Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Hibiki - Sakae Goes Upmarket
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.
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.
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.
A very generous slab of cod, but a little bit overcooked and dry. The slightly rubbery skin also stuck to the flesh.
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!
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.
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 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
Open daily 11.30am - 2.30pm; 6pm - 10pm
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