Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Quasi-Kaiseki and More at Kuriya Dining

I recently found out that Kuriya Dining was's Best Japanese Restaurant in People's Choice 2011/2012. So, having never set foot in Kuriya, or even Great World City (the Shopping Centre that houses the restaurant), the darling and I head over to check out what all the fuss is about!

There are several seasonal courses on the menu in addition to ala carte items - during our visit there was a four-ways crab course, a sushi set dinner, standard set dinner, and the March Course (SGD108), a sort of quasi-kaiseki style multi-course dinner ... which was what we ordered.

Starting off with the Appetizer, being a hors d'oeuvres-ish five bite-sized portions of Smoked Salmon wrapped with Marinated Radish, Simmered broad bean, Simmered octopus, Simmered lotus root and Sakura gelatin. We thought that the salmon with radish combination was pretty interesting, and the octopus was nice and tender (for octopus). The other three items were ordinary, though.

Moving on - Tuna, Amberjack and Baby Shrimp Sashimi. Tuna was uber fresh and smooth - none of that 'flaky' texture you get most of the time with inferior tuna.

The Grilled Item for the March Menu was Southern Bluefin Tuna in Teriyaki Sauce, which was an absolute disappointment. Besides tasting rather uninteresting, the tuna pieces we got were full of cartilage, which made it annoying to eat. We were also amazed that the skin was not properly scaled! I don't expect to need to scale my own fish in any restaurant, what more one that is charging me triple-digits for a dinner.

Fortunately the Refreshment item, Grilled Snow Crab wrapped in paper, sort of made up for it. Lightly salted and grilled in parchment paper with celery as not to overpower the taste of the Crab legs inside.

Braised Item ... Fish Paste and Tofu with Deep-Fried bean curd. Topped with deep fried baby sakura shrimp in a wakame seaweed sauce. We thought this item was pretty good, especially with the crunchy shrimp providing a nice contrasty texture. The sauce was nice too - felt more like a soup, which we lapped up.

The Sushi Selections of the meal were Aussie Sea Urchin (not as smooth or delicious as those from Hokkaido), Ark Shell, Amberjack, and Toro (fresh and delicious). The sushi rice was interesting too, being less vinegary and sweeter than normal sushi places.

The set meal ends up with a trio of desserts - Butterscotch ice-cream, pineapple cream cheese cake, and a Japanese fruit medley - strawberry, mandarin orange and muskmelon. Our favorite was the slice of muskmelon, mostly because it was the first time we tried! Not overly sweet, but very tender and extremely fragrant. At close to $100 per fruit at Isetan, I'm not sure it's worth the money, though ...

The dinner also includes Wild Vegetable Miso Soup and your choice of coffee & tea.

We also ordered some items off the ala-carte menu - some kushiyaki skewers of Scallop ($8), Prawn, Chicken and Pork Belly ($5 each). We thought that there was really nothing particularly special about these skewers. Pork Belly was a bit on the tough side, too.

The Saikyo Miso Cod came a lot sweeter than I was expecting - even coming with the knowledge that Saikyo Miso marinade is a very sweet combination of miso, sugar and mirin (japanese sweet rice wine). The dish comes with additional sweet miso dipping sauce, but unless you have a mouth full of sweet teeth, the cod is plenty sweet on its' own.

Overall we thought the food was above average, and the service was very, very good - friendly and attentive wait staff who chat with you, explain the dishes, and change your plates without being asked. However we are not so sure that it's worth the SGD127 (after taxes and without drinks or other add-ons) per person for the set meal. Especially when you have to scale your own fish.

Kuriya Dining is located in Great World City. There are no MRT stations in walking distance so it's best to just take a taxi here. Non-halal.


  1. ooo, this is the one that has a branch in bangsar shopping center, rite. the menu here looks more adventurous compared to its KL spin-off! :D