In search for kaiseki-style Omakase in Singapore?
Goldhill Plaza at Novena while generally under-the-radar, is considered a food enclave in itself with a number of well-reviewed restaurants.
One of them is Ken Japanese Restaurant previously known as “Yamato Japanese Restaurant”, which has been revamped to offer seasonal-themed Kaiseki-style Omakase, best paired with their award-winning fine sakes.
The Ken (剣) here refers to “sword”, inspired by their Head Chef Ryo Endo whose appearance and knife skills remind people of a samurai.
There are a number of 5-star Google reviews, with comments of “awesome Omakase experience”, “wonderful place for great Japanese dining experience”, to “great fresh sashimi and interesting dishes”.
The 22-seater restaurant is one of Novena’s hidden gems, helmed by the award-winning Head Chef Ryo Endo who has trained and honed his skills for 10 years in Miyajima and Hiroshima.
Chef has also clinched top places in Hiroshima’s Washoku World Challenge twice in 2017 and 2018.
Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki-ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.
The amiable Chef will take charge and serve a feast for your senses through his special kaiseki-style omakase comprising of carefully selected courses.
He and his team only use seasonal ingredients. Produce at the peak of their freshness are imported directly from Japan (mainly from from Yamagata) to guarantee authentic flavours.
Available from now till end of April 2022, the new spring kaiseki menu offers omakase options, starting from $88, $98, $138, and $198 to choose from.
The crème de la crème among the Omakase Course Menus is the Wagyu Omakase ($198) featuring 5 kinds of Appetisers, Special Sashimi, Grilled or Tempura, Wagyu Syabu Syabu, Wagyu Touban Grill, Main Dish, Miso Soup, and Dessert.
The top-selling menu ($138) sees two seasonal appetizer course, seasonal sashimi, an option of grilled or tempura, a traditional Shiizakan nabe, main dish, miso soup and a dessert.
Here are some of the items I had in the $138 Omakase: (Due to availability of seasonal ingredients, Omakase courses may vary.)
Appetiser – Chawanmushi
Start off the meal with a custardy-smooth steamed egg dish of cold chawanmushi topped with ikura (plump silken salmon roe) and kinome leaf which provides a wonderful minty flavour.
Appetiser – 3 Types
While majority of the ingredients hail from Yamagata, there are a couple of dishes made with unique ingredients from different Japanese prefectures.
Appetisers can include Hotaru Ika aka Firefly Squid, a species of squid famously caught in Toyama Bay during spring.
The squid heads are exceptionally rich, with flavours reminiscent of shrimp livers, while the bodies are nice and plump with egg yolk-like texture.
Other appetiser items can include Vinegar Radish with Vinegar Egg Yolk, and Urui mountain vegetables with caviar.
Presented like a work of art, the Sashimi course came with Sawara (Spanish Mackerel), Tai (Sea Bream), Sayori (Japanese Half Beak), and Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna).
Special mention goes to the Chutoro which uses the chiai-gishi part of the tuna fish (near to the spine side) where you can taste the rich flavours of the red meat and sweetness of the toro fats at the same time.
Savour exquisite sushi offerings that highlight fresh produce imported directly from Japan.
The seasonal fishes are air-flown four times a week to ensure the ultimate freshness; and special care is also given to ensure that only the best catches are procured from different prefectures.
Savour sushi topped with high-grade fish from Chutoro (medium fatty tuna), Kampachi (amberjack), Hirame (flounder), and Akagai (ark shell), to luscious and creamy Uni (sea urchin).
Expect to find the finest sushi from Chef Ryo Endo, who honed his skills for 10 years in Miyajima and Hiroshima, achieving top places in the washoku competitions.
Grilled or Tempura
This omakase courses included either a grilled item or a crispy deep-fried Tempura.
I had a Tempura Kakiage fried using Taraome which is one of the popular spring vegetables with distinctive flavour (said to be similar to green tea).
The airy and crispy fritter is also included with Sakura Ebi (pink shrimps) which gives a further toasty texture.
For main course, an outstanding dish would be one featuring Hokkaido A5 Snow Beef, touted as one of the world’s most exclusive steaks.
This prime meat is the rarest cut from a heritage breed raised in the snowy mountains of Hokkaido, paired with mountain vegetables.
Due to this weather, the cattle have an extra layer of fat making their meat marbled with intricate snow-like patterns. Cherish the tenderness of this A5 Wagyu the highest grade of marbling.
Round up your authentic Japanese dining experience at Ken Japanese with miso soup and dessert.
Aside from Omakase, it also offers its Grand Menu featuring a la carte appetisers like Edamame ($9), Mentaiko Satsumaage ($10), Salted Sea Bream with Cheese ($12), Handmade Tako Wasabi ($12), and more.
Do try their ala carte specials like Tendon ($28), Echizen Soba ($14), Kaisen Don ($42), Unadon ($28), Unagi Kabayaki ($48 Regular / $28 Half), Wagyu Shabu Shabu ($80), and Wagyu Steak ($80).
The recommended Wagyu Shabu Shabu features slices of quality A4 Kagoshima beef slices cooked in chef’s own concoction of dashi nabe, then dipped into raw tamago for an indulgent treat.
Ken Japanese Restaurant
1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-17, Singapore 308899
Tel: +65 6250 1321
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2pm, 5:30pm – 9:30pm (Tues – Fri, Sun)
11am – 2pm, 5:30pm – 9:30pm (Sat), Closed Mon
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Ken Japanese Restaurant.