Fine Dining

Ushidoki Wagyu Kaiseki @ Tanjong Pagar

Today we had a special lunch omakase that featured a rare breed of wagyu in Singapore. Ushidoki opened in 2020 and serves Ozaki beef in a omakase/kaiseki setting. I was surprised I did not discover this place earlier.

Executive Chef Hirohashi Nobuaki at the counter

Executive Chef Hirohashi Nobuaki started helping out as his father’s sushi restaurant in Osaka at the tender age of nine. His insatiable curiosity about the culinary field led to countless hours of experiments and discoveries from his father’s cookbook.

As a perfectionist, he insists on only the freshest ingredients of each season. His morning routine in Japan sees him discussing the freshest catch and choice cuts with fishmongers and butchers alike. These become wonderful meals for his guests.

Chef Hirohashi Nobuaki practiced his skill in well-known Kaiseki restaurant in Japan. After which, he opened his own restaurant in Osaka called Unshin. Highly acclaimed by local media and culinary experts, he ran the restaurant for another seven years. With a passion to share his culinary joys beyond Japanese shores, his foray into Singapore now allows us to enjoy this delightful experience. 

Chefs with Mr Muneharu Osaka (taken from restaurant’s Instagram)

Ozaki beef refers to the Wagyu cattle being raised in the farm owned by Mr Muneharu Ozaki 尾崎 宗春 in Miyazaki Prefecture. He is also the only farmer in Japan that actually markets his own beef by using his name.

Wagyu cattle in Japan usually slaughtered at around 28 months. However, Mr Ozaki believes that the flavour of the beef continues to improve as they become mature. As such, he slaughtered his cattle at 32-36 months.

Lunch Omakase

First of all, I’m surprised that there is a non-beef course for vegetarians even though it’s a beef kaiseki restaurant. It’s also a shock that it’s a bullish price of $200. But of course we were here for the beef – this was the Omakase menu for that day.

    1/ Beef Tongue | Seasonal Vegetable | Beef Consommé Soup
    牛タン 季節の野菜 コンソメスープ

    Chef puts a new spin on classic kaiseki and applies a head-to-tail concept to his wagyu set. The latter uses exclusive Ozaki beef from Miyazaki, unavailable elsewhere in Singapore. These hormone-free cows are fed with seaweed and fermented wheat so that the beef packs intense flavour. 

    Ozaki cattle are fed controlled diet in the last 2 months of their lives so that they are not as fat as other Wagyu cattle. This way, one can enjoy flavourful Ozaki beef without being overwhelmed by its richness.

    The first course is a sous vide beef tongue served with minuscule amount of leek, lotus root, red and yellow peppers, and topped with a piece of konbu cut to shape of a cow and a bit of orange zest. The beef consommé was not overpowering like those in French restaurants.

    2/ Ozaki Beef | Grilled Maitake Mushroom | Chrysanthemum Leaf “Shungiku” 冷製尾崎牛煮込子 焼き舞茸 春菊

    A rather messy pile of salad, it was least pretty plate for the lunch. But there was no lacking in flavours, texture and surprises. It was a “tossed” salad made up of three main parts – shredded stewed Ozaki beef, grilled Maitake mushrooms, and poached chrysanthemum leaf.

    Ozaki Beef | Grilled Maitake Mushroom | Chrysanthemum Leaf “Shungiku” 冷製尾崎牛煮込子 焼き舞茸 春菊

    Shungiku 春菊 is known as crown daisy or 茼蒿 in Chinese and is often eaten by Chinese with hotpot. It is slightly bitter but in a nice way. And it is a must to have for Chinese New Year because the freshest ones were found in spring in the past. Preparing it like the classic oshitashi (Japanese spinach salad) and then tossed with shredded beef that has been stewed like nikujaga without the potato, this was like the best of both worlds in terms of appetisers.

    3/ Ozaki Beef Tataki | Grilled Eggplant 尾崎牛タタキ焼き茄子

    Ozaki Beef Tataki | Grilled Eggplant 尾崎牛タタキ焼き茄子

    At first glance, I thought we were in for a treat – the beef tataki was topped with a generous quenelle of “caviar”! The waitress quickly smashed that enthusiasm by introducing toburi or “land caviar” as she described it.

    Tonburi とんぶり

    Tonburi とんぶり is a local food in Akita Prefecture, Japan. It is called land caviar due to its similarity to fish caviar. It was mixed with chopped yamaimo 山芋 (mountain yam) and minty hojiso 穂紫蘇 (perilla flowers) to produce all the flavours that was needed for the beef. But it was the fresh wasabi that made the beef and tonburi combination perfect. Garnished with Matt’s Wild Cherry, a super sweet miniature cherry tomato and two pieces of crunchy celery like vegetable which I forgot what it was called. Perhaps someone can tell me the comments.

