Nestled within the heart of foodie haven Keong Saik Road lies a small Japanese robatayaki, quietly standing out with an elegant Japanese character. Upon entering, we were greeted by a softly lit bar counter, comfortable seats and walls lined in gold – hints of sister joint Five Nines, recently relocated to Cuppage Plaza, which already housed Kappo Shunsui, all under the same umbrella. But Kyuu by Shunsui isn’t hiding in its predecessor’s shadow, and we found out how in a 10-course Omakase dinner of fresh produce beautifully prepped, plated and served – all for just $129++.
Helmed by head chef Issey Araki, formerly of Michelin-starred Arasaki Tantei in Tokyo, Kyuu focuses on its Omakase set for dinner till 9pm, thereafter consumers can look to a la carte options for late night grubbing. Sliding into the bar counter seats also gives you a good view of the chefs at work, as well as the grill – the core of the omakase menu.
We began with the trio of appetisers – chilled, smaller bites to whet our appetites for more. The fresh fig and sumiso (a homemade mix of miso, rice vinegar and sesame paste), garnished with pink shisho flower, was crunchy, with the sweet fruit meshing well with the savoury sauce. The homemade sesame tofu covered with starchy sauce and wasabi stood out the most in the flavour department with the almost-fibrous, dash-based sauce. Last, and our favourite of the three, was the soft simmered duck topped with homemade miso. The fowl was grilled then simmered in dashi while the miso paste was combined with diced leek for a textural contrast.
A fantastical array of sashimi was also on the menu, with seasonal offerings on rotation, but salmon, yellow tail, scallop and red shrimp tend to the staples. A batch of Bluefin tuna had been sent over just in time for our meal, and the chefs wasted no time in slicing a thick cut for us to try. As with most sashimi, the creamy sweetness of freshly flown-in fish and other kinds of seafood is a mesmerising combination when eaten together, creating harmony in your mouth with each bite.
The stars of Kyuu by Shunsui were, of course, their six courses from the hot charcoal grill. Instead of minimal seasoning, chef Issey packs on the sauces with every course, with homemade concoctions paired exceedingly well with each grilled dish. The eggplant with sweet red miso was soft to taste, with a slightly chewy skin that carried most of the charred taste. The beautifully fired tuna belly with truffle ponzu sauce was a huge hit with our table as well, as the savoury taste of the truffle and soft middle of the tuna belly blended perfectly with the shredded chill garnish for a little spice.
Another favourite was the slow-grilled tomato with Setouchi salt, with its juices bursting from the core with each bite. And of course, you can’t have grilled meat without beef, and Kyuu featured only the finest – Kagoshima A4 wagyu aitchbone with red miso fond veau. Although not meant to melt in your mouth, the excellent char on the meat was utterly gratifying.
The rice and soup courses to end the meal are no afterthought as well. Kyuu spared no expense with the Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi covered in salmon roe, piling the roe high to your tastes and with a little show where the whole team chanted as they added more. They’d stop only when told, with a few more scoops for good measure, sometimes leaving the roe to rice ratio nearly one to one – decidedly decadent. The miso soup with fresh nori seaweed held hints of the sea in its midst, for it was boiled in bonito flakes and konbu imported from Rausu, Hokkaido.
The final course was, as expected, dessert – Kyuu by Shunsui’s home made ice cream, made from Hokkaido red bean and served with azuki paste also made in-house. The soft, creamy texture and light taste of the beans within the dessert made it difficult to stop spooning mouthfuls of sweet azuki goodness until we scraped the bottom of the bowl.
A truly filling meal where you could sample fresh Japanese cuisine lovingly grilled and charred, and we left very satisfied. And $129++ for a such a splendid 10-dish omakase dinner? It’s a steal.
Kyuu by Shunsui is located at 29 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089136, p. +65 6221 7098 Opens Tue-Sun 6pm – 1am. Closed Mon. A la carte only available after 9pm.
Cover image: Kagoshima A4 wagyu aitchbone with red miso fond veau