Friday, February 9, 2024

Masa Saito Innovative @ OUE Downtown Gallery - Experience the UMAMI of Japanese Food Ingredients and Fermented Seasonings


Umami, the elusive, savoury taste our palate seeks, is the focus of the Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center's (JFOODO) latest campaign, 'Unlock UMAMI'.  This gastronomic promotion is taking place in New York, Los Angeles, and Singapore. It began on January 16 and runs until February 29. While fresh Japanese produce and ingredients are fundamental to restaurant menus, the promotion aims to draw attention to the taste of umami, which might not always be visible on our plates. With the tagline 'Unlock UMAMI, Live Deliciously Healthy with Japanese KOJI', the campaign will showcase how umami is derived from Japanese fermented seasonings, and the combinations of Japanese food ingredients and fermented seasonings can be used as key elements to create delicious and healthy foods.


The best way to experience Umami is, of course, through tasting it. In partnership with renowned chefs and restaurants (30 participant restaurants in total expected), special menus are featured, serving various Japanese dishes using Japanese fermented seasonings (including soy sauce, miso, mirin, and rice vinegar) combined with Japanese food ingredients. I was privileged to experience umami at Masa Saito Innovative, located at OUE Downtown Gallery. Helmed by Chef Masanao Saito, he crafts the KOJI SEASONING MENU under the 'Unlock Umami' concept using traditional Japanese seasoning and seasonal ingredients.

Snow Crab Crystal Potato Tarte 4.5/5

Our dinner started with an exquisite Fukui Snow Crab Crystal Potato Tarte, layered delicately with Hokkaido Yumepirika Rice Puree, Rice Puff, White Kombu, Yuzu Zest and finished off with a Yuzu garlic dressing.

Uni Brioche 5/5

2nd course was a luscious Uni brioche featuring Hokkaido Bafun Sea Urchin. Bringing together the various ocean-y ingredients together and binding them with the sweet buttery broiche was a dark Yamani Shoyu.

Charcoal-Grilled Squid 5/5


The third course featured Charcoal-Grilled Squid from Choshi, Chiba. The squid was skillfully grilled over charcoal, achieving a texture that was almost creamy within, yet with a delectable bounce to each bite. Accentuating its subtle flavour and the hint of smokiness from the grill was the use of Yamasa Soy Sauce, enlivened with zesty Ponzu.

Grilled Tilefish 4/5


Up next was Grilled Tilefish in dashi with Asari Clam seasoned with White Soy Sauce. The dashi was a tad salty, but the clams and the greens helped alleviate that. The fish was beautifully done with crispy skin.

Yellowtail in Sake Kasu Beurre Blanc 5/5


My favourite dish of the evening was Yellowtail in Sake Kasu Beurre Blanc. Delicately roasted over the straw fire, the yellowtail was laced with a hint of smokiness, enhancing its natural flavours. The beurre blanc was the highlight. Chef Saito had skilfully incorporated sake kasu into his beurre blanc, a departure from the traditional use of white wine. This byproduct of sake production imparted a different kind of flavour to the beurre blanc. It was delicious with a light consistency, boasting the mouthfeel of the buttery yellowtail.

Iberico Pork Pluma 4.8/5

Akanedashi Miso

This Unlock Umami menu also introduces Akanedashi Miso, which is featured in our Iberico Pork Pluma dish. Generously marbled with fats, Iberico Pork Pluma is prized for its rich flavours and texture, akin to wagyu. Akanedashi Miso, a pretty intense miso with a fiery kick, was an apt choice to complement the rich character of the pork. Sato Imo (Japanese Yum Potatoes) accompanying the pork has a dense and creamy texture, elevating the overall enjoyment of this dish.

Chestnut Gelato with Kintoki Carrot Paste 4/5

Summing up our meal was a velvety Chestnut Gelato, featuring alongside Kintoki Carrot Paste, known for its beautiful red hue and creamy texture.

The dishes are part of the dinner course menu ($250++). This "Unlock Umami Restaurant Campaign" Menu is available during dinner time. For more information on the campaign and participating restaurants

Photos and words by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food. Note: This is an invited tasting.

Masa Saito Innovative
OUE Downtown Gallery
6A Shenton Way
Singapore 068815
Tel: +65 9052 8810
Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar (EW Line), Shenton Way (TE Line)

Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 12pm - 330pm, 7pm-11pm

1) Alight at Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Take Exit E. Walk to traffic junction of Maxwell Road and Shenton Way. Cross the road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]

2) Alight at Shenton Way MRT station. Take Exit 6. Walk to Shenton Way. Cross the road. Turn left and walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]

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