Enter Esora, the mesmerising Japanese restaurant from The Lo and Behold Group
We call dibs
The Lo & Behold group has bestowed this city with many precious gifts, including some of our most celebrated dining spots like Odette, Tanjong Beach Club and the recent avant-garde wine bar Le Bon Funk. Now, it's endeavouring to break into the Japanese scene — with the launch of Esora, filling the intimate 26-seater in a shophouse down on Mohamed Sultan Road.
Glazed and moulded by renowned design duo, Takenouchi Webb (re: Straits Clan in all its glory), Esora renders a breathaking sight the moment you arrive. The space is inviting, clean and adorned with comforting beige tones and occasional marble counters, but its open kitchen is where the spotlight favours, literally. Hovering above the chefs at work, is a circular-shaped ceiling window; where light trickles in with the best intentions.
Previously from Odette and three-Michelin starred Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo, chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi isn't your average stoic man in charge. He has a smile that reaches his eyes and more importantly, is the reason why Esora isn't a traditional establishment.
Ushering a fresh new perspective on Japanese culinary culture, chef Shigeru serves up an elevated, modern approach to Kappo-style cuisine. We're talking obsessive attention to detail, micro-seasonal produce (which means the menu changes from time to time) and complementary features like a tea pairing programme.
Presented in multi-courses of seven and nine, a meal at Esora stems from simplicity, but escalates in textures, flavours and techniques. For instance, your experience gets an uncoventional start. Starters take the form of new-age creations like the Foie Gras Monaka, a miniature "sandwich" of two wafer crisps holding foie gras, peanuts and oranges in between. What came after? Japanese spring rolls encased with hairy crab and fresh uni.
The introduction is peculiar, but served up exceptional flavour pairings that have never been done in a typical Japanese restaurant. After which, it resumes a somewhat traditional pattern of fresh, premium sashimi (accompanied with the visual pleasure of chef Shigeru slicing the day's produce in a systematic motion) and piquant dashi broth brought to life with matsutake mushrooms. There are some things in life, that has to remain as it is — and that's recognised here at Esora.
Mains like the Omi Wagyu, remain to be one of those dishes we wished wasn't in a course line-up, but instead would have been a perfect a la carte standout. It boils down to its divine richness — from every caramelised bite to its other condiments of white fungus puree, green pepper — balanced well against a good slab of fresh wasabi.
The dessert of hojicha pudding would have been an anti-climatical ending, but instead, it was heightened with rum foam and the odd shower of black truffle shavings. Let's just say we never tasted a better unlikely match than this bittersweet combination.
15 Mohamed Sultan Rd, Tel: 6365 1266
Opening hours: 7pm-till late