Mikuni's "Doyo no Ushi no Hi" or Summer Unagi Festival Menu hopes to boost your vitality

A time-warp happened within the first few seconds of being seated in the darkened inner sanctums of Mikuni. Flashbacks to my last "Doyo no Ushi no Hi" menu in 2016 under the tutelage of Chef Moon Kyung Soo and that glistening coat of sticky glaze on charcoal grilled eel. I coo-ed. It was superb. However, a lot of things have changed over the last two years. One of the most major - Executive Chef Keisuke Uno taking over the reigns and breathing new life into the extensive menu of kaiseki, sushi and sashimi, teppanyaki and robatayi offerings. Another would the addition of outlet manager and sommelier Ryuta Yamada to the team. Fortunately, I was extremely blessed to be able to experience his prowess in wine and sake through a rather intriguing wine and sake pairing that was purposed to sing in harmony with the Summertime Unagi Treat.

There is a weird and wacky appeal to the amuse bouche. Unagi and cucumber, egg yolk, pumpkin and olive oil caviar emulate the "monaka"style which is typically a Japanese dessert of two crisp wafers filled with sweet paste. You close the lid and eat it like a mini burger - it's a composition worthy of an artist's eye for detail, displaying a parade of colours - however that bland wafer exhibited 'an empty shell' complex and we conquered the rest of the dish without its lofty aims. That being said, the accompaniment of Strawberry Nigori on the rocks did provide amendments for the saccharine empty spaces.

Summer appetisers presents itself in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes, some of it deserving a slight applause while some are akin to going down the rabbit hole. There's a golden piece of sweet corn tempura encircled by deep fried eel bone, and fresh edamame that packs plenty of flavour punch despite its shrivelled up appearance. A river trout pitches a native sweetness, the snapping of tiny bones cramming an imagery of 'puckering up to a fish' in my closeted mind. The eel sushi is given a viscous slap of vinegar, triggering the pleasure senses to tasting the sweet nuances of the meaty unagi. Then there is the Eel Yahata Maki - braised burdock roots wrapped in strips of cooked eel. The mastery of flavours and textures, making this a standout. We washed that down with the smooth and fruity Kikka Chardonnay, - a small batch winery that has exclusive tie ups with Mikuni.

We hit the next Sashimi course, and we hit it hard. Toro, Kampachi and Scallop arrives in a mysterious veil of fog, the treasure bowl dressed in smooth pebbles, exotic fern and luscious broad  veined leaves. It's lilting meanderings of delectable fats intertwined with fresh fish allowing for the fragrant Tatsumigura Junmai Gingjo to be in its element, dispensing earthy and mushroom nuances to accentuate the seaworthy credentials of the sashimi dish.

A ceremonial bowl of Kyoto style Takiawase was exactly what we needed before the star anthem. Here, rolled deep-fried tofu, baby eggplant, and pumpkin and dished out in a light soy dashi that delivers a slight punch of smouldering pork flavour. A tokkuri of Daishichi Junmai Kimoto draws dreamy stares and darting eyes across the table as it is poured into sake cups with delicate hands. It's age-old techniques and laborious methodology resulting in an extremely smooth and structured tipple that has got a firm rice note on the palate that fills in the missing 'carb' accompaniments to this rustic dish.

And then we arrive at the pinnacle of the meal,  Chef Keisuke Uno himself hoisting a clay urn with a single binchotan topped with a thatched grill - the magic carpet ride to our Hamatsu Chargrilled Una-jyu. The eel is grilled table-side, that scorching of flesh inspiriting the carnal needs. The eel is served in a beautiful lacquer box, over Japanese rice and then with a swift move, the lid quickly covered to allow for the smoke from the binchotan to mingle with the pearly grains. With that, the chef and his device disappeared back to the kitchen with the skillset of a ninja, only to leave whispers of smoke lingering in the air. Your first bite will find you transcendence, the meaty unagi and its decidedly sweet flesh bringing a slight curl to the corners of my lips. Don't miss out on the accompanying sansho peppers, it releases a lingering tangy heat that beefs up the rich amalgamation.

Cleanse your palate and get back to your business dealings with the dessert of Pink Guava Carpaccio. The quenelle of Sour cherry sorbet is well versed in bite and muted acidity. Just enough to cut through your rich-coated palate.

The 'Doyo no Ushi no Hi' Summer Unagi Festival menu is available at Mikuni till the 31st July for $168 per person at lunch (4 courses) and $218 per person at dinner (6 courses). Wine pairing is optional for an additional $100++ at lunch and $150++ for dinner.

80 Bras Basah Road
Level 3
Fairmont Singapore
Reservations: Chope

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