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Sakurazaka Singapore – new shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, kakigori concept

Stalking the social feeds of Singaporeans friends and influencers, I would eye their images with longing.
Better ingredients, better chefs, better parks, better governance, better transportation, a stronger currency….well, the list goes on.

On the dining front, I make concerted effort to keep myself updated on Singapore’s what’s new, what’s worth trying and what’s in.
My monthly excursions to Singapore are planned, budgeted for and my itinerary curated to fit in as many food and places to visit whenever possible.

On this March 2016 trip, I was coincidentally in town during a review session at Sakurazaka, a new restaurant which marries the traditional shabu-shabu and sukiyaki with European flair.
This translates to Japanese and European ingredients, condiments and stocks and combined to forge to create new flavour combinations.

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While shabu-shabu isn’t new, Chef Masashi Horiuchi demonstrated his Japanese origins and French classical training at Sakurazaka.
The essence of shabu-shabu remained; fresh ingredients, communal dining and in the spirit of sharing.
But what’s interesting is Chef’s ago dashi or dried flying fish stock, a signature ingredient of Kyushu, something never offered before, and then there is Bouillabaisse stock and beef consommé — prime exemplars of the French kitchen as stock options.

The dining space was another fine touch with an interior design that fused the traditional and modern in an open layout. Wood is a predominant element; making up the walls, ceiling and furniture plus an overhead raft of slender rafters just after the entrance suggests the pitched ceiling of a traditional Japanese house.

Guest dine with utensils from Fukuoka and swished their fresh ingredients in hot pots imported from Japan.

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In the stockpotago dashi (dried flying fish – a signature product from Fukuoka, seaweed, shirodashi, soy sauce, salt, mirin, sake), Bouillabaisse stock (tomato, tomato paste, onion, carrots, leek, parsley, sherry vinegar, tabasco, soy sauce, cayanne pepper) and beef consommé (beef stock, soy sauce, salt and pepper).

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While the Chinese delighted in having their hot pot bubbling over and filled to the brim with ingredients, at Sakurazaka we learnt that the ideal temperature to cook the ingredients is simmering hot, but never boiling.
So we bought the pot up to boiling, then turn the fire down to maintain the heat and added our ingredients after.

Only ingredients that are to be consumed immediately are added. It is advisable not to throw all ingredients in at a go.

For example, we began with the handmade balls of ground prawn, shiitake mushroom, lotus root, perilla herb, salt and pepper. Since we had a few choice of soup base, we were free to cook our ingredients in any of the pots.
However, it makes sense to follow the rule of seafood into seafood stock, meat into meat stock while the clear ago dashi is a foolproof choice for any ingredients.

BELOW: The prawn balls came in a shoot of bamboo. Cute!

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When you dine at Sakurazaka you can opt for a sharing set (choice of pork, bouillabaisse, beef and sukiyaki) for 2 pax (additional diner is chargable by pax) to go ala-carte.

The rest of this article will show you what you can expect.

For those opting for the set, trust me, you’ve made an excellent choice.
The set comes with the Ishiyaki (Pork/Beef/Seafood). The meat/seafood is meant to be cooked on the Japanese hot stone, heated in oven to a 140 degrees.
A quick contact with the stone is sufficient to cook the ingredients and diners are recommended to dip the cooked item into a dip made of onsen Tamago (Japanese soft-boiled egg) with spring onions and sukiyaki sauce.

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Enjoy that while you wait for your other ingredients to simmer and cook.
I had no need to additional flavouring for my meal that night, but I did appreciate the dipping sauces which was calibrated to subtly enhance the meats and vegetables.

The trio are :
1. Tamari Ponzu: Mix of yuzu, suagr, dashi and tamari
2. Shiyo Ponzu: Mix of sudachi and ‘seaweed’ salt
3. Goma: Mix of sesame and espelette pepper

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For the Bouillabaisse (seafood) set, expect tiger prawns, white clams, scallop, red snapper, squid, mussel and the earlier prawn ball in a bamboo shoot.

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All the sets come with 5 seasonal vegetables and 2 types of mushroom.

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For the beef set, you would be feasting on the Aomori Japanese Rice- Fed Beef Striploin (150G) and Ribeye (150G).
300 g for 2 pax should be more than sufficient to fill up 2 moderate diners but if you are a carnivore like me, you can always order additional meat from the ala-carte menu.
By the way, do not forget that each set comes with 5 seasonal vegetables, 2 types of mushroom, rice/noodles and desserts plus the earlier Ishiyaki!

