It was a very special experience for me, and I count myself very lucky to have the opportunity to dine here with my sweet wife Svyen and friend Linying, under a media invite arranged by Justin Onishi of My Concierge Japan, which is a free service that helps visitors to Japan make reservations for Michelin starred and other premium Japanese restaurants.
The moment I stepped into the restaurant, I was transported into a Japanese garden, away from the busyness of the Osaka streets into this Japanese teahouse with lots of natural greenery integrated within. There was harmony, both in the interior architecture, as well as within me.
Beyond this Shoji doors is our private room large enough to seat 10 of us, complete with Japanese paintings and flowers that reflect the current season – the onset of Autumn.
We took the Wakana menu at 9504JPY/pax (approximately S$120) including tax and service charge. I’ll now show you what are each of the 8 courses included in our meal.
A traditional kaiseki course typically begins with this “sakizuke”, which is an appetizer served with sake. Pictured is our waitress pouring warm sake to go along with kamasu (barracuda).
The kamasu had a heavenly smokiness to it. It was only lightly seasoned with some zest, so the emphasis is on the natural taste of the fish.
The second course is a light refreshing soup that has a delicate sweetness to it. What I loved most was that white irregular ball, which is a prawn and fish paste cake, served with egg and spaghetti squash vegetable. I finished every drop because it’s such a delicate soup.
Our third course is sashimi, which had tai (sea bream), ika (squid) and two types of tuna – chutoro and otoro. It met my expectations when it comes to the texture and taste.
The next course got us all excited. The waitress walked in with a plate with 4 bunnies, 4 cages, and 4 tall standing plants, one for each of us there.
And I found uni in that bunny. This was their seasonal plate for September, which contained the freshest ingredients they could get according to the seasons. This had a combination of both raw and grilled fish with green ginko nuts.
Our fifth course was grilled Japanese Spanish mackerel. It was fully cooked with a light miso glaze, and we were fighting over that tempura corn. Somehow Japanese produce have that natural sweetness to it and needed little additional seasoning.
Our sixth course was a boiled dish consisting of pumpkin, spinach, and fried tofu that has an interesting texture and taste on its exterior. It’s already near to the end of our meal, yet we felt clean and there was no signs of guilt.
The last course just before dessert was rice that was served in a large pot that had been sealed while it was served. The waitress opened the pot and the fragrance due to the combination of vegetables used here filled the air. Taste wise, it’s reminiscent of the Singapore Hokkien “giam peng” due to the vegetables used, except with a strong taste of ginger. Definitely tasty, yet healthy.
Our meal ended with a ume sorbet with fresh fruits consisting of pear and grapes. We were supposed to have pear jelly as our dessert that evening, but it was out of stock. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed these fruits as they had that characteristic Japanese/Hokkaido quality to it.
Overall, the meal was simple and traditional. There wasn’t any course that was particularly mind blowing, and nothing that I’ve not tried before in Singapore or in other parts of Japan. The ingredients used in our courses wasn’t exactly very premium or rare, but they excel in its freshness and presentation.
I could be expecting more since this is a Michelin star restaurant, or I believe that the more ultimate gastronomic experience are available in the more expensive menus here.
Nevertheless, the meal we had could best be described as “simple things done right”.
As a kaiseki restaurant, the complete experience is as important as the food. Indeed, everything else – including cutlery, presentation, ambience, interior deco, and most importantly service – is designed to make the guest feel special and at ease. And a one-Michelin-starred restaurant like this means that everything has to be tuned up a notch higher.
We hope to be back to try the other branch of Ajikitcho – Horie – which is awarded 2 michelin stars. And we’ll see what’s the difference between these two branches. And we thank Justin Onishi of My Concierge Japan and Bunichiro Nakatani-san of Ajikitcho for hosting us that evening.