I absolutely love Japanese food, so trust me when I say that the next time I’m craving donburi or a piping hot bowl of kaminabe, I’m heading to Misato, a quaint and classy Japanese restaurant hidden on the first floor of The Centrepoint.
Not only does Misato serve up authentic Japanese cuisine, but many of its recipes and ingredients are also sourced and imported directly from Japan. A plus point, especially if a trip to Japan is a little hard on the wallet.
You’ll recognise it by its illuminated signage, as well as the intricate decorations that line the storefront.
From golden eggs that are primed neatly below the cashier, to interwoven zigzag designs on the floorboard, ceiling, walls and even its barriers, there’s no denying that Misato has an eye for detail.
Its interior is delightfully bright, clean and sleek, with plenty of cosy couches lining the walls and sturdy wooden tables filling the space. What I particularly loved was the addition of mirrors to make the space seem more spacious, as well as the painting of Mount Fuji hanging on an inner wall, which evoked pleasant memories of being back in Japan.
Typically, whenever I order a tray of cha soba, I’d expect to see an untidy pile of matcha noodles sitting atop a bed of shaved ice.
Misato’s Cha Soba (S$15.90) is nothing like I’ve ever seen. Its rendition of this classic Japanese dish was served in a gorgeous bento box, with the delicate matcha noodles delicately twirled to form four petite egg shapes. The homemade dipping sauce was placed by its side, together with a petite triangle-shaped serving of wasabi and spring onions.
What I absolutely loved about Misato’s Cha Soba was how springy and smooth it was. Freshly cooked upon order, these chilled matcha noodles were super slurp-worthy—what I tasted first was a pleasant sweetness from the noodles, and then the saltiness of the homemade dipping sauce took over.
Our tip on how to best enjoy your cha soba: Stir the wasabi and spring onions directly into the dipping sauce for a minty-like spicy aftertaste. Then, dip the noodles into the cup and slurp directly from it so you catch all the umami flavours from the sauce.
If you are looking to change up your soba game, then the Sudachi Soba (Cha) (S$15.90) will be a refreshing change. A soba dish that’s normally eaten in the summer, the Sudachi Soba is served cold and topped with an elaborate arrangement of thinly-sliced sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit).
To make this dish even more appetising, Misato even has a little rabbit made of minced daikon (radish)—I can’t help but coo over this cute little detail.
To fully appreciate the citrusy freshness of these sudachi slices, all you have to do is gently pierce them, depending on how citrusy you like your soba to be.
The light and cool dashi broth was everything it purported to be, and together with the zesty sudachi, this is the perfect dish to cool you off after a sweltering afternoon.
We were told by the owner, Tony, that the Misato Ebi Donburi (S$17.90) was inspired by the tail of a whale from the Alaska Sea.
The breadcrumbed live tiger prawns painted that very image and came with fluffy Japanese rice that had been doused with a seasoned broth and a fried egg, ikura, caramelised onions and seaweed.
The tiger prawns were impressively huge. The breadcrumb crust was crunchy and fresh, with a slightly buttery aftertaste, and the flesh itself was springy, firm and sweet.
Every spoonful of its Misato Ebi Donburi was naturally sweet, thanks to its umami broth and its caramelised onions. I especially loved the generous servings of ikura, which gave little surprising bursts in my mouth.
One of my favourite dishes off Misato’s menu was its Okonomiyaki (S$15.90).
A massive savoury pancake made of cabbage, egg and pork belly, this classic Japanese street food is slathered with a tangy sauce and topped with dry bonito flakes.
I particularly enjoyed the okonomiyaki‘s sauce, which was tangy and plum-like. The pancake was thick, with generous layers of cabbage, egg and pork belly, and the exterior was crunchy and crisp thanks to its time on the hotplate.
The eggs used were really smooth and sweet, as if mirin or dashi had been added to it, and I loved the smoky aftertaste from the crispy pork belly.
One of Misato’s latest additions has to be the showstopper, Kamameshi (S$23.90), served in an impressive iron pot that will continue cooking for another 20 minutes on your table. A traditional rice dish, Kamameshi literally means ‘kettle rice’ and contains a medley of ingredients that are meant to be shared communally.
I waited with bated breath as I saw the wisps of steam escaping from the pot. Soon enough, the time was up and I lifted the cover.
A real feast for the eyes, the iron pot was filled to the brim with the likes of pumpkin, pea-green edamame pods and pebble-sized Japanese chestnuts. I couldn’t wait to dig in!
