aoki_nigirisushiOmakase is Japanese for "I'll leave it to you". At Aoki and other sushi restaurants, omasake diners leave the menu selection to the chef. The chef generally presents the lightest fare first, before proceeding to heavier and richer dishes. The omaske menu features a range of cooking techniques, such as grilling, simmering, etc.

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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.

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.

aoki_interiorEmbodying the Zen minimalism, the interior design of the restaurant was carefully crafted by President's Design Award recipient Ikebuchi Koichiro. When I called to reserve a table, I requested for a private room. Upon arrival, instead of sitting by the bar counter, we were immediately shown to our intimate room exclusively designed for two. 


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!


aoki_yamnoodlesYam Noodles

With a jelly-like texture, there was a distinct soy ginger flavour ingeniously infused. Served as a cold dish, it was certainly titillating to one's appetite and making us look forward to the next course already!

aoki_saladCrab meat salad

An innocent looking plate of salad turned out to be much better than expected with chunks of fresh crab meat neatly tucked underneath the bed of fresh greens. The delicate dish was treated with utmost respect, be it the fine carrot shavings or split cherry tomatoes.

aoki_sashimi1Sashimi platter

As we move away from the appetisers, we were served the sashimi platter which I was awaiting with much anticipation. To my delight, no salmon was served which assured the authenticity of the chef's selection and there was no better way to bring a smile than to serve a thick slice of otoro (tuna belly) and maguro (bluefin tuna).

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!

aoki_clamsoupMiso broth with clams

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. 

 aoki_grilledfishcollarGrilled fish collar

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.

aoki_tempuraTempura 

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?

aoki_sushi1Sushi platter

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.

aoki_searedAburi Toro

Any sushi aficionados would probably love a piece or two of aburi on their platter and we are no exception. This divine piece of aburi toro was simply melt in your mouth good!

aoki_tamagoTamago

If you have watched the documentary featuring Michelin 3* Chef Jiro Ono, you would know that tamago is actually one of the hardest to perfect and he typically requires his apprentices to practise for at least a decade before moving on to learn other dishes!

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.

aoki_desserts 

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.


aoki_interior1

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!

aoki_interior2 

It would be hard to comment about the service at the sushi bar since we had the private room but service was top-notch. The courses were served at well-timed intervals so the flow of the dishes were just nice for us. Before the service crew entered the room, they would politely knock on the door before entry and they also came in periodically to refill our green tea drinks.

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.

 
Overall Verdict: 8.5/10


Aoki Restaurant Singapore
Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road
#02-17
Singapore 228208
Tel: (+65) 6333 8015