Rizu is a cozy modern Japanese restaurant nestled in the heart of Duxton Hill. There are no Michelin stars or celebrity chefs here, just a straightforward menu of fresh live sashimi, sushi, rolls, carpaccios, and even rice bowls. Getting to the restaurant is easy. If you’re driving, park at Craig Place, and exit at level 2, which leads you directly to Duxton Hill. We visited on a quiet Friday night (three tables cancelled!) and were greeted by warm staff and Head Chef, Noboru Shimohigashi.
LEFT: rizu, situated along Duxton Hill / RIGHT: outside dining area
THE INTERIOR OF RIZU
SPECIAL OMAKASE MENU
What we ate: Special Omakase
Price: $200 per person (excluding service charge)
Time to dine: Slightly over 2 hours
Pre-appetiser: Potato mousse with sea urchin and caviar.
This was a delightful appetiser to start with. The potato mousse was light and went well with the flavourful uni and salty caviar. The combination was delicious. I could’ve done with less pepper though as the aftertaste of it was all that lingered.
Assorted 3 kinds Appetiser: Oyster with dashi jelly, squid carbonara and pork pâté.
The carbonara stood out from all the three appetisers. The texture of the squid, made into strips of pasta, combined with uni and ikura was interesting. Also, an idea to try at home. I didn’t like the pâté — but I generally don’t like any type of pâté so I’m not a good judge of this one.
Salad: 5 kinds Tomato Salad
Here we have two kinds of tomatoes from Japan and three kinds from France, all mixed in with dashi jelly. A straightforward salad for tomato fans (I am!) that’s a little tangy, tart, sweet and salty.
Ikedukuri: Live Lobster, Abalone, Sashimi
I enjoyed the fresh lobster (he was still moving in the bowl); the texture is similar to ebi sashimi, but far less slimey and less fishy. The sashimi was a mix of tuna, horse mackerel and halibut — all also very fresh. The live abalone was a bit foreign to me though as I don’t often eat abalone prepared this way; it was like crunching into thin slices of soft bone, albeit with a fairly clean taste. I was not a fan. A nice surprise though was the freshly ground wasabi.
Nigiri Sushi: Assorted 5 pieces
Left to right, we have Striped Jack (nice fish), Squid (aburi-style! Tastes like grilled squid! Delicious), Fatty Tuna (a good one and my favourite of the lot), Golden Eye Snapper (this had a citrus zing to it) and Sea Eel (this had many soft bones but that’s what eels are about, right? A decent unagi but I still preferred the tuna.)
Soup: Lobster Bisque
I’m almost full at this stage and there are six more courses to go. But oh my… This soup is divine! Chunky lobster pieces in a flavourful broth served at the perfect warm temperature. Lobster bisques tend to be heavy and creamy, but this chef has made a deliciously light soup that left me wanting more.
Hot Appetiser: Foie Gras sauté with plum sauce
A good pan-seared foie gras but not the best I’ve had. It had a tinge of bitterness to it, if you like that sort of thing. The figs were a good addition to the dish and added enough sweetness to balance the overall taste.
Main 1: Miso Marinated Black Cod
The cod is tender, and the miso was pleasant, but on the sweet side. I suggest taking a bite of the spinach with every bite of cod, to balance the sweetness of the dish. I finished the fish and at this point, am feeling extremely full (and a bit jelak), but I see Wagyu coming up…
Main 2: Wagyu Steak with Special Wasabi sauce
I was looking forward to the beef but it was disappointing. It had little taste and the wasabi sauce was too peanutty for my liking. I didn’t finish it and told them the truth — I didn’t like it.
Rice: Abalone Risotto or Sukiyaki Rice Bowl with Miso soup
It’s starting to feel like a Chinese wedding dinner with the rice coming last. I chose the Sukiyaki Rice Bowl because I wasn’t a fan of the abalone served earlier in the appetiser. Truffle fans will love this; there are generous slivers of black truffle over the sweet slices of beef. The onsen egg was lovely; it was firm yet runny, and tasted exactly as I expected. The Miso soup was also flavourful though the clams were dry (I believe all the flavour went into the soup).
Dessert: Crumble, Pear Gelée and Pear with Vanilla ice cream
I like my desserts traditional and this one came deconstructed. I was biased the minute I saw this dish and imagined I wouldn’t like it. And I didn’t. It didn’t taste anything like a crumble (and I love crumbles!) But I can see a lot of people enjoying this dish; I’m just not one of them.
Verdict: There were far more hits than misses. Definitely order the sushi, and if your budget allows, the live lobster. With a delightfully cosy ambience, I’d recommend this venue for romantic dinner dates for two. If it’s a cool night, you can get a table outside along the cobbled pathway.