Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar, the shochu place
Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar is located at the Gallery Hotel. I went up a spiral staircase and was invited by warm waiters and waitresses. I just loved the ambience of this restaurant and I know for the fact if you go with about 2-3 good friends – this is the kind of restaurant you want to stay forever and eat and chat.
I was led to a Horigotatsu style seat – this is where you sit around a low table on tatami mat floor, but the floor under the table is dug out so that you have leg spaces as if you were seated at a regular Western style table. The restaurant also had regular seating arrangements. Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar is known to be the first and only Shochu speciality Japanese restaurant in Singapore and it offers a wide range of Tokyo-style food with over 80 labels of Honkaku shochu by the glass. Until I dined at this restaurant I had no idea was Shochu was! Shochu is a distilled alchoholic beverage made of sweet potato, rice, barley and more ingredients. It is supposed to be the trendy choice of drink in Japan. The restaurant is well known for its Sumiyaki and yakitori – charcoal grilled dishes.
Food was excellent and we tried a variety of dishes – 12 dishes to be precise and all of it more like a Japanese Tapas style. Shochu was served in the traditional way and I liked it warm mixed with water.
The meal started off with Hiyashi Momotaro, a cold Japanese tomato dish. The flavor was intricate and harmonious combination of sweet and tangy and the tomatoes radiant dark pink. I always liked vegetable recipes that are simple but very tasty. One such dish is the Hourensou Gama Ae, spinach with sesame sauce. Spinach was blanched and served like a log and the classic Japanese sesame sauce poured over it. As I was eating it, I could smell the intense smell of the roasted sesame seed. The waitress told me they do not use bottled sesame sauce, instead the chef uses his Japanese mortar and pestle to grind the seeds. The Tokusei Tsukune, meat bar served with raw egg yolk was highly recommended by the waitress. The dish came with 2 pieces of meat bars and a quail’s egg yolk. We were supposed to mix the egg yolk with the sauce and radish that was inside and then roll the hot meat bars on it. The heat of the meat bar cooks the light coating of egg!! I found the meat to be a bit on the salty side. This is a descent dish but not one for those who does not like raw egg.
The next dish was a kind of a new-Japanese-Western dish - Mentaiko Supagetei, icy Cod Roe Spaghetti. Mentaiko consists of whole cod roe sacs preserved with salt, sake, kombu, and chilli. The cheaper type of Mentaiko usually has MSG and food colouring too. At Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar the Mentaiko was natural without as much . additives. The combination of pasta, Mentaiko and butter is as unexpected as it is delicious and I am sure kids will love this dish. And eating spaghetti with Japanese chopsticks was a slippery affair for me. The Ebi Shiso Maki was an interesting dish of prawn rolled with shiso leaves and pork. The inside had prawns, then wrapped with shiso leaf and then pork. I simply love the fragrance of shiso leaves. Try making a mohito with shiso leaves, rum, Japanese lime and soda! As I am typing this, I just realized that we were eating so many pork dishes!! We had Kaki No Buta Niku Maki, Oyster rolled with Pork that was an interesting combination and the sauce that was served with it enhanced the taste; the Premium Angus Beef Short Rib was very tender and finished very fast.
The highlight of the dinner was when the waitress brought a little stove to the table, placed a clay pot over it and pour pure soy milk into the clay pot and covered it. She asked us to wait for 8-10 minutes before we eat the table-made fresh tofu!! The delicate, smooth tofu was served with 3 condiments. Personally, I was not impressed by the tofu as it was too smooth for me……….but the combination of the condiments and the tofu complemented each other well. It was interesting to see the tofu made right in front of your eyes and eating it piping hot. This was a dish that they are going to introduce into the menu soon.
The Yamaimo Kinoku Teishoku – mountain yam and mushroom rice set caught my eyes in the menu. I fancied Chinese style clay pot rice with cubes of yam and pieces of mushrooms. We got a porridge looking dish. It was rice cooked with grated Japanese yam, a bit of sweet potato to add color and chopped mushrooms. The broth tasted interesting but a bit slimy due to the yam. By the way, Japanese yam provides high level of Vitamins C and B1.
Sweet potatoes are used in the most ways imagined in Japan. They are used in all sorts of dishes, especially confections. The Dessert Devil had Satsuma Imo Age – deep fried sweet potato finger chips that had a sticky caramelized sugar coating on it and marmalade was served along with it. This was interesting as the marmalade was like a condiment and the citrus flavor gave a ‘kick’ for you to want to eat more of the sweet, sticky, tempting little devils! The thought of “it would be less sinful if the sweet potato chips were baked” flitted for a second in my mind but then the idea for deep frying and then sugar coating probably came from the Chinese cuisine! One thing beats me……shouldn’t this dish be called Daigakuimo? After eating this very sinfully sweet carbo food, we tried the Lime Sherbet with Shochu, a refreshing palate cleanser type of dessert and left the restaurant, thinking……………”I am very full”!
Throughout dinner, there were two very attentive staff, hovering over us, changing plates, topping up with water, explaining food or serving food!
Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar
#01-10/#02-10 The Gallery Hotel
Tel: 6235 3565