Monday, October 10, 2016

Ki-sho Singapore - 3rd & 4th visit

After a couple of years since my last visit, Ki-sho (whose name means "Aristocratic Craftsmanship") seems no longer to be a hidden gem among foodies. For instance, during my 3rd visit that fell on Friday, the counter was fully occupied (12 diners max). Moreover, the two private rooms upstairs, comfortably accommodating 20 people or so, were also full and often noisy. Several Italian and German sport cars (nearly 10 of those) were found at the Ki-sho's relatively big parking space. Despite a very busy & crowded evening, the affable and capable Head chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto did not look panic at all. He looked totally in control of the whole situation; he still managed to engage with every single guest in the sushi bar more than once. At the same time, he was also preparing several plates of nigiri sushi himself for diners in the private rooms. It's always fun when you can have a great meal and concurrently you could observe how the chef(s) preparing the food.

This report was a delayed report of my last 2 meals at Ki-sho. Both of them, as expected, were excellent. In these subsequent visits, I had a chance to savor plenty of new savory creations by Chef Hamamoto (including sushi variations). The omakase at Ki-sho truly fits my Japanese cuisine taste: Kyoto-style & seasonal kaiseki dishes; Edomae + sometimes innovative sushi (serving arguably the best "kai/shell" morsel in the island); lots of uni & toro, Japanese wagyu beef and western high quality / luxurious ingredients. I'm not sure where I could find all of those combinations in one place, not only in Asia but also in the whole world. Although Michelin Singapore guide decided to 'ignore' this place this year, I doubt it would change my view of Ki-sho. This will remain my main dining destination when I visit Singapore. Given Kazuhiro-san's passion, skills and drive for excellence, I expect every meal(s) I will have at Ki-sho in the future will consistently still be exquisite. In the mean time, these were my other omakase reports ...

3rd meal - Nov '15        


Appetizer 1: Home made yuba, black pumpkin and shaved white truffle - Served with tonburi, gingko and wasabi. A vegetarian dish introducing several different layers of textures and flavors. The yuba was creamy & nutty; the pumpkin was delicate; the dark color seed had caviar-like texture. The alba truffle added decent pungent aroma & flavor while the wasabi put a little kick. There were so many things in such a small bowl ...  
Appetizer 2: Hotate and tara shirako 'sauce' - Served with ikura and radish. Another seasonal opening - the fresh hotate with its natural flavor was combined with mild & sweet cod milt, tasty salmon egg and some vegetables (kelp, mountain yam). It was pleasant and balanced; overall, the dish was not cloying at all

(Shredded) Seiko gani served with uni, egg jelly, nori, and gari in yuzu sauce - The 'queen crab' might be smaller than its male counterpart, nevertheless it was about as good in particular when it's integrated with the umami flavors of sea urchin, fresh sour jelly + yuzu as well as seaweed + ginger. A delicious and refreshing dish - it seduced my palate that made me 'wanting' for more food
Tai Sashimi served with shaved white truffle - Simple and delicious! The top quality & subtle raw sea bream was integrated by aromatic and 'woody' Alba truffle. An excellent match of the sea and the earth

Soup: Kabu with grilled nodoguro - A clean, clear and delectable broth with some Tai flavor. The Kyoto turnip was fresh & mild but deep in flavor while the nicely grilled (black throat) sea perch was awesome: fragrant & crisp skin, tender & meaty flesh - simply delicious
Grilled Hokkaido Shishamo - The (salt water) Willow leaf fish/Smelt was crunchy and it still had its liver and plenty of eggs inside. First time eating this ... It had a fine flavor with no sign of any bitterness; the eggs were surprisingly tasty. An enjoyable dish

Shirako tempura - A saver/less adventurous way to enjoy the Japanese delicacy of Cod sperm sac. Nevertheless, it was well executed. The milt was lightly battered and piping hot; inside, it was still milky and smooth with natural sweetness and enough hint of the sea. Liked it - the purist may prefer if the shirako is uncooked (often served with ponzu) to have a more burst of creamy & richer flavor
Toriyama beef sukiyaki served with leeks, Nagoya cochin eggs and shaved white truffle - The beef (from Gunma prefecture) was very tender and delicious. By itself, it's already good but Kazuhiro-san brought an additional dimension to this traditional dish by adding luxurious shaved & earthy truffles and more humble & effective leeks to bring down any "richness"


Shiro ebi (White / glass shrimps) - well marinated, sweet with tender texture
Kinmedai (Splendid alfonsino) - delicate with plenty of 'fat' and (subtle) umami flavor
Akami zuke (Marinated lean tuna) - aging for 17 days. Beautiful red color with smooth texture and delicious taste; matched well with the sushi-meshi
Botan ebi (Botan shrimp) - fresh, very sweet and juicy

