What to shop and eat at Emporium Shokuhin's gourmet grocer

Shop for some aged wagyu, then pig out at one of the eight restaurants at EMPORIUM SHOKUHIN, Singapore’s largest integrated Japanese emporium. What’s good to eat? We tell you

To market, to market...
To market, to market...
05 Nov 2015

To market, to market...

You know that fancy Japanese dinner you’ve been meaning to cook to impress your date/colleagues/frenemy? Well, now’s the time to go chi chi grocery shopping. Emporium Shokuhin is the latest atas supermarket on the block at Marina Square. It’s massive, the size of about seven basketball courts, and it houses a Japanese gourmet grocer, eight casual and fine-dining restaurants with a central kitchen, a live seafood market and a dry-ageing beef facility.

The $10 million-dollar project is the “baby” of camera-shy Lim Li-Wei, 40, former chief executive officer of Shin Group, which runs Japanese restaurant chain Shin Kushiya. “I started this business ’cos I want to bring down the price of quality food products, particularly Japanese ones,” he explains. Even if you’re not much of a cook, you can still enjoy the fresh produce at one of their eateries.

SHOP: Aged Beef & Deli
SHOP: Aged Beef & Deli
05 Nov 2015

SHOP: Aged Beef & Deli

Clearly the star of the Emporium, this glass-encased humidity-controlled cold room will make any carnivore ravenous with all the beautifully ruddy slabs of bone-in Australian grass-fed beef, USDA prime beef and award-winning Japanese A5 Miyazaki, available fresh, chilled or aged. “Beef ageing is not a Japanese thing, but it’s very common in the States,” explains Li-Wei. “There’s also growing demand for it here with all the Michelin-starred restaurants coming in.” Beef is aged to allow its fibres to break down, which renders the meat more tender. As the meat, which is aged a minimum of 14 days, loses moisture, it becomes more flavourful and ‘beefy’.

According to Li-Wei, Emporium Shokuhin is the only place in Singapore where you can buy aged A5 Miyazaki beef, an “experiment” of sorts and something he says is “unheard of” in beef-dom. And it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. “In order to pass on savings to our customers, we buy the whole cow!” says Li-Wei. “Other supermarkets like Meidi-Ya sell A5 Miyazaki for $38 - $40/100g. We’re selling it at $29.80.”  

SHOP: Seafood Market
SHOP: Seafood Market
05 Nov 2015

SHOP: Seafood Market

Drop by to see your seafood splashing around… before you eat it. This section boasts 22 specially designed sea water tanks replenished thrice weekly with Japanese fish and crustaceans like uni, kegani and hirame as well as Boston lobsters. “We’re selling Dungeness crab at $5.80/100g and lobster at $60/kg, which I believe is the lowest in the market at this point of time. The Hokkaido hairy crab is $60/500g. You’d have to pay $200 for that at a Japanese restaurant,” says Li-Wei. “Because of the quality of the produce, you just have to steam or grill it simply. For the Hokkaido hairy crab, I recommend steaming it upside down, then ripping off the shell and adding a tablespoon of sake and a little salt,” he says. 

EAT: Burosu Honten Ramen & Gyoza
EAT: Burosu Honten Ramen & Gyoza
05 Nov 2015

EAT: Burosu Honten Ramen & Gyoza

Open daily 11.30am to 10pm. Last orders 30 mins before closing.

You won’t find service crew bustling around this wood-accented self-order eatery. Your food is served to you directly from the kitchen through bamboo blinds at your table. They’ve also adopted a waste-not-want-not approach to their menu by taking advantage of the plethora of seafood at their disposal and creating their own blend of broth.

ORDER THIS: The signature item is the Special Ultimate Ramen ($17.80), with soup made from pork bones, crab and prawn shells. The cloudy MSG-free broth is simmered for hours daily and comes in five levels of spiciness. We chose non-spicy. It’s thick with collagen, richly flavoured and naturally sweetened by all that seafood. We’d have liked it a tad saltier, though. The char siew is moist and tender with melt-in-your-mouth fatty bits, while the thin Hakata-style ramen is springy.
 

EAT: Senmi Sushi
EAT: Senmi Sushi
05 Nov 2015

EAT: Senmi Sushi

Open daily 11.30am to 10pm. Last orders 30 mins before closing.

Boasting what they claim is the longest sushi counter in Singapore that fits about 40 seats, this mid-priced joint is a hot spot for the office crowd with good reason: the iPad-enabled 111-seater serves quality hon maguro sashimi at wallet-friendly prices.

ORDER THIS: Their bluefin tuna specials (served on Hokkaido rice) start from $5 for a piece of Akami Nigiri (the lean top loin) and $9 for Otoro Nigiri, the most desired part of the fatty tuna belly. Apart from its freshness, we love the generous fish-to-rice ratio. “We bring in chilled bluefin tuna direct from Nagasaki every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We offer the same quality fish here as we do in fine-dining,” says Li-Wei.

Also good: the Dynamite Maki Roll ($15). Modelled after the California maki, this unctuous inside-out rice roll is made for sharing and features crunchy prawn and avocado in the middle topped with flame-torched A5 Miyazaki beef, tempura crisps and bits of mozzarella. We love the different textures and flavours.
 

EAT: Umi + Vino Seafood Winebar
EAT: Umi + Vino Seafood Winebar
05 Nov 2015

EAT: Umi + Vino Seafood Winebar

Open daily 11.30am to 10pm. Last orders 30 mins before closing.

This is where good seafood is sacrificed for your dining pleasure. Taking a more European slant menu-wise, this sleek wine bar, which features clean and contemporary décor, encourages diners to bring out the best in the fresh seafood with a perfect bottle of wine.

ORDER THIS: We paired our Boston Lobster ($28 for half), grilled a la plancha the Spanish way, with some crisp and fruity Ferrari Brut Perle 2007 ($128; $19 a glass), an Italian sparkling wine that “tastes better than most champagne and costs a lot less”. We concur. Served with a sweet ginger shoyu dipping sauce and sea salt, the lobster, intentionally undercooked in white wine, retains all its juiciness. Also get some freshly shucked French Oysters ($6 each). Meaty and creamy, the Utah Beach oyster tastes like the sea while the award-winning Krystal oyster has a firmer texture and a sweet aftertaste.
 

EAT: Takujo
EAT: Takujo
05 Nov 2015

EAT: Takujo

Open daily 11.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 10pm. Last orders 30 mins before closing.

The swankiest eatery here features a glass display filled with exclusive sakes like Yukisuzume Junmai Daiginjo from Ehime ($78) and boasts a menu of modern Japanese cuisine prepared by a Japan-trained chef who used to work at Shangri-La’s Nadaman restaurant. Apart from premium sashimi, diners can pick seafood from the seafood trolley or opt for omakase meals (from $138 a person for eight courses).

MAYBE ORDER THIS: The A5 Miyazaki Steak (above left, $48) is intensely flavoured and lightly seasoned with salt even though the grilled meat looks anaemic. It’s simply served with dollops of freshly grated wasabi, sea salt and yuzu kosho (pepper paste with yuzu rind), each condiment enhancing the meat’s flavour profile. If you, like us, find the Miyazaki steak almost too rich for one to finish, enjoy a smaller portion of it atop sweet and nutty Koshihikari rice from Niigata in the A5 Miyazaki Sukiyaki Don (above right, $38). Silkily textured with robust flavours and topped with an oozy egg, this is classy comfort food. The portion is pretty small, though.




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