It’s a little-known fact that seafood and sake are soulmates. Excellent on their own but exceptional together, they bring out the best in each other when paired well. The low iron content of sake balances the “fishy” smell of seafood more effectively than white wine, and its abundance of amino acid also adds to an umami flavour profile.
To showcase seafood and sake pairing at its best, JFOODO – an organisation within the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) that promotes Japanese trade and and investments overseas – has partnered with several fine-dining restaurants in Singapore. Each venue has created a limited-edition menu of seafood-based dishes, designed to showcase various premium sake varieties. Taking place from 1 October to 30 November this year, this collaboration also spotlights some of Singapore’s finest establishments.
Here are fine-dining institutions in Singapore to indulge in seafood and sake.
Marrying classic French cuisine with Japanese flair, béni earned a Michelin star in 2016 under the aegis of chef de cuisine Kenji Yamanaka. Besides signature dishes such as the Yonezawa A5 Wagyu Beef from Yamagata prefecture, it also serves a ravioli dish with Antonious Oscietra caviar and a signature scallop dish. The former, made with Hokkaido sea urchin-stuffed ravioli and top-grade caviar from Poland, comes paired with the fruity yet dry Mutsu Hassen Hanaomoi 40. The scallop dish, on the other hand, is complemented perfectly by ZAKU Kanade No Tomo, a smooth, acidic sake with notes of pineapple and melon.
2. Burnt Ends
Opened in May 2013, Burnt Ends took Australian barbecue to the next level and quickly became one of the most notable gourmet restaurants in Singapore. While dining in this modern, Michelin-starred eatery, with an open-concept kitchen headed by Perth-born chef David Pynt, have a taste of the kingfish collar with miso and lemongrass – paired with ZAKU Gen No Tomo from Suzuka, an area historically famed for its sake production. A fatty fish with a firm texture, the kingfish makes for a heavy meal, and the high acidity of the sake cuts through the oiliness of the dish while serving as a palate cleanser.
Featuring a multi-sensory experience with a modern European menu, CURATE is designed as a showcase restaurant that invites Michelin-starred chefs each quarter to present their best dishes. Savour the sweetness of the Hokkaido scallop, glazed with malt and topped with braised sauerkraut consommé and pork terrine, paired with the award-winning, mildly fruity John Sparkling IWC Trophy 2016. Another delectable pairing is the pan-seared pike perch on top of a smoked beurre blanc sauce, paired with Tatenokawa Seiryu – a gentle, transparent yet aromatic sake made with Dewasansan rice from Yamagata prefecture.
Barcelona classics take centrestage at Hongkong Street’s lively FOC. Crowd favourites include the prawn, scallop and sweet potato ravioli, which goes well with Sanzen Daiginjo, and the grilled Mediterranean tuna belly with strawberries and green apple, which is complemented by the lightness of Tosa Brewing Company’s Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50. There’s also the grilled Galician octopus and pork belly skewer, with the Hatsukame Tokubetsu Junmai Homarefuji; the sea urchin toast with mushroom and crispy Iberico ham, paired with the John Sparkling Sake; and the squid ink paella, with the Shimazaki Junmai Yamahai Uroko. And finally, the fragrance of the Alaskan king crab canelon blends beautifully with the off-dry finish of the KATAFUNE Tokubetsu Honjozo.
At this intimate, Michelin-starred establishment known for its European-Asian creations, the Hokkaido scallop tartare is a must-try. Served with bafun uni, Oscietra caviar and coriander oil, this cold starter boasts a sweetness that harmonises with the Kinryo Junmai Yamahai, an exceptionally dry sake with a sherry-like character. The grilled amadai (tile fish) with smoked zucchini and cabbage-wrapped luffa offers a more savoury alternative, elevated by the richness of the seaweed butter sauce. Coupled with the premium Hideyoshi Junmai Daiginjo sake from Akita prefecture, which combines pineapple, lemon curd and grapes for a citrusy profile, it is a well-balanced treat for the palate.
A Singapore restaurant that specialises in experimental fusion food, Morsels is all about playing with versatile flavours. For instance, Hachinohe Brewery’s Mutsu Hassen Pink Label carries a floral aroma that pairs well with fruit-infused dishes such as the oyster with mangosteen shrub, and the Kuhlbarra barramundi with berry jam and toast. In contrast, appetisers like the Sri Lankan prawns with pistachio yoghurt and Scamorza sweet potato, or the Venus clams with fig chicken broth, work better with the light Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50. The smokiness of the charred octopus dish complements the cigar notes of the Shimazaki Junmai Yamahai Uroko from Tochigi prefecture. Likewise, the aged wild tarakihi fish brings out the umami flavour of Enoki Shuzo’s Hanahato Kijoshu, which has been aged for eight years.
