Aoki Restaurant is one of Singapore's most venerable and celebrated Japanese establishments. Part of the illustrious Les Amis Group, the fine-dining restaurant is consistently lauded as one of the best in class. No mean feat, considering the influx of Michelin-starred Japanese bigwigs like Shinji, Sushi Ichi, and Shoukouwa.
Surprisingly though, Aoki is competitively priced. Where omakase meals at Shinji or Shoukouwa run the top-end of the gamut at pricetags of at least $400, Aoki manages their multi-course keiseki and omakase meals at under $300.
I'd venture, Aoki is quite like Tatsuya, another beloved local Japanese institution. But unlike Tatsuya, which fusion offerings are bastardised to the local palate, Aoki's food is very much more traditional. Here at Aoki, you can expect classic, sophisticated fare executed well, and served in elegant surroundings for a well-heeled crowd mostly comprising the Tatler-set. Service was pleasant enough, but a smidge impersonal and lacking in genuine warmth.
There are 2 grades of sashimi moriawase here at Aoki, the "entry-level" Sashimi Mori Jyosen ($65) with mackerel, yellowtail and scallops being the main difference.
And the premium edition, with fattier cuts of tuna, and seabream in the Sashimi Mori Tokusen ($80). Both platters were remarkable, exquisite in cut and freshness.
A seasonal special, the Shiromi Shio Konbu Shiro Truffle ($135), of white fish sashimi crowned with Alba white truffles a-plenty, sesame oil, lime and seaweed, was extravagance at its finest. Heady, aromatic, sweet and succulent, a must-try if available.
Another seasonal must-have, the Kinoko Sukiyaki ($88) was fantastic. The sukiyaki hotpot, brimming with the earthy goodness of a melange of assorted mushrooms and silken beancurd, was comforting on its own, but really, the highlight was the beautifully marbled wagyu sirloin. So indulgent, so sinful, but so damn good.
Tempuras are where Aoki shines, and you'll do well to order a couple of dishes from this section of the menu. A classic, the impossibly lightly-battered Ebi Tempura ($38) was exquisite.
The Hana Zucchini Tempura ($15) was yet another seasonal special. I love zucchini flowers, and would have loved it on its own, but the twist of the oozy cheese stuffing was an unexpected delight.
The umami-tinged sweetness of the Kobashira Kakiage ($28), or clam tempura, was complemented by the shredded vegetables blended into the tempura batter.
The Deep-Fried Soft-Shell Crab ($22), or Kani Karaage, was an absolute knockout, wonderfully crunchy and brightened by fresh lemon.
A failsafe, the Agedashi Tofu ($18) was simple and finessed perfectly. The silky custard-like tofu was brilliantly encased in a thick batter skin that was at once chewy and crispy.
The Silver Cod Teriyaki ($30) was burnished with a lovely char, which balanced its fatty flaky flesh.
Recommended fillers were the Inaniwa Udon ($20), flat noodles that were as velvety as they were chewy, dunked in a delicate shoyu and konbu based broth.
If it's something cold that you're after, the Green Tea Soba ($20) would be it. Icy cold and refreshing as heck, this was delicious.
I wasn't a fan of the Otoshi ($7) the daily appetizer of pickled shoots that was slimy and cold.
Aoki Japanese Restaurant
1 Scotts Road
#01-19 Shaw Centre Lido
Tel: 6333 8015
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 11pm for dinner