Sushi Sei is a new intimate Japanese restaurant located at the grounds of the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre. With its name alluding to a bright light, Sushi Sei brings Japan’s haute cuisine to Singapore in the form of a kaiseki meal. The restaurant is helmed by Master Kaiseki Chef Manabu Saitoh who has over 30+ years of culinary experience.
The space is quite a refined one, with an elegant wooden counter, textured satin walls and minimalistic decor such as a bonsai tree and an alluring and darkly lit private space near the entrance. The counter seats can fit up to 10 persons and the private room up to 6 persons.
Chef Saitoh regularly flies in ingredients from various parts of Japan, mostly from Toyosu Market in Tokyo and Hokkaido.
The restaurant serves omakase sushi kaiseki for dinner, priced at $400, $500 and $600 and comprising of up to six dishes followed by nigiri (sushi), dessert and freshly whisked matcha (green tea) to end. Lunch courses are available from $200 with a different set of dishes. At the time of launch, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner with just one seating per session. Currently, the restaurant is offering a 30% discount for all Citibank and UOB cardholders.
Chef Saitoh’s wife – Yu Aung – also works in the restaurant and acts as his translator. She also attends to guests and manages the restaurant’s social media.
Bestowed with the title of Master of Japanese Cuisine in 2021, Chef Saitoh naturally pays tribute to Japan’s top delicacies such as uni (sea urchin), karasumi (dried mullet roe) and konowata (cured intestines of the sea cucumber).
The zensai (entree) course features a host of unexpected items. Think: blue squid with the cured intestines of the sea cucumber (konowata), delicately treated and possessing a silky texture and rich umami. Other highlights in the entree are the smoked duck, octopus and flounder fish wrapped in dragon kombu. A small serving of cream cheese at the center completes the presentation and showcases Chef Saitoh’s playful side.
The sashimi course consisted of 4 types of sashimi – Tsubugai / Otoro / Botan Ebi / Flounder Fish. As can be expected, the sashimi were all very fresh. I especially loved the melt-in-your mouth goodness of the otoro.
For the meat course, we had the grilled A5 Miyazaki Wagyu, which was cooked medium rare, paired with potatoes and served with mountain wasabi. It was a rather generous portion of beef, with the marbling heavily evident despite being cooked.
For the nigiri sushi course, Chef Saitoh makes a sushi rice blend of Koshihikari rice from Niigata Prefecture and from Hokkaido, one which he updates each year after tasting and curating the new season’s rice. This grain is seasoned with red vinegar, wasanbon sugar and salt. His nigiri toppings are carefully chosen for seasonality and flavor, with different treatments to bring out more taste. For instance, kohada or gizzard shad is pickled for a sweeter impression, while kinmedai or golden eye snapper is lightly torched to render some of the fat and enhance its juiciness. For the most expensive S$600 omakase, the number of nigiri items can go up to 10.
We also received some handrolls before the desserts. Chef Saitoh was quite proud to serve as the uni handroll – using Bafun Uni that hails from Hokkaido when he also comes from. The handrolls were filled with copious portions of the creamy sea urchin and made for a wonderful last savory course.
As is the norm for omakase meals, we ended with fresh fruits for dessert. One notable difference was the champagne jelly that was added to the fruit bowl.
We were also served a hot cup of matcha after desserts, with Chef Saitoh whisking the tea right before our very eyes. While I love matcha, it is not often to find it during an omakase.
11 Cavenagh Road
Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre
Wednesday & Sunday: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 9.30pm
Tuesday & Thursday: 6pm – 9.30pm
Friday – Saturday: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm