Opened in April 2011, Hinoki Japanese Dining at China Square Central of the Epicurean Concepts group which also owns 2Fifteen Kitchen and Moonstone welcomes renowned masterchefs, Santaro Li with 40 years of culinary experience and highly respected as one of the first to introduce Singapore to authentic sushi. Considered the forefather of sushi in Singapore and one of the top chefs in Singapore, Li-san is a ryori-jin (masterchef) specialising in Kappo Ryori also known as fine Omakase. From sushi to grilling, stewing and boiling, Chef Li-san has mastered and conquered all aspects of Japanese cuisine.
We started the meal with a trio of Zensai ($15) which is Japanese for hors d'oeuvre. Starting with the Shiraou (silver fish) in a shoyu sauce, I like how it was presented in a short glass. The shiraou was rather fat and beautifully balanced with the flavourful shoyu sauce. Moving on we have the Oyster in Mayonnaise. While I enjoyed the smoky torched mayonnaise taste, it was too overpowering for me to taste the oyster. Lastly we have the Pitan Tofu which is one of my all time favourites in Japanese cuisine. While century egg maybe an acquire taste for some, I simply adored the combination of creamy century egg paired with the chilled tofu.
The plate of Sashimi ($55) came with the freshest Hamachi, Salmon, Toro Belly and Botan Ebi for the day. The Botan Ebi stood out for me with its sweetness and freshness.
Zakana Foie Gras 4.2/5
The Zakana Foie Gras ($25) was an exquisite execution from Chef Li-san. The pan fried Hamachi is wrapped with foie gras, topped with shaved truffle and seaweed covered with a thin sheet of crunchy seaweed and plated on a sakura leaf. Amazingly everything on the plate is edible. As the dish is rather oily, the sakaru leaf helped to cleanse the palate.
Imo Manjyu 3.5/5
Deep fried to golden brown, the Imo Manjyu ($15) is crispy on the outside and moist inside. The delectable mixture of yam, unagi and shrimp came with nice chunky yam bits finished with a tonkatsu sauce.
Shabu Shabu 4/5
Hinoki will be introducing a Shabu Shabu ($35) in their next upcoming promotion and we have the privilege to be the first to sample it. The Shabu Shabu set consists of a hotpot kunbu soup base hotpot, assorted vegetables and US wagyu beef. Two dipping sauces are served. Special ponzu sauce for the beef and goma sauce for the rest of the ingredients.
While most Japanese restaurants do Omakase or Kaiseki, Chef Li-san who has cooked for MM Lee Kuan Yew specializes in Kappo Ryori which casually put it is omakase lifted to the highest degree of Japanese gastronomy, impeccable taste and expertise to dictate course after course of gastronomic surprises. It is a fine meal experience where Chef Li-san uses the best seasonal ingredients with seafood air flown directly from Tokyo's renowned Tsukiji Market twice a week.
Hinoki Japanese Dining
China Square Central
22 Cross Street
Tel: +65 65367746
Nearest MRT: Chinatown (NE Line, DT Line)
Mon-Sat: 1130am - 230pm, 6pm - 1030pm
(Closed on Sun)
1) Alight at Chinatown MRT station. Take Exit E. Cut through Chinatown Point and walk to Hong Lim Complex. Cross South Bridge Road using the overhead bridge at Hong Lim Complex. Continue straight for about 30 meters to destination. Journey time about 12 minutes. [Map]