Singapore, sushi and stars
In a city known for its food, Shoukouwa is a two Michelin star Japanese sushi-ya right on the Singapore marina, across from the Marina Bay Sands. It takes a traditional Omakase approach so you are in the hands of the chef(s) though the servers will ask about dietary restrictions and preferences. We arrived for the last seating of the night and had the place to ourselves - so two diners, two servers, and two chefs.
The first piece set the tone that they would be taking a traditional approach with only the most subtle of modern variations. A delicate piece of bream with a just bit of crunch and chew. And from there we moved into the main dishes.
Their sake collection is vast and the servers knowledgeably guided us into a selection - junmai daiginjo that worked well throughout the entire evening. So well that we got a second bottle of the same, something we rarely do.Chef Sato was visiting from Japan and mentoring the new head chef, a very affable young chef that seemed too nice and too young to be the head chef at a two Michelin starred restaurant. That said, he produced great pieces of sushi. And as the night went on the chefs, servers, and patrons all loosened up and were able to cut through a bit of the theater that is restaurant dining.
It was also nice to see a couple of the darker and stronger fishes paired with a dark vinegar that colored the rice a purplish brown. As many chefs say, sushi is all about the rice and the rice here is knowingly made. Chef Sato shaped each nigiri deftly and placed them in front of us quickly and expertly. Only one piece had a stray grain of rice that crumbled off as I picked it up. The nigirizushi seemed a touch heavy on wasabi so the freshly grated wasabi on our small plate remained mostly untouched.
Japan to Singapore
Also from Japan is each piece of fish. Flown in regularly from the famed Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Unlike many other sushi-yas there was no concern here that the maguro wasn't true maguro and I imagined the whole tuna being sold off in the storied Tokyo auction hall just a few days ago.
Piece after piece, served quietly and with a faint smile, disappeared. Both chefs supremely patient as we quickly snapped photos prior to tossing them back like bejewled shots. By the end we were satisifed but not nearing discomfort as is common with an Omakase. Overall a solid sushi experience but stretching the value of the $320 per person menu. Similar restaurants like Sushi Nakazawa (one of Jiro's apprentices NYC West Village sushi-ya) create more flavorful and subtly worked pieces of sushi.
That said, there were some additional standouts besides the nigiri. A mild monkfish liver with a dollop of shark skin grated wasabi; uni generously piled on a bed of ikura; and a simple dessert of perfectly fresh melon and strawberry.
The only questionable moment of the evening was the inclusion of shark fin in one of the dishes which we discovered too late. I've never done this before but we emailed the restaurant to suggest that many diners nowadays would prefer not see shark fin on the menu; curious to head back to see what they've done.
As with most two Michelin star restaurants the food is quite good, painstakingly prepared and served, and rarely a bargain. A solid choice for nigiri with quality ingredients but likely best saved for a special occasion.