    Grilled eggplant

    Hidden under the two slices of tataki was the grilled eggplant. Delicious but totally covered (pun intended) by the glam and surprise of the tonburi and beef tataki.

    Add-on 1/ Ozaki Beef Tartare and Caviar 尾崎牛タルタルキャビア

    Ozaki Beef Tartare and Caviar 尾崎牛タルタルキャビア

    After the previous course of faux caviar, we were treated to the real thing. This course was not on the menu, but an add-on course to the original 8-course omakase.

    Beluga caviar with gold flakes

    Again we were surprised that we were served the entire can of caviar for the $120 add-on. Then the tin was opened in from of us to show the half filled container with Iranian Beluga caviar sprinkled with gold flakes.

    The beef tartare was literally bursting with flavours

    And underneath the layer of decadence was the beef tartare. Just scoop a teaspoon full and put it in your mouth and let the explosion of flavours happen. Absolutely worth the add-on for the deliciousness of the tartare with caviar, and also the ceremony of presentation.

    Add-on 2/ Grilled Beef Tongue 牛タン グリル

    Grilled Beef Tongue 牛タン グリル

    The braised beef tongue in the opening course, although delicious, was not my favourite way of preparation of this delicious part of the cow that I grew to be fond of. Luckily, there’s an add-on for grilled beef tongue 牛タン グリル.

    Grilled Beef Tongue 牛タン グリル with shishito and ginkgo nuts

    The add-on order of grilled beef tongue 牛タン グリル came with shishito and ginkgo nuts, and a lemon wedge as per the presentation you would get in izakayas when you order this..

    Ginger, garlic, sesame oil dip

    Instead of the regular salt dip, we were presented ginger, garlic and sesame oil dip that was properly salty and complimented the tongue perfectly.

    Thick cuts of gyutan

    The gyutan was grilled to perfect and every single piece was tender and moist while the outside was properly “Maillard”ed. How did they do it? Only 5mm of the tongue was scotched.

    4/ “Rosanjin” Style Ozaki Beef Sukiyaki | Soft Boiled Egg and Truffle 魯山人風尾崎牛すき焼き 温泉玉子 トリュフ

    The signature sukiyaki is made from a stock originally created when the shop first opened, and it simply improves with age. The sukiyaki used two slices of Osaki ribeye cut so thin it completely soaked with the sweet and savoury sauce. Instead of a raw egg as a dip, they have used an onsen tamago 温泉 卵 soft boiled egg that is characteristic of the 鲁山人 “Rosanjin”-style. So what is this “Rosanjin”-style?

    “Rosanjin” Style Ozaki Beef Sukiyaki | Soft Boiled Egg and Truffle

    Kitaōji Rosanjin 北大路 魯山人 (March 23, 1883 – December 21, 1959), whose real name was Kitaōji Fusajirō 北大路 房次郎, was best known by his artistic name, Rosanjin 魯山人. A man of many talents, Rosanjin was also a calligrapher, ceramicist, engraver, painter, lacquer artist and restaurateur.

    As a restaurateur, Rosanjin developed a reputation for exacting standards in selecting fresh, local ingredients and for plating his dishes artistically on tableware he often designed himself. His ideals have inspired contemporary chefs and foodies alike and deeply inform idealised conceptions of washoku, such as the one presented by UNESCO.

    Soft boiled egg instead of raw egg

    He became the most celebrated epicurean of twentieth-century Japan, who has seemingly been raised to the status of culinary saint following the UNESCO award. And he came with this notion that sukiyaki should not be eaten like a hotpot.

    When taken to Miyako, a Manhattan Japanese restaurant, Rosanjin was appalled by the careless preparation of the beef sukiyaki, equating the dish with chanko nabe (sumo stew). He then went on to define what makes a perfect sukiyaki, where every ingredient has its place and sequence so that the taste of each can be accentuated.

    Perfectly done beef dipped in egg yolk

    Each piece of the Osaki beef was cooked with precision to bring out the best flavour of the beef. The sukiyaki sauce was perfectly balanced with the beef, neither over powering it with sweetness or savouriness. The fattiness of the wagyu was eased by dipping it with the onsen egg yolk. Everything was delicately balanced with each other. If there’s one thing to complain, it was the winter black truffle. They were not as flavourful as I expected, did not give the dish any brownie points.

    Enjoying the sauce with rice

    And one final way to enjoy the flavourful sauce and luscious egg yolk was with rice. A ball of rice was added to the bowl and it was sufficient to enjoy the taste one more time without filling you up too much.

    Refresher 口直し

    Refresher 口直し

    Before the next course, a palate cleanser consisting of in-season kaki 柿 Japanese persimmon, こんにゃく麺 konjac noodles and julienned radish pickled in a white vinegar dressing. I am used to the palate cleanser being something traditional like a sorbet so this was kind of surprising to me. I would thought a pickle to something that came at the beginning or with the rice.

