I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Hong Kongers are obsessed with Japanese food. It’s one of those cuisines that my family never tires of, and so our trip to Singapore definitely merited a visit to one of the city’s most well-known Japanese eateries, Aoki! I was especially excited to try out their mazechirashi, which I am happy to report definitely lived up to my expectations (although I was pretty much dragging myself out of the restaurant by the end of our meal, having had two meals beforehand!)
Because I had made reservations beforehand, my family and I were promptly seated in a private table with sliding doors. Wet towels and green tea were provided (and was constantly refilled throughout the course of the meal).
First off- an amuse-bouche. Initially, we all thought that this was some kind of simmered beef but the waitress explained to us that it was actually tuna! Whilst I liked the sweet flavour of the soy sauce and the fishy, savoury taste of the tuna, I didn’t really care for the texture of the dish, which was a little tough. It was essentially like a fishy-tasting beef jerky.
All of the set lunches that we ordered came with a elegantly-presented salad, served in a deliciously tangy sauce. The vegetables were crisp and fresh and I especially liked the thinly-sliced baby radish pieces which added a refreshing crunch to the dish.
My sister ordered the Shokado Set Lunch, which consisted of 4 separate sections- an array of sashimi, crispy vegetable tempura, nimono (simmered vegetables), and a mixed rice with fish. Whilst I didn’t try every component in this set lunch, I tried the sashimi, which was very fresh, especially the chutoro which melted in my mouth. The simmered potato was also deliciously powdery and flavourful, with a hint of sweetness from the sauce.
My mom’s nigri sushi jyo-sen featured a selection of sushi as well as two types of sushi roll (tuna and cucumber). I only got to try the sushi roll but it was a great balance of flavours and the sushis were presented really nicely, in particular the tamago.
Finally, my mazechirashi arrived! Having read many, many reviews on Aoki, I knew that I had to order this signature dish (beware– they only offer a number of limited sets a day, so try to make a reservation for 12pm as opposed to 1pm) . Does it really consist of 2/3rds fish and 1/3rd rice- and does it live up to the hype?
The answer is a definite yes! My bowl was heaped with a wide array of cuts of sashimi, ranging from hamachi and ikura to otoro(!!) and uni. Each and every spoonful of the chirashi was packed with sashimi- something that I’m definitely not accustomed to, and I often find myself having to “save” the sashimi, i.e eating one tiny piece of akami with a huge chunk of rice. Having so many types of sashmi meant that I could experience a whole explosion of flavours in my mouth – ranging from the creamy uni (sea urchin), to the umami “pop” of the ikura (roe), to the melt-in-your mouth otoro (fatty tuna), the savoury akami (red meat tuna) and the more full-bodied and textured kanpachi and saba. The tamago (Japanese sweet omlette) and cucumber slices also added an extra dimension of sweetness and crunchiness to the bowl of goodness.
Dessert was served alongside genmaicha tea (which was a really nice touch, I don’t remember the last time I was served two different teas in a Japanese restaurant!). I was happily surprised to see that the dessert came as a trio platter of ice cream, pudding and jelly. The vanilla ice cream was creamy and not overly sweet, and was interspersed with flecks of vanilla bean “caviar”. My favourite dessert was definitely the tofu pudding, which was silky smooth and covered with kuromitsu (Japanese sugar syrup). I didn’t like the plum wine jelly as it was quite bitter and cough-medicine-like, but I have to say the presentation of the jelly was really delicate and pretty!
Towards the end, I found the service to be a little bit rushed- we were given our cheque before asking for it- obviously because of the restaurant’s small size they wanted to be as efficient as possible, but I think that it would have been nice if we had been asked beforehand, especially for a restaurant that consistently makes it into the “top Japanese restaurants in Singapore” lists. Although it wasn’t a mind-blowing, 100% faultless meal, I still had a nice dining experience in Aoki, and I wish that the chirashi in Hong Kong was even half as good!
1 Scotts Road,
#02-17 Shaw Centre,