Kaiseki is my favourite kind of Japanese meal and from my various trips to Kansai region, I got to experience wonderful Kaiseki meals in Kyoto and Nara. My Kaiseki meals were mostly very traditional and I never thought that it could be incorporated with something modern.
At Satsuki, they serve Teppan Kaiseki, which is something unique. I haven’t seen this anywhere in Japan! Chef Matsumoto Takashi, from Kumamoto Kyushu Japan explained that certain restaurants in Osaka do serve such modern style of Kaiseki. I am not surprised to learn it was from Osaka, of all places. Osaka is famous for skewers, while the neighbouring cities of Kobe and Kyoto (Nara as well) famous for Teppanyaki, and Kaiseki styled meals. The concept of Teppan Kaiseki is a combination of everything.
For traditional Kaiseki meals, the menu is up to seasonal ingredients and the discretion of the chef. It’s up to the chef’s creativity to prepare dishes from the best ingredients available and the dishes would be presented in individual courses, with different cooking methods. Typically you’ll start with an amuse bouche like starter, followed by appetizer, raw dish, soup, boiled dish steamed dish, grilled dish, fried dish, rice and fruits or desserts. The types of dishes served varies but it’ll be at least 8 and is entirely up to the chef to decide. Traditional places serve sake as an aperitif and matcha to end the meal.
As for Satsuki’s Teppan Kaiseki, they serve dishes fitting the theme of traditional courses, but some of the main courses comprises of various items cooked on the teppan, on skewers or pinchos.
They have 3 menus to choose from – $88, $128 and $188, typical of Kaiseki restaurants, and specific dishes subject to change daily.
Chef Matsumoto presented me the menu for tonight and I was told I would be having the 望月 Mochizuki set ($188++), which is the biggest and most premium of the 3. From the menu, it was quite obvious that food served here has western influence and deviates from traditional flavours.
This restaurant has 12 counter seats and 2 booth seats (holds up to 4 pax each) making the restaurant capacity of a grand total of 20. I liked how the counter seats were spacious so I did not feel claustrophobic at all. As the meal progressed, the restaurant subsequently became fully occupied, majority being Japanese customers.
I was served by the head chef Matsumoto himself and could see his concentration. The small capacity means more attention from chef himself. There was only one other Japanese chef preparing dishes at the counter but if you do dine here, I suggest requesting for chef Matsumoto. I enjoyed watching him preparing my food for the whole 3 hours so go to him if you want to have the same experience as me.
Their alcoholic beverage selection includes a good amount of wine and sake.
The ambiance of this place reminds me of Japan and it feels very authentic. Even the washroom is Japanese standard with a bidet toilet and well stocked basin area (mouthwash provided too). The whole restaurant also looked really clean and sleek.
Starter: Sea urchin
Starting the meal with a substantial portion of sea urchin, which is easily everybody’s favourite!
Appetizer: Wagyu beef tartare with Tosa-vinegar jelly
Tosa is a place in the islands of Shikoku, Japan.
Soup: Soup of Matsutake mushroom and Hamo congar eel
Matsutake mushroom is one of my favourite mushrooms for sure and it isn’t available all year round. I was excited to have this soup here. I’ve had matsutake and hamo soup in Japan last year at Kaiseki meals too and I loved it. The little coloured balls are starch like balls which they refer to as gluten.
Raw dish: Toro fatty tuna with fresh egg yolk
Instead of plain chutoro, chef put some effort in this raw dish and paired it with mustard and egg yolk. I was told to dip it first in mustard and then the yolk. The fatty tuna melts in my mouth.
Abalone freshly shucked onto the teppan. This was the first dish of the night using the teppan and things were starting to heat up (literally).
Warm appetizer: Abalone Steak
Abalone in shell is nothing like it’s canned counterparts. The first time I tried abalone was in Kamogawa, Chiba where I got to try abalone so fresh, it was cooked alive. The outcome was abalone that’s much more tender than canned ones.
For this abalone steak, the texture was perfect – nothing like rubber. Seems like chef is a fan of mustard with the mustard dip provided at the side. The yellow wedge is squash. I wish I could have more but well, this is only an appetizer. More dishes coming up!
Fried dish: Kushi-age, deep fried skewers
This is a typical Osaka street food, almost as iconic as takoyaki. (Seeing this made me miss Osaka! I need a third trip there soon.)
The skewer itself is bland and you have to dip it into the sauce (like tonkatsu sauce, slightly sour) for flavour. Here we have fish and daikon. The standard is pretty much the same as those from Osaka, fried to a very photogenic light golden brown.
Now it’s time for the main course – teppan kushiyaki. Traditional kaiseki doesn’t include dishes cooked on the teppan and no skewered dishes too, as mentioned earlier, so these upcoming dishes will set it apart from traditional Kaiseki.
