Sunday, April 01, 2007

Nagae, Waterfront Plaza, Singapore

Nagae is located at the Waterfront Plaza but in a completely different tower to Grand Shanghai. That's why I've never seen it before. I was asked by a friend to try out their seasonal kaiseki and thought, "Why not?". Afterall, there are only that many Japanese restaurants in Singapore who do kaiseki and since I had some time to spare that evening (kaiseki dining can be quite time-consuming) as well.

For the saki-tsuke/Japanese delicacy course we had lightly seasoned raw squid. Ok, I've never been fond of raw seafood but at least this didn't taste fishy. Still, I only had two and gave the last one away.

The zensai/appetizer that followed was more of my kind of thing. Perfectly grilled Japanese bamboo clams covered with a generous coat of mentaiko, this was very nice. The giant bean pod there only had about four beans in it haha. It reminded me of some sort of overgrown edamame. The grilled asparagus side was also very fresh and refreshing.

On to the sashimi course; we both agreed the red snapper tasted the best in this. The large shrimp wasn't too bad either and was a lot less slimy than I feared it to be but as with most of my sashimi meals, my dining companion had an extra serve courtesy of D.

The yakimono/grilled item was a mana-gatsuo (silver pomfret) fillet. Being boneless was a great plus and this was very nicely grilled with a hint of sweet sake but very lightly salted so as not to overpower the freshness of the fish.

Here's D waiting for the next course. He's wearing his "Fugu Survivor" t-shirt from Kuriya as a form of subtle intimidation to the Nagae crew. So subtle was it that no one really cared nor noticed haha!

The taki-awase/braised meal consisted of fresh young bamboo shoots and asparagus braised in a very light miso broth. Although some may find this bland, I actually enjoyed it quite abit, especially the bamboo shoots which were cooked to the right texture.

For the agemono/deep-fried dish, we were presented with a crab cake. Whilst this was only slightly smaller than the ones at Morton's it was fried in very light crisp batter coated with shredded potato.

The crab meat within was still very moist and succulent. I'm not sure if the flesh was pre-boiled first before the quick fry or it was cooked during the fry but it still tasted very sweet and fresh.

The sunomono/vinegar dish was Hokkaido hairy crab.

Although this was served with additional vinegar by the side, the light rice vinegar seasoning in the crab was good enough for it to be eaten straight. Unlike the Shanghai hairy crabs, Hokkaido hairy crabs are normally served for their flesh, not roe and indeed, this was tasty flesh.

The gohanmono/main course comes just before the dessert. This course almost always takes the form of rice; be it a rice-bowl, fried-rice, curry even and this case, a sushi platter. Praise has to go to the unagi which has to be about one of the best unagi sushis I've had in Singapore. Moist, oily, not too sweet but still flavorsome with a nice smokey tang, this was my pick for the plate. The whitefish and clam were pretty decent too.

While the star of this plate was supposedly the otoro-sushi, I thought it was ok. Then again, I'm not into raw food. If only they did it aburi-style instead, that blow torch would have been great to sizzle out some of the fat.

Ending the gohanmono was a bowl of miso soup with seaweed and soft beancurd. Made from pretty good quality miso, this didn't taste like salt-water and went down pretty well.

I was slightly disappointed with the mizugashi/dessert of Japanese persimmon. This was naturally very sweet and crunchy and I know this stuff isn't cheap. Perhaps they were leaning towards the original zen concept of kaiseki but I would have liked something more indulgent, like ice-cream!

Some say that a true test of a Japanese restaurant is to try some of their simpler fare. Afterall all, if they can't get the basics right, how may we have confidence in the other more complex dishes? But that's not why I ordered this. I just like tamago sushi alot that's all haha. It's nice that the quality of the sushi rice was the same as the sushi served in the kaiseki. The egg was very nicely flavored but I just thought it was very very slightly overcooked and dry.

All the courses were accompanied with good old ice-cold Hakushika.

If you took notice of all the courses in this kaiseki, you would realize that it had a seafood theme. Great for the seafood lover but I prefer some mammals in my food. The freshness of the fare is certainly evident and I didn't have much complaints throughout the two-and-a-half hours of dining. But as an overall assessment, I'm still partial towards Kuriya for kaiseki (they tend to regularly serve something more indulgent for dessert, like ice-cream haha). However, if Kuriya's kaiseki menu hasn't changed yet, I may consider checking out Nagae. This meal cost about 250SGD for two.



Lord Dianabol said...

Too much raw stuff mate.

I don't see any beef.

Even a chook wing would do well in such a vegetarian setting.

Van Cong Tu said...

Wow, Food pictures look good. Shame that I can't eat raw meat.
Thanks for sharing us

Chocolate Reindeer said...

250 not including the sake right?

D said...

lady dianabol: Yup, no beef! =(

tu: yup, I'm not a fan of raw food either. I guess that makes two of us.

LiquidShaDow said...

Hey D, these are all a la carte?

D said...

Liquidshadow: All the dishes except for the tamago sushi are part of the 9 course kaiseki menu. There's no fixed menu for kaiseki per se, it's seasonal, so you can either call them to ask more about it or get them to fax over the menu.