My first visit to Seki on Thursday left me with a resonating impression about the Japanese cuisine there. The restaurant is a modern take on the traditional Izakaya blended with a sushi bar, and with its range of contemporary Japanese dishes, guests have an opportunity to indulge in a decent selection. My initial dinner exploring some of the executive chef’s sushi creations beckoned me to take another look, and I was back the very next day for lunch. It was a moment to remember, as the artwork for its sushi and sashimi range really shone through in simple yet exquisite fashion.
I always find it a treat to sit at the sushi bar counter where you can witness the sushi chefs up close as they nimbly craft their masterpieces away. To begin with, Chef Pau – the executive chef, wrapped up some simple appetizers specially for me. Salmon wrapped with paper skin and Roe. Nothing too intense, just clean cut ingredients with a good combination of mayonnaise and sea salty burstful salmon roe.
Seki is currently having a 1 for 1 set lunch promotion where you only pay the amount for the more expensive set. For me I had the Gindara Saikyo Miso Set ($25.80). A thick piece of cod smeared with a good amount of sweet miso and then pan seared sounds exactly like a way to spend lunch with.
It was a luscious enjoyment with the meat fatty and oily, yet with the sweet savouriness smooth and alluring. I distinctively remember the time in which I had my first miso cod at Kinki, but as far as I remember between these two dishes, the one at Seki is sweeter and oilier. Though Kinki does offer a slightly more smoky flavoured version.
The other set lunch which was ordered was the Black Pepper Lamb Rack ($31.80). A huge fatty piece of lamb with the bone was served well marinated with black pepper sauce all over. A little too much though as it covered the robust flavours of the lamb slightly.
Still, the best part was when I cut through the fatty portion and allowed the unique gamey lamb flavour to slowly seep in. And I must add that this portion is very nicely grilled. I was a bit disappointed when I finished the only piece though, and thought two pieces of the lamb would have been better.
The set lunch also comes with a serving of Chawanmushi, but Chef Pau surprised us when he whipped up a serving of Cheese Chawanmushi from his repertoire. The light nutty fragrance of parmesan cheese was unmistakable yet not too overly indulgent as I allowed the smooth egg custard to break apart slowly in the mouth. Delectable and light, and something refreshing.
I also ordered an additional main of Chilli Soft Shell Crab ($18). Crispy soft shell crab is served briskly coated in a tomato rich chilli crab sauce. Bits of egg added new flavours and I have to admit the dish wasn’t really spicy to the level I am used to. Still, it is a decent recreation of fusioned local cuisine, perhaps more palatable to guests who prefer it tomato rich rather than chilli hot.
As an in between break before Chef Pau dished out the sushi and sashimi selection (which I came here for), Chef created a light palate cleanser of shaved radish and cucumber. The cucumber slices were dressed with some special sauce that added a sweet savoury flavour to the vegetables, making it a refreshing and toning down whatever remnants of the chilli soft shell crab from before.
It was sheer delight to see Chef Pau prepare our serving of custom Sashimi Moriwase. For the lunch, he used flounder, sea urchin, scallop, aji, and botan ebi. Remarkably fresh with each piece leaving a sense of ocean sea spray yet with the deep resounding flavour of the ingredient, it was sheer luxury.
The same sashimi moriwase in a slightly different setting!
I really enjoyed the Botan Ebi served au nature. Crisp sweet shrimp meat notwithstanding, the best part was the head as you slowly slurped out the intense sweet prawn flavours. Par excellence!
Next, it was Chef’s own creation of Sushi Moriwase. In this dish, he used Shima aji, akaji maguro, botan ebi, hotate and uni.
From a slightly different angle
The serving of Aburied Shima Aji focused alot on the meaty fish texture and flavours accompanying the sushi rice. The slice was quickly grilled with the flame to crisp the skin and lend a smoky fragrance throughout before it was topped with some mentaiko and tobiko for added sweet dimensions and sea salty freshness.
The Hotate with Uni Sushi is a simple creation that brings together two of the most treasured goodness of the sea. The scallop itself sweet and meaty with that crisp bite is paired together with the jelly soft unique and acquired sweetness of the sea urchin. To finish off the flavours, the sushi is topped with some freshly grated wasabi for sweetness and spice to meld the sushi together.
Botan Ebi Sushi once again to my delight. The meat of the sweet prawn is created to form the sushi, while the head was sent to the deep fryer to crisp it through and enjoy as a separate delicacy!
However, what really stood out from all the sushi creations is really this simple looking Maguro Sushi. Using the standard red meat cut (akaji), this was my first tuna sushi that surprised me. Biting into the meat revealed a subtly savoury flavour, coated with a light attractive meaty sweet aftertaste that asked for more. There was no hint of a strong iron flavour through, and the textures were soft and slightly minced yet whole. When I asked Chef how it was done, it involved a whole range of methods to chilled bowls and shiso leaves, something which really set this serving of Maguro sushi apart from any other sushi I have taken so far.
The presentation need not be extensively impressive, but this is one sushi that goes to show how simplicity and a clear focus on technique really can make you think again at what really tastes good. Kudos to Chef Pau for this creation!
Of course, to end off the day, I had to go for the Wasabi Ice Cream once again. Savoury, nutty, spicy, and sweet, a marvelous combination of flavours.
Executive Chef Dawn Pau and Me
The journey at Seki for the past two days have certainly been memorable. While the set lunches are more quick and almost no artistic impression, I have to admit that the sashimi and sushi really cater to visual delights. When it comes to Japanese food, I always admire at how simple ingredients are able to be transformed into quaint art pieces and this time round at Seki, a real amazement of beauty was seen through Chef’s hands. I am not sure whether Seki will continue to offer this fare and creation as I hear changes are to be made in its concept, but whichever the case, I am glad that I have made this visit a lasting impression to remember.
9 Bras Basah Road
#01-02 Rendezvous Gallery
Rendezvous Grand Hotel
Reservations : 6336 3806