What do you get when you combine the sensibilities of 2 Two Michelin-starred restaurants? Newly opened Shoukouwa Shinjidai, inside the ground level of Conrad Singapore Orchard, is a creative collaboration between Chefs Emmanuel Stroobant and Kazumine Nishida, both Two Michelin-starred chefs of Saint Pierre and Shoukouwa respectively.
The 13-seater venue is named Shoukouwa Shinjidai, with Shinjidai 新時代 referring to a new era. It aims to describe the kaiseki-inspired cuisine with an innovative edge. Rather than a straightforward Japanese kaiseki restaurant, you’ll find western presentation methods as well.
Shoukouwa Shinjidai is open for both lunch and dinner. They offer the 10-course Kaze (S$250) or 12-course Mio (S$380) for lunch and the 12-course Mio (S$380) and 14-course Yume (S$480) for dinner. Each course here is quirkily named after a song – some which are part of the restaurant’s playlist as well.
We started off with Hey Big Spender, with the Shirley Bassey classic being compared to a duo of caviar. The first was shiro ebi with sudachi zest topped with La Maison Nordique Shadi caviar, paired with crispy nori (seaweed) tartlet and nori. The second was La Maison Nordique Baeri caviar on top of bonito bavarois and pickled pearl onions served with potato blinis. The caviar boasts medium-sized grains with a firm texture.
The platter was exquisitely presented and came with an aperitif – in this case it was So Jennie Rosé, a non-alcoholic sparkling rosé.
Next came Whet My Appetite, a song aptly named for the Amela tomato and bafun uni jelly-wrapped ensemble that came next. This was enhanced with a palate-opening citrus ponzu dressing which was the highlight of the dish in my opinion with its wonderfully sour notes.
Most of the songs that the dishes take after are retro songs but I could never really tell with Good Thing as there are at least two songs, 30+ years apart, with the same title. But it does not matter, as the Alaskan king crab with gingko nut and crab consomme was a good thing indeed. It also came with a kumquat peel which I gently pressed upon the crab meat for an extra zest.
There’s a feeling of rebirth with the Like a Virgin course. Just when you thought the course was over, you get served one dish after the other. This was actually a trio of sashimi, which I imagine would differ based on the season. During the dinner, I had yellowtail, rockfish and scallops. These all came fresh and sweet. But after being impressed by the uniqueness of the cooked dishes that preceded it, the feeling of anticipation perhaps took a breather here.
Monkfish liver or ankimo is something I see being used more often in kaiseki or omakase offerings in Singapore over the past year. Born to be Wild – as it is called here – came wonderfully creamy and sweet, accented with pickled persimmon.
The chawanmushi course, titled Sweet Child O’ Mine, was a lux-ed up version of the egg custard with a generous topping of Japanese hairy crab in gazami crab roe sauce and a touch of wasabi. While I enjoyed the chawanmushi, the song association was quite lost on me for this dish though.
The next few courses aptly called Rule of Threes consisted of tuna in varying degrees of fattiness – from akami to chutoro to otoro. Each piece was served as a mini don with the last one, the otoro, sporting an almost melt-in-your-mouth quality. Each piece also came with a different condiment, from the genmaicha shoyu of the akami to sudachi for the otoro.
Perhaps as a homage to Singapore’s mala craze, the next course, Big in Japan, saw finely chopped maguro, white goma and leek, brushed with mala soya sauce and presented as a nori wrap. The mala flavor was definitely perceptible but was not sharp nor was it too spicy in any way. That was quite unexpected and provided for a welcome variety in flavors during the dinner.
Going back to cooked dishes, Some Like It Hot featured black seaperch from Shiba prefecture that was grilled and topped with wasabi, served with shoyu and white sushi rice from Yamagata.
The main carbohydrate dish of the evening – Comfortably Numb – was a delightful medley of black winter truffle and 4 types of mushrooms (matsusake, maitake, enoki and kuro awabi-take). It was cooked in a claypot and was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. No fancy sauces but the kinki brone both served to enhance the richness of this claypot rice.
Looking like a laboratory experiment – Just the Way You Are, is a soothing tisane that is served before dessert. It consisted of various herbs such as Angelica Leaf, Mint, Chrysanthemum and Burdock Root.
We ended the meal with a trio dessert. The first – How Sweet It Is – consisted of musk melon from Shizuoka and Nashi pear from Tottori. The melon was sweet indeed.
The last two, a creme caramel called Need a Little Taste of Love and a bonbon called Little by Little, the latter being filled with genmaicha ganache. I normally don’t like bonbons but I loved the aromatic genmaicha flavor on this one.
I have gone for a number of kaiseki and omakase dinners this year and I have to say that Shoukouwa Shinjidai was perhaps one of the best I have tried in 2023 (along with Ikkagoyo). It is evident that a lot of thought went into developing the menu. The cheesy use of song titles aside, I enjoyed the well-nuanced flavors of the cooked dishes as well as the novel elements introduced. Many of the dishes obviously entailed a great amount of detail to make.
1 Cuscaden Rd, #01-03/04
+65 8010 9939
Tuesday to Satuday, 1 to 10PM (opens at 6PM on Tuesdays)