Shin Terroir plants Japanese yakitori firmly in elegant fine-dining territory, bolstered by a concise French-centric, provenance-forward wine list.
Shin Terroir is cosy. Intimate, even.
The newly-opened contemporary Japanese grill house on Tras Street seats only 10 along the counter in its main dining space, and another six in an adjoining private room.
Upon first glance, it looks and feels entirely like a specialty omakase sushi restaurant. But a keener eye will notice the missing chopping boards and sushi display cases – with its glistening filets of fish and other seafood – of an expert itamae. Instead there’s a custom three-tier grill standing as the open kitchen’s centrepiece, smoking away on hot bincho coals. On one side, the proud produce – sourced from across Japan but also locally – that will transformed into the evening’s omakase meal.
And rather than sushi, on the menu instead is yakitori. Well, mostly.
Our 15-course epic began with Chawanmushi, that ubiquitous starter of steamed egg custard. Theirs employed top-quality konbu for stock to imbue a deeper, richer flavour, but was otherwise unremarkable.
Then came the next course, Yakionigiri, which blew our minds. Inspired by grilled rice balls, this came as a crispy disc of grilled rice topped with minced maguro, or blue fin tuna, and caviar. It tastes like negitoro on steroids. A wafu-style mesclun salad and a soup dish followed, but only served to whet the appetite for what’s to come.
As gastrophiles who love their Japanese food would know, yakitori – those delectable charcoal-grilled sticks of goodness (which traditionally are almost always some parts of chicken) – tends to be the domain of specialty yakitori restaurants and casual izakayas, and normally downed with copious mugs of ice-cold beer or whisky highballs. But Shin Terroir offers a vastly different experience, elevating yakitori to the equivalent of sushi- and sashimi-centred omakase fine-dining.
It’s a gastronomic procession of sticks worthy of respect.
The Otoukome came as a pair of grilled soriresu loving wrapped with chicken skin, which helped keep the chicken oyster’s characteristic juiciness, followed by Mille Feuille, a row of flayed chicken gizzards also shrouded in chicken skin. As though there isn’t enough chicken skin in this meal, there’s Kawa.
Grilled Vegetable was welcome, a break from the flow of grilled chicken. This seasonal offering of roasted Hokkaido baby turnip came with a lovely spiced togarashi butter that helped enhance the root vegetable’s sweetness.
Other quintessential yakitori cuts dutifully followed. The deboned Tebasaki was excellent, as was Reba, pieces of liver bizarrely dusted with crushed speculoos that somehow worked. Completing the poultry onslaught was Tsukune, the classic minced chicken meatball that you dip into an accompanying runny soy-cured egg yolk. We wished there were bits on nonkotsu kneaded into the meatball, but it was nonetheless delicious.
The final grilled item was Gyu, a juicy chunk of grilled Miyazaki A4 beef. Good, but we liked chicken better. Ramen was the perfect savoury finale before a yummy locally-inspired kaya mochi dessert, essentially a small bowl of chicken noodle soup bursting with lip-smacking umami.
What also sets Shin Terroir apart from most yakitori joints – even the fancy ones – though? A truly impressive wine and sake programme. You’re looking a wine list that pays specific homage to Burgundy and Champagne, with labels from ranging from beloved marques to artisanal producers and grower champagnes.
If you don’t think yakitori belongs in the fine-dining league? Shin Terroir will change your mind.
Address 80 Tras St, Singapore 079019 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5 to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 9656 0654
Reservations book here
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