Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kuriya Penthouse: Omakase Kaiseki

The folks at Seiko Epson hosted a dinner for Grand Seiko fans in Singapore, and I had the pleasure to organize the event for them. The evening was quite wonderful, and we shared with the participants the wonderful world of the Grand Seiko...from mechanical timepieces, to ultra accurate quartz to the very special spring drive movements. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Credor Eichi - a truly magnificent watch. You can read the watch related stuff and enjoy the pictures at my Photo Blog

The restaurant is very beautiful...perched on top of the roof garden at Orchard Central.

We proceeded to Kuriya Penthouse for the dinner...Omakase Kaiseki. Kaiseki is a Japanese feast, comprising of many showcase the skills of the chef.

We were presented the sake cups for the evening...every one had a choice of a different cup to differentiate.

The Sakizuke, or what the French call amuse-bouche is first served:

Scallop with broad bean topped with sea urchin. The seafood was incredibly fresh. I was told by Paul, the restaurant manager that it was purchased that very morning from Tsukiji, and airflown. The scallop was enveloped in a kind of jelly...firm, but like jelly - jiggly and resilient...the scallops within was sweet, a bit of bite, but very rich and umami. The uni was superb. Smooth, creamy, rich. Texturally, it provided a contrast to the scallop's sinews.

Sashimi: Today’s sashimi 3 kinds

Fresh river prawns, sea bream and red snapper. All marvellous. Fresh, wonderful sea fragrance.

Shinogi: Toro sushi & Japanese beancurd with salmon roe

Interesting that Kuriya chose to call this dish shinogi...which in Japanese refers to the blade of the sword or katana. Interesting also, because Seiko has a line of watches called the Ananta, which is also inspired by the Samurai's sword - katana.

The toro was excellent, needless to say. Though I would have preferred Otoro, which is fattier, and more flavourful. The toro was clean tasting, fresh, and very good. Almost as good as being in Tokyo...though not quite. In the sushiyas around Tsukiji, the fish is even fresher, even more flavourful...perhaps its the environment, perhaps its the skill of the master sashimi chef. But I feel the sushi and sashimi in Tokyo is decidedly better...creamier, sweeter, nicer texture, better moutfeel...and yes...cheaper.

Next course is traditionally called yakimono...or broiled/grilled item:

This was a special dish. Sweet river fish, Ayu is deboned, grilled over a small charcoal fire...almost like smoking the fish meat. The resultant fillet has a wonderful smokey flavour. The ayu is sweet...the meat almost creamy, flaky. Very nice. The bones are not wasted. They are deep fried till crisp, and are eaten as it is. The taste is subtle, but highlited with some sea salt in the seasoning, wonderful. Coupled with the sprig of spring onion. This was my favourite dish of the evening, and a true gastronomic star.

The deep fried item was next.

This was home made Japanese corn ball...hmm, interesting description. And the jalapeno perched on top of the balls were enticing. The pepper provided a small kick...though by no means spicy, but the flavour of the jalapeno permeated with each bite. Alternating a bite of the pepper with one of the corn ball was an interesting textural complication within the palate. The corn ball is very springy in texture, resilient to the bite, almost. And had a fine, delicate, sweet taste. Coupled with the slightly sourish, a touch pungent/spicy jalapeno. Nice combination.

The Takaiwase was next.

Takaiwase refers to a simmered dish...usually a vegetable and meat/fowl simmered seperately and combined into a masterful dish. This was no different. The eggplant was very smooth, creamy, soft. The duck was rendered very tender and while the flavour of the duck remained, it was not overpowering, but provided a nice counterpoint to the eggplant.

And the Shizakana rounded up the meal, with a delicate, wonderfully aromaed unagi in a hot pot with rice.

Presented beautifully, the unagi was a beautiful anago (sea eel), broilled carefully, and laid out to rest on a bed of shredded egg, and rice, then allowed to sit in a claypot to complete the cooking and what I call aromatization of the dish...where the flavours infuse and blend together to produce the wonderful perfume.

Presented individually, mixed up, the dish was a treat.

Dessert was seasonal fruit, and an added petit fours...Mizuomo was offered in the form of green tea cakes.

This was very delicate. Subtly sweet, with a strong hint of green tea. The body of the cake was light, and nicely sponge like texture.

The service was excellent. The waitress was very knowledgable, and took care to explain each dish to us, and highlight the special ingredients used. Overall, an excellent experience. Great Kaiseki meal. Great omakase dinner.

Kuriya Penthouse
181 Orchard Road #12-02 Orchard Central Singapore
6509 4222
Daily: 12pm–2.30pm, 6pm–10.30pm

Photonote: shot with Canon 5Dmk2 with EF35 f/1.4L, with EX580ii flash pointing to the roof. Though I shot the photographs, camera is coutesy of Prof Horology. Shot in large jpeg, iso400. I processed the pictures with CS4.
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