Hot Plate Skewers
Grilled over the hot plate with extra virgin olive oil from Waitrose.
It’s way more common to see skewers cooked robatayaki style (over charcoal grill) or deep fried (Osaka style). I’ve never had skewers cooked on a hot plate (teppan) and certainly never imagined that it could be part of a Kaiseki meal before today.
3 types of chili peppers – sansho, black chili and red chili was provided to spice things up at your own discretion.
Green asparagus rolled with pork belly
The layer of pork was very thin and was rolled tightly over the thick asparagus, with their special mayonnaise over it. I love asparagus and the flavours from the pork complimented it perfectly, better than bacon. The asparagus was perfectly tender without being soggy or too fibrous.
Stuffed shiitake mushroom
The mushroom was stuffed with minced chicken.
Konjac with fish roe
The konnyaku (konjac) cake was had fish roe inside and was grilled (still piping hot as you can see from the smoke) over the teppan before added the toppings of salmon roe and mustard. Konnyaku is common in Japanese cuisine based on my experience in Japan.
Lead ginger rolled with pork belly
Well, I personally hate ginger. I’d take another asparagus anytime, but the pork belly made it better.
Young soft shell kuruma-ebi prawn
This is not your usual prawn. Kuruma ebi is a Japanese imperial prawn and chef instructed me to eat everything, including the head and all shells! I did exactly that and it was so good. The shell gave it a nice crunchy texture and the prawn flesh inside was juicy.
Eel from Shimanto-rover, Koichi
Beautifully cooked Unagi.
Akashi-yaki rolled omelette with foie gras
I’ve never had foie gras in my omelette before so this was really a treat. The foie gras placed on the teppan for searing while the chef cooks the omelette. After the egg has set into a nice omelette, the teppan seared foie gras was then place onto it and it was carefully rolled up to look like this.
Teppan Pinchos: Miyazaki wagyu beef A5 tenderloin, petit tomato, Brussels sprout, sliced Miyazaki wagyu beef oyster blade
Smaller toothpicks instead of long skewers were used for these pinchos. The beef was legit A5 wagyu and the marbling made it really tender and soft to bite. I personally found the oyster blade (flatiron cut) better than the tenderloin.
I was hesitant about trying Brussels sprouts since I’ve heard bad things about it (never tried it myself before) but surprisingly I liked the taste. I would love to have it again.
Staple: Jyuwari soba noodles with prawn tempura
Rice or noodles (more commonly rice) are served towards the end of Kaiseki meals to fill you up in case you’re not full. By this point, I was already stuffed! This bowl was decent but I was just thinking about dessert.
Most restaurants serve ice cream, fruit or some ready-made jelly as their dessert, even in Japan. I was expecting that when I called for my dessert to be served but was told it was coming and I couldn’t have it instantly. I didn’t quite understand but soon I realised…
… the dessert wasn’t simply something taken out of their fridge and prepared beforehand, but was actually designed to be cooked on the Teppan by the Chef a la minute! I really commend his effort. Here’s some crêpe suzette on fire.
I thought this was it but the chef made some decorative spun sugar by hand a la minute (again!) to garnish the already pretty crepe.
Dessert: Crepe suzette with homemade vanilla ice cream
The ice cream was actually pre-scooped and frozen in balls for ease of preparation but I felt that it caused the ice cream to be a bit too icy. It would have been better if the ice cream was improved!
I appreciated how the head chef Matsumoto personally prepared everything that could be done at the counter (cold dishes and teppan dishes) and I can tell he takes pride in this work. Half the fun of Kaiseki (in my opinion) is watching the chef in action, serving their creativity and effort in the little dishes prepared. This meal Kaiseki experience was novel and entertaining.
If you want to try something different from the usual typical Japanese cuisine found in Singapore, this is a place to consider. Kaiseki is really rare in Singapore (with some of them closing down in recent years too including the pioneer Kaiseki restaurant, Goto) so I’m glad we now have Satsuki to add to the very short list of Kaiseki restaurants in Singapore (ok in fact, there are only 2 other places I know of right now), because (I shall repeat) Kaiseki is my favourite style of Japanese cuisine and I hope to see more of it in Singapore.
Overall: A novel kind of Kaiseki but still good nonetheless. Great to see new styles in the Japanese dining scene of Singapore.
Teppan Kaiseki Satsuki Singapore / 鉄板懐石 皐月 シンガポール
59 Duxton Road
Mon – Sat: 17:30–23:00
I would like to thank Satsuki and Chef Matsumoto for the invitation and hospitality.
P.S, Photos for Satsuki were kindly taken by my
photographer friend with a professional camera. 🙂