    5/ Ozaki Beef Katsu Sando 尾崎牛カツサンド

    Ozaki Beef Katsu Sando 尾崎牛カツサンド

    Usually made with crispy juicy pork cutlets sandwiched between soft pillowy bread, this überluxe version of the Japanese katsu sando かつ サンド uses Ozaki beef as the cutlet. The result is a homey kind of sandwich but downright satisfying!

    Ozaki Beef Katsu Sando 尾崎牛カツサンド

    There were only two pieces of sandwich the size of a regular supermarket sushi. I can simply put a whole piece into my mouth, and this course will be completed in a flash. But no, I spent a bit more time to chew on each piece, letting the panko-coated Chateaubriand combine with the soft, white bread toasted on both side with Hokkaido butter. There’s a reason why the Internet went crazy with these wagyu katsu sando. You can clean the greasiness with the tiny pickled gherkins. There’s nothing else to disturb your enjoyment of this sandwich. After this you will never look at BLT the same way again.

    6/ Grilled Ozaki Beef Sirloin 尾崎牛サーロインのグリル

    Next, the piece de resistance of the lunch omakase – grilled Ozaki beef sirloin 尾崎牛サーロインのグリル. Served with Hokkaido mountain wasabi 山わさび and Okinawa sea salt, and an assortment of seasonal Japanese vegetables and tubers.

    Grilled Ozaki Beef Sirloin 尾崎牛サーロインのグリル

    This the creme de la creme cut from Ozaki, given an equal portion of fats and meat distribution. The extra months of raising the cattle came through with the beautiful meaty taste of a regular Angus but the melt-in-mouth texture of the Japanese wagyu.

    Everything on this plate is edible. むかご Mukago, which look and taste like slightly bitter pea-sized potatoes are actually the tiny aerial tubers (or bulbils) of the yamaimo (Japanese yam) plant. 

    Even the 松葉刺 Matsuba pine needle was made of two pieces of soba noodles tied together with a piece of nori (seaweed), and the “maple leaf” was carved out of sweet potato chips.

    7/ Cold Soumen with Ox-Tail Jelly 冷やしそうめんテールジュレ

    Cold Soumen with Ox-Tail Jelly 冷やしそうめんテールジュレ

    The soumen 素麺 came to signal the end of the main event. It’s time to wrap up an afternoon of wagyu extravaganza.

    Cold soumen was quite uncommon in a kaiseki

    The noodles were slightly too soft for my liking but the cold broth that it came in compensated the discrepancy. The broth was made from clear oxtail stock spiked with a little yuzu ponzu.

    The finishing touch of jellied oxtail consommé

    The best part of the course was the refreshing, yuzu-scented oxtail consommé jelly. These were like concentrated broth that accentuated the taste in your palate.

    8/ Homemade Hokkaido Milk Ice Cream | Burrata Cheese | Gula Melaka 自家製北海道牛乳アイス ブラータチーズ グラマラッカ

    Homemade Hokkaido Milk Ice Cream | Burrata Cheese | Gula Melaka

    The dessert course is homemade Hokkaido milk ice cream. The cows at Shinmura farm are outside all year round except during milking time. They do not have the stress of being tied in a small cowshed; they eat as much tasty grass as their bodies need, and their bodies are toned through being free to move in a large area. The fresh milk was squeezed and delivered to Singapore the next day.

    自家製北海道牛乳アイス ブラータチーズ グラマラッカ

    The combination of the creamy and delicious burrata cheese which provided a bit of savouriness to the milky, sweet ice cream, and the smoky, coconutty gula melaka (brown palm sugar) made this one of the best dessert I have tasted this year. It may look like a small quenelle of ice cream, but the richness and satisfaction were all condensed in the small package.

    Afterthoughts

    This was one of the best meal I had this year and a new logo for that matter. Ushidoki is now my favourite wagyu restaurant in Singapore. Food-wise there was nothing to complain about. Everything was executed flawlessly.

    However they would need to up their service level. I did indicate in my reservation for counter seats, but they said they did not allow that option. I decided not to argue about it, as we picked the menu in the app and then put a comment for counter. Anyway in technology, there could be many cock-up.

    Ushidoki Wagyu Kaiseki うしどき和牛懐石
    57 Tras Street #01-01 Singapore 078996
    Tel : +65 9643 5564

    Visited Nov 2022

    Michelin Singapore Guide Recommend 2021, 2022

    @Ushidokisg #ushidoki #ozakibeef #ushidokiwagyukaiseki#ushidokisg
    #bestwagyuinsingapore #尾崎牛 #うしどき #うしどき和牛懐石 #miyazaki #ozakifarm #尾崎牧場 

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