Kappo Shunshui: A secret hideout that delivers an unparalleled dining experience
Hidden behind the secretive veils of golden doors accessible only to those favoured by its biometric scanner, the hands of Chef Nishi Nobuhiro work with a meticulous flair to give the two-year-old Kappo-style restaurant a fresh breath of air. Taking on the revered position of Kappo Shunshui’s new executive chef, Chef Nobu brings his wealth of culinary experience to the curation of two new omakase menus that will surprise and satisfy.
As with other Kappo-style restaurants, dining here is more than just a palate pleaser. Chef Nobu executes the five primary cooking techniques — grilling, steaming, frying, simmering and raw preparation, in front of diners with a level of guest engagement rare in the works of the usual Kappo kitchens. Freshness aside, nothing else is constant. An ever-changing selection of dishes is the product of adapting to the best offerings of Japan’s Tsukiji and Kyushu fish markets each season, and Chef Nobu’s commitment to make sure every dish lives up to the Shunsui standard manifests in every tenet of his hospitality. As the sixth generation of his family’s 200-year lineage of chefs as well as apprentice to legendary Chef Hideki Ishikawa, owner-chef of Tokyo’s three Michelin-starred restaurant, Kagurazaka Ishikawa, commitment here is by no means an empty talk of the heart.
The two menus— “Mizu” ($150++) and “Shun” ($250++) feature eight and nine courses respectively. We can’t guarantee that these dishes will still be on the menu when you next visit, but assuming ceteris paribus, your arrival at gastro-nirvana lies in what’s to come.
The Owan is a soup-type appetizer offering a calming warmth to a sashimi-chilled gut. A light, natural sweetness is extracted by soaking the kombu and katosbushi in specially selected mineral water for a day, while cooking the dashi to 90 degrees Celsius — a tad shy of boiling — retains the sweetness of the dashi without making the flavours too heavy. The shinjo (fish cake) has a homemade authenticity to it, generous in flavour and textural depth. Made up with five different seasonal fish meats such as minced oita hamaguri (Asian Hard clams from Oita, a coastal prefecture on Japan's Kyushu Island) and asari clams, it is supple without being rubbery, soft without losing body, every bite packs a punch of a rich yet gentle sweetness.
The Kagoshima A4 Roast Sirloin Beef showcases a culinary profundity that seals the deal. The beef is sliced into three precious pieces that is thick but tender enough to melt down smoothly, releasing a buttery, palate-coating richness that will put all conversations on hold. Pair it with the dainty serving of potato mash that sits beneath the beef — the butter element gives it a flavour reminiscent of cookie butter, its sweetness moderating the savoury richness whilst lending ample volume.
Can’t get enough of the beef? Fret not, the A4 Kagoshimaya Wagyu Claypot Rice will indulge you further. Raw A4 wagyu sourced from Kagoshima is placed on cooked rice and blow torched to perfection, allowing the underside of the meat to by cooked instead by residual heat from the rice to retain maximum flavour and tenderness. The rice itself is intriguing enough to convert any carbo-phobic. Mixed with a special soy-based sauce, a light numbness and spice comes from using the Shanso Japanese peppers in whole, making a stronger presence than its powdered counterpart that often ends up disappearing into the background.
With thoughtful pacing and portioning, dessert is a welcomed finish to your indulgent journey. The homemade bracken-starch dumplings is more sophisticated than it sounds — unlike other mochis, this melt-in-your-mouth texture makes one bite run seamlessly into the next, and it is almost impossible to take separate bites without the remaining appearing like a gooey droop. Coated thinly with brown sugar that isn’t actually overwhelmingly sweet, let each ball melt into a comforting end to your night.
A little heads up — parting with the chef of such delectable fare might be tough, but do make a clear departure after you’ve exchanged sufficient civilities. Chef Nobu will walk you to the door and will not leave until you have disappeared from his sight. Talk about omotenashi, the Japanese's unique approach to hospitality.
5 Koek Rd, #04-02 Cuppage Plaza, Tel: 6732 0192
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am (Tue-Sun)