Newly opened Japanese restaurant Oumi completes the holy trinity of what is, quite possibly, the most exciting 1-Group dining concept this year: 1-Arden in the new CapitaSpring. Sharing the same nest and farm-to-table approach with coastal Australian restaurant, Kaarla, Head Chef Lamley Chua marries traditional Japanese kappo cuisine with bold Australian flavours and techniques.
Take the tempura crepe, for instance. He showcases his precision on the teppan grill where he cooks gruyere cheese tempura till it turns crackling crisp. The cheese skirt lookalike is then topped lavishly with dollops of azure blue wild Australian scampi roe, bright orange pops of Japanese flying fish roe, and creamy avocado slices – layered with Ao-togarashi (sweet green pepper) yoghurt to introduce a lick of spice. Each crunch releases a plethora of bold flavours to tingle the taste buds.
Another highlight is a twist on the traditional monaka. He first coaxes the foie gras by gently steeping it in milk overnight, helping to mellow out any overpowering livery flavours. Then, it is cleverly reimagined as a buttery ganache, blended together with fresh herbaceous Japanese green peppers and white miso. The ganache eventually gets piped into a light wafer together with salmon roe, flying fish roe, and sweet kombu-pickled daikon to finish.
Then there’s a quintessential hassun (small seasonal dishes) where he pays tribute to the traditional kappo approach. He artfully presents the platter with an assortment of five small plates and decorates them with foraged ingredients from the 1-Arden Food Forest – the highest urban farm in the world. Everything is seasonal, from pickles to grilled seafood. But if we had to choose, both the Momotaro cheese and the nasu dengaku (miso glazed eggplant) were the standout dishes.
The former sees Australian cream cheese mixed with a ten-month-old in-house miso blend, wedged in between juicy slices of Momotaro tomatoes, and finished with crunchy nori rice puffs and wasabi dressing. The latter showcases sweet Australian eggplants, that are beautifully charred over a binchotan grill, roughly chopped and bejewelled with crunchy golden buckwheat, sakura ebi and shiso.
Now, it would be purely misleading if Oumi labels itself as a traditional Japanese omakase restaurant.
Instead, the nine-course omakase dining experience ($288) screams contemporary. It's a familiar sensation sitting along the open kitchen counter – one that's like any other omakase dining experience with meticulous plating sequences. But fair warning, don’t go expecting subtlety in this joint. The suave chef is pretty bold and experimental with his food.
Not convinced? Fret not, Oumi serves up those dishes a la carte – quite the preview to the omakase if you think about it – that’s perfect for communal dining with friends and family. There’s also a value-for-money four-course lunch set ($65) that gives you the choice of an appetiser, a main, a sushi bowl and a dessert.