Why Kaisan 3? Cos that's the number of times I had to upload my mobile phone photos onto Flickr to in turn get them on to Blogger (tech retard). It's also probably the number of weeks I'm late posting this restaurant note. Bah. So in case you're wondering why all these dishes sound familiar, it's probably cos you read them on Mia, Karen or Ivan's blogs weeks ago.
The upside to my blogging this late (i.e. my big excuse) is that by this time I've forgotten many of the minor details and technicalities that I'd stored in my head with the intention of dedicating a full paragraph of long unpunctuated sentences to. What's left for me to report is that warm fuzzy feeling that stays in your tummy long after a great meal, indistinct but pleasurable memories that make you just... want more.
So that was Kaisan. The ambience on a weekday evening was clean, crisp, refined and relaxed, without the hustle and booming voices of the business suited lunchtime crowd. The chefs looked laid back and welcoming, sharing about the day's specialties with quiet pride and a cold beer on hand.
The sashimi was faultless; still, in my biased mind, one step short of Akane's orgasm on a plate, but perfectly fresh and beautifully presented. Even the smallest, trickiest river fish was deftly sliced to almost physically impossible levels of thinness with notable precision and uniformity. The variety, including many seasonal specials and several off-menu secrets, is sufficient to melt even the most jaded sashimi lover's heart.
As tempting as it was to stick with just sashimi, we ventured to try some hot foods and sushi at the chef's behest. All were enjoyable and provided an extra dimension (i.e. hot and rice) to the meal.
My only gripe was that, although the sushi is perfectly formed (large strip of fish, small mound of rice, proportions and texture primed to show off the quality of the fish), the sushi rice vinegar was sometimes a bit strong and competed for attention with a couple of the more delicate fishes. A minor gripe compared to everything that went so well that night. Honestly, who cares when you have this monstrous otoro sitting in front of you?
We were also fortunate to have been received with such hospitality. Upon the realization that we were a group of food bloggers (one person angles the dish, four people take photos, pass down and repeat. Chef says must eat this one quick and everyone screams "nooooo, must take photo first!!!" We're a pretty obvious bunch), the chef pulled out all the stops, accompanying each dish with a description of its origins, how to appreciate it, and so on. And far from getting the sense that this was being done for a good review, it seemed more that he was keen to share his passion for his craft and show off his treasure chest of secrets.
So yes, admittedly, we did benefit from a lot of chef love that night. But my suspicions that this is just a pretty damn good Japanese restaurant was independently verified by Philippe yesterday. He'd brought some colleagues for a weekday lunch and was very impressed with the quality of the food, especially the sashimi. His only gripe was that he'd asked the waitress to organize a mini-omakase with an emphasis on crab. Everything that came was very good, but no crab ever appeared, which the waitress explained at the end of the meal was because it didn't fit into his budget. Clearly a communication problem that is quite inexcusable, but, five minutes after telling me this, Philippe was back to musing "but that beef was amazing... that sashimi was so fresh... I do want to give it one more try..."
And that's my Kaisan story. For sashimi it's now #3 on my list after Akane and Nogawa, but its convenient location at Raffles Hotel and slightly lower price tag means I'll probably be back more often. Great place to suggest for a business lunch, or for a quiet catch-up night with a couple of good girlfriends.
Just to end off, here's my little tribute to Umami and her husband. They were the ones who recommended Kaisan to us in the first place, and chef Thomas immediately recalled their personal favourites. So here are their initials, painstakingly sculpted out of onion slices, next to their faves. Guys, we're thinking of you!
#01-21 Raffles Hotel Arcade
T: 6339 4929
P.S. Chef Thomas mentioned that his daughter is an avid food blog reader and a passionate baker. Didn't catch her name but, if by any chance, his daugher is reading this... you're one lucky girl if you get to eat like this at home :) Hope to read about your baking exploits on a blog some day!