Friday, April 17, 2009


Due to an unexpected windfall lately, Denise and I were thinking of having some nice Japanese food, and Shoya came to mind. We originally thought of having the omakase, but then we weren’t sure whether we’d want to pay $100 each or not. So we decided on lunch instead, which was way cheaper. And a very good decision it was too. Not because the omakase was terrible (I don’t have enough information to say anything about their omakase), but the lunch that we had was excellent.


Shoya certainly fulfilled expectations in terms of the restaurant design. We were expecting a nicer restaurant with a higher class feel, and that was exactly what we got. We got there and after some contemplation, settled on their Kaisen Chirashi Set ($24.80), from their Lunch Set Menu and the Ume Set ($32.00), from their Shoya Special Lunch Set Menu. Because we were sharing the two sets, what we eventually ate turned out to be an omakase-like meal.


They started us both off with a small appetiser of pickled vegetables each.


And then we both got a savoury egg custard. Evidently, both sets included this dish. Reminded me of steamed egg back home where we eat this with rice, which was not a bad thing. Hidden within this cup of egg were different things, of which a piece of chicken was the only thing that I can currently remember.

After that, things started to pick up. The pickled vegetables and egg custard magnificently did their job in whetting up our appetite, bringing out expectations up. “Surely our next dishes must be good.”

In no particular order, this is what we had.


A bowl of chilled bean curd in soy sauce with the fish flakes on top, and some spring onion on the side. Again, this reminded me of home, where we used to eat cold tofu with the deep fried onion. Again, not a bad thing. We enjoyed this a lot. This was from the Kaisen Chirashi Set.

While we were eating this, they brought out our sashimi dishes, but the plate of tempura also appeared before we could get our chopsticks on the sashimi, so we decided to eat the tempura first while it was hot.


Of course, anything deep fried must taste good. However, there is a difference between mass produced tempura that you get at a buffet and freshly fried tempura and brought to the table while it is still piping hot. And this is the first time I’ve eaten piping hot tempura, and it is way better than tempura at a buffet. This, was from the Ume set.

After that, we got started on the sashimi.


The sashimi from the Ume set. Slices of fresh fish on top of a banana leaf, sitting on a rock of rock solid iced ice.


And the main from the Kaishen Chirashi Set. More raw fish on a bed of sushi rice.

And I must declare, the sashimi at Shoya is truly excellent. I don’t know what’s so different about it, but everything associated with it was better than anything I’ve tasted before. I suppose the fish was very fresh, but then again, I’ve never been able to tell what’s fresh and what’s not. The sushi rice was also better than other rice. What was most interesting was the wasabi. I’ve never been a wasabi person, but this was the first time that I actively put wasabi onto the fish (I normally put a small chunk into the soy and let it diffuse without actually mixing it in; I don’t really like the taste and find that it overwhelmed what I like, which is the fish). This wasabi was milder and not so hot, and it actually tasted good.

While we were having our hands full with the sashimi, more things arrived, so we diverted our attentions away from the sashimi for a while.


The unagi from the Ume Set. I liked the unagi, but there’s nothing here to wax lyrical about, as I’ve always liked unagi and this was also very good. I’m not very sure what that was on top of the cucumber. Tried a bit of it but did not like it. Natto, maybe? Or a milder version of natto? Don’t know. Anthony Bourdain hated natto when he tried some in Japan, but I didn’t find anything to hate here, just that it wasn’t that good.


The main of the Ume set. Which came with a small bowl of mixed steamed rice.


Nothing much to say about the rice. We had too many other things to eat already and did not finish this. So-so only. But the wagyu was truly truly amazing. Beef cooked medium rare, and another case of a milder sauce being better than usual. Just like wasabi, I don’t usually enjoy teriyaki sauce, for the same reason; that it overpowers the meat. But in this case, the mild sauce allowed the flavours of the beef to be tasted. The only problem with this dish was that it had a chunk of what I can best describe as a cheese pastry puff thing, that was also doused with teriyaki sauce. We felt that it had no place in the dish at all, and should have been best left off the plate.

And while we were eating all that, the Mini Udon from the Kaisen Chirashi Set and the Miso Soup from the Ume Set arrived.



The two bowls of warm soups provided a very good balance to the meal as we took our time savouring the wagyu and sashimi (together with the wasabi).

And after we finally finished everything, we had two scoops of very, very good ice cream for dessert.


The ice cream came cold, and it took its own time to melt, so we, took our own time to polish them off. The vanilla ice cream was just that, very good vanilla ice cream, but it was the green tea ice cream that really took our breath away. I don’t think we normally cared for green tea, much less the ice cream version of it, but this was just that good. And it was good because the green tea flavour was mild.

And that’s that. The lesson for today is that mild is good.