I’ve slipped into the mundaneness of married life after my solemnization. While I don’t think there’s anything bad about that, I also recognize that days can blur together if I don’t make the effort to celebrate special occasions with something different. I finally see why birthdays are important despite it being “just another day”. That’s how we ended up at Kyuu by Shunsui with a 10-course Omakase for my husband’s birthday.
Table of Contents
- Planning Something Special
- The Search for the Right Omakase Restaurant
- Finding Kyuu by Shunsui
- A Trio of Appetisers
- Seasonal Sashimi Platter
- Eggplant with Sweet Red Miso
- Tuna Belly with Truffle Ponzu Sauce
- Giant Prawn with Wasabi Sauce
- King Crab with Vinegar and Sudachi Lime
- Fruits Tomato with Setouchi Salt
- A4 Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Aitchbone with Red Miso Fond de Veau
- Hokkaido Rice Nanatsuboshi Covered with Salmon Roe
- Kyuu’s Homemade Ice Cream
This article was originally published on 25 March 2018 and updated on 9 September 2023 with a Table of Contents for easier reading and opening hours.
The review content about Kyuu by Shunsui is based on the menu offered in 2018. The restaurant is now helmed by Chef Keiji Kudo and the menu has evolved. Please reach out to the restaurant for their latest menu.
Kyuu by Shunsui Address and Details
- 29 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089136
- Open Tuesday to Sunday, 5 pm – 11 pm (Last order at 10 pm)
Planning Something Special
I didn’t know what to get my husband. I’d already done the two “W”s for previous birthdays – wallet and watch. It’s bloody tough buying stuff for him.
One thing I knew that he’d love for sure was a solid Japanese meal. After all, a holiday to Japan always ranks extremely high on his list of amazing things to do and we’re always talking about places to have great Japanese cuisine. I decided that I’d splurge on an omakase meal.
The Search For the Right Omakase Restaurant
Omakase was something we’d never done before. Since we weren’t traveling to Japan anytime soon, a birthday treat to an omakase experience seemed like a good idea. Omakase is the Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose what you’ll have for your meal and loosely translates to mean “I will leave it to you”.
I was mindful about choosing the right restaurant. My husband can be particular about his food and I didn’t want to compromise on what he would usually deem the trifecta of great dining:
- Fresh ingredients
- Great taste
- Warm customer service
I was also wary of booking a place that was too stuffy or formal as that would make dining uncomfortable.
Finding Kyuu by Shunsui
I did my own due diligence and trawled the web for reviews. I admit, finding one to fit within my budget of $150 per pax tops with positive reviews was tough, until I came across Kenneth’s (then recent) review of an omakase place, Kyuu by Shunsui.
Kyuu by Shunsui had just opened less than a month before my husband’s birthday and it was the more affordable sister restaurant of the Kappo Shunsui, which had amazing reviews.
I trust Kenneth with his recommendations because this guy really knows his food, and he’s damn honest about it too. With his vote of confidence for this new kid on the block at Keong Saik, I made a booking and kept mum.
From the moment I stepped into the restaurant, I felt assured. The sincerity of the staff and chef really made me feel at ease. There was absolutely no pressure to “know” anything. The strong genuine service culture exhibited by every employee, from the hostess to the Head Chef, Issey Araki, meant an unpretentious, carefree 10-course Sashimi and Grill Omakase experience.
I later found out that the 27-year-old Head Chef Araki was formerly from Akasaka Tantei, a one Michelin-starred restaurant serving Okinawa kaiseki in Akasaka, Tokyo.
We had counter seats and were able to observe the bustle in the kitchen throughout the almost two hours we were dining at Kyuu.
A Trio of Appetizers
We knew we were in for a treat from the get-go. The appetizer was beyond expectations. While daintily portioned and plated, each of the three appetizers we were served for our first course packed a punch and signaled the start of an incredible meal ahead.
We started off with the Soft simmered duck topped with homemade miso, served on a spoon canapé-style. It was such a tasty one-bite starter. I particularly loved the taste of the sweet homemade miso sauce with the savory duck.
The Fresh Fig with Sumiso was something new to me. I didn’t know what it was when I had it, but I enjoyed it. There was a hint of sesame with that sweet jam-like fig. After researching it, I found out that sumiso is a mixture of miso, rice vinegar, and sesame paste. Interesting.
The third appetizer, the Homemade sesame tofu covered with starchy sauce and wasabi was by far my favorite and also a favorite of many reviewers from the looks of reviews online. This dish’s texture straight-up deserves a 10/10. The tofu felt almost mochi-like melting in my mouth. God bless Chef Araki for that delightful mix of flavors. The combination of Goma with that gentle hint of wasabi meant no crazy burn or sting, just gentle heat. We were just at appetizers and we were already hyped AF. Blessed were our tastebuds.
Seasonal Sashimi Platter
We slid into our second course quite quickly. An assortment of fresh seasonal sashimi was served on a large platter garnished with pink and yellow chrysanthemums.
- Fatty tuna belly
- Red snapper
- Botan ebi
There were also two wooden spoons heaped generously with uni and ikura.
While I’d usually hope for more slices of sashimi, when they’re as fresh as the ones we had at Kyuu by Shunsui, I knew we were in for a bigger treat with the next few courses of robatayaki (fireside grilling over a charcoal fire). True enough the Robata didn’t disappoint.
Eggplant with Sweet Red Miso
I’m more carnivorous than vegetable-loving, but I’m partial to eggplant and I was so excited when this was served. The grilled eggplant is soft, but not mushy and I’m still able to pick them up with my chopsticks. It’s charred a little at the edges and I loved that nice and smokey flavor which was perfectly complemented by the deliciously sweet red miso. Even Freman who usually picks at his veggies loved it. We took our time to savor this course because didn’t want it to end.
