Take the creative whims of chefs at the top of their game, a love for Japanese kaiseki-style dining, a desire for adventure fuelled by pop-jazz and soft rock, and you’ll get newly opened Shoukouwa Shinjidai on the first floor of Conrad Singapore Orchard hotel.
As its name suggests, one of the patrons behind it is Kazumine Nishida, the head chef of the two-Michelin-starred Shoukouwa, working in collaboration with Emmanuel Stroobant, who himself runs two-starred Saint Pierre.
The second word, Shinjidai, means “a new age”, which – together with the industrial-chic concrete wall at the entrance and moody lighting in the cosy 13-seater restaurant – might give you a little hint of what to expect when you’re taking your place at the hinoki wood counter.
That is, kaiseki-style cuisine with a touch of playful edge. The omakase menu is just as luxurious as ever, teeming with fine ingredients harvested at their seasonal best and divvied into the appetisers, sashimi, soups, mains and dessert, but there’s a twist.
Every course is named after a popular song that you might even catch playing over the sound system – the playlist cycles through pop-jazz hits and soft rock bops, depending on your time of visit.
Moreover, every bite produced by Stroobant’s and Nishida’s team – some of whom have spent time honing their skills at the chefs’ main restaurants – will be given an avant-garde spark for contemporary palates.
These include the Hey Big Spender, featuring three types of caviars, done three ways; the Rule of Threes, another tri-themed dish comprising a trio of gohan (cooked rice dish) topped with soy-infused akami, chutoro and otoro; and Whet My Appetite, where an Amela tomato is crammed with Bafun uni and tenshi ebi before receiving a final drizzle of ponzu dressing.
There’s also the Born To Be Wild, comprising ankimo (monkfish), daikon and pickled persimmon cooked in a ponzu, dashi and mirin sauce; as well as Sweet Child O’ Mine, featuring kegani (hair crab) and rice in gazami crab roe sauce.
Says Stroobant, ““Shoukouwa Shinjidai fills the void in the fine dining market for a Japanese gastronomic experience that is anything but stuffy. Guests can leave formality at the door, interact freely with our team of chefs and savour dishes that are so awesomely delicious they’d want to come back for more.”
#01-03/04, Conrad Singapore Orchard, 1 Cuscaden Road. shoukouwa.shinjidai.com.sg