Monday, June 29, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Kaiseki at Goto

Kaiseki is Japanese cuisine at its most refined - requiring much of the chef's skill, creativity and knowledge of ingredients, cooking methods and presentation to fashion a meal that is harmoniously in balance and pleasing.

At the kaiseki-only "Goto Japanese Restaurant", fresh seasonal ingredients are shipped in from Japan four times weekly to create very traditional Kyoto-style kaiseki meals. Chef Hisao Goto formerly cooked for Japanese diplomats and ambassadors, and is used to the highest expectations for his cooking. He and his very sweet wife run the place at Ann Siang Road.

I'm glad Foodbuzz chose to include my kaiseki idea in June's 24,24,24 series of posts. We had a ten-course kaiseki dinner (S$280+ or US$193+ per person), spanning three hours. Each course was an operatic homage to the blessings from nature. Right off the bat, we discovered exquisite new aromas, textures and tastes. Some of them completely defy definition!

Appetiser platter - kazunoko (in glass), aoume or Japanese plum, anago (sea eel) sushi, tako, zuiki (stem of taro) with ikura (salmon roe), yam with miso, edamame beans
1. Appetisers - kazunoko (crunchy herring roe) in glass, aoume or Japanese plum, anago (sea eel) sushi, tako (octopus), zuiki (stem of taro) with ikura (salmon roe), yam with miso, edamame beans. What a festive platter! I especially loved the aoume, so lovely and sweet.

Goto's wife takes great care in introducing each individual course and item, and she was even kind enough to write down for me the whole menu!

Soup - Ainame (green ling) with junsai, a summer delicacy
2. Soup - ainame (green ling, a fish). This clean-tasting soup had a surprise ingredient in it that tickled me to no end - junsai, a summer delicacy. The young sprouts sport a transparent jelly shield that looks so beautiful suspended in the clear soup. The sprouts themselves are springy and crunchy, whereas the jelly is slippery - what a marvellous juxtaposition!

The best sashimi I have ever had
3. Sashimi - easily the best and freshest we've ever had in Singapore! The presentation is simply a work of art! Served with real grated wasabi.

Uni - sea urchin, served in a regal cup
The intricately decorated cup yields really rich and creamy uni (sea urchin).

Hirame (flatfish)
The hirame (flatfish) has a separate ponzu dip. We loved the Momiji oroshi (spicy grated daikon radish with chili peppers) it came with.

Close-up of the sashimi main portion
Close-up of the main portions - fatty and lightly seared tuna that tastes like steak, kampachi (amber jack), hokkigai (surf clam), tairagai (pen shell), ika (squid), hamo (pipe conger eel), and shimaebi (striped shrimp).

Even the sliced green honeycomb-like stem was an eye-opener - so delicately crispy, it felt as though it was fizzing in your mouth.

Takiawase - steamed lotus root with eel and lily bulb
4. Takiawase (vegetable and fish cooked separately but simmered together) - steamed lotus root with eel and lily bulb. Underneath the brown ginger gelee, you will find the pureed lotus root atop the eel, sliced kikurage and lily bulbs.

Yakimono - Nodoguro (black throat sea perch)
5. Yakimono (grilled dish) - nodoguro (black throat sea perch). Wow, this blew us away. The fish is so unctuous, silken, and tasty. You just want more of it!

Agemono - Manganji pepper, small lady's finger, prawn with potato, ayu (sweet fish), sweetcorn
6. Agemono (fried items) - red Manganji pepper (from Kyoto) and small lady's finger in the foreground. Behind these are prawn with potato, ayu (sweet fish), juicy sweetcorn.

Agemono - Manganji pepper, small lady's finger, prawn with potato, ayu (sweet fish), sweetcorn
You eat these from left to right, with a squeeze of Japanese lime and a special leaf-infused salt. Everything was so cute and so delicious!

Meat course - Hidagyu beef steak
7. The meat course - beef steak. Oh we were thrilled! This is my first taste of Hida-gyu, and it's gorgeous. This beef comes from Japanese black cattle, and is almost as luxurious as Kobe beef.

Pickled cabbage and radishes
8. Rice course - we had lovely pickles, rice with ginger, and miso soup with nameko mushrooms.

