There is nothing that I love more than a good surprise. An unexpected gift that ticks off all the boxes without you ever asking for it can be one of the best gifts of all. A creepy jack-in-a-box? Nuh uh. An impromptu picnic catered with a cheese plate and a baguette or sourdough on a spring afternoon in a field of flowers under a massive tree of sorts? Oh yeah. It’s not like I’m asking for much. Likewise, I love walking into a restaurant with very little expectation, namely restaurants with very little hype associated with them, and I love it even more when my expectations are blown through the ceiling. Mind you, I did have a Dimmi voucher in hand so that might have helped me better appreciate Shiro, but I cannot help but revisit that quiet Monday night that I spent filling my belly with Shiro’s long list of delectable delights.
I often found myself briskly walking past Shiro’s little nook of architectural beauty in an attempt to sneak a little bit of shopping in after uni; and I always had to remind myself to eat dinner or lunch there. Such a beautiful space deserved to be visited. And I finally got the chance to when Urbanspoon sent me an email advertising the DImmi special. As my boyfriend and I neared the restaurant, I couldn’t help but slow down to admire the spectacular glass front, the textured panelled wall at the entrance, and, as we entered, the beautiful caged hanging light feature. We were greeted at the door by a friendly young waiter and we were swiftly led to our table. While my boyfriend was perusing the menu, my eyes, as always, drifted away from the menu and lit up with excitement. The restaurant layout was clean and minimalistic, and so really highlighted the star of the interiors: the exterior. We, the diners, were both connected to and separated from the outside. We could appreciate being separated from the wintry cold outdoors and the view of the bare trees and the lit up church across the park. Tucked into small nooks in the wall were branches placed in large saki bottles. In most instances, using recycled bottles as part of the interior detailing would be a faux pas, but Shiro somehow makes it work; the bare branches emphasised the wintry feel of the whole place. I hope they replace those bare branches with blooming cherry blossom branches when spring rolls around.
The waiter that led us to our table did not return to us; instead, he was replaced by our very friendly waitress for the night, whose name I did not get a chance to note down. She was dressed in true Japanese fare, a luxurious kimono that looked like a effort and a half to walk around in but she made it look effortless. She took the time to explain our menu options for the night and left us adequate time to make a decision. We opted for the whopping six-course tasting menu. I couldn’t wait to try all the best that Shiro had to offer.
First up was the mouthwateringly good edamame drizzled in truffle oil. I was never really a fan until now, never really saw the point in ordering a bowl of beans that weren’t even popped out of their pods for you to eat neatly. But there I was, poppin’ those beans like a crazy person, trying to savour it as much as I could but they were just so addictive. The truffle oil was generously poured on and worked so well with the slightly salted beans. I would return just for those. I am not kidding.
Next on the menu was the snapper carpaccio. It looked beautiful on the plate and I just couldn’t wait to dig in. The raw snapper was cut ever so thinly and soaked up the dressing really nicely. The fish was so fresh and it felt really good as my teeth sunk into it. It was a very well-balanced dish with a sharpness to the dressing that didn’t overpower its star. (Thanks Masterchef, for the food critiquing tips).
And the entrees kept on coming! The last of them was the soft shell crab which was cooked to absolute perfection. There was plenty of crab meat in there to keep my satisfied and the tempura wasn’t too oily which I really enjoyed, but compared to the other dishes that were presented to me, it wasn’t the shining star. Although I must say that Shiro has really created a menu that was far beyond anything that I could have expected. After scraping our plates clean, my boyfriend and I were starting to feel the familiar tightness at our respective waistlines and we hadn’t even started on the main course.
I’m not quite sure if the “main” was split into two dishes or if the pork dish that I chose over the salmon was just another of the many “entree” type dishes that we had been served. Whichever the case, the pork was really quite amazing, After I placed the very last morsel of it in my mouth, I felt a longing for just a little bit more. I am generally a bit hesitant when ordering pork-belly-that-isn’t-crackling; sometimes, the amount of fat in it can be a little disconcerting. But this was perfectly cooked and seasoned, it was soft and moist and the miso sauce perfectly matched with the meat on the plate, and the crumbs, beautifully presented as some sort of branch sitting on top of the pork pieces, added that little bit of crunch that was needed for texture.
The procession of savoury dishes ended with a bang as Shiro’s very own version of a surf’n’turf was presented to the table on a gargantuan canvas. It was like a piece of art. One one end was the grilled salmon and on the other was the beef. Lines of thick soy sauce separated the two sides much and suggested which elements of the plate were best eaten with which. Elegantly presented, I almost felt bad cutting into it. The beef was beautifully cooked to my preferred medium-rare but I found the snapper to be a tad dry for my liking. By the end of all of it, I was practically bursting at the seams. I was so full. But there was still one more course to go through, which also happened to be my favourite.
Last on the menu, was the dessert. On the menu, they are listed as “chef’s choice” but we were allowed a choice from three: green tea ice-cream, black sesame ice-cream or banana maki with yuzu sorbet. I had been craving black sesame ice-cream for a while so I didn’t hesitate and my boyfriend offered to order the banana maki so I could get a taste of that. The black sesame ice-cream was served in an elegant glass with cornflake crumbs sprinkled on top. Although it looked appetising, the corn flakes just weren’t working for me. The elegancy of the food brought out throughout the night was offset by this addition of those corn flakes. A crumb with a more subtle flavour would have better complemented that ice-cream. The banana maki was well cooked and was not too oily, the yuzu sorbet was the perfect way to balance the sweetness of the banana.
En conclusion, I am so glad that we were given the opportunity to dine at Shiro thanks to Dimmi and their brilliant discounts! My moth-hole lined student wallet probably wouldn’t be able to handle the sort of prices that Shiro charges. After enjoying my meal so thoroughly, being served by a very friendly and attentive waitress and sitting in such a beautifully thought-out space, I probably wouldn’t mind paying full price for my meal if I had a full-time job. So thank you Shiro for the stand-up dinner! I will be back!