Japanese joints are aplenty in sunny Singapore—in fact, it’s one of the few Asian destinations that Singaporeans would proclaim wanderlust for even after returning from a two-week vacay in the land of the rising sun. It’s little wonder, though, that when the pandemic hit, many of us would seek solace and comfort from local iterations of our favourite foreign cuisines, and it’s a blessing that we all get to enjoy sen-ryo‘s opening earlier this year at ION Orchard.
Some might call the space dark and dim, but I’d like to position it more towards cosy and intimate. It makes for a casual catch-up but also one the most recommended spots in town for a first date—at least, in my books.
What I tried
A refreshing start to the meal, their Soft Shell Crab and Mango Nama Haru Maki (S$16.80) is a must-order. The juxtaposition of mango and crispy soft shell makes for an easy win, which also allows you to ready your appetite for the glorious spread ahead.
Speaking of ease of transition, we’ll go really slow and paced here with the sen-ryo Tamagoyaki with Mentaiko Sauce (S$2.80). How can anyone have a distaste for creamy, briny mentaiko and supple layers of sweet egg? Looks might not be this dish’s forte, but trust us when we say, you might be compelled to order another portion just for yourself.
You know when you’ve built up an appetite for sashimi but the place you’ve decided on just doesn’t seem to serve the freshest of best cuts? Well, you certainly won’t have a discouraging experience here at sen-ryo, as exemplified by this silky, glistening portion of Otoro (S$24). Every sliver has bite, has gratifyingly chewy fat, and only needs a smidge of wasabi and soy sauce to seal the deal. Remember to savour every swallow because this might prove a lil’ heavy on your wallet to order more than one serving.
Or you could live it up and enjoy some of the best damn sushi in town, because you deserve it.
Pretend for a moment that you’re a sushi chef serving the DIY Hokkaido Uni (S$58) tableside, for some added fun and spontaneity to your meal. Roll a decent mound of rice on a piece of seaweed, plop a delicate ration of uni on top, and furnish the handroll with cucumber, ikura, and wasabi. It’s best recommended to enjoy this in a single mouthful and set aside your fear of looking like a person without dining etiquette, for just a split second.
Your palate will thank you for introducing it to the loveliest creamy contrast to briny-sweet uni you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying in a long time. The roe and wasabi pair well to bring plenty of zest to the party—which is great preparation for the more savoury plates ahead.
As with all the previous ease and flow of the dishes that came before, we’ll start with a mildly savoury start to the second portion of the meal at sen-ryo, with Kaisen Dobin Mushi (S$6.80). It’s a light soup—of course, best enjoyed on chilly, rainy days—teeming with seafood such as clams and prawns. Pour the broth into the provided cup to fully relish the calming broth and before you know it, you’ve reached peak hunger for the moreish meats to come.
You’ll want to clear the pan clean of this Grilled Chicken Thigh in Charcoal Style Sauce (S$7.80), with its slightly charred edges and succulent flesh. It’s good enough to devour on its own, but if you’re really a glutton for meat, the addition of Grilled US Beef Tenderloin and Foie Gras (S$28) will certainly make for a true meat feast.
Our favourite part of the beef tenderloin dish isn’t even the meat itself; it’s the flimsy, caramelised onions that it lays upon. You might be tempted to order a side of plain rice—which we absolutely are in favour of—but just ensure you load it up with plenty of meat and onions in equal portions for a full inundation of impeccable flavours.
Set aside some of the rice for the Kaisen Soy Nabe (S$32), another comforting dish that’ll facilitate the transition from savoury to sweet. Brimming with vegetables and an assortment of seafood, the emollient dashi and chicken broth will loiter around long enough for you to mark this meal as a memorable one.
More popularly known as ‘raindrop cake’, the Mizu Warabi Mochi (S$5.80) is just as spectacular to gaze at in real life as it is in photos online. The texture itself is unlike regular mochi—in spite of its name. Instead, it’s plenty more gelatinous and springy, as opposed to chewy. But just as its looks are almost translucent, so is its taste; there’s nothing much to it except for the nutty, sweet sauce that accompanies it.
When we think ‘Japanese cuisine’, we always look to food that’s clean, uncomplicated, and—for most parts—light (on the stomach). sen-ryo checks all these boxes, but what will keep you returning is the faultless quality of the ingredients, all without robbing you of your hard-earned savings. Just make sure to make a reservation ahead of time to secure a table as they’re proving to be pretty popular right now.
Expected damage: S$30 – S$60 per pax
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