Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hibiki - Sakae Goes Upmarket

Possibly the Hibiki Hanamaki Moriawase
The newly relaunched Cuppage Terrace is flanked on both ends by Japanese eateries. You have Tamaya at the rear and then you have Hibiki in front, which is run by Apex-Pal, the homegrown group that owns Sakae Sushi. This is Apex-Pal's second foray into "Japanese fine-dining" - there's already a Hibiki at the Singapore Flyer.

Yes, we all have our different opinions about Sakae Sushi. So how would its higher-end sister restaurant fare? I was impressed that they were the most media-savvy of all the restaurants there, ready with their press releases and welcoming hospitality (big thanks!). The food, however, was rather hit-and-miss, personally.

Hibiki boasts an outdoor sumiyaki (charcoal grill) patio
They were highlighting their sumiyaki (charcoal grill) items the evening I was there. It was quite nice to see an outdoor grill, rather than be cooped up indoors smelling like the things you eat. The grilled items (mostly S$3-8) varied in quality but in general, lack the finesse found at specialists like Kazu which is just next door at Cuppage Plaza.

Maki menu at Hibiki
The menu is largely put together by their Japanese executive chef Toshihiro Ueda or Tommy-san, who has 30 years of experience at restaurants in Australia and five-star hotels. Sake and shochu are available to accompany your meal.

Grilled cod
A very generous slab of cod, but a little bit overcooked and dry. The slightly rubbery skin also stuck to the flesh.

Ankimo - monkfish liver
Aaahh, ankimo (S$12) or monkfish liver. Foie gras of the sea. Firm texture with very subtle creamy flavour. The ponzu dressing tended to overwhelm the dish though. It was salty enough to pickle my blood vessels!

Sumi Udon - charcoal udon - I liked this the best!
Ironically, the dish I enjoyed the most was the one I didn't take a photo of (camera fatigue had set in). Chilled sumi udon (charcoal udon, S$12), like grey inaniwa noodles with springy bite. Very refreshing. I'd come back for this.

Some tofu pudding
They have various pudding style desserts (around S$6). These are really firm and dense. The tofu one I tried was almost solid. Not quite my thing but perhaps the other flavours fare better. There's a green tea tofu cheesecake version, lauded as a healthy dessert.

Dinner sets available from S$32 to S$52 (click on photos to see larger version and text).

Hibiki is Sakae gone upmarket
Hibiki means a resounding sound or resonance. But despite its loftier aims, it can't seem to shake off echoes of Sakae. That doesn't mean it won't prove popular though. Sakae has its fans, who will probably appreciate this gateway into the finer aspects of Japanese dining.

I have a S$10 voucher to give away to the first person who requests it in the comments. Voucher is valid til 20th Nov 2008, and has no minimum purchase required. Other terms & conditions apply.

19 Cuppage Terrace
Tel: 6736-0326
Open daily 11.30am - 2.30pm; 6pm - 10pm


  1. Oh dang it. I just missed it! Any prizes for the second one?

  2. Omigosh, you guys are fast! OK Lois gets the voucher. Just email me your name and mailing address to camemberu (at) gmail!

    Sorry, Spitfire, but I'm going to blog something else tomorrow with an offer everyone can enjoy!

  3. The problem with sakae is that, they have already establish and people perceive them as an affordable average jap restaurant by LOCAL. If you are thinking of fine dinning or something more classy, traditional, cultural. Sakae won't be on your mind at all.

  4. jackson: that's true... especially the ones who dislike sakae and condemed it... there are alot of those.

    The pudding dessert pic looks tempting though :D

  5. I had a fit of lulz when I read this... "It was salty enough to pickle my blood vessels!"

  6. ahh.. upmarket sakae eh? i think its fine if people don't know hibiki belongs to the same management as Sakae, but if they know, i guess the initial impression won't be that good.

  7. Jackson, Ben-G and LIC: yup, that's the trouble, I guess. Sakae is a budget brand and the quality of food is similarly so.

    Hibiki does try to be different. Will be interesting to see how they compete with other fine-dining Japanese restaurants, of which there are many.

    Southernoise: hehe! That's what mah blood vessels felt like!

  8. Went to hibiki today for dinner..i like the california roll and sumi udon..the black pig shabu shabu was good too very tender meat..my fav though is the sho-chu ice cream..im alr missing it =P

  9. Ah yes, I like the sumi udon best of all the things I tried there. I should bring hubby there to try. Noted on the shochu ice cream - sounds interesting.

  10. Just spied in I.S magazine that Hibiki has a lunch & dinner buffet now. Daily lunch buffet @ $20.90++ is only valid for one hour upon arrival. Dinner buffet @ $26.90++ is available from 5.30 - 10pm daily. HSBC credit card holders enjoy 5th diner buffet free for every 4 buffets purchased. Offer good till end May 2009. Its a limited menu seperate from the a la carte but I have yet to check it out. Hopefully the buffet will not dissapoint.


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