Aoki Restaurant at Shaw Centre is a restaurant by the Les Amis group. You can hardly find it as the entrance is very obscure and the name of the restaurant is written in Japanese. It seems to be the trend for sushi gems to be hidden away in hard-to-find hideouts, especially in Japan but I didn’t expect it to be like this in Singapore as well. I like it though, the hunt and then the rewards you reap once you find these temples of food.
Set lunches are affordable ($35-50) as it serves top quality Japanese food in a traditional Japanese ambience. Dinner sets are available from $40-80. Should you feel like splurging, there is the omakase set during ($100), while dinner sets are priced at $165, $300, $400 and $500.
The bar counter seats 15 guests, however we chose the table seats as those are more conducive for a girly meal. There are only three tables. All in all a very cosy and intimate restaurant. Would love to try the bar counter next time as I like to watch the chefs prepare the food. Makes it taste better 🙂
So this is the table/room. Very very enclosed if you decide to shut the sliding door all the way. Not for the claustrophobic.
On a random note, the menus they handed us seemed a little beat up.
We both decided to go for the $300 omakase dinner sets. Pricey but we’ve planned to make room for a monthly treat like this whenever we can plus we both really really needed the uni!
So to start, raw shrimp mixed with some uni and topped with a dollop of caviar and a sprinkle of edible flowers. The flowers tasted sharp, not unlike shiso leaves and complemented the creamy flesh of the shrimp, uni and the delicately briny caviar. I wished there were more of it 😦
The next dish came as a surprise. A carpaccio of Tai sashimi in what tasted like truffle oil, chopped black truffles and a generous shaving of white truffle on top. I’m not a crazy big fan of truffles but this dish made me open up and embrace the heady world of truffles. The firm chewy fish in the aromatic oil and truffle slices were absolutely delicious, and to me, very creative.
Just look at it! Gorgeous!
Next course: Sashimi
Top left we have an ark shell sashimi and scallop, and going clockwise we have otooro, something that looks like sashimi from a great trevally judging by its creamy pink flesh but I could be wrong, ebi and chutoro.
All very fresh and delicious. Generous thick cuts too. The scallops were creamy, shell was crunchy, otoro and chutoro tasted like butter in my mouth and in fact so did the great trevally sashimi.
After all that indulgence came a Japanese tomato, which is unlike any other tomato that you’d normally find in the grocery stores in Singapore. The locally grown tomatoes in South East Asia are hard and sour most of the time. This tomato, with its bright red color, firm yet supple flesh, tasted savory when dipped into the salt. Its like a red tomato sauce party in your mouth and is just so so rich in flavor.
Truffle cawanmushi. The cawanmushi is slightly thicker in texture than your normal Sushi Tei restaurant, but still delicious. Again topped with chopped truffles, probably a dash of truffle oil and shavings of white truffle. Egg custard perfumed with truffles made for a pretty heady experience. I would love to try making foie gras cawanmushi one of these days. Bet that would be amazing!
Now this was when I got slightly annoyed. More of the waitress’s fault rather than the chef/restaurant. I know that we were at the tables and not the counter, but I do think we still deserved to know what type of fish we were being served. The waitress served me sushi and just said “white fish”. I KNOW it is white fish, I can totally see it from the color, but it tells me nothing else. I asked every time she served sushi about the type of fish that was being served. They always had to go and check with the chefs, which I thought was pretty bad. Shouldn’t you know what fish you are serving especially since you’re working in a pricey sashimi/sushi restaurant? Ok I’m digressing from the main topic.
On the left is Ara sushi, and on the right is Engawa sushi. See, I would never have known the names if I didn’t ask. And it was a good thing I did! They were absolutely delicious! Both of them had a chewy/crunchy texture to it and a light, subtle ocean taste to it. I would have preferred it if the chef had seasoned it rather than leave us to our devices (ie our soy sauce saucers) as I always find it difficult to dip the sushi into the soy sauce without making a mess. Shinji was better in this sense, they seasoned all the food unless they made special sauces for you to sample with the food. Shinji’s gari (pickled ginger) is also way better than Aoki’s, much crunchier and it seemed fresher too.
Next plate of sushi, the toro and an aburi toro. The fish was good, toro again was buttery while the aburi had a nice scorch to the fatty meat. But it bothered me a little that the shape of the sushi was so long and can’t be popped into the mouth whole. The bite wasn’t to my liking either.
So I flipped the sushi over and finally noticed what was bothering me. The rice is long grained and a bit too tightly packed. I prefer short grained rice in sushi and they must be packed just right such that it doesn’t fall part in your hands but not too tight so that it can still fall apart in your mouth. This needed a little bit more chewing. So a little disappointed on the rice.
Next, some scallop sushi and sayori sushi. The scallop hardly needs introducing, but the sayori, I’ve never had it before. It is Japanese halfbeak or needlefish. As you can see, the flesh is white with shiny skin and the fish is fresh, the taste itself is very delicate bordering on light.
My friend requested for the steak tataki (I think that’s what its called) as her sister highly recommended this dish to her. She was a little disappointed as the beef was cold. She liked the egg though, which, being fresh and well done, had none of the slight but noticeably foul smell that raw eggs tend to have.
Dessert was not included in the set so we were asked if we wanted to order a dessert. We declined and continued to drink tea and chat for quite a while. Then the chef sent over some fruits on the house (I’m not sure if this was because we were so thick skinned and sitting so long with just tea and not leaving, or if it was because the chefs were being nice, but we appreciated it very much!).
All in all a pleasant dining experience, not the best but still pretty good.
1 Scotts Road
Shaw Centre #02-17
Tel: +65 6333 8015
Mon to Sat: 12noon – 3pm, 6.30pm – 11pm
Sun: 6.30pm – 11pm