Travelling to Sentosa Cove is always an adventure. Be it for the my previous escapade at The Kitchen Table at W Hotel or now at Ezoca Japanese Cuisine, where supposedly some of the finest Kaiseki Ryori is found in Singapore. Coming from the mainland, it is always a treat to see the sights and hear the sounds down at Quayside island. And as the sun slowly sets in the evening horizon, it is time for dinner to start. Ezoca opened recently in February this year, and the kitchen is helmed by Chef Shinji Morihara-san. Chef Morihara is a familiar name in the local and perhaps regional culinary circles, where his most recent stint was as head chef at Inagiku, Fairmont Singapore and Japanese chef at the Marriott Hotel Shanghai. Treats such as the Japanese OMI Beef Tenderloin with Organic Vegetables stand out in perfect harmony with the Cheese Ice Cream, Caramelized Apple and Homemade Red Bean Paste served with Japanese Kyoho Grapes in Wine Jelly. With a wealth of experience, Chef Morihara is proud to present the finest Kaiseki Ryori at Ezoca Japanese Cuisine!
The yachts docked at Quayside island.
Ezoca Japanese Restaurant
The serene environment makes itself well known the moment you step into the restaurant. As the glass door closes behind you, you are immersed into a place where time has possibly stood still. The calming use of wood throughout the restaurant with simple furnishing remind me of my time when I was in Kyoto, having a quaint kaiseki meal with my friends as the cooling evening went by.
Chef Shinji Morihara-san hails from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, and has been cooking for over 20 years. Recognised as Hong Kong’s top Japanese chef when he was at Inagiku, Four Seasons Hotel (Hong Kong), it is no wonder why Chef Morihara insists on only using the best ingredients for each dish he crafts. Throughout the course of dinner, I was even more surprised to learn the amount of detail that went into each dish. Be it the use of Japanese mineral water for cooking the rice, or a dedicated oil for tempura each day, this is finesse made perfect. The kaiseki menu at Ezoca also changes every month, allowing frequent diners a fresh set of dishes to look forward to.
For the night, I experienced the Yume Course ($288++ for 7 set course menu) specially crafted by Chef Morihara, and I was eagerly anticipating the first dish. The meal was started with a serving of houjicha. This cup of roasted tea, was subtly bitter sweet with savoury notes that pushed open the appetite. The restaurant environment, still and calm, made enjoying this cup of tea even more therapeutic as the glass windows set apart a world that is entirely different on the outside. For now, you are in Chef’s hands.
The first course was a salad creation of Japanese Kuruma Ebi (Tiger Prawn), Kyoho Premium Grape, Cucumber, Persimmon with Tofu Cheese Cream and Walnut. The tofu is homemade and infused with layers of cheese, thereafter combined with mayonnaise and springy tiger prawns. The grape pieces were crisp and juicy, with a delicate sweetness that complemented well with the overall flavours while the cucumber lightened any heaviness. Toppings of walnut lent a layer of textural crunch in each bite.
The steamed dish for the night was a serving of Short Neck Clam and Winter Melon Egg Custard Topped with Tomato Sauce. This was chef’s unique take on the ubiquitous and humble chawanmushi. Take the first serve and relish in the gentle citrus atmosphere engaged by the yuzu essence glazed over the top. Dig a little deeper and find the soft yet firm wintermelon soaking up the flavours, harmonizing with the smooth egg custard. I was particularly impressed with the pairing of tomato sauce and water shield (Junsai) lending a touch of gelatinous umami, bringing out the flavour of the sweet clams along the way. A finely executed dish, that emphasized chef’s attention to detail.
One more photo of the chawanmushi
The Sashimi Platter was a serving of three different courses. Start with the lightest ingredients and work your way to the whelk pieces at the end.
First up, we have the portion of Shiro Ebi (White Shrimp), Shima Aji (Striped Jack), and Kinmedai (Golden Snapper). The golden snapper was crisp in texture, leaving a good clean bite throughout. It goes very well with the shoyu, gently bringing out its inner sweetness and leaving an umami lasting on the tips of the tongue. The Aji was refreshing with distinctive memories of the fresh waters it was from. The best part was the Shiro Ebi. Take the first bite and marvel at how sweet and creamy each portion can be. Enjoy this slowly.
Next is a classic luxury of Toro with Gold Flake. Three meticulously sliced pieces of fatty tuna is delicately arranged, and served alongside some wasabi and chrysanthemum flower puree. The toro is creamy, and smooth to the bite, indicating a good amount of fat within to soften the overall texture. Pair that with the chrysanthemum for a little tartness to refresh the palate for the next bite. When all is done and proper, go for the radish. You will be surprised at its ice crisp texture and temperature, giving an excellent feel with a distinctive crunch.
The final dish in the Sashimi platter is the Whelk mixed with Strawberry Sauce. Uniquely, the strawberry sauce gives a refreshing berry sweet tang that complements well with the savoury and meaty whelk. It uplifts the entire flavour, to a degree of airy sensation while contrasting with the whelk’s own crunchy texture, that gives an overall bite in each piece.
After 3 courses that has left me impressed, and wow-ing, I was game for the next. The main for the night was a preparation of Japanese OMI Beef Tenderloin with Organic Vegetables. The Japanese OMI is grade A4, and with it being fresh off the charcoal grill, the smoky scent was almost tempting.
The beef and grilled vegetables are served alongside a trio dip of Himalayan Rock Salt, Ponzu Sauce and Mustard. Pair the beef with the salt for a distinctive cut in flavour that is sharp and crisp. Pair it with the ponzu sauce for a calmer overall flavour that gives a bit of a tang. For those seeking a hot addition in flavour, the beef can also be paired with the mustard, bringing the meaty flavours to another dimension.