'Kotoro' (In between Chu and O toro) - great color in soft texture (buttery and melt in the mouth) as well as tasty + quite fatty
Buri (A mature Yellow tail from Sado island) - aged for 1 week. It was fatty with deep flavor
O-toro ("Fatties" part of tuna belly) - aged for 17 days. A very fine and marbled piece; as expected it was luxurious, flavorful and 'melting'
Taraba-gani (Charcoal grill king crab) - served generously. I prefer consuming this delicious crab in nigiri sushi form. The hot king crab was contrasted with the room-temperature shari; the thick meat was indeed satisfying. Love this piece very much!

Grilled Nodoguro (Rosy sea bass/sea perch) - Chef Hamamoto was a bit playful here; he also put (in small portion) of preserved yuzu, sea salt and green chili to balance the rich, fat and flavorful nodoguro. The skin was fragrant and tasty too
Buri Otoro (Grilled fatty Tuna) - By doing this, the fat (& muscle) of the toro became even softer. It's literally melting and bursting with umami flavor in my mouth. Raw or grilled? Why choose if you can have both ways ..
Hida-gyu roll - Served with bafun uni, slow cooked egg yolk and wasabi. What can I say? Simply exquisite ... These (sinful) combination generated harmonious and delicious experience: moist & smokey beef, sweet sea urchin, salty yolk and a 'kick' from wasabi. Wow!

Mirugai (Giant clam) - firm and crunchy, at the same time it was distinctly sweet with light sea flavor
Tsubugai (Whelk / Ezobora sushi) - crunchy, refreshing with ocean's sweetness
Anago (Roasted conger eel with sweet sauce aka tsume) - It was really soft and very flavorful rich but not cloying


Bafun uni gohan served with ikura, shiro ebi, chopped toro and wasabi - A very decadent dish! It was one of Ki-sho's classic dish. A heavenly "risotto" was enhanced by flavor burst of salmon roe, sweet small shrimp, fatty tuna and fresh green horseradish. Pretty much perfect ...
Chopped raw Awabi served with red abalone's liver paste, sea urchin, rice, and wasabi - Chef Hamamoto generally prefers his abalone served raw due to its freshness and crunchy texture. Mixed all of the ingredients above for the fantastic experience in the palate - crisp awabi, sweet uni, creamy & delicate liver, vinegared shari and slightly hot wasabi - this instantly became one of my favorite items at Ki-Sho
Kyoto white miso soup served with goma tofu - The soup was tasty and a bit mild; it went along well with the thicker but smooth sesame bean curd. This implied that the adventure was about to end

4th meal - Jun '16   


Appetizer 1: Ayu, junsai, ikura and (late) Spring vegetables - Eating something refreshing to tantalize our palate at the beginning was an 'ideal' way to begin a meal. Here, the sweetfish was fresh and uncooked with its unique mild taste. Ayu acted as a supporting element to the a mix bowl consisting of oily salmon roe, "water shield" in slimy texture, okra, stem yam, green peas and radish. Now, I'm ready for a lot more food ..
Appetizer 2: (Hokkaido) Hairy crab and reduction jelly sauce - Served with fava beans, uni, yuzu, sudachi and (Murasaki) uni. The Kegani meat was rather sweet; nicely enhanced by the jelly (crab + botan ebi) and velvety tasty sea urchin. The rich taste was balanced by the Japanese lime and citrus as well as wasabi - very good  

Soup: Tilefish, winter melon and egg tofu - The dashi was mild and elegant. The lightly cooked Amadai, served with its crisp skin, was delicious; the (Okinawa) Tougan was watery and soaked up the flavored soup well; the tofu was very soft and thankfully not so eggy. I enjoyed this dish 
Assorted sashimi of the day - I believe this was my favorite sashimi selection at Ki-sho (I skipped it during the previous meal). I had: binchotan grilled Kinki fish - tender, fragrant and tasty, Tachiuo? fish - a bit firm, Otoro - marbled and buttery, Shima aji - crunchy and flavorful, and Tai + Uni - chewy sea bream integrated by sweet smooth sea urchin. Tough to pick which one was the best

