The Place My first time stepping into Hotel Royal and it was an instance to check out Hatsu, a new modern sushi-focused Omakase restaurant located in Newton. Hatsu is helmed by Chef-owner Leon Yap, who has 15 years of Japanese cuisine experience under his belt, working in prestigious sushi restaurants including the likes of Raku, Aoki, Yamagawa, Sushi Hibiki KL and Shinsora. Chef Leon is also Champion of the World Sushi Cup Japan 2019, where the name Hatsu is inspired by the Kanji “初”, which means “the beginning”.
The space of Hatsu is an intimate 20-seater with a main counter seating area and a private room.
The Food Expect a modern twist to Edomae-style sushi which is Chef Leon’s forte using seasonal ingredients from Japan. The Omakase courses range from S$60 to S$120 for lunch and S$128 to S$250 for dinner.
I had the Grand Hatsu グランド初 (S$250) set which starts at 8pm and it include – Appetizer Platter, Unique Sashimi, Steam Dish, Cooked Dish, Nigiri 7 pieces, Chef’s Signature Roll, Soup, Dessert 3 types.
The first course is the Appetisers Platter, a trio of Shiro Ebi with Japanese vinegar jelly; Steamed Baby Abalone with sake; and Japanese yam. My favourite is the fresh Shiro Ebi with the refreshing vinegar jelly, a perfect way to start the meal on a good note.
Next up was the Unique Sashimi, where I had a trio of Isaki, Clam and Chutoro. Expect fresh flavours for the sashimi, with my favourite cut being the rich chutoro.
For the Steam Dish course, I had the Winter Melon topped with Hokkaido snow crab. You get shreds of the fresh crab on top of the soft and simmered winter melon.
The Cooked Dish showcased during my meal was a tempura dish, which I was quite excited about as I rarely come across a tempura course in a Japanese Omakase in Singapore. I first had the Eggplant and lady finger from Kyoto, followed by Japanese eel tempura. Served with daikon and turnip along with ginger, the tempura spots a light and crisp texture without being too greasy.
The daikon and turnip are delicious as well, and it help balance the fried flavour profile of the tempura.
Next up is the highlight of the omakase meal, which is the Nigiri courses. For one, there is great emphasis on the Shari (sushi rice) used at Hatsu which uses a unique sugar free Akazu Shari (red vinegared rice) made from Sasanishiki rice from Miyaki Prefecture. Chef Leon also uses three types of red vinegar and his own secret vinegar blend that has been aged for 6 years to prepare the rice.
Here are the types of Nigiri I had, where the neta (toppings) are mostly aged by Chef Leon:
Masu (Sea Trout) – this is marinated in shoyu so you get a very robust flavour profile.
Aji – topped with Japanese chives.
Nodoguro (Blackthroat Sea Perch) – I love Nodoguro and the version here is slightly aburi to bring out the rich oil content of the fish. It is one of my favourite Nigiri here.
Otoro – You can imagine this to be very rice and full of umami, though Chef Leon chooses to apply a charcoal grill technique on the otoro where you get an even softer, melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Bafun Uni – The last Nigiri I had, which uses Russian bafun uni. Expect a super creamy texture and amazingly fresh flavour of the uni.
After the series of Nigiri, I then had the Chef’s Signature Roll, which is a burst of umami flavours. It is essentially a sea urchin roll which uses Hokkaido Bafun Uni drizzled with house-cured egg yolk and topped with caviar from Poland.
Within the roll are also four types of tuna including chopped tuna belly, chutoro, otoro along with dried bonito, where I had it all in one mouth. Awesomely delicious.
The last savoury course is a Soup, a comforting end to the meal where there is a natural sweetness from the Japanese clams within.
Desserts are not taken lightly at Hatsu as well, as there are three courses for the desserts instead of the typical Japanese fruits.
The first part is a trio of Castella cake, Nama chocolate and a small Rose flavoured crystal candy which takes ten days to make. I was impressed that all of these are made in-house, and the bite-size portion is just right.
Part two of the dessert is a platter of Japanese fruits with fresh grape and peach.
The last dessert is a Homemade Hokkaido milk ice-cream with salt and pumpkin seed along with wafer. I love the creamy milk ice-cream and that bit of salt and pumpkin does the magic.
Rants The interior of the restaurant feels bare, especially with the higher-than-normal ceiling.
Will I Return Again? The competitive prices at Hatsu against other Japanese Omakase concepts in Singapore makes it an attractive one to return. The casual setting is unpretentious and you can expect fresh ingredients used here, along with stronger flavour profiles across the dishes as opposed to the more traditional Japanese omakase concepts. A destination dining worth trying.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
36 Newton Road
Tel: +65 8654 7200
Mondays to Saturdays
Lunch: 12pm to 2:30pm (last order 1:30pm)
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm (last order 9:00pm)
*2 rounds for sushi bar diners (6pm to 7:30pm, 8pm to 10pm)
Closed on Sundays
Ranted by The Ranter