A restaurant within a restaurant, modern Japanese dining concept Oumi offers up a contemporary Australian take on Japanese-style Kappo dining.
Kappo cuisine refers to a traditional Japanese style of dining that falls between a formal omakase and the far more casual izakaya. What generally identifies a Kappo – literally translated to ‘cut and cook’ – is the emphasis on seasonal ingredients, as well as an open interaction between the chef and his guests.
A restaurant within a restaurant – it is tucked within coastal Australian concept Kaarla within the 1-Arden lifestyle dining destination under 1-Group located in CapitaSpring – recently-opened Oumi is styled as a modern Kappo restaurant. It is one that, like Kaarla and Latin-European bistro Sol & Luna, gets to tap into the produce from sky-high urban food farm Food Forest located on the same floor in CapitaSpring in the name of sustainability.
So don’t be too surprised to see some farm-to-table magic happening at this intimate 25-seater. You know, just like your traditional Kappo eatery in Japan.
The kitchen is headed by Chef Lamley Chua – and overseen by 1-Arden Executive Chef John-Paul Fiechtner – who aside from using the bounty from Food Forest as they come to season, sources quality seasonal produce from Japan and Australia for his dishes.
Like a veteran Japanese chef he employs a light touch to Awabi, simply salt-baking and flash-steaming with sake fresh Australian abalone on the teppan and then topping it with the abalone’s own guts that’s been mixed with miso. If that sounds too adventurous for you, how about Momotaro Cheese? This is Japanese fruit tomato, miso cheese, topped with seaweed-flavoured rice puffs as well as fennel flowers sourced from Food Forest, a simple yet tasty sake-friendly combination.
Also easy on the eye and palate is Kabocha Uni Tofu. This is housemade tofu, combined with Australian pumpkin, topped with uni and then drenched in a delectable mushroom-infused soy. Even prettier is the Tempura Crepe, a ridiculously Instagram-worthy (and tasty) cracker topped with some of the most umami ingredients – scampi roe, gruyere cheese, sakura ebi, and tobiko, amongst others – the world has to offer. For something similarly fancy, the Foie Gras Monaka sandwiches foie gras mousse, pickled daikon, ikura and tobiko within traditional Japanese rice wafers, and makes for a great bite.
Another lovely appetiser is Nasu Dengaku, which comes as grilled Japanese eggplant smothered in a topping of crisped up golden buckwheat, nori white miso, sakura ebi, and shiso flowers.
It’s also really good with sake. In fact you’ll find most dishes here work best with sake, which is why Oumi offers a pretty decent sake list including lovely gems such as the Dan Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, Manotsuru Junmai Ginjo, and – if you really intend to splurge – the Juyondai 14th Gen Banshu Yamadanishiki Nama Junmai Daiginjo. The latter’s price, you’ll find, is as impressive as the length of its name.
For a restaurant that’s named for the sea, Chef Lamley does amazing things with meat. Take the Gyutan Yaki, or grilled ox tongue, for example. A Sendai speciality, here thin slices of tongue has its flavour accentuated with a dressing of citrus miso, while the accompanying stir-fried leeks add texture. Then there’s Wagyu, essentially an elevated beef donburi that’s unctuous from the drippings of the braised Kagoshima A5 wagyu and the onsen egg yolk you’re going to want to break into the Akita Komachi rice.
Traditionalists would argue that Oumi isn’t a exactly a Kappo joint; at old-school Japanese Kappo eateries, you pick from different ingredients and get to ask the chef to prepare them in your preferred cooking method (just like your local zichar eatery). They’re likely to also frown on the use of so many ingredients foreign to the Japanese palate.
But for those more adventurous and cosmopolitan palates, Oumi may just be the contemporary, Australian-inflected twist to Kappo dining they need.
Address 88 Market St, #51-01, CapitaSpring, Singapore 048948 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 12am on Mondays to Fridays; 6pm to 12am on Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 8518 3763