Uni caviar jelly - The Murasaki sea urchin was, as always, of high quality with creamy, intense and heavenly flavors. The vinegar jelly not only ensured to bring harmony in the dish, but also 'deepened' the uni taste. The caviar added some saltiness while sweet corn, beans, and shiso flower put some texture / taste variations. To fully enjoy it, one should scoop deep and savor every unique delicious layer upon layer. By the way, this was one of Ki-sho's signature dishes and deservedly so
Grilled Ayu served with tade-zu - The (river fish) ayu, simply grilled with salt, was crunchy and slightly bitter but still tasty. It was accompanied by a herbs sauce made of water pepper, vinegar and sake. The bitter plant actually complimented the bitterness of sweetfish liver. Consumed together, they created somewhat sweet flavor and supposedly was also good for our digestion

Amadai and Awabi served with kamo nasu in wakame soup - The Tilefish was perfectly cooked, so was the steamed abalone (some texture contrast of tender fish vs more chewy abalone). The dense flesh Kyoto eggplant was deep and rich while the soup filled with fresh seaweed was tasty. All the elements worked well together to produce a very delicious dish. One of my favorite kaiseki dishes for the evening
White asparagus puree served with Nodoguro and egg tofu - The puree was flavorful and a bit dense. The simmered Seaperch was tender and tasty; the tofu was even softer and blended nicely with asparagus' flavor. Overall, a tasty dish and not too rich - good!


Isaki (Chicken grunt fish; kind of Seabass) - it was lean and delicate yet still tasty. First time eating this fish
Akami zuke (Marinated lean tuna) - aged for 2 weeks. The color was bright and beautiful, more importantly it's delectable
Chutoro (Medium fatty tuna) - aged for 8 days and sliced from relatively small fish. It was marbling, rich and cleanly delicious. I was served this piece twice
Hotate (Scallop + a pinch of salt) - The texture was consistently soft and the(Fatty) tuna collar - a little bit seared. It was marbled and heavenly with concentrated & rich flavor  salt intensified the scallop's sweet flavor

Aji (Horse mackerel) - a bit chewy but fatty; it's awesome. The ginger made it less fishy. Eating Aji around summer time was very pleasant
Kinmedai (Golden eye snapper) - smooth, savory and tender
Torigai (Heart clam) - crunchy and naturally sweet. It's the last week of this cockle's availability
Shiro ebi (White shrimps) - decent with plenty of sweet flavors, well complemented the shari

Japara? ("Snake tuna belly") - probably the most interesting morsel of the night. It had the best characters of Chutoro and Otoro combined. Marbled, delicious, (somewhat) melting yet we could still chew and savor its delicious flavor
Nodoguro (Blackthroat Seaperch) - lightly charred. It's rich, tender and oily/fatty in a positive sense
Otoro (Fatty tuna belly) - bursting of umami flavor in the mouth. Excellent

Uni (Sea urchin) - this one came from near Hakodate area. It's velvety, creamy and sweet; in non-gunkan version
Akagai (Ark shell) - a typical Edomae sushi. The red clam was delicious (sweet and slightly bitter) and somewhat resilient in texture 
Kama toro (Fatty tuna collar) - a little bit seared. It was marbled and heavenly with concentrated and rich flavor

Kampyo maki (Dried gourd) - cooked with soy sauce and sugar, roll (with extra wasabi). A good flavor variations: sweet & sour with an extra spice from the wasabi; often underrated
Tuna roll (A mixture of chopped maguro, chutoro and otoro) - Tuna 'party' - marbled fatty tuna, flavorful medium fatty tuna and smooth texture of lean tuna - beautifully wrapped with tasty shary and crunchy seaweed
Anago (Conger eel) - very soft with light sweet sauce. A satisfying ending ..

-Japanese musk melon (sweet and watery) with granite
-Warabi mochi, matcha chocolate and hojicha monaka: good dessert; well execute in both flavor and texture

The cooking at Ki-sho is consistently performed at a very high level. I've tested it for several times in the past 3 years at different seasons. Another visit in the future be very likely. The service was always professional, polite and discreet. Staffs sincerely cared though a good 'relationship' might not be built until after 2-3 visits. The most fun part about Ki-sho's hospitality was to have a direct conversation with Chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto himself. During my 3rd meal, I had a chance to order the house brand sake (in a small portion) as well - sweet, fragrant and slightly spicy. Another aspect stood out about Ki-sho was actually its 2-storey black & white building. It was hidden in a plush & serene sanctuary not too far from the Sheraton hotel. Inside, the decor was meticulously designed by Japanese artists. The sushi bar table was elegant, accompanied by 'golden' wall paper. Upon entering the building, there was a zen-style garden. The foyer was quite big and felt peaceful - as if you're instantly transferred to Japan.  

For pictures, you can see from the following links: Third meal and Fourth meal

Food (and Wine): 96 pts

Service (and Ambiance): 95 pts

Overall: 96/100