Situated in the drinks-centric Duxton Hill enclave, Rizu is a contemporary Japanese restaurant showcasing omakase menus as well as an a la carte selection of various sashimi, nigiri sushi, tapas, mains, rice bowls and rolls. The 38-seater restaurant plays it simultaneously chic-sexy and intimate with its dim lighting and textured walls, although those seeking a more bar-sy experience can opt for al fresco seating along the cobbled walkways outside.
We tried the Special Omakase menu during our visit, and to say that it left an indelible impression is like saying durians “kinda have a scent”, or being whipped by long, unshampoo-ed wet hair on the MRT train during rush hour is “a bit annoying”.
Things started promisingly enough with the classiness of the Potato Foam with Caviar and Sea Urchin, delicacy of the Assorted Appetisers (Oyster with Dashi Jelly, Squid Carbonara, Pork with Miso Dressing) and honest refreshment of the 5 Kinds Tomato Salad.
And then the Ikedukuri (fresh live lobster sashimi, abalone, assorted sashimi) was presented at the table.
Yes, you read that right. Live lobster.
As in, the sashimi platter was presented with the lobster’s upper body emerging from the plate of ice, with fresh live lobster sashimi resting on a lobster tail sofa behind its torso amidst its various sashimi comrades. And the lobster was not entirely dead. Staring at you accusingly from the corner of its eye, the lobster (let’s call it Heracross) occasionally twitched its various legs.
At one point, simultaneously playing it horror film villain in manner of jump scare and Sarah Michelle Gellar-esque scream queen, Heracross abruptly came to life and started scrambling frantically as if it was trying to escape its platter of sashimi doom, dramatically sending ice bits over the edge and dislodging the abalone slices from their rightful position.
It was a bizarre performance, both morbidly fascinating as well as rather unsettling, and more show-stopping than Joanne Peh digging in the soil for grub in Little Nyonya (you need to update your references, pops – Current Millennial). You are not likely to forget the experience any time soon (unless your Heracross is particularly sedated or lazy). As for the fresh live lobster sashimi, it may have a psychological reaction from having witnessed Heracross’ behaviour but the sashimi came across as being amazingly fresh, with a clean and very surprising bloodless quality to its firm crunch, if that makes any sense.
On a related note, the sashimi platter paired beautifully with Aramasa Amaneko sake.
Here is another picture of Heracross.
The rollercoaster ride that was the Ikedukuri admittedly made the rather delectable Assorted Five Pieces Nigiri Sushi experience (comprising hirame, kohada, kuromutsu, stripejack and fatty tuna) feel less impactful, although that fatty tuna one at the end was memorably exquisite, and very expensive-tasting.
Lobster Bisque (could it have been Heracross) and Foie Gras sauté with Plum Sauce continued the richness of the proceedings.
After a plate cleanse courtesy of a crisp-clean Umeshu Sherbet, we moved on to the mains. In terms of butteriness, I expected the reliable Miso Marinated Black Cod to be the slicker of moves, but the magnificent Wagyu Steak with Special Wasabi Sauce was a glorious revelation, being shiveringly soft and toe-squirmingly good, with more butter game than a box of Lurpak. We paired the mains with glasses of Gigondas red wine.
The final savoury dishes of the evening were rice dishes, and you can either opt for the go-for-broke and meat-happy (albeit very rich) Sukiyaki Rice Bowl with Miso Soup or the quietly luxurious Abalone Risotto.
Officially, the name “Rizu” is supposedly a play on Lapis Lazuli, a gemstone which symbolises good luck and harmony, as well as the character “zu”, which means joy and the use of the gemstones. However, when I observed the stylized Rizu logo, which has grain-like bits broken off from the letters “z” and “u”, and based on how they chose to end the meal (before desserts) with two rice dishes, I wondered randomly whether “Rizu” was meant to be less “ree-zu” and more “rai-zu”, i.e. rice.
As a whole, the Special Omakase experience at Rizu Singapore is satisfying, but lacks a clarity of identity. While the various components are competent and in some instances rather exceptional, I did not discern a clear anchor concept, dish or message from the proceedings which sets Rizu Singapore apart from other swanky contemporary Japanese concepts around with a similar price point. The Ikedukuri, being quite the scene-stealing dish which I will not forget anytime soon, may justify the price of admission for those who can stomach the nature of the experience, but it remains to be seen how many of them are out there.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Live Lobster sashimi steals the show from contemporary Japanese proceedings.
The must-orders (if any): Assorted Nigiri Sushi, Wagyu Steak with Special Wasabi Sauce.
39 Duxton Hill
The Special Omakase menu is priced at $200++, with sake and wine pairings charged separately. Most of the dishes showcased in the Special Omakase menu are available on the a la carte menu.
This post was written at the invitation of Rizu Singapore, but all thoughts, calories and crustacean-based musings are solely mine.