We had one of our best Japanese meals this year at Ginza Yoshihiro.
And this is one new Japanese restaurant in town that you definitely must know about. With over 30 years of history, Ginza Yoshihiro first started their family legacy at Ginza, Tokyo. Priding themselves on their signature specialty oden, the Japanese restaurant enjoys great popularity and is now spreading the love of Japanese food in Singapore.
Ginza Yoshihiro at Marina Mandarin Hotel is everything we want in an authentic Japanese restaurant, and if not, more. We dare say it is one of the best new Japanese restaurants in Singapore.
As mentioned earlier, Ginza Yoshihiro sits within Marina Mandarin Hotel. One might be influenced by the common perception that restaurants sitting within a hotel property is “bad and touristy”, but Ginza Yoshihiro will defy this social misconception.
There is almost no restaurant in Singapore that specialises in oden – a healthy dashi broth with different ingredients such as boiled eggs and fish cakes – and Ginza Yoshihiro might just be the first. And the best.
Ginza Yoshihiro boasts a modern-cum-traditional facade. There is a stylish bar area where you can indulge in premium whiskeys and sake, and you can have your meal the traditional way – either at regular tables or at the communal sushi counter where you can watch the chefs in action, or in a private room (which requires advanced booking).
Helmed by Chef Nishioka, who was formerly the chief sushi chef at Hide Yamamoto, the Singapore outpost of Ginza Yoshihiro will not disappoint you.
We had one of the best Japanese meals here, and because Chef Nishioka has such a flare with performing with his knives and whatnot, we were entertained throughout lunch as he prepared our dishes and chatted with us about Japanese cuisine.
Here at Ginza Yoshihiro, the oden is a definite must-try. With zero fat content altogether, the broth is a light one that comes with a distinct sweetness, and the classic serving (served with every set meal) comes with a stunning centrepiece of a tomato.
Yes, it is a tomato! By smashing the tomato and pressing it into the soup, the oden is naturally sweetened and has a tinge of tanginess. The oden comes in different variations, and if the classic one is not enough to satisfy you (which we doubt), opt for the a la carte ones which feature add-on ingredient choices such as king crab legs, Kagoshima beef and a variety of fresh fishes.
It is brilliant how a simple oden can be glorified when cooked with premium ingredients, and that is the beauty of Ginza Yoshihiro’s signature oden – that the broth base is sweet, and can be transformed to just about any flavours with your preferred choice of ingredients while still retaining the distinct dashi aftertaste.
Now, bring your attention to the lunch sets. They may not be the “cheapest” sets, but they are definitely superb value for quality Japanese food.
If you are feeling particularly hungry and want to treat yourself to an exquisite meal, we suggest the Sushi Gozen (S$88) set. All of the set meals here come with an appetiser, the signature oden and dessert of Japanese ice cream. You get a big variety of Nigiri sushi that ranges from Bluefin tuna maguro to fresh and creamy uni (Sea Urchin). No fuss; just classic sushi prepared with fresh imports from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, with the finest slicing skills by the sushi chef.
The Tempura Gozen (S$52) set comes in a generous portion. With a tempura platter that comes with their signature jumbo prawns (they are really huge and meaty!) and vegetables, the tempura is served with a side of matcha salt that is quite the best complement for the deep-fried goodies.
How good does the Oden Wagyu Gozen (S$58) look? The signature oden is prepared with strips of Kagoshima wagyu, daikon and konnyaku. You do the same – smash the tomato in to the soup, then eat them altogether for a lovely sweet and tangy taste.
And of course, our love for chirashi don never dies. The Bara Chirashi Don (S$38) is our favourite lunch set – with a bed of extremely fresh cubed sashimi atop sushi rice, this bowl is really worth your money. Lunch is definitely satisfying with this bowl, oden and dessert.
When Chef Nishioka whipped out the huge piece of Bluefin tuna to be sliced into sashimi, we stopped eating and just stared at him while he swished his knife. He perfectly ‘dissected’ and produced three perfect sections of Ootoro, Chutoro and Akami; the first being the fattiest and most prized, and the last being the leanest and most common cut.
Have a hankering for fresh tuna sashimi? Now you know where to head to. The fish are flown in every 2-3 days, and prices here for sashimi are also kept reasonable so that patrons have access to the best from Tsukiji Market.
Dinner at Ginza Yoshihiro is most befitting with their Omakase sets. ‘Omakase’ simply means to let the chef decide. The dishes served vary all the time, but they are often creative presentations and interpretations of the season’s ingredients. You can choose from a couple of sets starting from S$148 per person.
You get a total of 9 courses including desserts, and we guarantee you will be so pampered by the chef and his generosity.
On the month that we went, the seasonal ingredient was shirako, or in layman terms, cod fish sperm. Sure, it sounds every bit intimidating, but this odd dish was surprisingly tasty with a delightful creamy texture.
That is what we love about omakase – that in the sheer unpredictability lies excitement and anticipation, and the dishes and ingredients will surprise you. It is like signing up for a mystery present and discovering new favourites that you wouldn’t otherwise order on your own.
The sushi platter was one of the highlights of our omakase meal. As with the Sashimi platter, it features generous strips of various in-season sashimi atop vinegared rice.
You see, omakase need not mean anything scary or out of the norm. The dishes can come in the simplest form of Japanese cuisine, with the aristocracy simply lying in the most forgotten aspect of Japanese cuisine – the art of slicing.
Ginza Yoshihiro has won our hearts in every aspect. And it is going straight into our list of all-time favourite Japanese restaurants in Singapore.
Marina Mandarin 04-600
6 Raffles Boulevard
Daily: 11.30am – 3pm, 6am – 10.30pm
Tel: +65 6734 8842
Nearest Station: Esplanade
This post is brought to you by Ginza Yoshihiro.