Ishi is the latest outfit to join the bevy of fine-dining Japanese restaurants in Singapore. Located on the second level of the new Intercontinental Robertson Quay, it serves Kappo cuisine, which features both cold and hot preparation using the season’s best ingredients.
This place is an exercise in understated elegance from the moment we set foot in the restaurant, until our final sip of green tea before we leave the premises. There aren’t many decisions to make from the moment we take our seats. Once we choose the omakase menu, which includes two appetisers, sashimi, wagyu beef, nigiri sushi, a rice bowl and negitoro roll, all we have to do is go with the flow. (The dinner menu also offers seven or 12 pieces of sushi, along with appetiser, sashimi and a rice bowl.)
The counter seating allows us to watch the chefs meticulously carve a variety of fish. As he prepares the dishes, affable head chef Masaaki Sakashita happily chats with guests about the different ingredients.
A highlight for many is the A4 Miyazaki beef served with snow salt from Hiroshima, Japan. We are told that a factory specially presses Japanese salt into delicate specks that resemble snow flakes. Sprinkle this over thin slices of grilled well-marbled wagyu and enjoy with freshly grated wasabi and garlic chips.
Before the sushi items are served, we get a petite portion of snapper and creamy monkfish liver, as well as tempura of baby corn from Hokkaido – lightly battered and non-greasy.
Soon the procession of sushi begins. We get well-cooked and expertly moulded rice, draped with fish like sea bream and maguro. For us, standout sushi items include the Spanish mackerel sharpened with mildly spicy and acidic mustard seeds. There’s also the black throat sea perch, spiked with a touch of homemade chilli fermented with koji and soya sauce for three months.
Towards the end of our sushi course, we are rewarded with a generous piece of lightly torched otoro sushi. We round off the meal with a Hokkaido rice bowl topped with plump ikura and uni, and a comforting bowl of miso soup. For sweets, expect a light dessert that changes with the season. Ours is a scoop of sake lees ice cream with sweet Japanese melon.
Before the exquisite meal is over, the kimono-clad waitress ferries cups of hot tea to us and then proceeds to pour sake into our glasses, discreetly and with much finesse.