The Place It is not uncommon for new Japanese Omakase restaurants these days to have a waiting list of a few months, and the two months old Unkai restaurant at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel is no exception. Helmed by chef Eugene Lam who has 12 years of experience under his belt at various Japanese restaurants including Hide Yamamoto and Ashino, the 30-seater restaurant offers Omakase sets and an ala carte menu of sashimi and sushi offerings as well as rice bowls.
The Food The omakase menu at Unkai Sushi offers three options, starting at prices of S$88++. I had the Sora (S$188++) menu, which includes – Appetiser, 5 kinds of Sashimi, 1 Seasonal Grilled Dish, 11 Sushi, Soup and Dessert.
My meal started with the seasonal appetiser, Black Sea Snail. An interesting starter for a Japanese meal which I did not expect, the snail has a clean taste.
There are two parts to the sushi course, where part one starts with the sushi using white fish with lighter taste notes using white vinegar sushi rice. Below are the series of sushi courses I had:
Kinmedai (Golden eye snapper)
Tai (Sea Bream)
Shima Aji (Wild Striped Jack)
I had the Nodoguro (Blackthroat Seaperch), where the taste and texture resemble that of cod fish for me. The fish meat is fatty and you get that overdose of fish oil in your mouth.
Kuroawabi means black abalone in Japanese, and the braised Abalone here is glazed with chef in-house made abalone liver sauce (this dish is only available in the $$188 menu). It uses one of the highest-grade abalone from Japan, where I am really impressed with the abalone liver sauce which has a very smooth and creamy taste, almost like butter.
Part two of the Sushi course focuses on red fish with heavier tasting notes using red vinegar sushi rice.
The Akami is lightly marinated in Chef’s own shoyu blend recipe, served with yuzu zest hence it has a tinge of zesty element.
Peekaboo: Uni wrapped with Chutoro
This is one of my favourite sushi courses. Nothing too complex, just fresh Uni and Chutoro combined for the ultimate umami flavour. I can certainly have a few more servings.
Torched Nodoguro Sushi
Binchotan Otoro – the Otoro is lightly marinated in Chef’s own shoyu blend recipe then lightly charred with highest grade binchotan charcoal from Japan. The otoro itself is typically very flavourful, and with the binchotan grill, it adds another layer of flavour to the palate. Is this necessary? Not in my opinion as the fresh otoro flavour is good enough for me. That said, it does showcase the skill of the chef and it offers something different from other restaurants.
Next up was the inhouse smoked Chutoro aged for 30 days – this smoked melt-in-the-mouth tuna spots a very smoky flavour, a great conclusion to the sushi course.
There is also a secret dish at Unkai coined as the Magic Bowl (only available in S$188 menu, served upon availability & request), which is a mix of Chef’s signature ingredients using only the day’s cargo imports. I managed to try this exclusive dish, made up of Uni and Chu-toro served in a rice bowl soaked in abalone liver sauce. Mix it well and it is a mouthfuls of umami flavours, and I also like the tempura crumbs within the rice which lends it an added texture. This dish is available for Ala Carte advance order (at least 3 days), price from S$68++.
The last part of the meal is the Miso Soup, followed by Dessert which is the seasonal fruits.
Rants Relatively dark tones used in the interior where it can get a little sleepy. The pacing of the meal will be much better if the intervals of each course is more consistent.
Will I Return Again? Even at the top tier omakase menu at S$188++, Unkai offers much value as compared to other Japanese restaurants in Singapore where the highest end menu easily goes up to S$400-S$500.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
1 Tanglin Road
Tel: +65 9634 8508
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am to 2:30pm; 6pm to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter