Nadaman, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
I've never really liked kaiseki. To me, it was kinda like watching The Piano: I could respect its value as an art form, but gosh - was it boring! Yet we'd been wanting to come down to Nadaman's Singapore branch for quite some time now (22 Orange Grove Road, 6213-4571), mainly because of its fame in Japan. And while they had a la carte menus that looked enticing, I stuck to the kaiseki since that's precisely what they were known for.
So, as expected, out came the pretty little porcelain cups filled with tiny bits of fish and vegetables, none of which was anything to get too aroused about (although that tofu-looking thing in the photo was impressively deceiving...it was actually "walnut mousse" instead). Things got a bit more interesting when a few slices of top-notch sashimi came out, followed by a rich and silky simmered wagyu as well as a sizeable kamameshi pot to close. But those aside, I still couldn't really get too excited about it, and instead found that my head (nose) kept getting distracted by the teppanyaki stations in the corner.
So in the end, my take on kaiseki is still the same. I can understand why it is so respected given the tradition, labor, and quality of ingredients required, but emotionally it just doesn't get me excited enough to justify the high price tag (in tonight's case, S$160 or US$110), especially since I was still hungry afterwards. (By the way, matsutake, which was featured multiple times during tonight's meal, still just tasted like a common mushroom to me.) The a la carte items on Nadaman's menu did look quite enticing though - if someone is willing to foot the bill for a visit to Nadaman again, then at least I've done the kaiseki there already and can thus move on to some of the more interesting things available.