Hong Kong’s Michelin-starred Japanese kappo eatery Zuicho lands in Singapore and brings its award-winning chops to the Lion City.

Singapore diners get really spoilt for choice when it comes to fine-dining Japanese cuisine. From the highest-end omakase sushi joints slicing up and doling out fish freshly flown into town to the swankiest of contemporary izakayas with a huge premium sake selection, we have it all. But one of the latest additions to the scene, Zuicho, is likely to do very well here despite how ultra-competitive Singapore’s dining space can get.

If you’re a seasoned globe-trotting epicurean, that name might sound familiar. Zuicho, located at newly-refurbished Mandarin Oriental Singapore, is actually an extension of a Michelin-starred Hong Kong-based Japanese kappo restaurant of the same name that’s opened by hospitality group WA Creations. (There’s also a Macau outlet.)

What you get at Zuicho Singapore is the same award-winning kappo cuisine. In Japanese culinary parlance, kappo means ‘to cut’ and ‘to cook’. Of course, that doesn’t really say much. The easier explanation is that kappo is a combination of fine dining sushi (to ‘cut’) with elements of Japanese kaiseki dining (to ‘cook’), and almost always involves live preparation of seasonal ingredients right in front of guests.

Chef Kenji Takahashi
[Photo credit: Klaus Tan]

At Zuicho Singapore, that culinary theatre is presented full force. Here head chef Kenji Takahashi, a seasoned veteran who was previously at Yoshifuku in Tokyo Ginza which he led to Michelin stars for nine consecutive years, holds court. Quiet and unassuming, Chef Kenji meticulously slices, dices, and assembles each of your omakase courses with the greatest of ikigai intensity.

Whatever the season. Winter produce was being showcased when we visited. Our starters included peppery nanohana, crunchy komochi konbu, as well as fleshy kinmedai, all of which are at their best this time of the year. Likewise the menuke (Pacific perch) and tai (sea bream) that we got as sashimi, the bamboo shoots for our tempura, or the Ezo bafun uni we got as a handroll.

Seasonal freshness aside, Chef Kenji’s mastery is in preparation. Our Miyazaki wagyu Chateaubriand was served two ways, one of which is grilled to perfection, and the other fried gyu katsu-style. Both were absolutely scrumptious, each bite bursting with unctuous goodness that had us licking our lips seven ways.

Zuicho Singapore - Kappo

And then reaching for some sake to sip and hide our embarrassing impropriety.

Another sublime dish is the other meat course, also featuring wagyu beef. Here A5 wagyu sirloin is poached shabu-shabu style, but served like sukiyaki doused in a soy jelly along with a confit egg yolk and sliced black winter truffles. You’ll want to retain a little of what’s left in your bowl when they offer a spoonful of rice to clean out your bowl with.

Or the rice course. Presented as a takikomi in a claypot, the mixed rice dish of koshihikari, salmon pieces and ikura tasted rather pedestrian until the restaurant offered up some dashi broth so you can have it ochazuke style. Then it’s transformed into a heavenly little bowl of comfort and warmth that reminds you of your father’s reassuring hug when you were crying as a child.

Admittedly, I may have teared a little.

wagyu sirloin

But Chef Kenji saved the best for last. As in any good theatre, the ending is always the most important. Most Japanese restaurants – even the best fine-dining ones – serve up the most ubiquitous of desserts. Fresh fruit, however expensive or in-season, for example. Or the familiar adzuki or goma ice cream, more to sate the sweet tooth than to display any true culinary artistry.

Chef Kenji instead pulls out all the stops to make mochi from scratch, prepared in front of guests, that he then sandwiches between monaka wafers along with brown sugar ice cream and sliced strawberries.

It’s the best Japanese ice cream sandwich we’ve tasted, ever.

Food-wise, there are many good reasons to come back to Zuicho Singapore. But that mochi ice cream sandwich? It’s the perfect sticky chewy example that this is not just yet another fine-dining Japanese kappo restaurant.

It’s a winner.

[Photo credits: Zuicho Singapore | WA Creations]

Zuicho Singapore

Address 5 Raffles Ave., Level 3 Mandarin Oriental, Singapore 039797 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 11.30pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 6885 3595
Web zuichosingapore.com
Instagram @zuicho.singapore
Reservations book here

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