The Place You would have probably walked past Masa Saito at OUE Downtown Gallery without noticing it as it is tucked away at a corner near the escalator opposite Takayama restaurant. I checked out the two months old Japanese restaurant Masa Saito, a modern Japanese restaurant established by Chef Masa Saito. The space is an intimate L-shaped counter seating where you get a close view of the open kitchen. It is quite a surprise to me that this restaurant is quite under-the-radar, as I did not come across any online reviews prior to my visit.
The dining ambience is cosy as there are very limited seats around the counter, where there is also a private dining room.
Chef Saito is well-versed in various European culinary techniques where the restaurant only opens for dinner and offers set menus only for now. One highlight of the kitchen is the oakwood grill station!
The Food Chef Saito uses fresh seasonal ingredients to create a different dish each day, and unlike other traditional omakase restaurants I tried recently like Sushi Sei,it offers a completely new menu a few days later. There is only one dinner menu (it is not opened for lunch at the moment) where I had the 8-course Chef‘s Signature Course (S$250++) in the following sequence:
Karasumi – Cured Mullet Roe, Shogoin Daikon
The meal started with a Cured Mullet Roe, Shogoin Daikon appetiser, where the saltiness of the roe is balanced by the refreshing bite of the daikon.
Kinmedai – Alfonsino, Wakame, Red Daikon, Tosazu Jelly
Next up is a sashimi course. I love the thick fresh slices of the Kinmedai, along with tosazu jelly, yuzu gel and a splash of olive oil. A nice balance of flavours here which accentuates the flavour of the Kinmedai.
Shiroi Ebi – Crystal White Shrimp, Smoked Oil, Caviar, Buntan, Kaki Doushi Leaf
The mini shrimps are grilled over the oatwood fire, and that white layer beneath the soft shrimps is a rice purée with pork fats. The taste can be quite rich at the first few bites, and you can add the lime to cut the richness of the purée. Personally, it is not a dish which I appreciate as much, though I like the bite-sized sourdough topped with buntan (pomelo) and caviar at the sides.
Uni Toast – Sea Urchin, Brioche, Hanaho
Who could resist an Uni Toast? I love that crisp buttered brioche which is pan-seared, and there is also koji, pickled onion and miso within the layers which help to balance the richness of the brioche and Uni.
Wagyu – A5 Sirloin, Egg Yolk, Rice Purée, Microherbs/Flower Petal, Nasturtium
I was expecting a steak, but beef carpaccio was served instead. Chef Saito does different renditions depending on the cut of beef for the day, and this carpaccio style does bring out the rich flavours of the beef well. The best way to enjoy the dish is to roll the thinly sliced beef with some of the leafs, and the refreshing cubes of ponzu jelly.
Iberico – Pork, Japanese Eggplant, Butter Bon Miso, Yuzu Kosho, Fone De Veal
The pork is first sous vide, then grilled over the oakwood, and served with port and red wine reduction sauce along with huge slices of morel mushrooms. The meat itself is flavour and is grilled to a nice pink hue with crispy edges, and you have to eat the pork with the accompanying condiments such as yuzu kosho, miso and koji which helps accentuates the flavour profile of the tender pork.
Taraba – King Crab, Asari Clams, Ramen, Wakame, Rice Puff
The last savoury course is a ramen dish along with king crab, where the broth is clear and light, yet sweet from the clams. Nothing too complicated here, just a comforting bowl of carbs to end the meal.
Pear – White Chocolate, Hokkaido Milk Candy, Yogurt Sorbet, Vaniglia Espuna
For dessert, it uses pear from Yamagata prefecture with bits of sake jelly, and it is not too heavy at the end of the meal. The white chocolate sheets are not too sweet too, and overall, this is an enjoyable dessert for me.
Rants Not for the non-adventurous diner, as you will not exactly know what dishes to expect prior to your visit.
Will I Return Again? It is a small team at Masa Saito where the service is sincere. I also like its inconspicuous entrance. This is not a traditional sushi omakase or kaiseki, and if you are looking for a more modern take on omakase, Masa Saito is worth a try.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
6A Shenton Way
#01-04 OUE Downtown Gallery
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to 12am
Closed on Monday & Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter