Restaurant Review

Michelin-starred Shoukouwa’s $180 lunch menu offers 18 items

Two-Michelin-starred Shoukouwa serves impressive sushi with an attention to details

I've been tardy, I admit. Fine-dining sushi restaurant Shoukouwa had its soft opening in late March and I dined there only last month.

But the restaurant in One Fullerton was so pricey that I was waiting to see what kind of reaction it generated before putting my money on it.

Initially, there was a $380 omakase menu and, later, that morphed into two options - $320 and $480 a person - making it more expensive than other sushi restaurants I've dined at here. A $150 lunch menu was also introduced.

But the restaurant did not turn up in my social media feeds until the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore awarded it two stars last month - more than any other Japanese restaurant in Singapore.

My interest piqued, I went for lunch the following week to see what the Michelin inspectors discovered that Singapore foodies had not.

  • SHOUKOUWA

    1 Fullerton Road, One Fullerton, 02-02A, tel: 6423-9939; open: noon to 3pm (Tuesday to Saturday), 6 to 11pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday

    Food: 4/5 stars

    Service: 4/5 stars

    Ambience: 3/5 stars

    Price: $180 for lunch, $320 and $480 for lunch and dinner

The lunch menu is now $180, a 20 per cent increase imposed the week after the Michelin announcement. Omakase menu prices, which are the same for lunch and dinner, are unchanged.

Checking with the restaurant later, I was told the owners decided to bump up the lunch menu so that they could deliver the quality befitting a two-star restaurant. Which is fair enough.

There is certainly a lot to eat at my lunch. Initial misgivings that I would leave hungry are soon laid to rest when the food just keeps coming - something I do not expect from reading the menu.

It simply states: appetiser, nigiri sushi, miso soup, Japanese omelette and dessert.

In all, I count 18 items, starting with a platter of small appetisers that include a very sweet scallop sashimi with radish, pieces of grilled trout and a slippery waterplant the chef calls "waterlily".

This is followed by a series of nigiri sushi, served piece by piece as the chef prepares them behind the counter while you watch.

There is kinmedai (golden-eye snapper), baby shrimp, soya sauce-marinated tuna, baby squid, Ishigaki clam and anago (saltwater eel), among others.

And in between, the chef surprises you with sashimi, a plate of vegetables and a cooked dish - which are not on the menu, but likely a result of the "upgrading".

When you think the meal is ending after the omelette (which is too sweet) and an unremarkable seaweed miso soup, you get another surprise - a rolled sushi of chopped tuna.

Dessert is little balls of pear marinated in an alcohol-laced syrup. It is refreshing and light, just what I need after the heavy meal.

The sushi is good, with most of the seafood in perfect condition except for the baby shrimp, which has a bitterness that I do not fancy.

And I like the fact that the chef prepares two types of rice - one with white vinegar and the other with red. The red vinegar rice is used for more full-flavoured fish such as tuna, while the white one goes with the shrimp and squid.

And for the aburi tuna cheek, instead of using a torch to grill the fish, like many restaurants, the chef does it the old-fashioned way by waving a wire grill, holding three pieces of smoking charcoal, over it.

This is also the only restaurant in Singapore where I see the chef slice a knob of pickled ginger with a knife and each slice is of even thickness. Other places slice their ginger before pickling it.

Little details such as these make Shoukouwa stand out from its rivals. But do they make it deserving of two Michelin stars?

I would say yes. But I think that other Japanese restaurants in the Michelin Guide - Shinji by Kanesaka (Raffles Hotel and St Regis Singapore), Sushi-ichi (Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel), Waku Ghin (Marina Bay Sands) - all of which received only one star, should have been awarded two.

Each is good in its own way, with its own style.

Personally, I am more impressed by my meals at Shinji, but those are dinner menus that cost more and would not make a fair comparison.

So, yes, I'd recommend Shoukouwa to those with deep pockets and want a change from other sushi restaurants. And I certainly congratulate it on its achievement.

•Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke

•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 07, 2016, with the headline 'Sushi worth its stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe