If you thought choosing a good Japanese restaurant amid the sea of already-existing incredible options was near impossible, things just got a little more complicated.
Nestled in the heart of Scotts Road, Goodwood Park Hotel’s Shima was Singapore’s first teppanyaki restaurant. Needless to say, after competing with today’s countless trendy and snazzy Japanese restaurants, it became a tad bit hard for the old girl when she’d been around so long. So, the grand dame Shima took a well-deserved break and closed its doors for a much needed facelift. And this is how the story continues…
I had been to Shima a couple of years ago and was really looking forward to going back after its renovations – and I was not disappointed. The first thing that grabs your attention as you enter Shima is its new look, which exudes an aura of contemporary elegance with hues of crimson and bronze amongst touches of dark wood and harmonious lines of Japanese Zen. The only thing missing were kimono-clad waitresses, as is common in most other fine Japanese restaurants. Teppanyaki is still Shima’s signature dish and guests enter through the ‘Teppanyaki Area’, complete with their custom made Japanese one-inch thick cast-iron griddles. The same ‘holy grill’ griddles have been used in the restaurant for the last 34 years and with good reason.
“In Chinese cooking, the older the wok, the better it brings out the flavours of the food. It is the same on the griddle. Ours have been well-seasoned over the years and allow for extremely even cooking,” shares Michael Koh, the 54-year-old Executive Chef who has been with Shima since 1984 when the restaurant first opened its doors, along with his pioneer team of Japanese-trained Master Chefs.
Chef Michael is a wealth of knowledge and great fun to speak to while he’s slicing and dicing the freshest of ingredients, right in front of your eyes. “Cooking on a griddle is all about heat control and understanding your ingredients,” adds Chef Michael. Relying purely on experience, the chefs maintain an optimal temperature of 180°C – 200°C, grilling the food with precision, resulting in perfectly cooked juicy morsels seared with a nice crust for added texture and flavour.
I indulged in the Lunch Deluxe Teppanyaki Set and highly recommend it! The price ranges from $90++ (chicken) to $200++ (Japanese wagyu) depending on your choice of main course. The set menu kicks off with salmon and swordfish sashimi, which is über-fresh and delicious, courtesy of a seasonal assortment of seafood air-flown in twice a week from Japan’s famed Tsukiji Market. The ever-popular prawn tempura leaves you wanting more, with its perfectly crisp outer coating and minimal oil – it makes deep fried food look so good! While you’re deciding on your choice of main course (USA strip loin/rib eye, wagyu beef, lamb, oysters or chicken) the Chef keeps you nibbling on sweet succulent scallops and prawns, both grilled with plentiful amounts of butter and garlic — you may want to re-think getting too close to anyone after this meal.
Next up was one of Shima’s signature dishes, the Poached Salmon, which features Norwegian salmon gently simmered to silky perfection in Shima’s secret sauce. The secret is to cook it only on one side and let it poach in the sauce to guarantee that the fish doesn’t get overcooked.
If you have a weakness for oysters, you’re going to love them here. They’re cooked just right with a little seasoning to ensure that they don’t lose their own exotic flavours. While the Wagyu looked amazing with its marbling, I indulged in both the sirloin and rib eye – the morsels were so tender, they practically melted in my mouth, as did the lamb tenderloin. And if you’re thinking about quality, this is the place for you. Premium beef is sourced from the best farms in Japan and America, as are the top-notch A5 Wagyu rib eyes from esteemed farms in the Kagoshima prefecture.
To perfectly complement the mains are Shima’s dipping sauces, all of which are homemade – such as the Goma Sauce for meat (which takes over half a day to prepare) and the flavoursome Teriyaki sauce for chicken (made from a classic recipe from the 1980s). I tried to get Chef Michael to divulge his secret ingredients for the seafood vinegar sauce (I’m a terrible home cook, but aspire to put a couple of “easy” and impressive sidekicks to my name) but he was having none of it – it may be easier to get into Fort Knox than to get this man to give away any of his trade secrets!
Mains were finished up with seasonal vegetables, garlic fried rice, and miso soup. It’s at times like this that I have to reluctantly admit that the Chef only used rice, garlic and eggs for his garlic fried rice – the same ingredients that I use at home. Needless to say, rice at home never tastes anything like this! Talk about perfect comfort food, washed down with a steaming bowl of hot soup. The meal was finished on a sweet light note of fresh seasonal fruits. Delish!
I’d certainly recommend reserving your table well in advance. Shima has recently launched a new ‘all-you-can-eat’ teppanyaki buffet lunch ($49.90++ for weekdays and $59.90++ for weekends) so their seats are always full and the waiting list is long. The Chefs supply you with whatever you wish, including mountains of fresh salmon sashimi, countless oysters and so much more. Talk about value for money!
But if I were you, I’d probably leave the buffet for a weekend feast. What better way to enjoy a long, lazy lunch than to know that there’s a well deserved siesta at the end of all the gorging. One thing is for sure though, whenever you choose to go to Shima, you’ll no doubt leave wanting more.
22 Scotts Road, Goodwood Park Hotel, Singapore 228221. 6734 6281, www.goodwoodparkhotel.com