Japanese Cuisine Professionals in Singapore
We Japanication are very proud of our delivery food menus that are prepared by two professional Japanese F&B owners in Singapore. We are sure that you and any foodies who have fallen in love with Japanese cuisine will be satisfied with our food menus. This article is written with based on interviews to them.
These interviews were basically done for listening to each’s thoughts about a delivery menu for Japanication. But, after interviews, we’ve obviously found that each of them has very unique background and the identity based on the background. We learned about their passion for their food more than a delivery menu.
According to these background, we decided to make this article introduce their history, mission, and identity. Let’s jumping out from our Japanication service. We believe that knowing these things should help you enjoy tastes served by them much more than before knowing them.
Monzushi | Keisuke Kaneko
Monzushi located at Neil Road is run by Keisuke Kaneko, whose grandfather established sushi stall (“yatai/屋台” in Japanese) “Monchan-ya/紋ちゃん屋” in Tokyo in 1933 as an owner and as a main chef (“Taisho/大将” in Japanese), has served authentic edomae-sushi(literary means Tokyo-style sushi) since 2018. Keisuke is also a taishyo of this restaurant.
Keisuke, whose grandfather and father both are sushi chef, was naturally grew up to a sushi chef. Even while he was in junior high school, he helped his grandfather and father to deliver sushi to customers or to bake tamagoyaki(baked egg for sushi). So to speak, he was born as a sushi chef. Even in Japan, it’s a quite rare case for the sushi industry.
Keisuke officially started studying sushi from his father, who’s the second generation main chef and owner of Monzushi, when he was 19-year-old. When he became 30-year-old, he got out of Japan to seek a various of experiences as a sushi chef. After he had experiences in Qatar, New York, India, and Hong Kong, then in 2018, he established Monzushi Singapore which is the first outlet of Monzushi.
His appearance, how to wear the Japanese chef costume, how to stand at the kitchen, how to face to fish with handing a knife, should be perfectly corresponding to your typical image of a sushi chef is. Once you are sitting in front of him, you easily feel his DNA from his grandfather and his father.
We can find it from his words as well. They teach us what his policy to serve sushi is and how he has kept it in his restaurant in Singapore.
“Once my grandfather started this shop, some dropped and ate sushi on the way back home after spa (we call sento/銭湯, Japanese public bathhouse), some enjoyed sushi with drinking with my grandmother who was helping her husband. It’s the origin of this sushi restaurant. So my restaurant welcomes customers with babies, and have a bar area for some who wants to enjoy just drinking. We want to be one that welcomes any customers who want to come.”
“My master (=his father) always says to me “Be honest to customers”. I’ve kept it in my mind all time. Serving a good quality sushi is the minimum thing. Good quality, good price has been my concept.”
Sushi bento which you can order here is also a gem that affects Monzushi’s spirits. Once you open a cover of it, you will run into plenty of ingredients made of fresh fish on 300g rice.
“I never have customers say “it’s not enough.” This should be sufficient even for being shared by two adults.”
Of course, he locks Monzushi’s traditional tastes into it. Rice of Monzushi has been flavoured with red vinegar which they have preserved since established. Because Keisuke faced to difficulties to get the same ingredients as Japan in Singapore, he developed an original recipe for his red vinegar. You can feel sweet flavour at the same time when you feel sour and salty. This balance of taste is produced by his sophisticated theories for sushi.
“Originally, sushi is a cuisine that you can enjoy several flavours at the same time; flavours of sweet, salty, and sour. That’s the reason why in the term of Edo era in Tokyo eating sushi after sentoes(bathhouses) was common style for native Tokyo people who love to sweat at sentoes(bathhouses). You know, you want something sweat, salty and sour after sweating at hot bath, don’t you?”
The character of Keisuke is Monzushi’s specialty. You must try not only a sushi bento from Japanication, but also his authentic sushi with feeling his personality at his place.
Yakiniquest | Suguru Ishida
The owner of Yakiniquest, which is located in Boat Quay, has a very unique background, which is the opposite of Monzushi Keisuke who was born and raised in a sushi restaurant and went on to become a sushi chef.
