I was a bit apprehensive about coming to a place that advertised "fine modern Japanesque" using tacky lines such as "it's sexy, it's here & be seduced" and "redefine Japanesque cuisine that Define [sic] uncompromising true pleasures with a fine difference" (491 River Valley Road #02-02, 6838-6966). Based on this and its arguably unattractive signage outside, I was expecting some horribly bastardized and downscale Japanese food. So finding them going for chi-chi fusion
on fancy square plates was a bit unexpected (it really wasn't Japanese). And you pretty much had no other choice but to go for a multi-course set dinner menu at S$58.80 (US$38.70).
Things got a bit stranger as I went in. The decor was dark and velvety, almost like some night club or lounge. Each place setting consisted of a huge barrage of four forks and knives each, and yet there were no linens to be found; all that you had were tiny little paper napkins overflowing out of a lowball glass, like something you might find at a bar counter. The service, while very attentive and better than many other restaurants around here, was also borderline annoying, as seen by the wait staff asking for your name and shaking your hand in an introduction ritual.
And yet despite all of this quirkiness, the food was better than I was expecting. The cod was crispy on the outside yet moist on the inside. The various starters of scallops, escargot, and consomme all went down quickly for me too, even if the latter was unnecessarily tacky again when it was served in a sake
flask and poured out in front of you. Normally I despise such unnecessary pretentiousness
, but what saved this for me was the fact that the food was generally fresh and delicate.
So if the kitchen left me with such a favorable impression, why was everything else so weird? If I understand it correctly, these guys hailed from Taiwan, which definitely helped explain things. Remember that ridiculous multi-course meal at TASTY steak
in Taipei? These guys seemed to share the same line of thought: roll out as many individual courses as you can in an effort to try to impress. Strange...they sold themselves as Japanese, and yet the food was more European. In my mind though, this was really Taiwanese. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find a place like like this smack in the middle of Chung Xiao East Road