The Place I checked out a new Japanese Omakase restaurant Rén Lounge recently, located next to JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach. The name ‘Ren’ means people in Mandarin, with the idea of Rén Lounge being a space where anyone can feel comfortable dining on fine Japanese cuisine. Helmed by young Executive Chef Samuel Lau, Chef Samuel has seven years of experience at Japanese restaurants, most recently as sushi chef at Shinji by Kanesawa (St Regis).
The concept of Ren Lounge comprises several distinct spaces, starting from the lounge for bar snacks and drinks. The counter seats in the centre of the restaurant is for omakase dining with an open kitchen concept; and there is also a private room. The counter seats can accommodate up to just 16 diners at a time for lunch and dinner.
The Food At the separate lounge and private room, diners have the choice of tasty bar bites that range from Japanese appetisers to western mains. From the Lounge Menu, I started off with three types of Oysters – Fresh seasonal oyster served with light ponzu dressing; Kilpatrick oyster gratinated with breadcrumbs and bacon; and the Rockefeller oyster baked with cream cheese and spinach.
The signature bar menu speciality is the Lamb Rack, baked with a crisp herb crust and served with a side of petite mesclun salad.
For omakase, expect Edo-style Japanese Omakase for lunch and dinner which include seasonal appetisers, exquisite sashimi and sushi, and dessert. From the Counter Menu, Lunch menus range from S$80 for the 12-piece Tsuki set, to S$100 and S$180 for Omakase. Dinner menus range from S$150 for the 15-piece Sushi Edomae set, to S$180, S$250 and S$350 for the signature Omakase.
I had the Hana 花 Omakase (S$250) menu, starting with the Seasonal Appetisers, a trio of Ichijiku Japanese figs; Ankimo simmered in sake and shoyu; and the Komochi Konbu herring roe with kelp.
Next up was Sashimi. All fish at Ren Lounge is carefully sourced and wild-caught. Summer selection of sashimi can include: Kanpachi (amberjack), Katsuo (bonito) which is lightly seared (aburi) to release more flavour from under the skin, and Kinmedai which is lightly seared to release the flavours from the fish oil.
I love Uni, so the Uni course is a delight to have. Expect a mix of Shiro ebi, uni, ikura and caviar bowl.
For Yakimono, I had the Tachiuo Shioyaki, grilled belt fish which is lightly salted.
The Sushi courses are up next, where Chef Samuel selects tsuyahime Japanese rice as the base of his nigiri. Tsuya means shiny and hime means princess, where the rice is naturally sweet. No further seasoning aside from fresh ground wasabi is provided as each nigiri is already carefully balanced.
A selection of five nigiri sushi are presented, based on the freshly flown in selection.
Hirame (flounder) – a spritz of sudachi lime is applied for some zest to the mild tasting fish.
Shima Aji (striped jack) – a firm, fatty summer fish that has mild but smooth flavour.
Akami (lean tuna) – brushed with signature shoyu marinade.
Chutoro (tuna) – a medium fatty tuna sourced from South Africa
Otoro (tuna belly)
The last savoury course is Donburi, a combination of chopped fatty tuna (negitoro), topped with ikura and fresh ground wasabi.
Soup is a clear, dashi-simmered miso soup before dessert.
For Dessert, I love the Sea Salt Ice Cream, a break from the usual Yuzu flavour. Seasonal Japanese Melon is also served, also one of my favourite Japanese fruits.
Rants As a new Japanese restaurant, it will definitely be a plus point to have a signature dish for diners to have a memorable meal.
Will I Return Again? You can expect fresh ingredients if you were to have the omakase experience at Ren Lounge. It is a competitive market where there have been quite a couple of new Japanese omakase restaurants in the past six months, and this is one Edo-style experience to consider in Singapore.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
#01-01 South Beach Avenue
30 Beach Road
Tel: +65 6983 4825
Monday to Saturday: 12pm to 2:30pm; 5pm to 10:30pm
Closed on Sundays
Ranted by The Ranter