It has been a while since a new Japanese sushi omakase has opened in Singapore, and this restaurant has attracted enough buzz among the Japanese community that it is fully booked for many days ahead.
Sushi Kou 鮓煌 is a new sushi restaurant at the ground floor of Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Center.
This is a concept redefining traditional Edomae-style sushi, where the freshest fish and shellfish are given minimal treatment. Unlike other styles of sushi-making, this approach brings out the food’s natural flavours and oils.
Named after Kou 煌, the founder’s son, Sushi Kou is helmed by Chef Yoshio Sakuta with 20+ years of experience. This Hokkaido-born chef worked in several renowned sushi restaurants in Sapporo (such as 2-Michelin-starred Sushizen) before venturing to Singapore.
If omakase lovers find him familiar, that is because he was the previous head chef of Shoukouwa, the only sushi restaurant to receive Two Michelin Stars in Singapore.
Chef Yoshio’s artfully-executed sushi masterpieces respect the nuances of each seasonal ingredient. Only the freshest and finest Japanese fish and produce are sourced, air flown directly from Toyosu Fish Market.
To ensure diners receive full attention and quality-prepared dishes, there is only one seating per session for lunch and dinner.
Choose either the Aya Menu ($380++) which gives you 10 pieces of sushi and three dishes, or the Kou Menu ($450++) for 10 pieces of sushi and five dishes.
These are some of the highlights I have experienced from the Kou Menu: (Note that items are seasonal and rotational depending on ingredients imported.)
Steamed Egg with Hairy Crab
Start off with a delicate and savoury Japanese steamed egg custard (chawanmushi) combined with the sweetness of Hairy Crab.
Sourced from Northern Japan, these sweetest crabs are Hokkaido’s spring delights since they often show up in warmer waters.
Enjoy this smooth & silky classic appetiser item topped with kinome.
Menuke Shabu Shabu with Ponzu Sauce
The delicate, nutty, sweet flavour and lean, medium-firm texture of Menuke (red rockfish) make it suitable as a light starter.
Quick blanching techniques (similar to cooking the shimofuri or “web of fat” in Japanese beef) bring out the best textures in this rare fish from Hokkaido.
Add a sparkling acidity by dipping it in the accompanying ponzu sauce.
Wild Ocean Eel
Compared to robust farmed eels, wild-caught eels have a more pleasing texture and flavour. As they are sustainably sourced, you’re assured the marine ecosystem isn’t endangered.
Grilled ‘til crisp and tender, this wild ocean eel will delight the most discriminating unagi aficionados.
Steamed Abalone with Abalone Liver Sauce
Of all the dishes, this is one of my personal favourites, so take time to watch the preparation and savour the piece.
This dish prepared by steaming the abalone, cooking it simply with sake, water and kelp. The secret lies in how long it’s cooked for maximum flavours.
For 5 to 6 hours, the abalone is cooked in a traditional Japanese stone pot to maintain the right heat.
The sauce is made from steamed abalone liver that gives it that added distinct rich taste, contrasted with the soft-chewy texture of the abalone slice.
Water Shield with Vinegar Sauce
The astringent and medicinal leaves of the Water Shield are often eaten as a salad with vinegar, sake and soy sauce. Its young curled leaf tips are coated with a thick transparent mucilage.
Considered a delicacy in Japan, the Water Shield is served topped with two types of uni.
Eat both in a spoonful, and experience that delightful creamy texture and delicate sweetness in the mouth.
Baby Sea Bream Sushi
Moving on to the sushi pieces, Sushi Kou’s shari (sushi rice) is delicately polished and marinated with various types of salt and vinegar.
Cooked the traditional way in a clay kettle, it is bound to be served to you at the perfect temperature.
Don’t let its size dictate the taste for this baby Japanese sea bream aka madai.
This firm-flesh white fish has a very mild flavour yet it has a wonderful, agreeable taste. Perfect as intro sushi since it is not very “fishy” in flavour.
Enjoy this as a clean refreshing pause towards stronger-flavoured sushi.
Marbled Flounder Sushi
Marbled Flounder aka Shiroshita Karei is a top-quality seafood item that is sweet in taste.
This fish’s nice marbling contains all the flavourful oils.
With as little handling as possible, Chef also squeezes a touch of fresh lime juice just before serving. Adding helps accentuate the flavour as the acids interacts with the oils.
Golden Eye Snapper Sushi
Golden Eye Snapper Kinmedai is a fatty fish best eaten in the winter when it if often caught.
Often served at traditional Edomae sushi restaurants, this is typically aged for 2 to 3 days to break down the proteins in the flesh.
Enjoy this sushi as the aging makes it more flavourful and the texture improved.
Medium Fatty Tuna Sushi
Next up is the chūtoro, which is the name of medium fatty part of a Bluefin tuna. Usually found near the skin on the back and belly, this part is not-too-fat like the otoro nor not-too-lean like the akami.
It fuses the sweet tenderness of otoro and the light flavour of akami.
After the chūtoro sushi, diners will be a served a Fatty Tuna Sushi aka toro.
Sea Urchin Sushi
Feel its creamy and rich texture in your mouth, and experience its strong ocean scent. This bright orange coloured sea urchin makes it a special luxury.
Black Throat Sea Perch on Rice
This black throat sea perch dish carries a unique flavour combination.
The smoky flavour of the freshly grilled fish combines with the tart taste of the warm vinegar-infused rice in a bowl.
Before eating, gently push it with a spoon to release its aromatic oils onto the rice. Mix it up, and would be an unforgettable taste experience.
Japanese Egg Cockle Sushi
Cockle is a classic and rare Edomae sushi treat, and Sushi Kou serves it. While torigai or Japanese cockle can be eaten raw, it is flash boiled to bring out its full flavour.
Bite into its soft meat that’s light and full of sweetness. Considered the tastiest shellfish for Edomae sushi.
Giant Japanese Tiger Prawn Sushi
Kuruma-ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) is a high-end ingredient that is often used for Edomae-style sushi.
Its firm and crunchy texture gives it an exciting mouthfeel, as you taste its natural sweetness.
Compared to other shrimps, it is richer in umami flavour too. Served slightly warm, its firm flesh contrasts the liver’s soft texture.
After the Prawn Sushi, there were also courses of Sea Eel Sushi, Miso Soup, and Dessert of sweet seasonal fruits to give it a beautiful ending.
Décor is modern-minimalist, combining sand and beige tones with textured satin-finish taupe walls.
The intimate dining room features a blond 12-seater hinoki wood counter made from 300-year-old trees, a relaxing venue both for business or leisure. (Due to social distancing, the 12-seat restaurant is reduced to 8 seats during “Phase Two”.)
Sushi Kou also offers a carefully-crafted selection of world-class sake, wine and champagne to complement its premium omakase.
Reservations for a few weeks in advance is highly recommended.
Sushi Kou 鮓煌
Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, 11 Cavenagh Road, #01-13/14 Singapore 229616
Tel: +65 8591 1933
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm Last Seating 1:30pm, Dinner 6pm – 10:30pm Last Seating 8:30pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
* This post is brought to you in partnership with Sushi Kou.