Kappo Shunsui is a Japanese restaurant located in Hongkong Street, Singapore. The restaurant specializes in kappo-style cuisine, which is a traditional Japanese dining style that emphasizes the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and simple preparation techniques.
Getting here requires a keen eye for detail. Just like some of the other establishments located in the Hongkong Street stretch, the entrance to Kappo Shunsui is via an unassuming door, with just a delicate flower hung at eye level to distinguish it. Once inside, diners will have to journey through a darkened corridor to reach the 12-seat dining chamber.
Compared to other omakase places, Kappo Shunsui deliberately wants diners to see the preparation process in detail. The chef’s preparation area is akin to a performance stage, where his every slice and chop is projected on two screens for diners to see.
The menu at Kappo Shunsui features a variety of dishes, including sashimi, sushi, grilled meats, and seafood. The restaurant also offers a selection of sake to complement the food. The dinner omakase experience ranges from the S$280 Minamo Course to the S$380 Kacho Seasonal Omakase to the S$480 Premium Omakase Shunsui. For this particular occasion, I tried the S$480 menu which came with sake pairing.
The dinner starts with a Kanpai as each diner gets a welcome drink in the form of sparkling sake. This drink is followed by Shiroebi or white shrimp and caviar encased in a crunchy ice cream cone.
The next course – the Sakizuke or appetizer, consists of a trio of beguiling dishes that are emblematic of the season. During my visit in May, we were delighted with the delicate yet chewy texture of hamaguri (hard clam) smoked with hojicha before being lifted by the earthy flavors of matcha miso and completed by a shot of hojicha to cleanse the palate. I had never thought of matcha or hojicha as a sauce before. The taste was familiar to me as I do consume matcha regularly but novel at the same time as I never imagined it in a savory dish.
This was followed by the vividly colored half lemon turned into a bowl. Within it were the distinct flavors of akagai (ark shell) expertly paired with the subtly sweet ise ebi (spiny lobster), the wonderfully sour notes of dashi vinegar jelly with the citrusy and tart lemon and mango.
Completing the trio is the fatty and flavorful kinki (thornyhead fish) lifted by the nutty notes of fresh usuiendo mame (green peas) sauce.
The Otsukiri or sashimi course comprised of incredibly tender tachiuo (belt fish) alongside the delicate kinmedai (golden eye snapper) and honmaguro toro (bluefin tuna fatty belly) – the latter with a melt in your mouth texture. Before thinking that it’s the end of the sashimi course, the server politely asked me to lift up the konbu marinate paper beneath the shiso leaf to unveil slices of lean and mildly sweet isaki (chicken grunt). The sashimi offerings changes regularly, depending on what the team is able to fly in from Japan.
The cold dishes were excellent but Chef Shim’s versatility truly shines through with the hot dishes, starting with the Shabu (hot dish) featuring kegani (hairy crab) where succulent and sweet pieces of crab meat is served in an incredibly rich and savory broth filled with velvety kani miso (crab liver).
For the Yakimono (grilled dish), we had fresh amadai (tilefish) sitting atop fresh sea urchin with the actual flesh of the sea urchin still sticking to the prickly surface. I loved the grated radish vinegar sauce sitting atop the tilefish – it was refreshing and served to prepare us for the next course.
The seafood delights continue with the Agemono (deep fried dish) where delicate Anago (conger eel) is meticulously deep-fried and topped with a generous serving of rich and creamy Murasaki uni (sea urchin) before being presented atop a sheet of crunchy and briny seaweed, the sweet Anago melts in one’s mouth alongside the briny flavor of the sea urchin. This is meant to be eaten like a roll, with the the crunchy seaweed enveloping the eel and sea urchin. It was such a delightful course to devour with the creamy sea urchin splattering out of the seaweed as it entered my mouth.
The theatricality of the omakase course was perhaps most evident during the Shiizakana (main dish), with the A5 Miyazaki wagyu tenderloin briefly seared in a fiery blaze before being served with stalks of grilled baby corn topped with shavings of aromatic black truffle and a savory onion sauce. The meat came tender and was easy on the mouthfeel despite having no knife to slice the rather bulky chunks.
Lastly, Oshokuji (rice dish) featured the remaining meat from the hairy crab earlier, lightly fried with rice and cooked in a donabe (earthenware pot). This allowed the richness of the sweet hairy crab meat to permeate the fluffy rice before being served with a starchy sauce.
We ended the meal with a series of Mizugashi (dessert). Chef whisks a number of bowls of matcha with hot water to create an intense, full-bodied tea. This is served alongside sweet and chewy Ichigo-daifuku (strawberry mochi), my favorite kind of Japanese dessert.
The second dessert was the creamy white sesame ice cream with black sesame senbei (rice cracker), and Kiyomi orange. I was beyond stuffed by this stage and could not finish the second dessert.
Overall, Kappo Shunsui is the kind of place that combines theatricality with excellent food. The techniques used were absolutely stellar and my eyes were fed just as much as my tummy. I loved the equal emphasis on sushi and cooked dishes, as how kappo cuisine is supposed to be. During the course of the 3 hour or so dinner, I felt like I was out of Singapore for a while. It was not just due to the interiors but it was also due to the sheer detail of the culinary team whose work I could see from the projector. At the very end of the meal, Chef even made a small ritual by striking a stone to generate sparks behind me to wish me good luck.
17 Hongkong Street
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30AM to 2PM & 6:45PM to 11PM