As much as I loved pairing the beef with the various dips, I thought the meat was best enjoyed on its own. There is a deep savoury flavour, that hint of streaks of fat, in portions of meat that simply collapses easily under the crunch. Excellent. I was advised that the himalayan rock salt goes very well with the grilled vegetables, itself already sprinkled with some fragrant plum powder. It does, and I am pleased to slowly go through each piece. The Pumpkin with Miso Paste was perhaps the best, crisp on the outside, coupled with a luxurious velvety interior. The lotus root, a touch oily, is excellent with the salt which then gives a calm, smooth flavour that is strangely rustic. French Bean, Red Capsicum, and Maitake Mushroom Saute make up the rest of the sides.
The braised dish of Conger Pike Eel, Garland Chrysanthemum and Seaweed in Hot Pot is comfort at its best. The clear soup is surprisingly thick and rich in flavour, with its scent noticeably permeating the air as the tealight candle at the bottom heats the broth. Take the first sip and relish in the calm, light sweet flavours of eel before tucking in to some chewy grilled mochi, wakame, sweet white onion and mushroom. The dish is also served with a portion of premium chilli powder that accentuates the taste, giving a particular warmth that lingers as an aftertaste.
I was craving for a little rice at this moment and requested the restaurant if they could provide me with a bowl. Ezoca serves premium Japanese Yamazato Seiryu Mai rice, a Koshihikari variety. Cooked with Japanese mineral water, I noted each grain texture to be soft with a subtle aromatic fragrance that is unique and memorable. Each bite leaves a slight alkaline sweetness on the tongue, cleansing the palate and compelling you to go for more. It’s perfect on its own, served with some plum powder, or even with the braised dish of conger pike eel.
Just before dessert, Chef served up a portion of Tempura Angel Prawn and Vegetable Sushi. Two portions of sweet angel prawn is fried with a fragrant batter in special oil that also incorporates a dose of sesame oil. I was particularly struck by how a unique fragrance has seemingly caught my attention and I went a little closer to the dish a few times to ascertain if what I was enchanted with really came from the prawns. The fried batter is crisp, not oily, with the prawn giving a good balance of sea sweetness and crisp savouriness. Pair that with the portion of sushi rice, itself mixed with edamame and gobo (burdock root), and what you get is a sweet sour serving of rice with a slight herbal touch that reminds you of exquisite young ginseng in savoury creamy notes.
To finish this course, end off with some Red Miso Soup filled with grilled eggplant, mushroom and tofu. Red Miso is soybeans fermented with barley or other grains, and it gives a deeper, more savoury flavour that leaves the dish hearty. After a satisfying meal, the perfect end would be a serving of miso for an embracement of warm tenderness. Note that the charred edges of the grilled eggplant lends a particular bitter sweet flavour to the miso. I enjoyed this from start to end.
Sen-cha (simmered green tea) was then served to cleanse all prior savoury flavours, and prepare oneself for the final course, the dessert.
For the night, chef prepared a portion of Cheese Ice Cream, Caramelized Apple and Homemade Red Bean Wafer Sandwich served with Japanese Kyoho Grapes with Wine Jelly. I marvelled at the crisp ice cream sandwich packaged all in one. Bite through the cheese ice cream for a flavour that borders a little tangy like that of cultured yogurt. Follow through with bits of red bean for a deeper meaty sweet flavour, and finish it all with the fruity airy sweetness from the caramelized apple. Beautiful. It is desserts like this that make me wish for a second serve.
The Wine Jelly was served up in a shot glass full of Kyoho premium grapes. The Japanese Kyoho grapes are round and full, with an even sweetness and juiciness that was very distinctive in each bite. It is an excellent combination with the wine jelly as its textures make a playful end to a very fine meal. This is one dessert very well received.
To end the meal for the night, I was offered some sake to while the night away. If you are a keen sake lover, Ezoca serves up a select, premium range complete with the choice of your own personal sake cup for the night. Each piece is unique, and choose what you fancy.
A glimpse at some of the sakes available
For me, I was served the Hakkaisan Ginjo ($66++) [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][+2 Niigata]. The sake was light, a little floral in rounded sweetness and smooth. A charming way to end the night.
Me and Chef Morihara
The Kaiseki Ryori dinner at Ezoca Japanese Cuisine was excellent, if not perfect from start to finish. Each course was deftly executed with true appreciation going to the finest detail. Chef Morihara’s ingenuity for bringing out the best in ingredients to form that light hearted dish is something rare and well worth experiencing. I enjoyed all the dishes, and was well into the entire dining experience the moment I stepped into the restaurant. The Yume Course is the most premium set on the menu, fetching the most premium of prices. While it is definitely quite a sum for a meal, it can be worth it if you consider the overall experience from start to end, especially if you want a private location that can offer the best quality ingredients and attentive service for that special night out. Ezoca Japanese Cuisine has left me enchanted. Is this the best? I’m not too sure. But it is definitely the finest Kaiseki Ryori around. A trip well worth it to Sentosa Cove.
Thank you Ezoca Japanese Cuisine for the invitation.
|Ezoca Japanese Cuisine
The Quayside Isle
31 Ocean Way
Reservations: 6734 9930
Daily lunch 12-3pm
Daily dinner 5.30-10pm
Closed on Mondays (whole day), and Tuesday afternoon.
Special Promotion from 14th – 29th September
The Yume Course
1 person $288++/set
2 to 3 person $250++/set
4 person and more $230++/set[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]