We sampled the Joshu Wagyu Striploin (100g) and Ribeye (100g) as well that evening but my vote goes to the Aomori beef as it was much more umami in flavour.
The Joshu has better marbling and could simply be fattier.

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Aomori Rice Fed Beef – the cattle is fed with whole rice crop for ‘umami‘ flavour and spring water from Mount Hakkoda.

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Joshu Ribeye and Loin.
The marbling is amazing. The Joshu Wagyu beef is from Japanese Black cattle which are raised in the Gunma prefecture and its known for its intense marbling and tender texture.

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For the pork set, expect Kyushu Japanese Pork (Shirobuta) Belly (200G) and Loin (200G). This pork originates from the Kagoshima prefecture (Kyushu) of Japan. The meat is whiter, tender and slightly sweet.
For this I prefer the loin to the belly.

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Once you are done, the “Rice or Noodles” is next. 

For this, select ONE type of rice or noodles from the choices of udon/egg noodles/Japanese rice/Japanese rice risotto. Your pick will be cooked in the remainer stock and served to you with an assorted of toppings and sauce.
Ours that evening was Japanese rice risotto with added egg and cheese. It was alike a bowl of luxurious congee bursting with rich, umami flavours which made me wish that I still had enough stomach space not to waste it.

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But 6 kakigori was next and being responsible foodies we gamely sampled each and every single bowl.

For those who are unaware, Kakigori is a extravagant summertime treats enjoyed in the imperial courts of Japan since the 8th century.
In ancient times, Kezurihi, a sweetener and a very expensive medicinal item, was used.
In current times, kakigori is made of finely shaved ice, flavoured with syrup and condensed milk; pretty similar to patbingsu, haluhalo and ice kacang.
Sakurazaka has re-imagined kakigori, adding refinements such as Ujikintoki Green Tea and Hokkaido Milk, as well as European ingredients to produce the sensational Port Wine and Tiramisu kakigori.

Ujikintoki: Matcha kakigori.
Ala-carte is SGD16 but ONE kakigori (you have 6 choices) is complimentary if you order a set.

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PORT Wine kakigori – port wine sauce, citrus confit, red wine jelly cube.
SGD15 if ala-carte.

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Strawberry Kakigori – Strawberry compote, watermelon sorbet, strawberry & mint sauce, fresh strawberry, fresh watermelon ball, strawberry espuma and a saucer of condensed milk on the side.
SGD12 each 
if ala-carte.

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Tiramisu Kakigori – Coffee syrup and ice cream, crunch chocolate pearls, crunchy coffee sponge, mascarpon espuma, cacao powder and a saucer of condensed milk on the side.
SGD14
 ala-carte.

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Hokkaido Milk Kakigori – milk sauce, milk pudding, milk candy, cookie crumble and a saucer of condensed milk on the side.
SGD12
 ala-carte.

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Mango Kakigori – Mango compote, mango sorbet, mango & passionfruit fruit syrup, fresh passionfruit, fresh mangoes and a saucer of condensed milk on the side.
SGD12
 ala-carte.

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So there you go, the reasonably priced but loaded with superior ingredients shabu-shabu sets offered at Sakurazaka.
Considering the portion and imported ingredients as well as the added sides of desserts, rice/noodle and the Ishiyaki, I think Sakurazaka is certainly worth many visits.
Do check out the set menu below for clarity.

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How the sets work:
When you dine at Sakurazaka you can opt for a sharing set (choice of pork, bouillabaisse, beef and sukiyaki) for 2 pax (additional diner is chargable by pax) to go ala-carte.

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Note: Thanks Derrick for the invite and it was great meeting M and L again!!

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For those who enjoy their tipple, Sakurazaka offers a fine selection of wines, sake, and Japanese craft beers as well; all curated by leading fine wine merchant, Wine Culture.
So go ahead, enjoy a drink (or more) while you feast on your shabu-shabu!

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Sakurazaka Singapore
24 Greenwood Avenue, Singapore 289221

Mon-Sun: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Thu-Sun: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
MRT: 10-15 minutes walk from Tan Kah Kee MRT Station (DT8), exit A. Access via Hillcrest Road.

Contact: (+65) 6463 0333
FB: www.facebook.com/sakurazakasg