Shinji By Kanesaka had been consistently rated as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Singapore. The Singapore Tatler calls it “the immaculate temple of sushi”. According to the Shinji website, two-starred Michelin Chef Kanesaka set up Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo’s prime Ginza district in 2000 and has enjoyed great success ever since. His first overseas foray was to Singapore in the form of the Raffles Hotel outlet. Shinji By Kanesaka, St Regis is currently their second Singapore presence. Helmed by head chef Shunsuke Kikuchi, the restaurant is as small as the first. Just a sushi counter for about sixteen people and a small private room. We were there for dinner recently.
As you would expect, Shinji By Kanesaka has a simply furnished, zen-like interior. The only things that were decorative were the sake bottles displayed behind the sushi counter. We were fortunate to be seated right in the middle and were able to watch the masters of sushi wield their knives.
The menus available at Shinji By Kanesaka, St Regis are usefully provided on their website. The options for lunch: The Tsuki 月course (12 pieces) $125; or The Yuki 雪course (15 pieces) $180 and a $250 omakase course.
For dinner there are three options: a $220 Sushi Edomae 江戸前 course comprising Nigiri sushi (15 pieces), Maki sushi, Soup and Japanese fruit and two Omakase courses at $300 and $450 respectively. The omakase courses have additional cooked food and sashimi items. We tried the $220 sushi course.
From here onwards, things will not be so clear as no list of items served was provided. I am recalling the items as best as I can. I think the information should be 90% correct but I can’t remember the detailed Japanese names for the items.
1. Salmon roe with seaweed appetiser. This was the item that launched the meal – and two hours of happiness. Chef Kikuchi recommended that we used our hands. He would prepare the sushi differently depending on whether hands or chopsticks would be used. A firmer hand would be used in the case of the latter to compact the rice.
Another difference from other sushi places was that no sauce was provided. We had to trust that the chef had got the seasoning perfect. That was indeed the case.
2. Flounder sushi. All the sushi pieces were excellent. We felt like we were eating in Tokyo.
3. Amber jack baby yellow tail sushi
4. Golden eye snapper sushi
5. Japanese young barracuda sushi
6. Chutoro tuna side sushi
7. Otoro tuna belly sushi
8. Horse mackerel sushi
9. Okinawa prawn sushi
10. Short spike sea urchin from Hokkaido sushi. The sea urchin items were the best. Creamy and full of flavours, using some wine tasting jargon, the taste of these urchins had length. The complex flavours linger in the mouth long after they were eaten.
11. Long spike sea urchin from Hokkaido sushi
12. Roe with rice in small bowl
13. Kawahagi fish. Asa Fish? (thread sail fish with ponzu sauce)
14. Seawater eel sushi
15. Tuna cheek sushi (we were told that this was the most expensive cut – sushi maguro hoho)
16. Egg omelette
17. Sweet radish pickle
18. Soup with meatball
19. Tuna maki roll
20. Honey dew and grapes – the fruits did not look any different from the supermarket variety. But they tasted very different. The grapes were the sweetest grapes we had ever eaten. Small pieces of sushi add up to form a satisfying meal. The “basic” sushi course was quite a lot of food, more than adequate for us.
Head chef Shunsuke Kikuchi looks very stern in the photo on the website, but was very personable and entertaining in real life. $220++ is a lot of money to pay for dinner per pax but it was certainly a culinary adventure worth paying for, once in a while.
Overall Rating: 5 TOPs
Shinji by Kanesaka
The St. Regis Singapore
29 Tanglin Road
Tel (St. Regis): +65 6884 8239
Lunch: 12pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10.30pm
Closed on Sundays