rooms sushi-ya, (altogether 22 seats) is welcomed by this perfect light and steamed egg custard which is made with Oita perfecture eggs and dashi cooked with natural Hokkaido water. Find chunks of meaty snow crab from chef Kimura's hometown, Kanagawa, and shiitake mushroom.
Eight-hour sake-simmered awabi or (female) abalone that's usually braised and served during dinner found its way to me. The flesh closest to the shell is apparently the most umami part of the giant mollusk it seems. The main body of the abalone was a little chewy, sweet and had an almost jelly-like texture to it, which were dipped in its dark liver sauce spiked with red vinegar used for the sushi rice. What a treat!
I have to admit that at this point of looking through these images for this blog post, I realized I might have been a little boozed up from drinking Komagura organic Yamada-Nishiki 60 sake (Fukuoka perfecture). Details and certain photo's cannot be found simply because I forgot to document them. Geez, my bad.
Although imbibing in a little drink does up the flavors of the fresh produce lined up here, especially the cooked ones.
Akagai & Kinmedai
The clam and bright red kinmedai (also from Kanagawa) sashimi served on this elongated tin platter exclusively made for this restaurant rocks. Chef Kimura opens up on his personal life through the use of space. At his eponymous restaurant, the use of tin sake cups, 200-year-old noren cut from his great grandmother's kimono and "embossed" wall tell of his life's journey, and the omakase menu reveals his strong friendships with the producers themselves. 100% of the ingredients are from Japan, and fresh ones are flown in at least four times a week.
Or black throat sea perch is not a stranger to sushiheads. Also referred to as "the red jewelry of the Japan Sea" and "white toro", the oily white fish with literally a black throat is usually served grilled with its skin on. It originated from Zushi city in Chef's hometown of Kanagawa! I did crack my brain trying to remember what the roasted sesame seeds were on...geez, did I not forewarn you about the organic sake I inhaled?
Awabi Part II
This one was cooked and paired with pickled cucumbers underneath. You probably can't tell that this was served chilled, and was best eaten by alternating bites between the clam, and greens which were brined and then set in sweet vinegar.
Our first sushi, just like at Sushi Saito. Read up on this fish here.
"It is believed that there are over four hundred types of ika throughout the world's oceans, with over one hundred species found in Japan's waters alone. Out of all of these sub-species, many sushi chefs find Aori Ika to be the most delicious. Sadly, it is a rather rare species, so sells at a premium.
Squid weighing between 2 to 4.5 pounds are best for sushi. Because of the thickness of the skin, a good sushi chef will thinly and decoratively slice the ika...
Good ika has a wonderful sweetness that increases as the piece is chewed, and a fresh ocean aroma. It is usually served with sudachi and a sprinkle of salt." - The Sushi Geek
Who goes for sushi and skips the tuna? Not me.
Striped beakfish meets uni salt that's dried and then freeze-dried. If you think chef Kimura is so extra on "just" a condiment, then you are now seeing why this is my number one sushi-ya in Singapore.
Triple layered otoro or tuna belly which is the fattiest part of the fish. Why did master sushi chef go through this trouble of flexing his knife skills for three expertly cut otoro slices instead of just one thick piece for one shari? To maximize the intensity of flavor from the most desired part of the famed tuna belly in one bite without overdoing it. The flavors were further coaxed out using an Edomae-style technique of "sunbathing" the fish under heated binchotan that is odorless charcoal from Wakayama perfecture, a time-honored technique. The smoky umami result is so worth the wait as Chef patiently held the grill in one hand, hovering the prized (and rather expensive) cut for more than a few minutes.
Or as chef Kimura presented the handroll to me with a smile and announced "uni ice-cream". Glee! I really wanted uni, uni, uni at this meal more so than ever because it has been awhile since I last visited. Three different kinds of sea urchins' gonads from Hokkaido and Aomori were deployed for my happiness. Here, the uni temaki deftly rolled using first cut organic seaweed or shin nori from Ariake Sea is used exclusively at this restaurant.
Perfectly chilled temperature further reinforced the plumpness and sweetness of Chef's uni stash. There was no need for shoyu or wasabi because they tasted perfect on their own. This is another big reason why I can't get enough of Sushi Kimura. Everything up to the most minute detail has been thought of, and I get the feeling that Chef's in-depth knowledge of Japanese produce accumulated over close to twenty years experience means we get to benefit tried-and-tested, proven-and-true best practices, and taught the best ways of savoring fine sushi delicacies. For years I scorned uni because of one bad bite at a conveyor belt sushi chain outlet, until I found Sushi Kimura.
I call this the uni ice-cream ball. it's really an uni don with negitoro (tuna), ikura and organic onsen egg. Some people have mentioned to me they prefer this without the egg. But I totally love eggs! Here, the egg effortlessly bound the different elements together and lent its creaminess in balance with the salty and sweet. Again, the serving temperature was just right, and it really felt like I was scooping up ice-cream with the mother-of-pearl teaspoon.
It's such a relief to have found salvation in a foodie city where so many people crave for the real taste of Japan. Not everyone though would pay the real price of such an authentic meal. Sushi Kimura has extremely loyal supporters who see the value and put their money where their mouths are.
Master sushi chef Tomoo Kimura is loyal to his Japanese breeding and brings the whole shebang of authenticity to us here in Singapore. I feel the sincerity in his warm and friendly welcome every time, and the great lengths he has taken since the beginning to create his "restaurant home" in Singapore.
A. Chef uses special A-grade Tsuya-hime organic rice imported from a family farm in Yamagata prefecture, that is significantly smaller in size than the grains used in Tokyo. I prefer this type of rice;
B. Organic premium vinegar with five times more organic rice per liter than other premium offerings (i.e. less acidic and supposedly anti-bacterial), is imported from a small-production brewery in Miyazu city, Kyoto;
C. Shin Nori is the the highest grade of seaweed from the soft leaves of the first harvest which were cultivated in the Ariake sea is exclusive to the restaurant;
D. And the deliberate intention of using Hokkaido spring water which is the preferred option to high-mineral content alternatives so as not to affect the natural taste of the rice and cooked dishes.
If you haven't eaten here before, try it at least once.
BOOK NOW : https://www.sushikimura.com.sg/reservations/
/ +65 67343520 / +65 84280073
390 Orchard Road, #01-07 Palais Renaissance, Singapore 238871
Open daily (except Monday) for lunch and dinner, best by reservation
Cuisine : Sushi / omakase
Seating capacity : 22 (12-seater counter and two private rooms)