New branding means new things, and for The Royal Garden’s Shikigiku – formerly known as Inagiku – it means bolder takes on Japanese cuisine and incorporating the group’s renowned pastry chef Rachel Ngai into its line-up. The kaiseki restaurant that’s famous for its tempura has presented its guests with a delectable menu to commemorate this occasion.
While the seven-course kaiseki menu ($1,580 per person) might provide many with a case of sticker shock, it’s comprised of fantastic ingredients including uni (sea urchin), Wagyu beef and lobster, so the price seems worth it.
Among the impressive selection, the favourite of our hosted dinner was the Miken lobster simmered in chef’s stock. There’s a trick to preparing lobster, and getting just the right balance between being cooked and tender is a difficult one. This balance is harder to grasp when the shellfish is boiled – when the chef is unable to see the ingredient, the timing is completely reliant on his or her experience.
Seemingly simple in its presentation, the lobster flesh had a clean bite and a strong aroma of the broth in which it was cooked. The treat of this dish was not only the delicious shellfish but also the accompanying soup.
Next came the anticipated tempura dishes that never fail to impress.
Combining ingredients when deep-frying has always proven difficult, as it’s no small feat to balance the texture and doneness of several ingredients while keeping the batter light and crisp. But Chef Kunio Sakuma does this with the style and flair of a master who has dedicated a lifetime to his craft. The tempura batter was so light and airy that it was almost like it didn’t even exist, and the meat and seafood were fried just to the point of being cooked, with a flawless bite.
We think tempura Wagyu beef roll with sea urchin is too simple a name for this dish. It should have one of those one-word names that alludes to the feeling of eating the dish – or, if Shikigiku were like Gaggan with an emoji menu, this one would be the face with tears streaming down, to represent the tears of joy you will experience when you’ve tasted perfection in the form of shiso and uni deep-fried with Wagyu beef.
Dessert is a focus at Shikigiku, and with the addition of Chef Ngai to the staff, we were equally bowled over by the sweets. We suspect that the dessert changes with the seasons, but for our meal it was Kyoto mikan, or honey mandarin jelly. Served in its entire peel, a few slices of peeled citrus lay atop a jelly made of the fruit’s juices. The mandarin slices were devoid of any veins and were as naturally sweet as candy, living up to the hype of this high-end Japanese fruit.
Come for the Wagyu-and-sea-urchin combo, which in itself is worth an evening here. Inagiku had been a good choice when considering an upscale Japanese meal before, but we think the ante has just been upped amongst Japanese restaurants around town, given the level of sophistication we’ve experienced at Shikigiku.
1/F, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, TST East, 2733 2933, firstname.lastname@example.org
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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