Suguru was not a chef, neither worked for F&B industry. He used to be a salaried worker for an advertising agency in Japan. But he had a point that made him different from any other salaried workers in the world ; He was so obsessed with yakiniku culture that for 15 years since started working he had visited yakiniku restaurants more than 100 times every year and accurately recorded details of them. It means he has a record of more than 1,500 yakiniku experiences that he has visited. He published it as a blog online, named it “Yakiniquest”. This is a root of yakiniku restaurant “Yakiniquest”.
After a few years, the blog “Yakiniquest” became one of the most popular foodie blogs in Japan. While his work as a yakiniku blogger increased, he got an opportunity to open a new yakinku restaurant in Singapore. After his big decision of stepping into first career as a F&B business man, running a new restaurant out of Japan beyond quitting the previous job, the Yakiniku Restaurant “Yakiniquest” in Singapore was born in 2015.
A basic concept of this restaurant is the idea that “Yakiniku is one of the culture of Japan” “This culture should be known to all over the world”, which Suguru came up with while having an experiences over 1,500 yakiniku. So they mainly serves omakase menu that consists of gems that incorporate essences of yakiniku restaurants all over Japan which Suguru experienced. Currently, a la carte order is only for additional to the course menu.
Needless to say they are very particular about the quality of meat, and more than that, they pursuit whether it is the best for yakiniku or not. In the point of view of it, they never use A5 beef, which is generally said to be the finest, based on the idea that A5 has too much fat for being grilled as yakiniku. They dare to choose A4 beef.
“For the first time, we faced difficulties to have customers, especially local people, accept our style that customers can’t order what they want and that we don’t serve A5 beef which they somehow think the best beef. But as I continued, this style eventually became normal for them. Now the most of our customers are local residence people.”
Yakiniquest has another big difference from other general yakiniku restaurants; in this restaurant, customers never grill the meat. Suguru and his staffs do it for customers.
“For the first time, we adopted the style that customers grill by themselves like other yakiniku restaurants. But we found that most of them grilled too much. I took it as a quite huge issue because the quality of yakiniku is really changed depending on how much grill and how to grill. So we switched to the style that we do grill for customers.”
During his experiences of visiting over 1,500 yakiniku restaurants, he has thoroughly verified “how to grill” from any kinds of angles. He completely understands what he should do from observations on a net of yakiniku, such as colours and smells of meat, or even as sounds of grilling. And he adds it’s changed a lot depending on what type of meat you grill and how strong the fire is.
“More you know about the way of grilling, you can listen to the voice of meat. Like “Please turn me over now”, “It’s almost time to remove”, and so on.”
He joked to say it though, this seems to be the true after looking at his way of grilling. He handle the meat with changing the position of them diligently and sometimes rotating the net on the fire.
The meat for a Karubi bento which you can order from Japanication is also carefully grilled piece by piece and finished according to an order by Suguru.
The sauce is also the signature of this restaurant, as he says “Sauce is the lifeline for a yakiniku restaurant.” They use multiple sauces depending on a type of meat. Recipes of them are strictly confidential so only a very few of staffs know them.
Especially, one for Karubi bento is such special that it’s never used for any other menus. It’s made from zero scratch for “Matching the best with both karubi that usually has more fat than other parts and rice.” As you put it into your mouth, you will immediately know what he says. Once it comes into your mouth, a strong umami generated by collaboration with sauce, karubi and rice spread in your mouth in a sudden.
In fact, all of delivery and takeaway menus including Karubi bento are started to be sold during the Circuit Breaker. Before that, they sell neither delivery menus nor takeaway menus.
“We believe the real thrill of yakiniku is eating meat with grilling in front of you. But because we started delivery after the Covid19 situation, many people who have never come to our restaurant before tried our delivery menus, and then they visited to us after the Circuit Breaker. It was the most difficult time ever for us actually, we had to survive without grilling yakiniku though we are a yakiniku restaurant still. But on the other hand, it has some positive aspects.”
This statement is backed by numbers; the ratio of the local residence customers which was originally large even before the Circuit Breaker increased after it, and now it accounts for 70% of the total.
“This news makes me very happy. Of course, we have a confidence in delivery menu too, but visiting our place is always the best us. There are a lot of commitments to how to grill that I haven’t talked enough here, so I hope to come to the restaurant and enjoy watching and tasting it.”