Last Updated: June 1, 2017
Understanding Singapore’s insatiable appetite for Japanese cuisine, Shokutsu Ten at Great World City has included Ami Ami, a tempura, robatayaki and seafood restaurant, to its ever-growing repertoire of Japanese restaurants.
“Ami” translates to “net” in Japanese, which is reflective of Ami Ami’s mission to serve only the freshest seafood to its customers.
Helmed by Masterchef Naoki Tsuzuki, who was previously overseeing Kuriya Dining (also in Great World City), you can identify him by his light pink jacket and boisterous demeanor. With over 20 years of experience under his belt, you can be rest assured that you’ll be in good hands.
Aside from its tempura offerings, Ami Ami does import seasonal fish from Japan as well. Upon entering the restaurant, diners can go right up to the display-freezer to check out the fresh catches of the day.
On the day we visited, the Tobiuo (flying fish), Amadai (tilefish) and Hokkaido Scallops were some of the varieties that were on display — prices are shown upfront to prevent any confusion or misunderstanding. Do note that these offerings are seasonal so if you have a specific fish in mind, do call ahead to check first!
After selecting your preferred seafood, you can request it to be grilled, fried in tempura batter, sliced sashimi-style or served two ways (e.g. half-grilled and half-sashimi).
However, we came here to try the Ami Tempura Set ($45.80), which was highly recommended.
Starting the set off was Live Scallop Robatayaki ($7.80, a la carte). Slowly charcoal-grilled and then finished with a light torching, the scallop was slightly firm, plump and sweet with a little hint of smokiness. I especially enjoyed slurping up the savoury broth in it as well.
While not part of the Ami Ami Tempura Set, we were given the Live Scallop Robatayaki with 3 Toppings ($19.80, a la carte), a luxurious version of the above dish topped with murasaki uni (purple sea urchin), zuwaigani (snow crab) and ikura (salmon roe).
The sweetness of the uni, scallop and zuwaigani was well-balanced with the saltiness of the ikura and easily won me over.
Followed quickly by a one pax portion of ‘Matsu’ Sashimi 5 Kinds ($14.80, a la carte for one pax), we received Japanese Salmon, Tai (Sea Bream), Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack), Tuna and Itoyori (Threadfin Bream).
Each piece tasted extremely fresh and clean, especially the kanpachi which had an almost buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality to it despite having practically no marbling.
Next up was the Egg Tempura & Vegetable Kakiage Rice Bowl, which is only available in the Ami Ami Tempura Set. This is the one to take out your cameras for. Wrapped in beancurd skin before being fried, the warm gooey yolk oozed out as we lightly broke it apart with our chopsticks.
Together with the super crunchy kakiage, this made for a small but satisfying bowl of happiness. You could even leave some yolk aside to use as a dip for the upcoming tempura dishes.
One of the highlights of the Ami Ami Tempura Set was that all the tempura pieces were fried to order and served a la minute, meaning that each piece came piping hot. Masterchef Tsuzuki even waited for us to finish our first batch before frying the next wave of tempura in order to ensure each piece was eaten at its optimal temperature.
This is crucial because tempura tastes terrible when it gets soggy and loses that all-important crunch factor.
As a result, serving tempura is essentially a race against time to maintain its optimal texture for as long as possible, which is why it’s a good thing Ami Ami has so many counter seats.
Aside from the usual tempura sauce, there were two other condiment options in the form of garlic salt (left), which I found was great at amplifying the savoury notes of heavier-tasting pieces like the Vannamei Prawn and kanpachi tempura, while the tanginess of the yuzu salt (right) better complemented the lighter tasting proteins, such as the tai and chicken tempura.
Both were great alternatives to the traditional tempura sauce, and I wouldn’t mind seeing flavoured salt blends becoming more widespread in our local dining scene.
A smart and thoughtful thing Ami Ami did here was to intentionally under season the tempura pieces, which allowed me customise the taste according to my preference when dipping into the salt.
While all the tempura pieces were great here, the standout one would have to be the Vannamei Prawn. Firmer and sweeter than the more commonplace (and cheaper) shrimp tempura that we tend to encounter at lower-end Japanese restaurants, this piece was a great demonstration in allowing the quality of the ingredients to speak for themselves.
The fried prawn head tempura was a real treat as well. Fried to an absolute crisp, it filled my mouth with a complex briny flavour. For those who are intimidated or put off by the idea of sucking out the essence from prawn heads (like I was), this would be a great gateway experience.
Aside from the tempura, the staff also strongly recommended their Sashimi & Vegetable Shabu Hotpot Set ($63.80, a la carte). That’s right, sashimi in hotpot.
Upon hearing about the dish, I have to admit that I had my reservations; “Sashimi-grade fish for hotpot? Isn’t that kind of a waste?”, I thought to myself.
However, after tasting the hotpot, I must say that it was narrow-minded of me to think that way. When we think of fish in hotpots, we usually think of them being fully cooked.
But with the fish here being sashimi-grade, we can actually cook them half-raw now. This results in a contrasting texture between a cooked, flaky exterior and a tender, raw interior. Almost like an aburi-ed piece of fish but without the smokiness imparted from the torching process.
It also helped that the hotpot broth itself was really good. Boiled with fish heads for hours in a shoyu-miso mixture, the broth was comforting and full of umami; perfect for a rainy day.
My verdict on this: Don’t knock it till you try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Overall, dining at Ami Ami was a great experience. While the prices here may seem a little steep, bear in mind that the seafood served is really fresh — also, ingredients including Vannamei Prawn and Japanese Salmon do cost more than their common counterparts.
While I don’t see myself coming here every other weekend, kI’ll be keeping this place in mind for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. And when I do return, I’m heading for the counter seats again.
Expected Damage: $45.80 – $63.80 per person