Shima: Teppanyaki pioneer revamps itself
By Catherine Ling - Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015
SHIMA at Goodwood Park Hotel is an icon of Singapore’s culinary scene. In 1980, it gave us our first taste of fine-dining teppanyaki. Although the Japanese dining scene has since witnessed the blossoming of many sophisticated restaurants, SHIMA held its ground and continued serving its fiercely loyal pack of regulars.
But time holds for no one, and even SHIMA has undergone a revamp. The original founder Katsuhiro Watanabe has retired and handed the reins over to JR Group Holdings Pte Ltd, which has trussed the restaurant in contemporary elegance, with hues of crimson and bronze amidst dark wood finishings. The area is also carved up into sections, making it feel more private and cosy.
Fortunately, some things have not changed. The Teppanyaki remains its signature, and SHIMA’s equipment, chefs and recipes are largely the same.
The teppanyaki tables are fitted with one-inch thick cast-iron griddles that were customized and made in Japan. The same griddles have been used in the restaurant for the last 34 years for good reason. “In Chinese cooking, the older the wok, the better it brings out the flavors of the food. It is the same with the griddle. Ours have been well-seasoned over the years and allow for extremely even cooking,” shares Michael Koh, the 54-year-old Executive Chef who has been with SHIMA since 1984.
Such equipment is also very expensive today. Most of the other restaurants go for griddles only half the thickness.
“Cooking on the griddle is all about heat control and understanding your ingredients,” adds Chef Michael. Relying purely on experience, the chefs take control of the heat, maintaining an optimal temperature of 180°C to 200°C, turning over the food to cook on each side with precision; resulting in perfectly cooked morsels seared with a nice crust for added texture and flavour while retaining their juices.
Unlike some modern teppanyaki places, the chefs at SHIMA aren’t really into performance cooking or juggling utensils. But you might still get an impressive towering blaze of fire with your steak; the focus is on down-to-earth dishes without any gimmicks.
Besides teppanyaki, SHIMA also offers sushi and sashimi, as well as other Japanese cooking styles like shabu shabu and yakiniku. These menus have also existed since its opening, and feature a distinctive blend of sauces and marinades that complement the natural flavour of beef.
Premium beef is sourced from farms in Japan and America, including A5 wagyu ribeyes from Kagoshima (S$140++ per 100g). One of the signature dishes, the Poached Salmon ($25++) features Norwegian salmon gently simmered in SHIMA’s secret sauce to silky perfection.
The chefs also painstakingly make the most of the accompanying sauces in-house, following the same recipes from its beginning. The Goma Sauce takes over half a day of preparation, from the fine milling of sesame seeds to the adding of stock, double straining and reducing the mixture over low heat for a smooth creamy result. SHIMA’s Teriyaki sauce which coats tender pieces of chicken thigh cooked on griddle, on the other hand, follows a recipe from the 1980s.
Also back by popular demand is the weekday lunch buffet (S$49.90++ adult, S$25++ child) offering prawn and shisamo tempura, salmon sashimi and makimono appetisers, teppanyaki main courses of beef, chicken, salmon, prawn, oyster (seasonal), mixed vegetables and garlic rice. Steamed rice, miso soup and dessert round up the buffet. On weekends, the buffet (S$59.90++ adult, S$25++ child) has a few extra dishes such as the cuttlefish and kimchi.
Level 1 Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221
Open daily noon to 3pm, 6-10pm