As spring warms into summer, nature’s breathtaking transformation begins. Cherry blossoms make way for lush greenery. Fish shed their plump winter coats while clams emerge lush and succulent. The shift in seasons yields an abundant harvest of fresh produce, inspiring yet another menu of delicate flavours that celebrates the bounty of Japan’s impending summer.
At one-Michelin-starred Hamamoto, sweet Hokkigai (surf clams) mingle on a gorgeous lacquered tray with snappy spring asparagus and Junsai, a water weed native to Akita prefecture. Isaki, grunt fish from Nagasaki, is served with the tender shoots of Urui (snow leaf) and Yama Udo (mountain asparagus), brightened with a subtle sesame sauce. Shako (mentis prawns), from Hokkaido, are paired with creamy marinated Soramame (broad beans).
A corpulent tile of Shimofuri makes for decadent nigiri. The absence of veins in this cut of tuna ensures that the shimofuri is sweet and velvety, with a naturally deep flavour. Other beautifully carved seafood that make up the repertoire of nigiri this season include Kinmedai (golden eye red snapper), Biwa Masu (lake trout from Biwa), Shimaebi (green striped shrimp), Aka Uni (red shell sea urchin), Nodoguro (black throat sea perch), and Hamamoto’s signature Chutoro Peekaboo. As its name implies, this exquisite morsel of shari served on a crisp nori sheet features creamy tongues of sea urchin from Hokkaido nestling beneath a sliver of chutoro (medium fatty tuna).
This season, kegani (horse hair crabs) from Hokkaido star in Hamamoto’s best-known signature: shabu-shabu. Chef Kazu shells the crab legs at the counter before poaching their delicate flesh for mere seconds in a flavourful dashi that has been kept brewing for as long as Hamamoto has been open.
As a token of Chef Kazu’s appreciation to diners, he has worked with Singaporean chocolatier Mr. Bucket to create a Hojicha 48% Milk Chocolate Bar using direct trade cacao beans from Triang Bera Estate in Penang, Malaysia, infused with fine hojicha leaves from Kyoto that impart a whisper of deep, earthy grassiness. Chef Kazu hopes the bar will serve as a sweet reminder to guests of their meal at Hamamoto long after they have left its calming confines.
Hamamoto takes reservations online or via WhatsApp at +65 9672 7110.