Since Shinji opened in Singapore six years ago, the name has been synonymous with refined traditional Japanese cuisine and impeccable hospitality. Indeed, by now, diners know what to expect. That is to say, an intimate dining environment and seasonal ingredients prepared in a manner that highlights their unique flavours. These are complemented by sides that further enhance the taste – whether they are crunchy slivers of vegetables for texture contrast or a tart sauce for that flavour lift.
“I’ve never been disappointed by a meal here,” says my dining companion. This consistency explains why Shinji is one of Singapore’s go-to places for celebrations. Tonight, a man two seats away is commemorating his birthday and the chefs don cartoon props to mark the occasion.
And that’s Shinji not-so-secret sauce. Despite its cemented status as one of Singapore’s top restaurants and its eye-watering price tag – dinner starts at $220 for a sushi course and go up to $450 for premium omakase – dining at this 22-seater is like sitting down with your personal chef, formality be dashed.
From the start, we are asked about our food preferences, our appetites and the dishes prepared to suit. Our sake glasses are perpetually filled by the chef – in this case, 44-year-old Keichi Kobayashi.
We ask him how he manages to look half his age. “I wash my face in vinegar,” he replies, before breaking into a smile, “No, no. But cucumber is good for the face.” A chef who jokes. This impeccable meal has become a memorable one.
Shinji by Kanesaka
Lobby Level, St Regis Hotel