Shima, Goodwood Park Hotel
I first found out about kaiseki watching Chef’s Table on Netflix so I was thrilled when I got the chance to experience it at Shima. The menu was curated by Chef Hoshiba Fumihiko, who has 40 years of culinary experience and often regarded as one of the best kaiseki chefs in Hokkaido.
Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal that dates back centuries. Modern incarnation draws from several traditional Japanese haute cuisine, focusing on creating balance in taste, texture, appearance as well as colours with fresh seasonal and local ingredients, then intricately garnished to enhance the appearance and seasonal theme of the meal.
We started with one of the most simple yet detailed presentation on the plate. The warm red, orange and earthy colours exudes the mood of autumn. Each item on our first starter delivered a distinct texture and taste. There was the fresh ebi and caviar to the creamy shiitake, but my favourite was the yuzu infused duck which was sweet, savoury and tangy in every juicy bite.
Next, we had a selection of seasonal sashimi, which was a nice palate cleanser. They were as fresh as sashimi could get. The ebi was creamy but I just loved the fatty tuna. It tasted like watermelon to me, which seemed weird but it was so incredibly sweet and juicy it might as well have been one.
The final starter was a chawanmushi, a simple dish that was elevated to a whole new level. The steamed egg was smooth and full of flavour from the stock. A sesame tofu center added a whole new layer of creamy sweetness that I didn't expect. Topped with a drop of yuzu that added a hint of citrus, this was definitely one of the best chawanmushis I have had.
The first of our mains, a grilled hamachi that was soft and a bit salty paired well with the smoky and juicy wagyu wrapped around crunchy spring onions. With all the flavours married together, it was a bit overwhelming for me but I liked the play of different textures in the dish.
Slowing down with something lighter, a carved turnip with prawn paste steamed with seasonal green in a kiku (chrysanthemum) soup. I thought this was refreshing yet hearty, with a hint of sweetness from the chrysanthemum. It was a nice change for me after the strong flavours from the previous dish.
The unique blend of fish, sweet potato and lemon brought another mix of sweet, savoury and citrusy flavour to our next dish. I liked the crunchiness of the tempura skin and the peppery bitterness of the shishito pepper. It almost resembled a Japanese version of the Indian vadai.
To finish off our mains, a matsutake takikomi gohan, a simple rice dish made with dashi, soy sauce and chicken. The matsutake, which is a Japanese truffle, elevates this simple bowl of rice to something quite exquisite. The side of pickled vegetables was really strong on its own but gave a burst of flavour to the otherwise light dish. I liked that you get to finish this course with a miso soup.
We ended our meal with fresh seasonal fruits, Japanese mochi and green tea ice cream. Even with such simple dessert, the concept of contrasting textures and flavours were evident. We had fleshy persimmon paired with a crunchy and juicy Chinese pear. I loved the sweet and chewy Japanese mochi that balanced out the bitter green tea ice cream.
Kaiseki is a journey of flavour and texture, and Shima certainly aced the delivery of taste and texture. If you ever want to experience kaiseki, Shima is definitely a place to check out.
Prices start at $48 for a five-course lunch and $68 for a seven-course one, while dinner will set you back at least $68 for a seven-course meal and $88 (reviewed above), $188 and $288 for more courses.
Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Rd