Savour traditional shabu shabu with different broths such as beef consommé
By Samantha Francis
Warmly lit and welcoming, Sakurazaka reminded me of a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) I once visited in Japan. (Photos: John Heng)
Warmly lit with cherry blossoms peeking out from a pine-coloured wooden ceiling, Sakurazaka reminded me of a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) I once visited in Japan.
From the austere ambience to the cuisine, the newly-opened shabu shabu (Japanese hotpot) restaurant is a picture of Zen.
Of the variety of meat, the Joshu Wagyu ribeye was the most memorable for its intense, almost buttery marbling.
Cooking on a Hot Stone
To start, I had the Beef Ishiyaki (on traditional Japanese stone grill). Cooking the thin slices of Japanese wagyu beef on a 140°C hot stone was no mean feat — I struggled to keep the first slice of meat from getting stuck on the sizzling stone.
I did better on my second attempt and victoriously dunked it into the accompany bowl of silky-smooth onsen tamago (Japanese half-boiled egg); which enhanced the tenderness of the beef and simultaneously cooled it.
The Sukiyaki Set was delicious for both the broth as well as the meat, including the Japanese Wagyu-Holstein F1 Crossbreed beef.
Double the Broths, Double the Delight
With my appetite whetted, I was ready for the hotpot. If you’re spoiled for choice by the extensive a la carte menu, go for the value-for-money sets instead — in which you get a starter, assorted vegetables, rice or noodles, dessert and a choice of two broths. Prices start from $48 per person for the pork set and $54 per person for the beef set.
My choices of broths were the ago dashi (dashi broth) and beef consommé, with the latter being a reflection of Chef Masashi’s European culinary roots.
Made with flying fish, it imparted a mild sweetness to the ago dashi broth without overpowering the natural taste of the other ingredients. I found that it flavoured the seafood items wonderfully, especially the white clams and prawn ball from the Bouillabaisse set.
Port Wine Kakigori
More than Hotpot
The shiyo ponzu dip, which is a mixture of sudachi (Japanese citrus fruit) and ‘seaweed’ salt, had just the right amount of citrus flavours. It worked well with both the seafood and the meat.
Of the variety of meat, the Joshu Wagyu ribeye was the most memorable for its intense, almost buttery marbling. A three-second dip in the beef consommé broth was all that was needed to turn the ribeye meat flavourful, soft and tender.
Once you’re done enjoying the shabu shabu, I highly recommend adding $12 for the Japanese rice risotto — made in the very hotpot broth that has soaked up the flavourful essence of your meal. It was shiok, to say the least.
Finally, the Port Wine Kakigori (Japanese shaved ice, $15), which comes with cubes of port wine jelly, will conclude your meal on a refreshing and satisfying note.
Sakurazaka, 24 Greenwood Ave, Singapore 289221, Tel: 6463 0333
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 151, April 29 – May 12, 2016, with the headline ‘Japanese hotpot with European twist’.