Saturday, July 23, 2005
Japanese Dining Sun, CHIJMES, Singapore
This place opened in Singapore not long ago - it's apparently from the Suntory beverage people (hence the name) who have opened such successful places in Japan (yes, the same Suntory from Bill Murray's "for relaxing times, make it Suntory time" line in Lost in Translation). A bit hard to find given it's on the second floor of CHIJMES (30 Victoria Street #02-01, 6336-3166), but once you get up there, it's an obvious modern-minimalist decor with an open kitchen.
It's basically modern Japanese, as is evident from the softshell crab and avocado roll (with mayo drizzled across), as well as the signature Sun salad, which is tossed at your table with touches like almond flakes and corn. Both were decently good, although not anything particularly outstanding (I've lived in California long enough to get really indundated with avocado in a sushi roll!). Similarly, the kushi butakuni (breaded deep fried chunks of pork on a skewer) and the ton toro yaki (grilled pork slices) weren't bad, but weren't anything to write home about either.
One thing that did stick out quite a bit was the gyu saikoro steak, which were little chunks of beef grilled with garlic. Not bad - it's like the gariku suteki at Tanto in San Jose (although Tanto uses more butter, which I obviously like more). This little plate is also available in a much more expensive S$75 (US$45) Australian wagyu beef option, although the cheaper S$22 (US$13) Australian sirloin is still really good. The sesame sauce, watercress, and grilled daikon are also nice touches, if a bit tasteless. (Gotta love the croutons sucking up the butter and garlic at the bottom though!)
Another thing that stood out was the aburi foie gras, or seared foie gras sushi with a little bit of sauce and a little asparagus on top (sorry - I was so excited to eat this that I forgot to take a picture). I would come back just for this, although foie gras will always taste nice and rich no matter how it's served though, I guess. They also had a hamo shabu special, or raw pike for you to cook yourself in a bubbling pot of vinegar-based broth. Actually, the vinegar taste was hardly present. Not bad, although nothing I'll be craving for either.
Last, but not least, came the goma (black sesame) pudding. It was rich in cream flavor but not sweet at all - so much that all you really taste is sesame and cream. Pretty good if you like a pure sesame taste, but don't get it if you want something sweet (which I usually don't want anyway).
The prices at this place vary quite a bit - they actually advertise really cheap dishes downstairs at only about S$15 (US$8) or so. While you probably can get a cheap meal here, it's more likely that you'll opt for the much more extravagant beef, fish, or lobster, which will change your bill dramatically considering many of those are S$50-$75 (US$30-45) a pop, and yet still small in portions. We kept ordering more and more dishes after realizing that we were still hungry, and the bill showed it as a result. Honestly, I'm not much for this modern Japanese stuff - I still prefer more traditional tastes. So I doubt I'll want to come here much often again, although I certainly won't resist if someone twists my arm (especially since they are opening a new spot at Wheelock Place soon). Maybe I'll try the little pots of kamameshi next time - that appeared to be a specialty of the house.
Digested at 9:41 PM
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