I generally divide Japanese Restaurants in Singapore into 3 tiers. The first tier are the ones that I would love to eat at but can only go on special occasions because of the prohibitive prices. These restaurants use only the best Japanese produce and usually cater to well heeled clientele who are ushered into private rooms or executives who have unlimited entertainment budgets. The bottom tier are the Japanese restaurants which give Japanese food a bad name. They are affordable but I would rather have a plate of Chicken Rice rather then subject myself to flaccid sushi and dishes with generic teriyaki sauce. Then there is the 2nd tier Japanese restaurants which provide good Japanese cuisine at prices which you can afford to go to more frequently. These restaurants may not have a Japanese Chef behind the Sushi Bar, but a lot of their produce is imported and most importantly, the fish is of excellent quality. Rakuichi falls squarely on this tier, which is why I have been eating there and have recommended quite a few of my friends there since my last post in 2007.
One of the things that Rakuichi does pretty well is their sashimi. I have had sashimi there on several occasions and the fish is always very good quality. They bring in fresh Tuna blocks as opposed to frozen, so it sets a certain benchmark for the sashimi quality. I was also very pleased to see Shima Aji being offered which is always an indication that the restaurant prides itself in serving top Shiromi dane (White flesh fish). 4.25/5
Another indication that the restaurant is serious about their sashimi is their use of grated Wasabi. Many of the other 2nd tier places are still serving the green pastey stuff which is made from horseradish, mustard and green colouring. Granted it wasn’t the best Wasabi I have tasted, but freshly grated Wasabi is anytime better then the fake stuff! Really good Wasabi has a natural sweetness in it and the heat isn’t so sharp as to cause your eyes to start swelling up and water!
Their other specialty is their Aburi Sushi. Now, true Sushi afficianados would frown at grilled sushi because grilling is usually done for fish that is a little past its prime and the addition of sauces such as pepper and seaweed sauce is committing sushi sacrilege. That being said, the Aburi sets are actually quite a good way to introduce Sushi newbies to the world of Sushi. The fish used here is fresh and in no way compromised and they actually use really good Akita-komachi rice which is one of the best rice in Japan. Their Aburi Bento Sets are great value for lunch as they come with soup,tempura prawns and fruits for $28.90! 4.25/5
As you can see from the photo, Karei are flatfish that face right. Hirame are flatfish that face left. The season for Karei is between Apr and Sep which is why we got a right facing fish! This is a nice fish to eat whether it is deep fried or raw as sashimi. The fish was fried perfectly and the bones were so crunchy that we could eat most of it. But I thought it was a bit of a waste to deep fry the fish this way as it would have made for a couple of really nice sushi pieces, especially the muscles near the fins (Engawa). 4/5
Ostreophiles would frown at grilling an oyster as the heat would destroy the natural creamy texture of the oyster as well as coagulate the proteins so you lose some of the umami compounds. But if you love Mentaiko (cod roe) and mayonnaise, then this is surely a tastey morsel to savour! 4/5
Dashi is a very simple stock which is difficult to master. It was fortunate that the soup was the last item in the meal because I didn’t think too much of the dashi as it lacked ooommph. The clams were very fresh and sweet though. 3.5/5
Rakuichi has always been a place for me to get a good Japanese meals. Their Sashimi and Aburi Sushi are always a sure bet. Just about the only thing that is Sub-par is the menu and the horrible photos which does no justice to the food! So don’t let the bad photos turn you off, their food is actually much better and their executive lunch sets are excellent value.
I have three $100 vouchers to giveaway! Check our facebook page for details!
This was an invited review