Spanish tapas and sake at Gourmet Japan

Spanish tapas and sake at Gourmet Japan
Pasta a la plancha with prawns and sake butter from BAM! Tapas-Sake Bar

Gourmet Japan, an annual epicurean festival dedicated to Japanese cuisine, ingredients and chefs, is back with more events and offerings this year.

Now into its third instalment, the month-long festival runs from Tuesday to May 31.

Firsts for this year include a week-long guest chef promotion at Si Chuan Dou Hua, a Chinese restaurant at UOB Plaza, as well as a week-long fair at Liang Court featuring items and ingredients from Oita and Okinawa in Japan. Admission to the fair is free.

This year, diners can look forward to 14 dining events, up from 12 last year. These include sake, Japanese whisky, cocktail and wine dinners paired with food ranging from tempura and kaiseki cuisine to Spanish tapas and French cuisine. About 14 restaurants and at least 20 chefs will be taking part.

To deliver more exclusivity and finesse this year, the festival has also included more fine champagnes, including various vintages of Champagne Jacquesson, and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and its Palmes d'Or range.

Sakes from leading breweries such as Tengumai, Yamagata Masamure and Meikyoshisui will also be available.

Those keen to pick up cooking skills can head to one of the eight culinary workshops which will showcase the art of Japanese cuisine.

Each of the classes, which will be held at ToTT Studio in Dunearn Road, is priced at $25 a person. The sessions will be conducted by Japanese and Japanese-cuisine chefs, including Kenjiro Hashida of Hashida Sushi at Mandarin Gallery, and Kazuhiro Hamamoto of kaiseki restaurant Ki-sho in Scotts Road.

Gourmet Japan is organised by event management and exhibitions company Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, and food and beverage consultancy Poulose Associates.

It is presented by Japanese credit card company JCB International and card-holders can get 20 per cent off all event prices.

On the decision to broaden the event and increase the number of offerings this year, Sphere Exhibits' business director Mandy Wong says it was due to strong response from previous editions of the event and requests from restaurants keen to participate.

She adds: "We also had new concepts and ideas that we really wanted to try out. Considering all the factors, we decided it would be a good opportunity for us to expand the calendar of events."

For instance, this year, it is offering a sake and tapas pairing dinner, as well as an izakaya-inspired dinner paired with cocktails Diners can expect prices to be the same as last year's, starting at $25 for a culinary class to $668 for a whisky and sushi dinner at Shinji by Kanesaka's outlet at The St. Regis Singapore. Most meals are priced between $100 and $350 a person.

The festival has two other components, Mixology Japan and Taste Japan, which will run concurrently with Gourmet Japan.

Cocktail lovers keen to try Japanese-inspired cocktails can head to Mixology Japan's participating bars such as Maison Ikkoku in Kandahar Street, The Horse's Mouth at Forum The Shopping Mall, and The Green Door in Dempsey Hill.

Eleven restaurants including Sun With Moon at Wheelock Place and Kensai Kitchen at Liang Court will have dining offers as part of Taste Japan.

JCB card-holders get 20 per cent off cocktails at participating bars and 15 per cent off dining promotions at participating restaurants.

Sphere Exhibits expects more than 1,000 diners at Gourmet Japan events and about 40,000 people at Taste Japan and Mixology Japan promotions, as well as the Oita and Okinawa fair at Liang Court.

A total of 852 diners attended the Gourmet Japan dinner events last year.

Ms Wong says: "The aim of Gourmet Japan has always been to celebrate Japanese cuisine and produce in Singapore, and to showcase Japanese food and beverage offerings. We want to offer gourmands an opportunity to sample some of the extensive Japanese food offerings here and experience new Japanese-themed culinary concepts."

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