Ki-sho 葵匠

Ki-sho, mentioned by lots of foodies as the best Japanese restaurant in Singapore. Due to its high pricetag, it is not that popular as other Japanese restaurants in town. I have heard about this place a long time ago but never visited it because i don't want to take the risk to try something might disappoint me for its value since i travel to Japan quite often. But i am really curious how 'good' is it, thus i decided to try out Ki-sho with a friend who is a regular here. Reservation is not tough. The Kyoto-born head Chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto was educated in Kyoto’s top culinary arts institute and has worked in numerous kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto, he also worked as a chef in the famous Waku Ghin in Marina Bay Sands Singapore. The restaurant housed in a colonial bungalow on Scotts Road, featuring a 10-seat counter seats and several private rooms which are all quite Zen.

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Visited: April.25. 2016 (Lunch)

Address: 29 Scotts Rd

Hours: Weekday lunch 12.00pm – 2.00pm; Dinner Monday to Saturday: 6:30pm – 10:30p; closed on Sundays

Cost: Lunch $150~$250, Omakase $450; Dinner $300 and $400 Omkase menu only (nett prices)

Website

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Eating at Ki-sho is definitely not cheap, the omakase menu(s) are priced at $300 and up to $450++ for a full experience, quite pricey and i worried about its value compare to Japan. Lunch is more affordable which is priced at $150 and $250. We had the $300 menu.

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Based on my visits to sushiya in Japan, i found i prefer akashari (red-vinegared sushi rice) than the regular white shari. Here, chef Hamamoto-san uses akashar, and his shari is not that huge as Tokami's,  seems to perfectly match my taste buds. However, i was quite worried when i was watching Hamamoto-san making nigiri - he looks not skilled enough to make good nigiri, let alone the speed. For some pieces he even shaped the shari and put it on his cutting board, then uses his hands to re-shape and unshaped parts, looks like playing dough.

Ki-sho's akashari do tastes good, the quality of the neta (fish) were pretty high too, but the shari was quite loose and the coeherence with neta was disappointing. Although i am not a sushi expert (but whom has been to the top sushiya in Tokyo), i cannot coincide with those who consider Ki-sho serves the best sushi in Singapore. I am not sure whether that's due to this is possibly the only place serves only akashari sushi in Singapore. Say, Shinji by Kanesaka,or Hashida, the chefs definitely have better skills in making nigiri.

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Sashimi platter includes toro, tai rolled with uni, shima-aji and grilled kinki. This part was quite good, the raw fish were fresh and delicious, the grilled kinki was seared which has rich oils underneath its skin.

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The grilled fugu shirako has a lightly grilled skin, a bit chewy on the outside and very creamy inside. It was mouthful of creaminess and umami flavors.

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Chef Hamamoto's signature dish reminds me of Waku Ghin's signature dish, this one is a lunch version. On the bottom was very fresh crab meat cover with thick layers of Hokkaido sea urchin, the sweet and clean umami flavors were superb. On the top was another layer of crab meat with dashi jelly, with a bit toro and wasabi. A dish with burst flavors and balanced deep and light flavors.

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The rest part of nigiri didn't work well for me, i loved the taste of his red shari, as well as the fresh neta (fish), unfortunately the coeherent is poor as well as the knife work - see the cuts of Hokada :(

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The grilled Nodoguro nirigi has a seared crust which was pretty aromatic and delicious. After that we chef Hamamoto grilled a piece of otoro nigiri with white charcoal, the outerlayer of the toro was lightly cooked and the rest part was still raw. Delicious.

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The grilled fish dish of the day was Angao (sea eel), it was high in oil contents, meaty and moist.

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My favorite dish of the meal was the sea urchin risotto. The 'risotto' was made of akashari with melted sea urchin - imagine how creamy it is. It was topped with fresh ikura, toro, and botan ebi. The whole combination was rich, deep in umami flavors with a mildly sweet aftertaste.

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The soup was too bland and clean...i don't like it but maybe it works well as a palate cleanser?

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We requested for neither Kanpyo or Tamago at last, chef Hamamoto went back to the kitchen and we heard the loud noise of opening-and-closing the fridge LOL. We were told no Kanpyo and he would served tamago. Hmm, not bad but i just wondering what was he checking in the fridge.....

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The worst part of the meal was the dessert, which consists of three bites of Japanese dessert and yubari melon. Warabi-mochi, raw matcha chocolate and monaka all tastes like supermarket quality, the mochi was too hard and the monaka was no more crispy. The Japanese melon was not smooth and sweet enough.

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I agree that Ki-sho is a top Kaiseki restaurant in Singapore, but i cannot coincide that it is the best Japanese restaurant - although i have no idea which one is the best. The dishes were actually pretty good (except the dessert), it is pricey but good Japanese food is not cheap in Singapore at all.

However, i don't understand why they serves nigiri too due to Ki-sho is a Kaiseki restaurant, how come a Kaiseki place offered nigiri sushi omakase? I cannot accept this concept no matter how great the food nor how many michelin stars they have, let alone the quality of nigiri was not that good. I do agree that Chef Hamamoto's akashari tastes better than the normal shari (sushi rice), however that doesn't mean his sushi is the best in Singapore.

Kisho is definitely a right place to go for quality Kaiseki food, but for sushi, i think Shinji (at Raffles Hotel) is much a safer option.