It’s spring-to-summer time, and we can all start to appreciate the tropical flowers blooming all over our isle. Not for cherry blossoms though, ’cos for one, we don’t really have them here, and two, we can’t exactly fly over to Japan right now for sakura-viewing. Tis’ okay, since we have more than enough sakura season-inspired sushi, dishes, snacks and drinks from the 6 dining spots listed here, to bring some cherry-coloured cheer to our cheeks.
As with every changing of the seasons in Japan, so does the menu of this Japanese resto; this time round, it’s the Blossoms of Joy Spring Menu. As with all of its themed dishes, the ones here are made with fresh produce and are seasonal (FYI, they will be available till mid-June, but don’t dilly-dally). For starters, pick the Truffle Foie Gras Chawanmushi ($12.80) that has pan-fried foie gras served on warm egg custard and drizzled with truffle oil – it is both a palate opener and also a fill-you-upper, with the slices of slightly crispy foie gras being more than moreish. This same foie gras also makes an appearance in the Satsuma Wagyu Steak Foie Gras ($33.80), that serves Satsuma wagyu that’s produced by Mizusako Farm, one of Japan’s largest black cattle breeding farms, that feeds its cattle with roasted soybeans. Drench the tender beef with its accompanying shooter glass of truffle steak sauce for extra yumminess.
Need more carbs or dishes to share with your group of 8? Try the Kaisen Blossom Roll ($14.80, pictured above), a crunchy fried salmon sushi roll that’s topped with caviar, cod roe mayonnaise and camellia buri, amberjack that’s farm-raised on a camellia oil-enriched diet, resulting in fish meat that contains oleic acid, said to help lower cholesterol and aid skin repair. To end your meal, opt for the Edamame Cream Puff ($7.80), a pastry that’s air-flown direct from Japan that’s not only sweet and creamy, but to some diners, also carries a hint of the taste of kaya!
Taki Izakaya Bar
Need tipples with your food to get into the sakura season mood? Try the Roku Gin cocktail pairing menu (available from 5 April till 15 May) at this new-ish bar in Raffles Place. And if you didn’t already know, Roku Gin is from the famed House of Suntory, that’s known for its Japanese craft gin which takes a full year to be produced with the distillery’s infusion of 6 unique Japanese botanicals.
There are three special cocktail and food pairings to be had here: the white foam and dark mauve coloured Spring Equinox cocktail and Hanami dish featuring Kapachi sashimi with Sakura gel; the Me & U Negroni + Aperol + Umeshu cocktail and applewood- and Genmaicha-smoked Kogane Matsuri fish dish; and Spring Garden’s Genmaicha-infused rice, sautéed with Maitake mushrooms and carrots, that’s served with a fruity and floral Sloe Dancing cocktail. Any of these pairings are perfect for your after-work chillout dates.
If you want a full-on experience of what sakura season’s like in Japan, head to IPPUDO Mandarin Gallery. The resto has gone completely “pinked-out” with sakura flowers bedecking the whole place – so you Instagrammers better scuttle down fast to take your pretty-in-pink pics.
Done with the posts, back to the food and drinks (available from 1 April), which, btw, also look great for the Insta. The Ohanami Sakura Umegaemochi may be a mouthful, but is also mouthwatering. Hailing from IPPUDO’s Fukuoka Prefecture hometown, this traditional Japanese speciality rice cake with Azuki bean filling is a must-have when visiting Fukuoka’s famous Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine. Here, the sweet dessert is updated with real sakura petals, and served with a pot of Sakura Green Tea that comes with an in-full-bloom sakura flower within ($6 per set). For wine bibbers, there’s the Ohanami Sakura Cocktail ($7 per glass), a sweet plum wine with a cherry blossom colour and aroma, that comes crowned with a floating sakura blossom and dusted with festive pink sprinkles. So sugoi!
Nothing spells “Japan” than the ubiquitous sushi. Add sakura to the recipe and – Uwa! – you get the awesome foursome from Sushi-GO (available for the whole month of April). These are its April Ohanami Specials: Sakura Roll ($2.50) that’s made with sakura ebi, sakura fish powder, egg, cucumber, shrimp roe and crab stick; sakura ebi-flecked Sakura Ebi Tempura ($6.20); a citrusy Tai Yuzu Sushi ($3.20) topped with salted kelp; and the limited-edition Sakura Jelly ($3.80) that’s moulded to look like a flower. And all of these nom-noms are sent to where you’re sat via the resto’s Shinkansen bullet train-shaped conveyor belt – it’s deliciousness, express-delivered.
Kuriya Japanese Market
Want to enjoy sakura-inspired fare both in the comfort of your home and at a dining spot? Head to Kuriya Japanese Market. Aside from the myriad of spring season offerings (that start from an affordable $2) such as Sakura Monaka, Sakura Daifuku Mochi, and Strawberry and Blueberry Jelly-Filled Marshmallows, you can also get to enjoy new sushi creations that all feature seasoned sakura shrimp. Pick from Sakura Ebi Inari (rice with cucumber chunks wrapped in sweet beancurd skin); Sakura Hako Sushi (Japanese sea bream, salmon and tuna in a sushi block); and Sakura Duo Maki (it comes with Japanese sea bream, avocado, egg, cucumber and Japanese rice seasoning).
A must-eat exclusive at the chain’s Great World outlet: Sakura Tai Chirashi Don, that has Japanese sea bream, a rose-shaped salmon sashimi and salmon roe served atop a bed of sakura shrimp-flavoured sushi rice. Your window of opportunity to try all of these: 1 April to 31 May 2021.
Prices on application. Available at Kuriya Japanese Market, multiple locations, www.kuriyajapanesemarket.com.sg; www.facebook.com/KuriyaJapaneseMarket; www.instagram.com/kuriyajapanesemarket.sg. The Sakura Tai Chirashi Don is only available at 1 Kim Seng Promenade, Great World, #B1-133, 237994 (within &JOY Dining Hall).
Syun by Hal Yamashita
With its repute for Japanese fine-dining featuring air-flown ingredients from Japan, this outpost by celebrity chef Hal Yamashita is the go-to if you want to taste the very best that Japanese food has to offer. Don’t miss their first-ever Sakura Feast, aptly named Beauty that blossoms on the palate (such a nice sounding name, don’t you think?), which offers delicacies such as the Mizu-tako carpaccio with hassaku (Japanese grapefruit) salsa shaped like a pretty cherry blossom bloom (pictured here) and “Sake” steamed sakura-dai (Japanese sakura sea bream) with sakura risotto, fava bean and sakura-ebi. And to round off your meal, be sure to order the multi-layered Roku Gin Tonic ($18++) or the Roku Gin Mojito ($18++), both artisanally crafted using Roku Gin, made from traditional Japanese botanicals such as the sakura flower, yuzu peel, sencha tea, sansho pepper, gyokuro tea and more.
Available at Syun by Hal Yamashita, #02-135 & 135A Resorts World Sentosa Crockfords Tower, 26 Sentosa Gateway, 098138; www.rwsentosa.com/en/restaurants/syun
Featured image: Sushi Tei