Akari Japanese Dining Bar: Winter Kaiseki Set

One of my best meals this year had to barely fit into the schedule of things. Coming to a close shave with the end of the year is Akari's Winter Kaiseki Set meal;  conceptualised by Chef Hirotaka Murata of Nkano, Tokyo. A quick glance at his credentials and you'll be assured that you're in for rollercoaster ride of epic gastronomical revelries. 

The best part would probably be the price tag that doesn't threaten to cast a looming shadow over the meal. Let's be practical here, but sitting down to the idea of a $500 tagged omakase meal does bear a weight of unreasonable expectations and impending misery should things go sour. Akari Japanese Dining Bar is offering two kaiseki set course choices, priced at $100++ and $150++ per pax respectively for a 9-course kaiseki menus. Set to mystify even the most regular of Japanese food gourmands, Chef Hirotaka Murata provides several twists and turns throughout the flight with seasonal ingredients and winter-bound flavor pairings.

Starting off with the appetizer of cod fish milt and dainty treats such as ikura with soft cheese in persimmon. This will fire up your jaded taste buds and give you a persuasive push in the muted sense of things that the Chef is trying to convey in his winter menu.

The Wagyu Sushi impresses only slightly with a incongruous seasoning of the rice and the wagyu slices charrred in aburi-style accidentally resulting in the sides of the sushi rice possessing burnt bits. 

Not to be missed are the Braised Tile Fish with Yuzu Soup and the Braised Buri Shabu Shabu with grated radish. Two dishes evidently inspired by the need to battle the fridgid winter spells in Japan; the former is heartwarming with a ingenious addition of yuzu into the dashi enliven the equation with its tangy base, whilst the latter may just come across a little too filling, tucked away in the middle of a 9-course menu with the cushiony pile of grated daikon radish that acquires a certain thirsty quality when dunked into the sweetish broth.

Carrying on at a comfortable pace, the courses flow without a hitch, cleverly weaving diners between the warm tones of Grilled Wagyu Beef with Hona Miso and the chilled, bright inflections of the Pickles with Japanese Vinegar and Crab. Resistance is futile in the former, the glorious thick cuts of beef grilled to perfection, in no time at all on the blazing hot stone. If you love the intricacies of the preparation of Japanese pickles, the latter doesn't disappoint - tangy and bright in nature, all revs up the appetite except for the depressing bits of crab shell that lie hidden, undetected in the mess. The mandatory Sashimi course is served, that is marginally good (spare for the slight compromise in freshness with certain cuts), but what you should really keep an eye out for is the Japaneses Unagi Eel Porridge in Earth Pot.

Served up with the origins of a shabu shabu broth, the result is an unearthly bowl of  unagi congee that whispers comforting messages of 'everything is going to be alright' with every blistering mouthful.

Just when you thought the best is over and you're met with one of those ambiguous 'House Made Dessert' left to conclude the epic night ; you'll be bowled over in oodles of oohs and aahs as the finale sashays across the room. Sweet potato roulade with fresh cream. Crowd pleasing only if you decided to release the top bottom of that uber tight pants that you regret wearing to dinner.

Note that Akari's Winter Kaiseki Set menu is available only during dinner service daily till the end of February'16. Reservation must be made one day in advance to avoid disappointment

Akari Japanese Dining & Bar
8A Marina Boulevard
t: 6634 0100

Operating Hours:
Daily: 12pm - 3pm; 6pm - 10pm

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