A new contemporary Japanese omakase restaurant, Ginza Shinto, hits the Mohamed Sultan area.
You may not find the words “contemporary” and “omakase” in the same line often in Singapore, so come expecting some twists and creative streaks in many of the items.
Truffle oil here, roasted crisp rice puffs there, a touch of edible flowers, and many secret ingredients.
This upscale minimalist space is housed in a conserved heritage shophouse near Robertson Quay, making it ideal for a relaxing Japanese meal.
Walking in, I found the restaurant very elegantly done up, looking sleek yet with serene vibes at the same time.
I think the décor delivers the name really well, as the concept combines “Ginza”, the vibrant and bustling modern city life; and “Shinto”, the entrance to sacred shrines in Japanese culture.
Helmed by Chef Ron Newton Leo (with experiences from Pine Tree Club, Nogawa Restaurant, Tatsuya, Ginza Yoshihiro), Ginza Shinto offers sushi and omakase menus that changes on a bi-weekly basis.
Freshly imported produce is sourced across Japan, while seafood comes mainly from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo.
Depending on the season, some items are also sourced from the markets in Hokkaido and Osaka.
Diners can choose from three omakase menu selections for dinner: 5-Course ‘Gin’ Menu ($150), 8-Course ‘Ginza’ Menu ($220), and 9-Course ‘Shinto’ Menu ($300).
Each course begins with appetiser-style dishes and builds up with a series of sashimi, sushi, and cooked food items, and dessert.
Do reserve early to take one of the spots in the highly sought-after bar counter seats, where you can watch the chefs live in action.
Here are some of the dishes I have tried from the 8-course Ginza Omakase Menu: (Note: items change depending on the season.)
Zensai – Appetiser
The omakase meal started off with an appetizing mix of shiro ebi (baby white shrimps), sujiko (salmon roe), caviar, and Bafun uni.
Similar to ikura, sujiko is also salmon roe but sweeter in taste, darker in colour.
When I asked Chef Ron why he used sujiko instead of the ikura, he mentioned that sujiko comes in the egg sac rather than individual eggs. He would wash and marinate the sujiko with a house-made sauce, so diners would not get the usual fishy or salty taste which distracts from the other ingredients.
Uni lovers will adore this topped with bright orange Hokkaido-sourced Bafun uni, a richer and creamier version of the sea urchin.
Sashimi – Assorted Raw Fish
I had two courses of sashimi, starting with a Botai Ebi (prawn) and Hotate (scallop) item.
The delectable texture and sweet flavour of Botan Ebi complemented with the firm-textured, rich and sweet in flavour Hokkaido giant scallop wrapped in seaweed.
Chef added a little truffle salt and lime for a pop to their simple, delicate flavours.
I was also presented a dual raw fish dish, with the Kanpachi aka Japanese amberjack – a yellowtail fish known for its light golden-coloured and succulent flesh.
Buttery and smooth with a smoky flavour like the Toro that accompanied it.
It takes a great level of skill to serve the Toro (underbelly of tuna) as sashimi. While there is accompanying soy sauce, you can always eat the Toro on its own to appreciate its delicate flavours.
Yakimono – Grilled Dish
Seasonal fishes served here can include the Mackeral, Ayu or Ibodai – Japanese Butterfish aka Pacific rudderfish is a marine fish with some smokiness and tasty meat perfect for a yakimono.
The butterfish is known for its pure white, rich, buttery meat that could just remind you of codfish.
Agemono – Fried Dish
This agemono or deep-fried dish features the Anago, a type of Japanese seawater eel.
Stronger in fishy taste and less fatty than the Unagi, it is suitable tempura-ed in a light and savoury batter and fried ‘til crisp.
Interestingly, there was no tempura sauce provided, but minimally accompanied with truffle salt and edible flowers.
Nimono – Braised Dish
Prepared using nimono (“ni” = simmered; “mono” = things) a popular Japanese home cooking technique, this handmade ebi-shinjo (shrimp ball) is simmered slowly in a shiru or light dashi broth.
Made from fresh prawns, the chunky shrimp ball is served topped with tender, flaked Alaskan crab, leek (for the crunch), caviar and tiny specks of gold foil.
For the 8-Course ‘Ginza’ Menu there would be three sushi pieces; while the 9-Course ‘Shinto’ Menu offers five.
Compared with Edomae-style sushi which is more commonly found here, do expect some creative touches in the Ginza Shinto’s sushi.
I started with Engawa Sushi (collagen-rich part of the flounder located near the fin) with chewy texture along with an oil-rich flavour; the other special part being the shio kombu which added that touch of umami-ness.
This was followed by a lightly-seared Scallop Sushi topped with foie gras which gave that buttery-ness.
Moving on to a crescendo, was a hand nigiri sushi aptly named “Forget Me Not”.
This incorporates mini roasted, crisp rice puffs (again, not commonly seen in Singapore) with negitoro (minced fatty tuna) uni and a thick slab of rice.
So, why “Forget Me Not”?
You are supposed to take the sushi off the Chef’s hand right after making, and this mix of ingredients would give it wonderful flavour and textural contrast to makes this sushi truly unforgettable.
Soothe yourself with the comforting warmth of this double-boiled seafood soup.
Served with chunks of tuna belly, this fish soup is enriched with umami flavours from the added maitake aka “dancing mushroom” or “hen of the woods”
Fun-fact: a perennial fungus native to North-eastern Japan, maitake is one of the major culinary and medicinal mushrooms in Japan.
If you are looking at a quick lunch meal instead, Executive lunch sets such as Sashimi Sushi ($48), Unagi Tempura ($40), Gindara Tempura ($38) and more are available.
All are served with chawanmushi, rice, soup and dessert.
Otherwise, go for the Ginza Shinto’s specially created Donburi rice bowls with an option of 10 assorted variants that are also served with chawanmushi and miso soup.
These include Kaisen Don ($45), Negitoro Don ($40), Bara Chirashi Don ($40), Unagi Don ($35), Gyu Don ($35), and Ten Don ($30).
If you intend to splurge a little, then go straight for the Miyazaki A5 Wagyu Donburi (seasonal price) with melt-in-the-mouth beef slices, combined with the creaminess of cooked egg and fragrance of truffle oil.
Negitoro Ikura Uni Don ($55)
Savour a mix of premium treasures of the sea in this elegant rice bowl.
Made with Japanese short grained rice, this don is spruced up with a layer of reddish-orange ikura (fresh salmon roe), followed by fatty negitoro (minced tuna belly) and laden with a dollop of ikura (sea urchin) and caviar.
You would still find little surprises within, such as the crunch of chopped leeks within the soft and silky textured negitoro.
Each don order comes with hot miso soup and a silky custard side dish of chawanmushi.
No. 5 Mohamed Sultan #01-01 Singapore 239014
Tel: +65 8938 8355, +65 6970 8355
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Ginza Shinto.