In this city without seasons, the best way to experience the turn of the weather is through chef Takeshi Araki’s modern Japanese kappo cuisine, at this cosy shophouse restaurant tucked away in the serene River Valley neighbourhood. His menu foregrounds the beauty and flavours of seasonal produce, against a light-filled interior that inspires contemplative enjoyment.
The newly launched winter tasting menu features a litany of hits, such as their delightfully textural foie gras monaka (a type of Japanese sweet involving paste sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from mochi) and kasujiru, a silky collagenic soup made with sea bream stock, white miso and sake lees, served with a tender slice of dashi-braised abalone.
Esora delivers no less than a walk through a snow-filled moss garden wrought in miniature, with their winter hassun. This seasonal platter of four small bites – which includes deep-fried blue eggplant with lobster butter and uni, winter yellowtail sashimi and ankimo (monkfish liver) – are arranged around fluffy, moss-like green ball dianthus flowers sprinkled over with ground rice evocative of snow. If this culinary spread and visual experience doesn’t transport you to the cold and calm of a Japanese countryside, nothing will – though admittedly, the rainy season here in Singapore does help set the mood.
Each dish is expertly paired with your choice of tea or sake. However you decide to indulge, just don’t forget to take home your personal pair of cherry wood chopsticks as a souvenir of when you stepped into a different world.