Last Updated: March 27, 2020
As food writers, we often receive texts and DMs on our Instagram asking for food recommendations. Out of the countless messages, the one question most frequently asked is “Any cheap and good Japanese food to recommend?”. A week back, I would be in a total dilemma since Japanese food in Singapore is often a hit or miss—with most hits being on the pricy side. Today, however, I can confidently reply, “Yes, try Omoté.”
Rebranded from the previous 12-seater sushi bar, Omoté houses an expanded shop space at level three of Thomson Plaza. Tucked snugly at a corner, the restaurant opens to a warmly-lit spacious interior. Exposed industrial ceiling, concrete flooring, and well-spaced tables set the tone which one will not expect of in a Japanese restaurant, modern yet welcoming.
While the main dining hall provides a roomy environment ideal for larger groups of family and friends, the eatery also has an extended area for a more intimate dining experience hidden within the restaurant. A walk further into the corners of Omoté, passing through a traditional curtain divider exposes their hidden gem, Omoté Dining. An exclusive space available to only those in the know (and now, you know) for an Omakase Experience with the restaurant’s Head Chef, Nagae Toshiharu.
For the uninitiated, since the restaurant’s opening, Omoté has been changing things up in their menu every six to seven months, keeping the dining experience exciting for their patrons. With the wide array of items on the menu, Omoté hopes to showcase beyond their renowned chirashi don, portraying diversity by shining light on their cooked dishes.
Since there were way too many places in Singapore for sashimi, we decided to ignore it. Instead, we dove into their cooked food with Koji Saba (S$12), bite-size pieces of deboned saba fish, marinated in young ginger and sweet wine, topped with saffron and cherry shrimps.
Never a fan of saba because of its distinct fishiness? Then, this dish might change your mind. Generously coated in young ginger and sweet wine sauce, the saba was equal parts sweet and savoury, but definitely not fishy at all. When eaten together with the dried cherry shrimps, there was an added layer of texture and saltiness that brought the entire dish together.
Fanned beautifully across a white plate decorated with edible petals and micro herbs was the Grilled Salmon Belly (S$28). Lightly seared with teriyaki, the salmon belly was faultlessly tender, so delicate and smooth that it easily slid down my throat without much chewing required.
Hidden under that beautifully pinkish row of neatly arranged meat, was a bed of sliced onions—the dark horse of the dish. Do not dismiss it as a mere decoration; this was in fact, the one element that enhanced the flavour of the salmon with its piquant taste cutting through the fattiness of the fish itself.
Easily my favourite appetiser among the three was the Spicy River Squid (S$13). Yes, I do know what you are thinking as you look at the picture. Looks nothing close to a dish served in a Japanese restaurant right? Those were my exact same thoughts. But, I’m definitely not complaining since this Spicy River Squid was delish!
The amount of char was perfect with its tentacles being the cream of the crop largely due to the more distinct burnt taste that the ends encompassed. Drenched in Thai-inspired pestled lemongrass and chilli infusion the dish was tripartite of texture and flavours that I couldn’t get enough of. It is simply the kind of dish that will make you scream, “Bring on the Asahi!”, unknowingly as you chew on the squid.
Drawing inspiration from a humble dish sold in almost every hawker in Singapore—prawn noodle soup, Prawn Ramen (S$19.80) features a hefty amount of ramen noodles, soaked in prawn broth, topped with pork sauce, fried shallots, and cherry shrimps.
The broth was made using fried prawn heads and pork bones simmered and cooked overnight, resulting in a thick and show-stompingly robust stock that was bursting with the flavours of the sea. Adding on to the heartiness of the dish was the pork sauce which increased the intensity of its umami flavour, resulting in a bowl that is simply delightful.
One cannot leave Omoté without trying their chirashi don. As part of their new menu addition, we had the Umami Soy Chirashi (S$17.80). Described as ‘second-generation favourite redefined with a new age roasted stock of soy marinade creation’, the Umami Soy Chirashi consists of a bowl of fluffy white Japanese pearl rice topped with an ocean-fresh mix of diced sashimi, each individually encased in savoury soy sauce.
Freshness and quality define a good bowl of chirashi don, and Omoté has both qualities nailed to the spot. What I felt made this bowl excel in particular was the addition of ground sesame seeds that gave the dish its unique fragrance and an extra layer of nuttiness. With the reddish-orange balls of huge salmon roes scattered amongst the diced sashimi, the bowl was a playground of texture, waiting to be devoured—right to the very last bit.
If there is that bit of space in your tummy left for dessert, I would definitely recommend you to try their Coco Matcha Ice Cream (S$5.80) and Pistachio Kurogoma Ice Cream (S$5.80). Both the ice creams were smooth and creamy, with its individual unique taste that comes through like a dream. End your meal here and trust me, you will be contented—very contented.
With the extensive menu items that Omoté offers, no wonder there’s always a stream of diners coming in and out of the restaurant. Here, there is certainly something for everyone. From raw to cooked, rice to noodles, take your pick. Even the fussiest eater will be satisfied.
Expected Damage: S$18 – S$35 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
301 Upper Thomson Road, #03-24A, Singapore 574408
301 Upper Thomson Road, #03-24A, Singapore 574408