For this year’s birthday, I was treated to a restaurant I chose — Mizuki.
Located at Takashimaya shopping centre at Orchard Road, Mizuki prides itself in serving an Omakase Tempura meal.
Apart from specialising in Tempura, Mizuki also has a separate Sushi Omakase menu which I have yet to try.
For both types of menus, there are 3 price grades: Ranging from $80-$250 for lunch, and $130 to $380 (!) for dinner. Thankfully, the Tempura menu is cheaper. For my birthday, I had the mid-tier $180 Tempura dinner set.
Mizuki like most fine-dining Japanese restaurants, has a nondescript exterior, and appears very private and exclusive. Indeed, reservations are recommended, and the restaurant is segregated into private rooms, and two counters, one for sushi and one for tempura. Sushi counters to me, are the more preferred seating where one can watch the chefs at work.
The head chef, however looked very stern, like a strict master who would kick you out if you requested for Ketchup. We didn’t manage to strike a conversation with him throughout the meal, while his apprentice was more approachable.
The servers were around us at all times of the meal, and were expectedly polite and welcoming.
To start, we were presented with the seasonal appetiser, an amuse bouche of sorts. For that particular evening, we had a braised octopus, king prawn, croquette and tamago.
The braised octopus left a very strong impression with it’s firm yet tender texture. I know it sounds ridiculous as two opposing adjectives, but think of it as al dente, tender but with bite.
The prawn also had a bouncy bite and clean flowing flavours.
All the little items were delightful and their flavours lingered on in the mouth, keeping us high in anticipation for the next course.
The mid and top-tier menus feature a sashimi course, which arrived next.
I was pleased to find out that our $50 upgrade gave us 2 pieces of Otoro (Fatty tuna belly) done two ways, Uni wrapped with flounder, and amberjack sashimi.
The Otoro was done sashimi style and aburi-style (torched). The sashimi was firm when picked up with chopsticks, but collapsed and melted away in a pool of tuna fats in the mouth. There was no ‘weird’ flavour that one often feared when eating raw fish, and really, tasted clean.
The torched version had that whiff of char, presenting an extra level of umami in the mouth.
The uni was fresh and creamy, whilst the amberjack was surprisingly very tender and extremely pleasant to chew down. This was again a testament to the freshness of their fish. When quality produce is this fresh, it is simply good on it’s own.
Next up, our condiments tray was laid upon us. On it featured the obligatory radish puree for tempura, tempura soy dipping sauce, sea salt and matcha salt and a wedge of lemon.
The first tempura to arrive was the quintessential prawn tempura! As cliche as it is, prawn tempura is still my favourite, hence I was delighted to see two on the plate, along with the de-shelled heads.
The batter was light, well-seasoned and crispy to the last bite, with the prawns exuding sweetness from biting into it’s bouncy flesh.
However, the heads are the true flavour bombs. You know a chef knows what he/she is doing when they don’t waste the heads and offer it as food. The last time I had this in Singapore was at Spanish restaurant, Ola Cocina Del Mar.
Red Snapper Tempura
Next up was a red snapper tempura, skilfully filleted and meticulously cleaned and wiped in front of us by the younger chef, before handing it over to the stern master to fry.
Again, light crispy crust that didn’t felt oily at all. The tender flaky fish meat tasted especially good with a dab of salt and drop of lemon juice.
This odd looking black sphere arrived next. I was surprised when the chef revealed it to be Uni. Upon further investigation, I realised it was a tempura of Uni wrapped in Nori (seaweed).
Sadly, this was my least favourite because not only did I found out the raved-about scallop tempura was replaced by this in the mid-tier menu, but also the fried Nori was a little hard and chewy. I felt that when the Nori was paired directly with Uni, the entire thing was a bit off the balance on the fishy side. The balance of flavours is more pleasant in the presence of sushi rice.
Next up came an interesting looking seafood soup to clean the palate. The soup was the more starchy sort, reminiscent of Chinese style ‘Gen’ soups, where starch is deliberately incorporated to create a more vicious texture. The presentation looked quite chaotic, albeit colourful. Thankfully, it tasted better than it looked, although I didn’t know what I was eating half of the time.
Kinki Fish Tempura
Following the soup came a small but plump piece of fish, the Kinki fish. It came with scales on, which upon biting revealed them to be crisp and crumbled away effortlessly. Unlike the snapper, the Kinki fish was more flavourful, and had a deeper pleasant flavour that made me want for more…
… and more fish I got. The Anago (Sea eel) came next, paired with white asparagus.
Asparagus was an interesting vegetable to fry up, but in this case I suppose white asparagus were in season, and given the rarity of it outside of Europe, this was acceptable.
We were given two meaty pieces of Anago. Whilst the crust was again expertly tweaked and optimised for the fish to retain that start-to-finish crisp, compared to the Kinki fish, the Anago’s flavour was a little boring, maybe because of the large portions.
The vegetable course came next, with two pieces of mistake mushrooms and a skewer of Gingko nuts. The Maitake mushrooms were especially rich, which was thankfully balanced off by the light bitterness of the gingko nuts.
The prawn kakiage rice arrived next, hinting the end of the meal. There was a very home-style feel to this rice dish, it felt like something my mother might have made for me. Nonetheless, with a sprinkling of soy and chilli powder, it was a very satisfying and filling end to the meal.
Since it was my birthday, I was given a special birthday dessert platter. Very sweet of the chefs, and of course my friend J for arranging this meal. The dessert was quite complicated, with lots of fruits, mochi, custard topped with lots of crispy nuts and such.
To conclude, this was my first ever Tempura Omakase experience, and thankfully quite a good and memorable one. Was it worth the $180? Yes. Would I come back again and pay $180 for it? Unlikely because I’m not a baller who eats $100+ meals, yet.
But if this is totally within your eating budget, by all means, go try the menus at Mizuki.
Their top-notch service, exceptional ingredients paired with masterful techniques produce a memorable and unique dining experience.