Omakase restaurants in Singapore may be a dime a dozen, but new Japanese restaurant Sushi Yujo is definitely worth a try. For one person, their lunch sets start at just $38. When headed up by Chef Desmond Fong, formerly of Les Amis’ Sushi Jin, the Amara in Tanjong Pagar shows great promise. He has over 20 years of experience and is well versed in bringing his own personal touch to traditional Japanese omakase.
Seafood is flown in four times a week from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market, so you can expect the freshest ingredients. In our case, we tried the omakase-yujo dinner ($288), which comes with five types of sashimi, two cooked plates, and five pieces of sushi. First, three of the appetizers which included baby abalone tokuboshi, ankimo (monk liver) and shiro ebi with bavun ebi. Everything went fine – especially the enkimo that melted in our mouths. Monk fish liver is commonly known as sea foie gras, so there is no doubt that this was one of our favorite dishes.
Then we moved on to carpaccio tai (fish of the sea). This was, again, another standout dish. It’s made this way with a generous drizzle of truffle and shoyu oil, then topped with truffle caviar and shio kombu – all in all, a delicate dish that’s not traditionally Japanese but still delicious.
While sashimi is usually one of the most luxurious courses in any omakase, at Sushi Yugo, it was one of the most frustrating – not to say there was anything wrong, just that the other courses were memorable. Anyway, look forward to otoro (fatty tuna), chutaro (semi-fat tuna), Hokkaido scallop, kanpachi (Japanese amberola) and uni wrapped in hirami (flounder).
All of this is replenished by a pickled daikon palette cleaner, before moving on to the fukuoka wabi (abalone with liver sauce). Known as the Chef’s Signature Dish, Chef Desmond pulled fresh giant abalone out of an earthen pot, before masterfully slicing it. The brownish-green color of the liver sauce might not sound the most appetizing, but this was a real treat. There will be a bit of sauce to keep – use a ball of rice to wipe your plate clean.
Next up, yuzu crab – this seasonal dish is only available for the Shinzoku menu ($348). The The presentation itself is stunning: a hollow yuzu shell filled to the brim with hairy crab and painstakingly topped with uni, ikura, tosazu jelly, and wasabi.
Next, a cooked course consisting of A5 tender Miyazaki Wagyu beef and a soft boiled egg, drenched in a sweet sukiyaki sauce. Beef sukiyaki marks the conclusion of the kabo menu and the beginning of the sushi course. We may have started eating the predatory meal, but at this point our hunger undoubtedly subsided.
Like most thoughtful Japanese omakase restaurants, Chef Desmond will ask you if you want “less rice” for each of the five nigiri. Yes, if you’re stuffed, but otherwise, go with the regular portion – each nigiri comes generously covered and you’ll need to balance the rice to sashimi ratio. We started with the classics: an ebi plant, a slightly burnt kamasu (barracuda), and an oni gunkan. But it was the last two types of nigiri sushi that caught our eye, and both put the sumptuous sashimi on top. The otoro (fatty belly of tuna) was a really thick slab, but it was still topped with nijitoro, truffle caviar, and ringed truffles.
As for the last nigiri itself, it was Chef Desmond who put all his cards in – basically, he was made to be impressive. Then again, with foie gras, scallops, mono and hick, thin pieces of almond flakes, it’s hard to go wrong. Funny that after all the fun, it was the negitoro hand roll that made the entire omakase experience. Filled with chopped fatty bluefin tuna, this hand roll was simple but the finish we all wanted.
Sushi Yugo as a restaurant isn’t much space by any means – it seats 13 by the counter. There are also two private rooms: Hana, with a private counter that seats six, and Ryu that seats 10, the lunch set menu starts at $38 if you order salmon or unagi don, but other than that, you can also opt for omakase lunches: rickai ( $98) or Shinrai ($198).
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