Chef Aoki oversees the sushi bar and kitchen. His is a traditional culinary style with modern undertones to his creations. It is no surprise that Chef Aoki has a loyal following, given that he insists on the best produce sourced directly from Tsukiji Market and other artisanal suppliers across Japan. A chat with the floor manager revealed that the omakase menu may vary every two days, depending on what ingredients are available.
Photos by Chong Yap of Make Your Calories Count
Established more than a decade ago, Aoki Restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Kunio Aoki and the Les Amis Group. With a humble seating for 46, Aoki shares the Les Amis philosophy of offering fine dining experience in Japanese haute cuisine. Due to limited seating capacity for lunch, reservations are highly recommended. Omasake sessions are at 12pm and 1.30pm.
At Aoki, lunch bento sets start from S$33/++, and the list of offering goes up to S$80/++. Being a huge fan of Japanese cuisine and in the mood for decadence, we decided to go for the omakase offering at S$115/++ per person.
Let the omasake experience begin!
The beautiful and homogeneous marbling of the otoro speaks for itself, almost, as it was literally melt-in-your-mouth and one could only crave for more. With other sashimi such as scallop and whelk to go along, this course surely set a high standard for the remaining dishes to be served.
Like any other fine dining Japanese restaurants, the wasabi was freshly grated and you could even see the fibre and pulp that stuck out in odd edges. It was so good that I had to taste it on its own and would love to buy a jar of it!
One of my greatest fears and concerns when it comes to broths with clams is the clarity. The miso based broth was clearly defined and the subtle taste allowed the succulent clams to stand out.
With Chef Aoki's omakase spread, expect to have a taste of his different cooking techniques as he showcased his grilling skills. There is no better choice of cut than to use the delicate fish collar and while the surface of the fish skin carried a delightful layer of crispness, the white flesh underneath was brimming with moisture. The sea salt added reminded diners the freshness of the sea catch which certainly made all the difference in concentrating the moisture to the flesh.
Elegantly presented in a carrying basket, the Kyoto Green Pepper Tempura was something which we did not quite expect to be served. While my tempura went pleasantly well where the light crisp batter flaunted, my lady's green pepper was scorchingly spicy. We were later informed that out of every 10 Kyoto Green Peppers, there is a possibility that one would be extremely fiery in its heat level and coincidentally, we experienced it.
While the tempura was good, I was not impressed with the inconsistency in the ingredients at the fine-dining level. Given that such surprises had happened previously with other diners, should the chef not consider replacing his tempura dish?
When the serving lady knocked on the door and entered the room, this visually aesthetic plate of sushi already won us over and we could not wait to tuck in! With each nigiri sushi neatly wrapped, we actually tried to remove the topping by flicking with our chopsticks to no avail. This only goes on to exemplify the skills of Chef Aoki in preparing his nigiri.
This was one of the finest tamagos I have tried. Instead of folding it by layers, it actually tasted like cake with absolute smoothness in the filling. The surfaces of the omelette had a slightly golden brown colour which contrasted the bright yellow omelette on the inside.
We were each served a dessert platter of three tasting portions, milk tea ice cream, melon mousse and plum wine jelly. While we thought that the creamy and rich milk tea ice cream was the best dessert of the trio, the refreshing melon mousse was surprisingly good too with a rather mashy like texture. Our only complaint was that the milk tea ice cream was served slightly melted but that could easily be pardoned with the plum wine jelly which cleansed our palate after a lovely omakase meal.
There are a total of four private rooms with three being slightly larger in size and can sit up to four guests while there is also a sushi bar where diners can catch their chef in action!
When we asked about a particular course, they were also more than pleased to share some insights. Overall, it was one of those days which I wanted a quality Japanese meal and privacy with my other half; both boxes were ticked and left me satisfied. While lunch certainly did not come cheap at about S$150 nett per person, it was indeed value for money and it is not often that we say we will return but on this occasion, it is surely a tick for us.