Review: Maison Shuko, a Japanese-French omakase restaurant shining the light on local food producers

PHOTO: City Nomads

With the launch of Maison Shūko late last month, Zouk Group completes its trinity of urban Japanese concepts in Clarke Quay‘s The Cannery. A stone’s throw from their famed nightlife flagship brand.

Located on the same level as sister venues, cocktail lounge Here Kitty Kitty and vibey Japanese omakase experience Sushi Ichizuke, Maison Shūko complements the mix with plenty of local culinary star power.

Left to right: Chefs Jeremmy Chiam, Angus Chow, and Justin Foo
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It brings together three local chefs you might be familiar with. In fact, “Shūko” is an amalgam of two of their last names – World Gourmet Summit MKN Chef of The Year 2018 and 2020 winner and Zouk Group’s Chef Patron Angus Chow, and local television regular Justin Foo, who has worked in the kitchens of Restaurant Par Andre, Le Saint Julien, Senso Ristorante.

Completing the trio is former chef-owner of Le Binchotan, Jeremmy Chiam, who also brings the hospitality game to their intimate eight-seater restaurant with his past experience stewarding with Singapore Airlines.

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The yearlong runway of Maison Shūko started with Chefs Angus and Justin wanting to showcase Singapore’s own producers while crafting their own narrative as Singaporean chefs who trained in French culinary techniques, and we get just that with their first eight-course menu, which shines with intention and the thought processes behind each course.

Potato “Chip”.
PHOTO: City Nomads

The first taste comes in the form of two amuse bouche that set our expectations up for the night: Fish Puri and Potato “Chip”. Riffing off Indian street food pani puri, the crisp flatbread shells hold seasonal fish tartare (in our case, tuna) with tomato confit and white wine shallots.

The latter presents an almost opposite flavour combination with its maximalist interpretation of patatas bravas. Smoked with applewood before serving, its aroma perfumes the air as you tuck into layers of mille-feuille potato, bafun uni, and smoked avruga caviar.

After the snacks are cleared, lights are turned down low for Maison Shūko’s documentary-style featurettes. Directed by Chef Justin, who is also an accomplished producer for digital platform FTTG Media, the first short film takes us to Long Kuang Hung Crocodile Farm for a glimpse of their day-to-day.

This audio-visual immersion before each course achieved its purpose of heightens connections between us diners, the chefs, and our hard-working farmers and food producers.

Crocodile & Crackers.
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Usually served in soups and lauded by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners for its health benefits, crocodile meat gets zesty with a larb-style dressing of ponzu, soy, and black garlic in Crocodile & Crackers.

Visually impressive with its ability to evoke the lush image of the reptile’s natural habitat, it doubles up as a great vessel for enjoying the tender and slightly chewy tail meat that was pounded and marinated in lime.

Our screens then zip over to Lim Chu Kang for the next course’s inspiration – Singapore’s only goat farm Hay Dairies.

Watching the goats feed tranquilly on GMO-free alfalfa hay and special feed from Australia, we’re glad that the base here is freshly made goat’s cheese.

Balanced with a texture of tomatoes, the tomato and pineapple sorbet with balsamic vinegar was a touch too sweet for us, but we enjoyed the slight gaminess of the cheese just fine with basil oil and heirloom tomatoes.

Goat cheese, tomato textures.
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We enjoy fish from Ah Hua Kelong wherever we’re dining, though Maison Shūko’s binchotan Grilled Grouper could one up most of them.

To contrast the fattiness of the fish is the French-style fumet – a base for soup, sauce, and seafood dishes – made with grouper bones and uplifted with dashi and the slight creaminess of soy milk.

With a dash of earthiness from matsukake mushrooms, we’re happy, especially with a cup of dry sake to pair.

Next, we head west to Jurong Frog Farm, which supplied our favourite course of this meal, Har Jiong Frog Legs & Papaya Sambal Sorbet.

Their chonky bullfrog legs are marinated for a day in Chef Justin’s secret prawn paste recipe and arrive piping hot from the deep fryer while the sambal sorbets adds a fruity cold element on the plate.

Hot and cold, savoury and spicy – delicious!

Grilled Grouper and Soy Milk Broth.
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We cross the midway mark with Au Japon by Chef Jeremmy, inspired by his experience working for a Japanese chef in France – a time when luxuries were hard to come by and convenience-store oden was a quick, comforting meal.

Lightly grilled over binchotan, the sake, mirin, and miso glazed foie gras is layered on sweet nashi pear silvers and simmered daikon. You’ll want to slurp up all the fatty goodness of the dashi broth.

Don’t fight the decadence of Chef Angus’ signature Truffle & Chicken Yolk Somen. Served cold, he pairs chilled somen with freshly shaved Australian Perigord Truffles, truffle oil, and an incredibly rich egg sabayon created from the eggs of kampung chicken from Ang Seng.

Toppings of crispy sakura ebi, tobiko, and shio kombu add umami and texture to the luxurious sauce and silky noodles.

Ang Seng: Truffle & Chicken Yolk Somen.
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Japan’s the final savoury destination on this gastronomic journey, specifically to the prefecture of Miyazaki. Evoking the aroma of hot tea with a dusting of earl grey tea and leek charcoal over grilled A5 Wagyu short rib, we thoroughly enjoy its pairing with Yen Cha, a teapot-brewed toasted oolong tea with mineral notes and a long finish.

Its tannic mouthfeel helps to cut through the beef’s rich, buttery marbling and the flavourful sauce of beef jus and emulsified Wagyu fat.

Calamansi Blanc Manger.
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For dessert, we return closer to home with the Calamansi Blanc Manger, inspired by Singapore’s urban garden landscape and informed by flavours of key lime pie. 

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Calamansi and thyme parfait sit on a bed of frozen shortbread shavings, almond sponge and calamansi gel, whilst the raspberry coulis filled white chocolate bonbon offers a sweet-tart counterpoint.

There’s a champion in its finishing of micro cress too, which are sourced from local social enterprise Green Cube, which trains people with disabilities in the urban farming of microgreens.

After finishing up the nth pot of Yen Cha with matcha madeleines fresh from the oven, we leave wanting to return for the trio’s “Asiatique cuisine” that bends boundaries with intention, respect and a sense of place.

Maison Shūko is located at 3E River Valley Road, #02-02, Clarke Quay, The Cannery, Singapore 179024, p. +65 9489 8357. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays with one seating at 7pm. Closed Mondays and Sundays.

This article was first published in City Nomads.