Tuna Belly with Truffle Ponzu Sauce
While the first three courses looked dainty, it was excellently paced as we took our time and slowly savored our food and then entered the tuna belly with truffle ponzu sauce.
Fatty tuna belly is always enjoyable in my book and the size of the two slices of tuna is just right. However, I felt that the ponzu sauce with the slight hint of truffle wasn’t particularly memorable and while the combination of the oily tuna and ponzu sauce was satisfying, it just didn’t really stand out compared to the previous few courses we had so far.
Giant Prawn with Wasabi Sauce
The Giant Prawn was grilled to perfection over a charcoal fire, remaining succulent and sweet. The flesh was crunchy and juicy and we truly took delight in having it with a little of the accompanying wasabi.
The wasabi is again, gentle and light, lacking in the crazy spicy kick that would usually overwhelm the nose, but I thought that it was better this way. I could really enjoy the sweetness of my giant prawn.
King Crab with Vinegar and Sudachi Lime
By the time we were served this, we were already five dishes in and honestly starting to feel a little stuffed. Oh boy, we were only just slightly over halfway through. But once the King Crab with Vinegar and Sudachi Lime arrived we threw that thought out the door.
It was quite a sight to behold. The King Crab is generously portioned and just looking at it whet our appetite, but would it taste as great as it looked? The flesh on its own is really sweet and juicy. No complaints there. The best part was how, even though I was using a pair of chopsticks, I could remove all the flesh from the shell cleanly. The vinegar and Sudachi Lime also add a nice tangy kick that tastes great with the sweetness and slight char of the King Crab.
Fruits Tomato with Setouchi Salt
We had noticed the chefs toiling behind the counter and working on plating these adorable plump tomatoes while we were having our earlier courses. The rich color of the tomato really caught my eye and when it was served, I had to will myself to not immediately pop it whole into my mouth, reminding myself that it was fresh off the grill and probably gonna burn my tongue if I was impatient.
When I finally did, I anticipated the burst of sweetness from the juicy tomato and the flavor of the Setouchi salt. I was not disappointed. This was glorious!
A4 Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Aitchbone with Red Miso Fond de Veau
This was the course I’d been waiting for all night long after reading all the raves about it; The star of the 10-course omakase.
As you can see from the photo of it, it’s a beautiful medium-rare. Just look at that gorgeous pink center. The tasty meat stock gravy (or fond de veau) goes well with the lean slices of beef. I’ve read a review where it’s been described as chewy, but that wasn’t my experience when we dined there. Instead, I found it rather tender.
As Freman doesn’t take beef, I informed Kyuu by Shunsui of his dietary preference and they were really accommodating. I had no idea what he would be served with instead of the beef till the actual day.
What he got for his eighth course was grilled fish served with a slice of lime. Unfortunately, while it was nicely marinated and had great flavor, it might have been on the grill for a little too long, or the heat might have been too strong. I didn’t try it, but according to Freman, it was a tad overcooked and rather dry.
Hokkaido Rice Nanatsuboshi Covered with Salmon Roe
The last course before dessert is this Hokkaido Rice Nanatsuboshi with Ikura. It’s so quintessentially Japanese to end off a hearty meal with sticky pearl rice to fill up the stomach. At Kyuu, it is covered in generous spoonfuls of salty ikura. Chef Araki hits a social media goldmine with his spectacular showmanship as this decadent savory finale is performed with great excitement by the Chef and the entire staff of Kyuu by Shunsui.
You choose between a small, medium, or large bowl of rice. There’s no extra charge if you pick the larger sizes. I chose a small bowl while Freman took a medium bowl. Once the bowl of leveled-off rice reaches you, Chef Araki personally comes over with a large container of salmon roe. You’re invited to ready your cameras for this impressive moment and once you are, there Chef Araki goes. He heaps spoonful after spoonful of glistening Ikura onto your bowl shouting a commanding “Yoisho!” with each spoon. The entire crew at Kyuu hollers a spirited “Yoisho!” as well in unison. More Ikura is added (together with more shouts of “Yoisho!”) until it’s so full it overflows.
Yoisho! (よいしょ!) is a fairly common Japanese expression. It’s usually shouted together by a group doing a task in unison (typically hard labor). Think of it as a Japanese “Heave-ho”.
Your serving plate catches the excess ikura that dribbles onto it. Chef Araki doesn’t stop until you ask him to or until there’s plenty overflowing from your bowl. He then moves on to the next patron.
It’s really entertaining to watch, so instead of digging into my bowl, I let my eyes linger on the next patron’s bowl of rice. It’s hard not to smile through this entire experience. What a way to leave a lasting impression!
Kyuu’s Homemade Ice Cream
We ended off with a dessert of homemade ice cream. I spotted most reviews citing a homemade matcha ice cream with red bean paste, but when we were there we were treated to a homemade milk ice cream that we loved very much.
The 10-course omakase meal at Kyuu by Shunsui costs $129++ per person. We didn’t have drinks at all, so $129++ was all I paid. That comes up to about $300 after taxes for two people. I found it an extremely affordable price for such a fabulous and unforgettable dining experience. In fact, until today, months after the F Man’s birthday, Kyuu comes up in conversations now and then, and we always speak about it fondly.
While it’s probably too indulgent to frequently dine at Kyuu, I wouldn’t rule out returning again for the omakase or ala carte (served after 9 pm) in the future for special occasions.