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Restaurant review: Keyaki at Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore

Keyaki
Level 4 Pan Pacific Hotel, 7 Raffles Boulevard
+65 6826 8335

 

Technically, this isn’t a new restaurant at all; in fact it has been around for donkeys’ years. But since it has had a two-million dollar makeover, employed a new chef and unveiled a spectacular new menu, it sounded like a worthy contender for Flavour of the Month.

Everything about Japanese cuisine shouts – no, whispers! – sit back, relax, and take your time … please! Japanese food is as delicate as its people are gentle, each dish prepared with an amazing grace that takes years to perfect.

Executive Chef Kagata, who joined Keyaki after a residency at The Crown Casino Hotel in Macau, had prepared for us an omakase menu, meaning items that are specially selected and presented, and when the food arrived I didn’t know whether to eat it or frame it.

Highlights from the multi-course meal were a selection of beautiful appetisers; sushi and sashimi, of which the barbecued salmon, and toro (fatty tuna) received the greatest number of appreciative groans; thinly sliced beef wrapped around fresh vegetables with a sweet dark sauce; and a lightly battered tempura of creamy sea-urchin sandwiched in whole scallops. Our liquid refreshment: a chilled bottle of sweet, sparkling sake, which proved as complementary to our meal as red wine is to a fat, rare steak.

Diners – mostly discerning Japanese businessmen on the Wednesday night we visited the place – have the choice of several seating areas, including the main hall, a sushi and sashimi bar, a teppanyaki counter, several private rooms and an alfresco pavilion complete with views of the city.

But it doesn’t matter where you sit. From the moment you walk onto the rooftop and into perfectly manicured gardens resembling those of a Shinto temple, to the gentle greeting from the kimono-clad waitresses, to that final moment when you drain the last precious drop of sake from your glass, you know that this isn’t just another Japanese restaurant – it’s a two-hour trip to the motherland. Fairly pricey at $160 for our eight-course meal (including two small bottles of sake), but you’re paying extra for the experience.

Next time, I’d be tempted to put my life in the hands of Chef Kagata and try the puffer fish – or as Homer Simpson once eloquently put it: “Fuguuuuu!”

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