Misato makes this treat a little more special by topping off this dish with a heaping spoonful of briny, tangerine ikura pearls — the best kind of topping, in my opinion.
Warm, comforting and chock-full of goodies, the Kamameshi is one to remember for sure. The sizeable chunks of pumpkin, chestnut and sweet potato were all starchy and sweet—an indication of their quality.
That, coupled with the savoury nuggets of chicken thigh, umami-laden shitake mushrooms and crustacean-y sweetness of the prawns, made for a balanced and tasty mouthful.
Like any good rice dish, the best part is the thick, crisped, caramelised rice layer at the bottom of the pot. Only in limited supply, this crunchy layer is a little hidden treat you have to try.
The Seafood Kaminabe Set (S$21.80) came with a generous amount of seafood and vegetables, such as live tiger prawns, fresh Norwegian salmon, assorted mushrooms, tofu, cabbage and carrots.
The one thing I loved about Misato’s paper hotpot was how fresh its seafood was. The Norwegian salmon was naturally sweet and I appreciated being able to cook it to my preferred doneness, so I could enjoy it just as I wanted.
The soup was clear and light with a strong cabbage taste, and as the paper hotpot continued to boil, the soup became sweeter from the fresh seafood and stock. Pairing it together with the fluffy Japanese rice made for a comforting meal.
The Handmade Gyoza (S$8.80 for six pieces) was served bottom side up, with an extended crunchy egg crisp and a vinegar dipping sauce.
The gyoza skin was supple, thin and springy, and Misato was generous with the chicken and vegetable filling, which had been hand-chopped and wrapped before grilling. The crunch from the egg crisp gave an added texture I thoroughly enjoyed.
There’s nothing like a Yakitori Set (S$12.90) to complement your gyoza. This gleaming tray comes with some of the usual suspects: we have charred chicken wings, shitake mushroom and two skewers of grilled chicken thigh and leek.
Each stick was heavily slathered with tare (a mixture of mirin and shoyu) for extra flavour. All you need is a tall glass of ice-cold beer and trust me, all your problems will instantly disappear.
I have to say, these wings were a winner for sure. Smoky and tender with just the right amount of char, you’ll be licking your fingers clean. I did find the wings a smidge salty but given that they fell right off the bone, I was willing to overlook it.
The chicken thigh is a classic that never goes out of style, with two sticks of succulent bite-sized pieces of tender chicken and well-charred rolls of leek—I couldn’t get enough.
Don’t miss the Ohmi Wagyu Hoba Miso Yaki (S$43.80)!
Melt-in-your-mouth charcoal-grilled A5 Ohmi Wagyu beef was served on an impressive hoba leaf, together with other stellar ingredients from Japan such as shiitake and maitake mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, assorted nama fu and negi, with Misato’s secret miso mixture recipe.
Hands down, this was my favourite dish out of the entire meal. The A5 Ohmi Wagyu beef was absolutely exquisite. It melted in my mouth like butter, with an amazing charred and smoky aftertaste. The miso gravy was sweet and caramelised and reminded me of a reduced carrot or pumpkin glaze.
If you’re not a beef fan, don’t worry. You can also choose any of Misato’s other premium dishes, such as Yasai Hoba Miso Yaki (S$18.80) or Miso Cod Chikuzen-ni Castle Set (S$28.80).
If you still have room for dessert, go for Misato’s Sanshoku Warabi Mochi (S$9.80).
It comes in three flavours: matcha, goma and kinako, Misato’s mochi is freshly-handmade every day and takes about two hours to produce. It also uses high-quality ingredients flown in directly from Japan, so you’re definitely in for a treat!
This has got to be one of the best mochi I’ve ever had. The cubes of mochi were almost jelly-like in texture, like aloe vera, and weren’t chewy or dense at all. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it melted in my mouth like a cotton candy ball.
My favourite out of the three flavours was the matcha. The matcha wasn’t sweet at all. Instead, it was earthy and had a nutty aftertaste, and that’s how I knew it was authentically Japanese. I didn’t even have to add the sweet sauce to the mochi—that’s how naturally good it was.
Not only are Misato’s authentically Japanese, with many of the ingredients imported directly from Japan, but it’s also executed well and presented beautifully in exquisite tableware and cutlery.
Expected damage: S$25 – S$55 per pax
*This post is brought to you in partnership with Misato.
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
176 Orchard Road, The Centrepoint, #01-33E, Singapore 238843
176 Orchard Road, The Centrepoint, #01-33E, Singapore 238843