Spring has finally arrived in Japan, a change in season where various seasonal produce is available at the local markets. We are back once again at Shima Restaurant and Chef Hoshiba has created a whole new menu to celebrate the beauty of spring.
If you are not familiar with the term "kaiseki" it is a traditional multi-course menu, specially crafted around colors, textures and taste curated with utmost care and precision to bring the dishes to life.
Let us take you through the journey of a complete sensory experience that showcases the natural flavours of each dish.
We started off with the appetiser starting from the left, a unique delicacy the Hotaruika Firefly Squid with poached baby brocollini and a subtle taste of the vinegar miso marinade. Moving on to the raw escargot followed by a fermented salted bonito on Japanese mountain yam and ending with a handmade sakura beancurd. This is really a showcase of the sea and it certainly leans towards the savoury flavours of the ocean.
Moving on we had the seasonal sashimi of ottoro, seabass and prawn (right to left). We always enjoy the sashimi from Shima, beautifully plated and extremely fresh with a good portion size.
Next we had a sharksfin chawanmushi with a sesame tofu in the middle of the egg custard. The consistency of the custard was very fine and delicate, in fact its one of the best we've had in a long time. However I did not appreciate the sesame tofu but everything else was just splendid.
We moved on to a simmered dish of Spanish Mackerel Fish and sweet glutinous rice wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf. The broth was very clear and complimented the flavours. This nimono dish has been prepared over two days under constant supervision. I appreciated this dish as it has been refined over many years to get to such a clean and distinct flavour profile.
Next we had a fresh red sea bream topped with tamago representing pollen during spring. The grilled mushroom in the shell was absolutely tasty and the green sweet peach on the side acted like a palate cleanser.
Next, we had a medley of deep-fried asparagus, sakura ebi, broad beans and a beautifully hand carved sweet potato butterfly. Everything was coated nicely in batter and deep-fried to a crispy perfection.
This soba Sakrua noodle is handmade with cherry blossoms and the dipping sauce has a smokey flavour with a hit of spice from the crushed ginger. You can either opt for this or the garlic rice.
We ended the night with a Sakura mochi with red bean filling and a very sweet and tasty musk melon from Shizuwoka.
Overall, Chef Hoshiba has curated such delicate and fine dishes at Shima Restaurant showcasing Spring in every element. Every time we come back to taste Chef Hoshiba's creations its always innovative yet classic and shows how carefully the menu has been planned. We also got the chance to watch him plate up some of the dishes.
The Spring Kaiseki is available at S$88++ per pax and the premium dinner sets go up to S$188++ per pax. If you are interested in trying one of his creations, reservations are required a week in advance for lunch or dinner.