Food Review: Sushi Yujo At Amara Hotel Singapore | Good Value Japanese Omakase Restaurant With Innovative Twists
The Place I checked out the newly opened Japanese omakase restaurant concept Sushi Yujo located at Amara Hotel Singapore in Tanjong Pagar. Yujo means ‘friendship’ in Japanese, and the space of Sushi Yujo is contemporary yet it retains the traditional wooden counter table design of most Japanese omakase restaurants. The entrance features an unconventional black and ice colour palette, which is a sign of what to expect at Sushi Yujo.
Helming the kitchen is Chef Desmond Fong with 20 years of culinary experience, specialising in omakase where he was previously the head chef at Sushi Jin, part of the Les Amis Group. As a Singaporean chef, chef Fong looks to challenge the norms and bring innovative twists to the traditional Japanese omakase experience.
The main counter seat is where you should be, to catch the action by the chefs in the open kitchen concept. That is definitely part of an omakase experience for me. Otherwise, there are a few private rooms if you prefer a more private space to catch up with friends. Watch out for the kinetic blooming flower right behind the sushi counter!
The Food The lunch omakase starts from S$98 and dinner from S$198. The ingredients are typically flown in four times a week from Toyosu Market, and varies by seasonality.
I had the Yujo (S$288++) dinner menu and started with a series of Appetisers, where seasonal ingredients in the appetisers will change depending on freshly-flown ingredients from Japan.
I had the baby abalone, and baby shrimp with uni, caviar and ikura along with Monkfish liver. The presentation is lovely and each delicate bite-size dish here is excellent.
In season from the start of spring, white shrimps are small deep-sea creatures found only in the Toyama region. The white shrimps go beautifully with bafun uni, caviar, ikura and lime jelly. The Ankimo (monkfish liver) is rich in flavour, regarded as a winter delicacy in Japan. Here the monkfish liver is served warm in a light dashi broth with freshly grated wasabi.
Next up is a Carpaccio course where the thinly sliced sea bream is luxuriously decorated with caviar and summer truffle shavings. It is also topped with shio kombu and shisho flowers which add a tinge of spicy flavour. You can expect a strong flavour from this dish, where I conclude that chef’s style lean towards the heavier flavours of things.
Sashimi is up next, where there are 5 kinds of sashimi served which changes daily depending on the freshly-flown catches from Japan.
The Otoro (fatty tuna) is my clear favourite. Who can resist that melt-in-the-mouth texture? The rest of the sashimi selections include the Hokkaido scallop, Kinmedai (golden eye snapper), Kanpachi (amberjack) and Chu-toro. Noteworthy mention to the Kinmedai sashimi which is given the aburi treatment, which accentuates the beautiful fatty flavour of the fish.
I then had a Palate Cleanser course, which I really enjoyed too. It is basically Bettarazuke (pickled daikon) which is crisp and spots a refreshing taste along with the housemade radish pickles with zested yuzu.
Here is a bonus dish I had which is not part of the Yujo menu – a Yuzu Crab dish where the sweet deshelled meat of the hairy crab is layered with sea urchin, ikura, tosasu jelly and wasabi in a hollow yuzu fruit. All I can say is you need to request this dish from chef. I love the citrusy yuzu with the copious crabmeat, and the combination of uni and the sweetness of the crabmeat is amazing.
The meal then proceeded to Chef’s Signatures, which showcases the Fukuoka awabi, where I had the abalone with liver sauce. You will not miss the action of Chef Desmond pulling out the hot giant abalone from the claypot on the counter.
I actually enjoy a good abalone liver sauce, and this sauce is rich along with the tender slices of the abalone. Chef then adds a small ball of rice, which is perfect with the liver sauce.
For the Cooked Dish course, I was excited to spot Wagyu beef on the menu and I had the Miyazaki Wagyu A5 beef with Japanese onsen egg and sukiyaki sauce. Well-marbled beef mixed in the onsen egg and sweet sauce; I like it.
Moving on to the Sushi act where there are 5 pieces of sushi, where 3 of the 5 sushis will be given the aburi treatment, part of Chef Desmond’s signature technique to enhance the flavour of the fish.
It started with the Botan Ebi which is naturally sweet, and slightly seared.
Next up was a dish I probably have not come across before – Kamasu (barracuda) topped with yuzu pepper. It is a seasonal fish which is surprisingly very flavourful.
Bafun Uni came next, which is one of my favourite ingredients. Who can resist the creaminess of the uni?
The next two sushi courses are Chef Desmond’s signature sushis, and you can expect the flavours to get progressively richer. The Aburi Ootoro (fatty tuna belly) features the slightly seared ootoro which is topped with negitoro, truffle caviar and a slice of shaved truffle. It is very indulgent, and full of umami.
The last sushi act is the Aburi Foie Gras. Draped over a slice of scallop on rice, the foie gras is torched till the fat is sizzling before it is topped with sea urchin, caviar and a gold leaf. Sweet soy sauce is then drizzled over the sushi. Very pretty sushi, and it tastes as good as it looks.
For Chef’s Finale, I had the Negitoro hand roll where the freshly charcoal-toasted nori is filled with negitoro (minced tuna), ikura and crispy tempura bits.
Soup before the dessert is the clear soup with abalone and nanohana vegetables.
For Dessert, I had a trio of selections – Homemade Plum wine jelly, Custard mochi and the Musk melon. I have to say that the desserts are really good too. The plum wine jelly is not too sweet and is refreshing to start with. The mochi is delicious, soft in texture and I am not even a mochi person. Musk melon is probably my favourite kind of fruit.
Rants It will be great if the chefs can interact more with the diners to make the overall dining experience even more personable.
Will I Return Again? I really enjoyed my meal at Sushi Yujo as I like how the flavours of the meal progresses from light to heavy dishes. It is not the traditional style of Japanese omakase, but it suits my palate as I generally prefer richer flavours, be it for the sushi or cooked dishes. The prices are also fairly competitive at Sushi Yujo which definitely makes it an attractive option for me to return.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
165 Tanjong Pagar Road
Amara Hotel #02-26
Tel: +65 8877 8831
Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm to 3pm; 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Closed on Monday
Ranted by The Ranter