Is it an exaggeration to describe Maetomo Japanese cuisine (Kaiseki & Sushi), located at Sheraton Towers Hotel, as a gateway to the vaunted umami of Japan?
We don’t think so. And here’s why-
In the span of a three-hour omakase dinner, our taste buds had a whirlwind tour of Japan from coast to coast; think sea bream from Kagoshima to sea urchin from Hokkaido, and many other places in between.
The menu of this relatively young restaurant- opened in 2019 by Chef Akihiro Maetomo, a Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador appointed by the Japanese government, showcased with exquisite aplomb the freshest seafood flown in from all over Japan.
Only Dinner; sushi counter and kaiseki counter
Maetomo Japanese cuisine (Kaiseki & Sushi) is only open for dinner and is divided into a sushi counter and a kaiseki counter. The sushi counter focuses on well, sushi, while the kaiseke counter has a wider range of dishes, from tempura to noodles to wagyu.
For the sushi counter, there are three omakase menus to choose from, priced at $250++, $300++ and $380++. Meanwhile, for the kaiseke counter, omakase starts at $180++, with à la carte menu available only on weekends.
We tried the $380 sushi omakase menu. Was it worth the price? Read on for our verdict!
As we were trying the omakase sushi menu, we were ushered by the kimono-clad waitress to the sushi counter. We soon found ourselves in an elegant room bathed in warm ambient lighting with beautiful walls of orange-golden hues.
The 8-seater sushi counter was full-house when we went, with two sushi chefs tending to two pairs of diners respectively.
Omakase Sushi course ($380 per person)
First up, we had seasonal octopus with roe from Hyogo. Served with Japanese pepper leaf and mustard flower, the taste was clean and reminiscent of the ocean.
For pairing with all the fresh seafood, we were recommended the light and sparkling sake Chikusen (add on @$25/glass). The waitress informed us that very few restaurants in Singapore carry this sake.
For sashimi, we had Bluefin tuna belly (from Nagasaki) and Spanish mackerel (from Kyoto) presented in a sparkling crystal bowl beautifully accented with a sprig of cherry blossoms and shiso flowers.
Tip: To amp up the umami factor, gently scrap off the edible shiso flowers off the stalk with your chopsticks and add them as flavoring to the shoyu.
Mackerel can have a bad rep for tasting “fishy”, but the mackerel we had here was absolutely fresh and clean-tasting. Spritzed with some lime zest and with its skin crisp from being lightly flame-seared, the two slices were a delight.
Likewise, the tuna belly was beautifully soft and buttery.
Next up was a modern sashimi dish starring Japanese uni and Russian caviar which exemplified for us how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts-
Japanese uni and Russian caviar, these two premium ingredients taste good enough by themselves, but harmonizing them together with vinegar jelly atop thinly sliced flounder?
New level of indulgence unlocked.
9 Nigiri Sushi
Dainty finger napkins were provided as we would be eating each delicate nigiri sushi still warm from the chef’s hands directly with our pincers. Couldn’t wait.
Our sushi chef was Chef Miyata Shigenori who just arrived in Singapore from Japan in late 2021, bringing with him more than 37 years of sushi-making experience, including at a 370 years old Osaka restaurant!
Chef Shigenori explained that he uses two types of sushi rice to bring out the best taste of the seafood. White vinegared sushi rice goes with lighter-tasting fish, while red vinegared sushi rice pairs with stronger or oilier-tasting fish.
Oh was it a pleasure watching the sushi master at work, deft hands alternating between skillfully slicing the fish and shaping a precise amount of vinegared rice into oblong shapes with just the right amount of airiness.
The natural flavor of the fresh seafood took center stage here. Now and then, Chef Shigenori would grate the peel of a fresh yuzu or sudachi (a type of citrus native to Japan), and lightly dust the powder onto the sushi, magically making the umami of the seafood shine through even more. The 9 nigiri sushi we enjoyed were:
- Young sea bream (from Kagoshima)
- Yellow Tail (from Toyama)
- Needle fish (from Toyama)
- Ark shell (from Iwate)
- Jumbo prawn (from Shizuoka)
- Blackthroat seaperch (from Nagasaki)
- Red snapper (from Chiba)
- Bluefin tuna belly (from Nagasaki)
- Sea eel (from Tokyo)
Another opulent delicacy, presented on a gold plate no less. Meet the Yamaguchi Black abalone, steamed for four hours, served with abalone liver sauce.
The steamed abalone was silky smooth and meaty, giving a satisfying chew.
Dipping the abalone in the liver sauce which has a slightly grainy texture enhanced its natural flavours even more.
For the grilled dish, we had the Charcoal-grilled Butterfish (from Ehime). The fish was almost melt-your-mouth tender, and its strong buttery sweet taste was nicely balanced by the white-miso-infused grated radish and mushroom.
Dollops of Hokkaido salmon roe and creamy orange lobes of briny-umami Hokkaido uni, served in a fancy cocktail glass. Need we say more.
A comfort snack of many, this tamagoyaki is definitely in a league way above the singularly-sweet versions common from lesser hands. Soft and with a nice bounce, it has the right mix of sweet and savory- courtesy of the chef’s dashi.
Warm and hearty bowl of Shimane freshwater clam miso soup. Good for the liver.
Finally, rounding off a more-than satisfying meal we have musk melon (from Shizuoka) and seedless and sweet Setoka orange (from Tokushima) and a cube of chocolate cake.
This word sums up our dining experience at Maetomo Japanese cuisine Kaiseki & Sushi. Using the word perfection may be too loaded, but our experience, from the umami of the food to the elegant ambience and attentive service provided, certainly comes close.
Splurge-worthy to celebrate a special occasion!
Maetomo Japanese cuisine (Kaiseki & Sushi)
Sheraton Towers Hotel Singapore #01-01,
39 Scotts Road, Singapore 228230
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 6:00pm to 10:30pm
View the restaurant’s menus and make your reservation here.