Orchard Road has always been an area with good and expensive food and shopping, both of which I enjoy a lot… But obviously, I don’t get many chances to eat and shop there, for very obvious money reasons. But, to celebrate the end of my sister’s exam, she suggested we go to this Les Amis’ run Japanese Restaurant called Aoki for lunch.
Now, for those of you who don’t know anything about Aoki or the Les Amis Group, Aoki is a very famous and posh Japanese Restaurant serving authentic Japanese food. It was opened by the Les Amis Group, who owns a group of restaurants running along the outside of the mall, Shaw Centre.
As you probably guess, yes, Aoki is not a cheap Japanese Restaurant to dine at, but like most posh restaurant, they would serve something more affordable at lunchtime to draw in the crowd. Anyway, we were super lucky to get a reservation for the day after, pre-ordering their famous Maze Chirashi Bowl as well.
Upon entering a very discreet door, I was led down a flight of stairs, and I had the honour of dining at the counter, so I could watch the sushi Masters at work! There were a total of 4 chefs behind the counter, including the master, Chef Aoki!
Above are just some pictures of the chefs/masters in action. It is a real privilege to watch them work, and it really begs the question, how many years did they train before they could skilfully slice a Tekka-Maki (Tuna Roll) into equal slices and Aburi (Blowtorch) fish to perfection just on instinct? You can pretty much tell that I have utmost respect for these guys…
The meal started with pickled Radish and a Salad. In Japanese, these are called Otoshi… I believe that all meals start with some form of Otoshi, and these two costs $4.00. The pickled Radish was a great way to kickstart your palette, it was crunchy and slightly salty in a soy sauce base. But, it was cut very inconsistently and the sauce had a slimy texture. The Salad was quite good, it had a very light soy sauce dressing, and the vegetables were chilled and crunchy.
Now, onto the star of the afternoon, the Maze Chirashi ($40.00)!!! Now, as I was sitting at the counter, I watched the chefs put together the Chirashi Bowl. First, they packed some Sushi rice into the bottom of the bowl. Next, they pulled out a mixture of sliced fish and placed it into a sieve and dunked it into a bowl of soy sauce for a few seconds, before pat drying it with a paper towel. After putting them into the bowl, a garnish of cucumber, tamago (egg), onion, wasabi and uni (Sea Urchin) was thrown in as well… The amount of precision and care that they put into every Chirashi Bowl, and even their Sushi is admirable, honestly…
Now, you are probably wondering how was the Maze Chirashi Bowl… Well, if I could sum it up to one word, spectacular! The bite-sized pieces of Seafood all blended very well with the Rice. Now, I believe this was Tuna, Tuna Belly, Salmon Roe, Amberjack, Swordfish and Scallop, none of which felt out of place or unnecessary. If I had to choose a favourite component from those few, it had to be… The melt-in-your-mouth Tuna Belly! I really enjoyed the addition of the cucumber, which gave a crunchy texture to the bites I took, and of course, the creamy little pieces of Uni was exquisite brought a little umami flavour to 3 bites (there were only 3 pieces, as you can see). One more thing worth mentioning is the little dollop of Wasabi on the top, it was freshly grated and didn’t pack a big punch unlike processed Wasabi… A little on every spoonful is enough, trust me!
To end off the meal, I was served the Dessert of the day. On my visit, their selection consisted of a Pineapple Sorbet, a gooseberry and a Umeshu (Plum) Jelly. Among the 3, I have to say, the Umeshu Jelly is my favourite. It had a great balance in consistency, not too firm and still wobbly and dissolvable in your mouth, it wasn’t too sweet as well, with a plum flavour coming through nicely, not too strongly. The Pineapple Sorbet had a strong Pineapple flavour was slightly too sweet, but I still suspect they used an artificial Pineapple flavour to make it. The Gooseberry was really sour, once you pop it into your mouth and burst it, I didn’t really like it…
In conclusion, I have definitely visited countless Japanese Restaurants at home and aboard, and I can safely say, Aoki has left an extremely big impression on me… Good and attentive service, get the chance to watch the Chefs at work and amazingly delicious food. Yes, it is very expensive, but I would say it is worth the price… In fact, if I had the chance, I would return to try their expensive Omakase Menu. I will be looking forward to Aoki wowing me again with everything they got…
1 Scotts Road
#01-18 Shaw Centre