Tucked away on the second floor at Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3 is the classy and cosy Misaki. Run by Owner-chef Khor, Misaki is definitely a go-to place for a true omakase experience with a chef that understands and enjoys the nature of custom-cook menus.
Dinner started with a delightful three-piece zensai (前菜, appetizer). To whet our appetites, we started with a glass of salty-sweet-sour junsai vinegar. Junsai, known as chun cai (莼菜, water-shield) in mandarin,is an aquatic plant that has a naturally slippery coating – which explains it’s delightful jelly-like texture.
Junsai is not commonly served in Singapore, making Misaki one of the few places to try it and we strongly recommend that you do.
The broiled sazae (栄螺, turban shell fish) was up next. Served in it’s shell, the sazae had a chewy, crunchy texture with a slightly bitter aftertaste, especially the darker bits towards the end. A delicacy in Japan, its flavour and flesh is similar to abalone and it doesn’t have the usual shellfish smell at all.
Last, but not least, on the plate was a delicate trio of cubed mentaiko (明太子, pollock roe) and kazunoko (数の子, herring roe). This was a particularly fun dish because of the way the tiny balls burst in our mouths with every satisfying crunch we took. It had a light spicy taste that rounded out the rest of the flavours we had before nicely.
Next up was the sashimi platter with tsubugai (つぶ貝, whelk), aji (鯵, Japanese jack mackerel), botan ebi (ボタンエビ, botan shrimp), takabe (たかべ, yellow-striped butter fish) and ootoro (大トロ, tuna belly).
The tsubugai was chewier and less crunchy than the sazae but no less delicious, while the aji was clear and clean with a light taste. The botan ebi was soft and creamy with a soft yet firm texture. The takabe and ootoro were cut into thick slices which made sure you got a good mouthful of flavour when you chewed down on it. The ootoro was well-marbled, buttery and soft.
Once you’re done with this course, the botan ebi‘s head will be taken back into the kitchen and deep fried for you to eat later.
The third course was the osusume, itoyori (糸縒鯛 golden threadfin-bream) with ikura (イクラ, salmon roe) and daikon (大根, radish). Itoyori is a autumn season fish and is commonly served during this time of the year in Japan. The fish was suitably flakey with a light flavour while the radish was firm, soft and watery. Biting into the radish released a mouthful of mild tasting juice, which complemented the itoyori without overpowering it. The ikura lent a burst of saltiness to the dish.
The lightly fried fish is topped with a frothy egg white that looks and feels soft and fluffy like snow. Chef Khor, the owner and head chef at Misaki says, “Presentation is extremely important, especially nowadays because people like to take so many photos of their food before eating it.”
He goes on, “This is one of the things that I really love about Japanese cuisine – it’s a kind of art. It’s important that food looks good. It has to appeal to your different senses – it has to make you excited and hungry from the moment you see it. I like to see the look on a customer’s face when I surprise them with how good a dish looks and tastes.”
Chef Khor started his career in Japanese cuisine over 20 years ago, at a fine dining establishment, Izuei, in Ueno, Tokyo in 1992. Under the tutelage of his oyakata (親方, father figure/sensei), he came to learn the inside-outs of running an establishment, the intricacies of Japanese kitchen and food culture, as well as the importance, dedication and respect food and ingredients deserve. You can see Chef Khor’s passion as his eyes light up and his voice take on a happy tone as he regales you with tales of his adventures at Izuei. If you’ve the chance, sit by the counter and chat with him as it’s a great way to make dinner more fun and entertaining.
For the fourth course, Chef Khor served up a tummy warming osuimono (おすいもの, clear soup). The kombu (昆布, seaweed) soup base had a slightly herbal, green taste, which made it stand out against all the fish dishes from earlier and the hamaguri (はまぐり, common orient clam) was chewy but not tough at all.
Next was the sushi selection starring hotate (ほたて, scallop) with truffle, hirame (平目, flounder), zuwai kani (ずわいかに, snow crab) with kani miso (かにみそ, crab guts) , hon maguro (本鮪, bluefin tuna) and negi toro-ikura-uni (葱とろ, イクラ, 海胆chopped tuna belly, salmon roe and sea urchin) . The sushi was fresh, and the flavours of the seafood stood out well, especially with the smidgen of dressing that Chef Khor chose for each piece.
The highlight however, was the negi toro-ikura-uni sushi. It takes a bit of skill to get the rather large sushi in one bite, but you won’t regret it. As you chew on it, the trio of flavours explode in turn – it’s a bit like having a party in your mouth, with each flavour standing out without over-powering the next or previous one.
Dinner closed with a delightful scoop of kuro goma ( 黒ごま, black sesame) ice cream topped with sweet adzuki beans.
Dining at Misaki is truly a sensory experience. A feast for the eyes and the taste buds, you not only get beautifully presented dishes and a taste of a wide variety of flavours but you also get to feel the different textures as well.
If you’re around MBFC Tower 3 around lunch time, you can grab an omakase set for just $100, but be warned that it can get really packed due to the office lunch hour crowd. Dinner omakase sets start at $150 and go up to $300. If you’ve money, time and tummy space to spare, we recommend going for the $300 set. You’ll need to make a reservation a week in advance as Chef Khor will take the extra time and care to order ingredients to prepare a special culinary experience for you, and take it from us, it’s definitely worth it.
MISAKI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
12 Marina Boulevard,
Marina Bay Financial Centre,
Tower 3 #02-08 Singapore 018982
Lunch: 11.30am-3pm (Last Order: 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6pm-10pm (Last Order: 9.45pm)