28th February 2014.After accumulating some points from the 3rd Anniversary of Shangri-la’s Golden Circle Programme contest last year, I decided to treat myself to a kaiseki meal at Nadaman (なだ万). I picked Nadaman because I was informed that they have new chef doing Kyo-Kaiseki and having just come back from Kyoto just a few days before after Muromachi Wakuden, I was curious about the differences between a Kyo-Kaiseki in Singapore and Kyo-Kaiseki in Kyoto.
The new Head Chef of Nadaman, Chef Ishizuka Takaya (石塚隆也), hails from Tokyo and has been heading the kitchens of Nadaman, Kowloon Shangri-La before taking over the reins of Nadaman, Singapore Shangri-la. With my newly redeemed dining voucher, I had the Hiru Kaiseki (昼懐石, loosely translates as Lunch Kaiseki), 88 SGD after taxes.
Similar to the kaiseki I had before, there is a common structure and order as to the dishes are served. The kaiseki kick-started with an introduction to the late Winter, early Spring season in Japan known as the hassun course. There was boiled broccoli with chilled tofu, asparagus tofu with tobikko tartar sauce and a crab appetizer. It was a good start with a diverse profile of flavours and textures. I especially loved the asparagus tofu.
The mukozuke course came after the futamono course, introducing the catch of season which is a three plump slices of Yellowtail Sashimi placed upon a Watermelon Radish (紅芯大根) sourced from Kansai. The yellowtail slices were really good, amazingly tender and fresh. The watermelon radish (koushin-daikon) was crunchy with a mild sweetness to it.
The takiawase course that followed is a Deep Fried Beancurd with Teriyaki Foie Gras and Minced Chicken Sauce which was pretty good. The foie gras doesn’t come across too strong and went pretty well with the deep fried tofu and minced chicken sauce.
From my understanding Nadaman normally serves the Yakimono and Gohan courses separately (in accordance the tradition and past experiences) but for today, they served the two courses together so as to making it a more substantial course for local diners. The Yakimono or grilled dish was a Pan-Fried Beef Tenderloin, Lotus Root and Grilled Radish with “Sansho” Pepper Sauce. I had high expectations for this dish but it turned out to be the weaker ones, the sauce, the lotus root and grilled radish were awesome, all of which has thoroughly soaked up the flavours and texture was just right but the beef was too dry for a start and could have been more tender.
The Gohan course redeemed the shortfalls of the Yakimono course with a twist to Kyo-Kaiseki. Riding on the popularity of tomatoes in Japan, and probably partly influenced by the chef’s Tokyo background, the Gohan couse was Rice with Sundried Tomatoes served with pickles and a savoury bowl of red bean miso soup.
Lastly, the Mizumono or dessert course was a memorable Fruits with Cointreau Jelly. A simple but effective dessert to cleanse the heavier flavours from the yakimono and gohan courses while staying true to the simplicity in kyo-kaiseki.
In retrospective, thumbs up to Chef Takaya trying something different in his cuisine, I read on Camemberu, that as a nod to Singapore, a dinner kaiseki ended with a Vanilla Ice Cream with Sago and Gula Melaka. It might come across as “Un-Japanese” but, in principle, I think the sensibility to the context is still staying true to the philosophy behind kyo-kaiseki. (Inspired by Japan versus Imported from Japan?)
But that is not all, Nadaman, taking note of my birthday has prepared a surprise Chocolate Mousse Cake and birthday song. Josephine from Shangri-la was took her time off her busy schedule to meet up and treat me to coffee at the Waterfall Cafe. I had a really great time at Shangri-la Hotel!
22 Orange Grove Rd