Chef-owner Ivan Brehm applies his diverse heritage to this Michelin-starred fine-dining establishment, concocting a menu inspired by global cuisines. A fine example is the parsley, kulim and hazelnut fish, whose flavours pair well with the nuttiness of the barrel-aged Kamoizumi Aged Junmai Ginjo Sachi 1997. On the other hand, the Shimazaki Junmai Yamahai Uroko, which underwent a longer fermentation period to produce a certain level of acidity, provides a balance to the intensity of the black pepper crab. And for the scallop coconut, Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50 lends a fruity minerality that suits the dish’s herbaceous flavours.
Preludio is a high-concept contemporary establishment that evolves every year with new recipes. Before they vanish from the menu, get a taste of the monkfish, topped with seasonal mushrooms, truffle and cod liver, and the obsiblue prawn, which comes with mangosteen and caviar. The latter’s tropical profile pairs well with the pineapple notes of the Keigetsu Cel24 Junmai Daiginjo 50, while the former serves as a sweet juxtaposition to the complex and earthy Kamoizumi Aged Junmai Ginjo Sachi 1997. The Nantucket scallop and the ZAKU Kanade No Tomo is another perfect match, the sake offering a clean texture with a hint of yogurt that complements the creamy dish.
9. Punjab Grill
Satisfy your cravings for fine Indian cuisine at Punjab Grill, an upscale restaurant led by chef Javed Ahamad that serves up classics with a contemporary, gourmet update. Dishes that mix nicely with sake include the barramundi tikka with chargrilled basil and grainy mustard. Light yet fragrant, its spices are balanced out by the Uzume Tokubetsu Junmai sake’s clean finish and chocolate-tinged profile. Similarly, the Kinryo Junmai Yamahai softens the richness and piquancy of the pan-seared Tellicherry pepper prawn, with a coconut and curry leaf sauce, bringing about a delicately layered symphony of diverse flavours.
Inside the picture-perfect CHIJMES complex is Whitegrass, formerly an Australian fine-diner, where head chef Takuya Yamashita now invents French-Japanese dishes that pay homage to his love of nature. Dine on INA Mackerel, garnished with fennel and Fuji apples, and wash it down with ALPHA Kaze No Mori Alpha TYPE 3, a subtle sake that enriches the vinegared seafood dish. Inspired by Shanghai crab noodles, Whitegrass’s Hokkaido crab – made with hand-pulled somen noodles from Nara prefecture – is also designed to go with the Hanahato Kijoshu which has been aged for eight years. Here, the sake doubles as a condiment of sorts, the final touch to a savoury dish.
An offshoot of Stockholm’s three-Michelin-starred Frantzén, Zén is a dinner-only establishment housed in a three-storey shophouse in Singapore’s Bukit Pasoh. Despite opening just late last year, it’s already garnered two Michelin stars. Start your Asian-Nordic gastronomic journey with a serving of chawanmushi and pork-belly dashi, sprinkled with Rossini Gold Oscietra caviar. Couple it with the nutty, savoury Tamagawa Spontaneous Fermentation Junmaishu (Yamahai) “Vintage”. Another excellent combination is the Norwegian scallop and bafun uni crudo, paired with Tosa Brewing Company’s John Sparkling IWC Trophy 2016, whose varied flavours engage different elements of the dish at every level.
12. Restaurant JAG
The final stop on your epicurean journey is the Michelin-starred French fine-dining spot Restaurant Jag. Its omakase-style menu pays tribute to 40 different types of herbs that have been hand-selected from the mountainsides of France’s Savoie region. Pair the Verveine, Carrot and Goose Barnacle with the nutty Kamoizumi Aged Junmai Ginjo Sachi 1997 to bring out the dish’s earthy elements. Alternatively, treat yourself to the Savoie Juniper, Salsify and Sea Urchin for a fresh yet umami-packed experience, enhanced by the sweet melon flavours of the Mutsu Hassen Hanaomoi 40.
This advertorial is part of the “Seafood Loves Sake” restaurant campaign by JFOODO, brought to you by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).