Nadaman, Shangri-La Hotel

Both of us really needed to unwind after a harrowing week at work and decided to pamper ourselves with an indulgent kaiseki meal at Nadaman. We figured Japanese haute cuisine that's slow, leisurely and relaxed would do the trick in soothing our very frazzled overworked selves.

While we're on this topic, I've noticed that ever since I started working, I regularly indulge in comfort eating. I never really used to do that. Work stress just gets to you, I tell ya. No wonder every female (that I know) complains about putting on weight after they enter the workforce.

We headed to Nadaman at Shangri-La, an old-school Japanese restaurant that's part of a notable Japanese chain that traces its history back to the 18th century in Osaka. As with all acclaimed Japanese restaurants, service was discreet and genteel, but with the almost robotic efficiency that's synonymous with the Japanese. That said, the food wasn't as outstanding as I'd expected. It's not like it was bad at all. In fact, it was pretty good. It's just that the food fell (a little) short of the rather high expectations I had of this purportedly award-winning restaurant with such an illustrious lineage. In line with my opinion, the restaurant was barely filled on a weekend night, with most patrons seeming like guests of the hotel itself, with not a single Japanese (which is a sure sign of whether the food is authentic or not).

I had the Sushi Tempura Set Course Dinner ($120) and started off with 2 types of appetizer. I love the Japanese aesthetics in plating. Everything is so neat and tidy and delicate and intricate and oh-so-pretty. This totally indulges my OCD-self!

The Boiled Spinach was served chilled and topped with a mild stock and sesame seeds, very much like the Korean myulchi bokkum sigumchi namul (that's what the Hubs said when he saw this, and then corrected me after this saw this post!). In fact, it tasted like the Korean banchan too! I loved this for its clean and clear flavours.

The Yam Pudding was delicious as well, a compacted cube of smooth pudding in a pool of slightly vinegared jelly that's refreshingly chilled. Very simple clear flavours.

The next course was the Sashimi, with salmon, yellowtail and some kind of super duper "fishy" sashimi. As a matter of preference, I hated it (it wasn't that it wasn't fresh, it was just that I'm generally quite conservative in my sashimi preferences) and needed to cleanse my palate with a lot of the mint and radish after. That said, the sashimi was incredibly fresh, generously thick and delicious (the other 2 anyway).

The Chawanmushi was next, a most smooth and delicate steamed egg custard loaded with shitake, chicken and prawns. While most of the custard was yummy, I didn't quite take to the prawns, they were rubbery, dry and had a very muddy taste.

The Salad greens dressed with a sweet and creamy sesame sauce was great for just cleansing my palate, even if I was expecting something a little more elaborate.

The Tempura Moriawase, comprising sweet potato, prawns, eggplant and red pepper was one of those dishes that fell short of my expectations. The tempura batter had a somewhat thicker consistency than I'd expected of such a restaurant.

The Assorted Sushi, with yellowtail, salmon, tuna and scallop, was faultless as well, thick fat pieces of sashimi stuck to perfect moulds of flavoursome Japanese rice by dabs of freshly grated wasabi. Clean fresh flavours.

The sushi was served alongside a steaming bowl of Red Bean Miso Soup, balanced out by cubes of silky beancurd. I thought the addition of red bean provided a very pleasant contrast to the salty miso with its nutty and sweet overtones.

Vanilla Ice-Cream was served for dessert, a creamy comforting scoop of icy goodness. That said, I have to admit that I usually prefer my Japanese desserts with clean and light flavours, like a yuzu sorbet or some fruit.

For starters, we occupied ourselves with some Edamame ($8) which arrived piping hot and perfectly salted.

The Hubs had the Aoi Kaiseki ($160).

His Sweet Corn Tofu was a variation of my yam pudding, served atop "Jyunsai" vegetable, in a pool of jelly sauce, and topped with a couple of sliced okra. Everything just played off each other beautifully with their varied textures and flavours, accenting but never overwhelming each other.

The Boiled Spinach with sesame and mild sauce differed from mine with the addition of crispy baby silverfish, which provided another dimension to this brilliant starter.

The Simmered Conger Eel with cherry tomatoes, wakame, vinegared cucumber in a tangy sauce was also such a wonderful palate refresher.

This was a beautifully crafted starter, Tempura Figs adorned with a trio of multicolored peppers in a light tempura sauce.

The next dish was the Clear Soup with Scallop Cake and fish (it looked like a cousin of the ikan bilis). Very clear and simple flavours, with the bouncy and textured scallop cake, which was delicious btw, providing most of the taste.

The next dish was a trio of the Chef's Selection of Sashimi. I have no idea what this was but it was relatively "fishy". Thank goodness the  mint and lemon wedges were provided to "cure" it a little.

The Toro was excellent, thick and fatty, this had a melt-in-your-mouth texture. I loved this.

This sashimi was the most "fishy" of them, but still bearable. I love the orange peel on top, it provided an excellent citrusy balance to the fish.

Next up was the Grilled Dish of "Isaki" grunt fried in sake, which was excellent - moist flesh with wonderfully crisp skin; and a deep fried pike eel rice roll with asparagus, which was awful - the eel was filled with so many sharp bones it was totally inedible.

The Simmered Dish of eggplant, baby yam, clam, lady's finger and sesame sauce was another very good dish, very creamy flavours, mashy textures and a comfortingly winter dish, this one.

The Rice Course with pan-fried sliced "Ohmi" beef in a sweet onion sauce was the Hubs' favorite. Oh boys and their red meat. They haven't really evolved from their caveman diet, have they? This was excellent paired with steaming hot white rice, even if the beef was ridiculously fatty. I suppose the fat made this all the more tender, and guiltily scrumptious.

The beef was served with pickles, to cut through the sweetness and fattiness, and a red bean miso soup.

The Dessert of vanilla ice-cream with tapioca balls and gula malacca was very similar to chendol, with the use of gula malacca. The Hubs thought it was a most excellent way to round off the meal.

22 Orange Grove Road
Shangri-La Hotel lobby level
Tel: 6213 4571
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner


Anonymous said...

it looks good! it's been a long time since i last went to nadaman. my boyfriend loves the clear soup there and i love the quiet atmosphere, systematic way of serving and the food! not say the best but it doesn't disappoint :)

Bern said...

Totally agree with your last line. Good but not extraordinary. Will just stick to Shiraishi for my Jap kaiseki cravings.

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