If Tetsuya Wakuda’s two-star restaurant Waku Ghin is stratospheric, then his latest restaurant in Singapore is a more accessible way into his cooking.
Debuting on 17 April, Wakuda is his latest venue at Marina Bay Sands that serves contemporary Japanese dishes with the celebrated chef’s mark. “In my years as a chef, I have always wanted to share my passion while upholding quality that will stand the test of time,” Tetsuya said. “With Wakuda, it has come full circle – my cuisine here is approachable yet entirely unique, forward-thinking but at the same time, honouring the integrity of natural ingredients.”
The mood at Wakuda feels youthful and fun. There is a soundtrack of Japanese pop music. Semi-circle booths and plush chairs give off a classy lounge vibe. A sprawling sushi counter in front of a Japanese maple tree – real or fake, I couldn’t tell – demands you pull out your phone.
Then there are touches that giveaway this is a fancy place. The chopsticks arrive cold and pre-soaked in water so food doesn’t stick to them. The server sets the bottled water down with the label facing you. There’s a lot of “please” and “certainly” and perky “you’re welcome!”
The à la carte menu consists of comfortingly familiar Japanese fare, especially the snacks. Grilled shishito peppers, spiked with chilli flakes, are irresistible. Juicy organic chicken thigh slides off the bone. A sushi roll of akami tuna, shiso, cucumber and mustard puts all the supermarket options to shame.
Appetisers and mains reveal more of Tetsuya’s French-Japanese approach. Chewy cold soda and sweet botan shrimp are joined by shaved truffle and pearls of caviar. Carabinero, a large type of prawn found in Spanish waters, is split down the middle to hold a deeply savoury tarragon risotto. Patagonian tooth fish is done Saikyo Yaki style: marinated with miso then grilled, with its sweetness accented by spicy ginger flower.
Tetsuya is serious about his drinks too. He works with Margaret River winery Pierro to make a flinty, slightly creamy chardonnay that’s lighter than the region’s typical examples. Toyama sake producer Masuizami also specially brews a refined junmai daiginjo for him. There are cocktails as well, from the dry, citrusy Hyoketsu Martini to a bright Melon Sour.
Prices range between S$18++ for appetisers to S$38++ for small plates, while cocktails start from S$23++ per glass. It’s not a bargain, but given the location and his pedigree, it’s a much more attainable way to enter into the world of Tetsuya.
“It’s about accessibility,” he said. “We want something for everybody.”
This story was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore