Singapore - Already well known for its stellar location along the One Fullerton stretch and for its high-quality sumiyaki (grilled food on skewers), San-Sui recently opened a second outlet - this time a contemporary Japanese restaurant and bar at Clarke Quay.
The cavernous two-storey space is dark and lounge-y with a deep, curved bar at the far end of the dining room behind which the chefs work. Clad in black, grey and dark wood, the restaurant feels a bit like a theatre, with tables on the smaller second level overlooking those below. This peculiar layout can be attributed to the space's previous tenants: Burger King Whopper Bar.
Pan-roasted black cod fillet.
But back to San-Sui, and its kitchen, which is led by group operations manager (culinary), Ken Zheng, and dishes out a seasonal contemporary Japanese menu touched by European influences. For instance, a beet carpaccio (S$12) sees paper-thin slivers of beetroot cooked sous vide and served with a piquant salad. Although not a fan of beets, I enjoyed this dish as the slow cooking had rid the vegetable of that distinct sharp flavour.
Also surprisingly good was the gobo or burdock soup (S$12), made by cooking the root in chicken stock and then blitzing it to a silky, creamy broth. It tasted like yams and Jerusalem artichokes - extremely comforting. The only thing that marred it was the deep-fried burdock "hay" that was meant to add texture, but was too fibrous.
Kagoshima Wagyu tenderloin.
Both the kurotara (pan-roasted black cod fillet, S$40) and Tajima wagyu striploin (S$68) were delicious. The delicately cooked fish was gently seasoned to balance out the salty honshimeiji mushrooms, while the unctuous, tender beef had lovely, smoky flavours having been cooked over a white charcoal fire grill. But the dish that I enjoyed most was the bamboo sushi (S$18), a hollowed out piece of bamboo stuffed with sushi rice and topped with chopped marinated blue fin tuna, seaweed and chives. There was excellent balance of flavours in this simple dish - the rice harboured a hint of sweetness, the fish was just fatty enough and the chives provided a savoury hit.
Those who want to sample the food without burning a hole in their pockets should try the set lunch that starts from S$38 for a two-course meal. Otherwise, with its impressive list of creative cocktails and Japanese snack bar menu, this is a good place for drinks at the end of the workday too.
San-Sui Contemporary Dining And Bar
Where: 3B River Valley Road #01-06 The Foundry, Clarke Quay
Telephone: 6336 7737
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 3pm. 6pm to 10.30pm