There is now one more place in town for a selection of Japanese casual fine dining cuisine. Ginzawa, located at the Palais Renaissance, presents an extensive menu of traditional Japanese fare elevated with a modern touch. From the Omakase ($180++) to Lunch Sets and A La Carte delights, Ginzawa’s cuisine is meant for those who look forward to quality ingredients with unique touches here and there. Conceptualised by Executive Chef Donny Tan, himself with over 30 years of experience, the restaurant features seasonal produce and Chef Donny promises that customers will be treated to different dishes during each visit.
Usually when one visits a restaurant, appetizers would probably be the last thing on the mind. However, Ginzawa recommends guests to try the Sake Kinuta Maki ($12++) that is a combination of pickled daikon rolled with salmon, seaweed and egg. It is definitely a unique combination worth a closer look as the vinegared flavours contrast the fresh salmon well. Runny egg yolk sauce top the dressing alongside servings of fresh seaweed.
Next up, I was served the Sakura Ebi Mizuna Salad ($22++). Cherry blossom shrimps is prepared fresh and fried, then tossed into the salad of Japanese water greens. The flavours are generally spritely, with the salad being well seasoned by the slightly tangy dressing. I particularly enjoyed the textural contrast provided by the fried beancurd puffs. While it was certainly hearty to indulge in, I’m not too sure about the salad’s entire combination. The Sakura Ebi is more like a topping rather than something incorporated into the greens.
Grade A5 Wagyu Beef from Kagoshima is used for this serving of Wagyu Tataki ($30++) that is slightly aburied to lend a slight, smoky fragrance. Each serving of beef is dipped into a bowl of ponzu sauce, before being enjoyed slowly as the slightly fatty beef melded with the tangy seasonings for a wholesome experience.
I was well impressed with the Tai Moto Yaki ($22++). A serving of snapper fillet is brushed with egg yolk and caramelised with sugar till a beautiful golden brown. The snapper, itself luxuriously tender is well complemented by the gritty, savoury and sweet egg yolk topping. I’ve never had such a topping before and certainly surprised me beyond the more regular but still tasty Miso Cod that Japanese restaurants tend to prepare. The dish comes served with some Komochi Ika – boiled squid stuffed with shishamo eggs.
For something simple and healthy, go for the Kurobuta Tsuke Soba ($20++). Cold soba is served alongside a hot dipping sauce and thin slices of Kurobuta pork. The dipping sauce is a little thick and sweet for my liking, and the combination of grated yuzu pepper is certainly interesting. Somehow, I would still prefer the more traditional Soba sauce and noodles.
That said, the Kurobuta Shabu Shabu slices are a delight to enjoy. Simple, clean and not excessively flavoured. This is definitely a dish I will order if I aim to eat healthy.
The restaurant certainly went all out in thinking of a unique Tempura Moriwase set. The Deluxe edition ($35++) comes with an assortment of tempura delights, ranging from the anago tempura to the seafood kakiage tempura. The highlight, the Uni Tempura, is something very peculiar. Fresh sea urchin is stuffed in pieces of seaweed, dipped in batter and subsequently deep fried quickly. The first bite reveals the creamy sea urchin goodness with a tinge of its unique flavour. However, that experience is quickly overshadowed with the stronger tasting seaweed which then takes centerplace in the entire theatrical experience. The anango tempura was also not to my liking as it was less buttery and firmer than I expected.
A dish that is worth the recommendation is the Kurobuta Braised Pork Don ($35++). Available only as part of a lunch set, the dish comes with miso soup, chanwanmushi and dessert. The pork belly is braised tenderly for a good eight hours with a bonito-based sauce and other seasonings before serving it on a bed of Akitakomachi rice. While I loved the flavourful and melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, I wished the rice was a little better cooked though. It is still good but there was a subtle lack of texture and warmth from the overall composition.
The Wagyu Saikoro ($48++) is really meant for those who love their Grade A5 Wasyu and wish to have it served cubed and grilled. The ingredient’s quality stand out clearly in this dish with the first bite giving way to a beautiful crunch, followed by a more tender, nicely marbled flavour of meat and fat throughout. Side of beansprouts add colour and a healthy element to the dish.
Another item that is only available as part of the lunch set is the Tokusen Hokkai Chirashi Don ($50++). An assortment of 11 of the freshest available ingredients are served on a bed of Akitakomachi sushi rice. There was uni, aji, chutoro, hotate, kinmedai, botan ebi, ikura, crab, baby squid and more. While the ingredients will change according to what is available, I think that this dish is simple yet fulfilling for that lunch diner who does not mind spending a little more. While I think the price can still be lowered slightly, I do think that it realy reflects the quality of ingredients presented in the entire dish. Ah, I miss the days when I had an excellent bowl of fresh Chirashi don from Tokyo Station.
The general dining experience at Ginzawa is intended for the diner who wishes to indulge in a collection of quality dishes that range from both the traditional to the contemporary. Although pricier than the standard Japanese fare, each dish advocates a certain degree of the Chef’s skill and the freshness of premium ingredients used. However, while there were standouts for me like the Tokusen Hokkai Chirashi Don and the Kurobuta Braised Pork Don, I thought a little more work needs done with the Uni and Anango Tempura, and Sakura Ebi Mizuna Salad. I loved the Tai Moto Yaki for its unique concept and will give credit to Wagyu dishes that simply had its ingredients well highlighted. Ginzawa therefore presents a unique dining experience, and it is exclusive both because of its dishes as well its prices that is just shy of Japanese fine dining standards when ordered A La Carte.
Thank you Ginzawa for the invitation.
|Ginzawa Japanese Dining|
|390 Orchard Road
Reservations: 6736 0100
Monday to Sunday