Desserts - Custard Pudding, Orange Jelly with Kyoho Grapes, Japanese melon and peach, Melon ice cream
9. Desserts - Custard Pudding, Orange Jelly with Kyoho Grapes (them that taste like wine!), Japanese melon and peach, Melon ice cream. Japanese fruit is such a treat! The orange jelly is very intense.

Warabi Mochi
10. Warabi Mochi - wonderfully soft and chewy. Interestingly, it came with gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup, perhaps a nod to local ingredients.

Not sure if this is the eleventh course, but we finished with a freshly whisked bowl of good matcha (green tea). It refreshed the palate completely. The best thing is - you feel like you've eaten well, but also healthily too.

Goto's decor is stark, simple, yet cosy
Decor at Goto is starkly simple yet cosy (photography was quite challenging, due to the lighting). The place only has a few tables, seating less than 20.

They serve a mini Kaiseki for lunch at S$68+ (US$47+), and two options for dinner - Kaiseki at S$180+ (US$124+) and Chef's Special Kaiseki at $280+ (US$193+). There's a 10 per cent service charge but no taxes. Rreservations are required.

Goto is at 14 Ann Siang Road
This is no doubt my most extravagant meal ever, but one that's also truly sublime. Stepping through these doors is like being transported to Japan for a few hours of culinary bliss. Goto's kaiseki is a celebration of what life has provided for us in nature. It's certainly the place to go for the most special of occasions and with very loved ones.

14 Ann Siang Road #01-01
Singapore 069694
Tel: 6438-1553
Open Tues-Sat
Lunch (noon to 2.30pm, last order 1.30pm)
Dinner (6.30pm to 10.00pm, last order 8.30pm)
Closed Sundays and Monday


  1. ooo... this place looks absolutely alluring! both the food and the deco.

  2. I've been following your blog for a while and I always look forward to reading it on Monday mornings after you post your weekend adventures!

    I love the pics you took at Goto. I work nearby and have always wondered whether the experience was worth the price! Will try it someday for myself...on a really special occasion.

  3. Nice pix! The food looks really gorgeous and delicious!

  4. You are so fortunate.
    I was wondering as I was looking at the Agemono photos that you taken. The small lady finger has beads of tempura instead of it been coated with batter. How did they achieve that?

  5. oh man, i need to get some tips from you how to get the 24 from foodbuzz. hahahaha. this is one extravagent meal!

  6. the pictures are so yummy! do you use a dslr for your pictures or a point and shoot?

  7. Keropokman: yeah the food is amazing, but best reserved for special occasions.

    HungryHippo: thank you very much! yes, Goto is quite something, but I'll have to tighten my belt for a few weeks after this.

    HFB: thanks.

    Unlimitedfeast: yeah, I am asking the same question. I love those cute little crispy fried beads! Do they stick it on after frying or before, and how does it adhere?

    LIC: Haha, yes, it was extravagant indeed. Your wallet will cry but your heart will sing. Now my turn to eat

  8. Faith: yes, I used a DSLR for this. I still keep my P&S handy for certain days though.

  9. hahahaha cheers to eating bread! I got an idea, why don't we both blog on eating bread cos we are too broke! hahahhaa.

    but at least it's "subsidized" by foodbuzz, so the damage not so bad. heh

  10. Good kaiseki are usually really expensive! But love them so much, can only have them once in a while. The uni looks SO delicious, absolutely love it. The warabi mochi looks special too, with gula melaka, would love to try it out.

  11. LIC: Blog bread? Eh I did that before leh! Hahaha!

    Well, yes, Foodbuzz helped to reduce the dining cost, but even so, this was still the most expensive meal I've ever had.

    Sugar Bean: Yeah, kaiseki is normally beyond my budget! But some things you just gotta try at least once in a lifetime.

    HungryCow: The hida-gyu steak is calling your name! :D

  12. Your pictures are breathtaking. What an experience! Really interesting 24 post.

  13. Wow, thanks for the intro, the wonderful review, and the amazing photography!

  14. Not bad man. Tried to get the 24 from foodbuzz as well. Not so easy, haha. Lovely and Appetizing Pics! Man.


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