Keyaki’s new executive chef and kaiseki menus

Enjoy the winter bounty from Japan’s land and seas at Keyaki, doled out by executive chef Shinichi Nakatake.
By Eunice Lew
Published on Friday, 08 Dec 2017

It's the dawn of a new era as Shinichi Nakatake takes over executive chef Hiroshi Ishii, who helmed Keyaki for almost 30 years. The 40-year-old Yokohama native brings with him years of experience cutting his teeth in two Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo, London’s Umu, and the Japanese embassy in Belgium. Before joining Keyaki, he was most recently with Fairmont Singapore’s Mikuni restaurant.

Nakatake first decided to become a chef at 18 and moved to Kyoto to master traditional Japanese cuisine. This foundation is firmly reflected in his two new winter kaiseki menus for Keyaki. The meals showcase the beauty and superiority of kyo-yasai (heirloom vegetables from Kyoto) and the pristine seafood from Japan’s cold waters during winter.

Our favourites from the trio of appetisers: shirako, which is paired with a vinegar sauce to cut through the milt’s richness, as well as the glass shrimp (sourced from Toyama in northern Japan) with seaweed soy sauce. From the sashimi platter, the buri (yellowtail) and kinmedai (red bream) stand out for its unctuously fatty flavours and melt-in-your-mouth texture. We also loved the grilled king crab’s sweet and juicy flesh.

One of the meal’s technique-focused highlights was the grilled tilefish, its skin cooked to a crisp to introduce a pleasant crunch to the dish. A little smear of sea urchin sauce added sweetness and creaminess. Another lip-smackingly tasty treat was the Ohmi beef, served toban-yaki style so that diners can control the meat’s doneness.

Occasionally, modern influences creep into Nakatake’s creations as well, revealing his varied experiences. The plateware he uses is notably less traditional than Ishii’s, such as utilising a round, lacquered basket tray to hold the appetisers. The dessert is sesame pudding with a rice flour pudding also features brown sugar syrup within a pipette dropper – something you wouldn’t find in more purist joints.

The 10-course Kiri ($200) and nine-course Keyaki ($180) kaiseki menus are available till 25 December. At 7pm on 24 November, Keyaki will also pair high-quality sakes from Sogen Sake Brewery (founded in the mid-Edo period in 1768) with Nakatake’s kaiseki menus. Level 4, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard. Tel: 6826 8240