The Lo & Behold Group, the folks behind cool concepts like OverEasy, Loof, The White Rabbit, Tanjong Beach Club, and Odette, has just set up its first Japanese restaurant. Tucked away in a shop house along Mohamed Sultan Road, the 26-seater is an eatery called Esora, done up kappo-style (where meals are made up of several courses decided by the chef).
The Takenouchi Webb-designed space is a white-washed oasis of serenity, decorated with materials like timber, copper, and marble in muted hues — with the main counter below a skylight embellished in washi paper, in reference to the restaurant’s name, which translates to “painting in the sky” in Japanese.
It’s spearheaded by chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi, whose resume includes stints at Tokyo’s three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin and National Gallery Singapore’s two-Michelin-starred Odette. The elegant seven- and nine-course dining experiences, personally curated by Koizumi — from the dishes to the serve ware from Japan — speak of his detailed approach and level of attention to Esora.
Combining his growing up years in the mountainside town of Nasu in the Tochigi prefecture with his time in the Michelin-starred kitchens, Koizumi applies modern techniques like pacojets and liquid nitrogen on the best seasonal produce to craft his menu.
To start, he serves up a bowl of his favorite dish: dashi, taking the simple broth and layering it with katsuobushi, kombu, and yuzu zest. Next up, the amuse-bouche that’s Koizumi’s monaka (Japanese dessert of azuki bean and wafer) rendition. Here, he uses Maison Mitteault foie gras torchon as a base on which he adds myoga (Japanese ginger), mikan (citrus fruit), roasted nuts, and kaffir lime zest.
One highlight from the ever-changing menu is the omi wagyu, sourced from the Okaki farm in the Shiga prefecture, served with white maitake (mushroom), amanaga pepper, and aged akazu (red vinegar).
Then there’s dessert, in the form of wagashi, or traditional Japanese sweets, inspired by the chef’s favorite childhood snacks.
If you’d like something to sip on while you work your way through the dishes, try Koizumi’s tea pairing programme, with blends mixed by him and presented with jars of raw leaves so you can sniff the aromas. Brews include the Sparkling Oriental Beauty, a hibiscus-infused drink served in a champagne flute, and iribancha with hojicha and a sprinkle of cinnamon to go with the wagyu.
Esora is at 15 Mohamed Sultan Rd.
6365-1266. Tues-Sun 7pm-9pm.
Seven-course menu $188, tea pairing $38; nine-course menu $248, tea pairing $48.
MRT: Fort Canning