Everyone serious about Japanese food has been to Aoki, right? Or at least heard of it. Surely it's the kind of restaurant that needs no introduction. For years, from an inconspicuous corner of Shaw Centre (literally), the kitchen has been responsible for some of the best experiences of Japanese cuisine to be found within the 723.2 square kilometres of our food-crazed island.
Hot towel, Exquisite wares
So it is with great embarrassment and shame that I will profess that this was my virgin visit. But what is it that the collective 'they' always say? Better late than never, right? As with all top tables, dinners here are exclusive and pricey. And, like many of these top tables, which serves a prix fixe menu at lunch as bait/charity for the masses, Aoki serves an array of accessible lunch sets as well. But make no mistake, even though lunch sets start from a modest $35, Aoki cuts no corners with their cheapest options.
It's a complete dining experience, from the welcoming hot towels, exquisite wares, down to an intricate selection of desserts. Even the appetizers, stewed beancurd skin served chilled, and greens lightly tossed in a dressing of vinaigrette and shoyu were well-executed, even if they aren't mind-blowing material.
Maze-chirashi Set, $35
But their mains, oh their mains. Truly a cut above the rest, pun intended, yes. The Maze-chirashi, especially, is incredibly satisfying and simply nothing else compares, in the realm of chirashis that is. The gorgeous and vibrant mix of market fresh cubes - salmon, toro, tamago, uni, ikura, etc. - lightly marinated in shoyu, towering over a bed of perfectly cooked pearl rice is absolutely divine. Even till the last bite, it's more fish than rice!
Nigiri Sushi Tokusen Set, $50, Miso Soup
The Nigiri Sushi Tokusen set gets you a selection of excellently prepared nigiri sushi including unagi and amaebi, along with a side of silky-smooth chawanmushi, though you surrender the precious bits and pieces of uni in the maze-chirashi. Choices, choices.
Desserts at Aoki, even as part of a lunch set, are no afterthought, and gets switched around often enough that you are almost always in for some sweet surprise. For us, it was umeshu jelly, beancurd pudding, and soju sorbet, or in other words, a perfect end to a truly sublime lunch.
1 Scotts Road
#02-17 Shaw Centre
Tel: (65) 6333 8015
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