Ren Lounge is a new omakase restaurant and bar located within the grounds of JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. With interiors designed by Philippe Starck, the venue is a bit of a departure from conventional Japanese restaurants that are often dominated in wood. Ren Lounge doubles as a bar and even has a dedicated bar bite menu if omakase is not one’s cup of tea.
The restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Samuel Lau who came from Shinji by Kanesawa. Under his direction, Ren Lounge serves Edo-style omakase for both lunch and dinner with an emphasis on value-for-money seasonal appetizers, sushi and sashimi.
As the restaurant just recently opened, it makes its debut with its summer omakase menu. This is when Japanese produce reach their peak in freshness with ingredients such as tomatoes, lady’s fingers, broad beans, anago salt-water eel, shima aji striped jack, kawahagi thread-tail tilefish and sweet ruby ‘red apple’ mango from Miyazaki making the rounds.
Ren Lounge consists of three sections – a lounge where diners can enjoy bar bites and drinks, counter seating where the omakase is served as well as a private dining area for more intimate gatherings. The counter area is actually situated at the middle of the restaurant which means that diners can sit across all 4 sides – unlike most omakase places where the counter is against the wall and can fill diners across 3 sides only. In total, the counter can fit up to 16 diners at a time.
Lunch menus range from $80 for the 12-piece Tsuki set to $100 and $180 for omakase. Dinner menus range from $150 for the 15-piece Sushi Edomae set to $180, $250 and $350 for the signature omakase. During my visit, I had the Hana S$250 omakase dinner.
We started off with some Seasonal Appetizers – a trio consisting of Ichijiku or Japanese figs, Ankimo or monkfish liver as well as Komochi Konbu or herring roe. The presentation of these 3 starters, except for the monkfish liver, were rather new to me. We were recommended to eat it in the same order, starting with the figs and ending with the herring roe. I most enjoyed the latter – the roe was quite crunchy with the sea algae giving it a rather gelatinous texture as well.
Next came the sashimi course. At Ren Lounge, they only use wild-caught fish. Chef Samuel does not use farmed fish as he believes the taste profile is different. For this course, we got a trio consisting of Kanpachi or Amberjack, Katsuo or Bonito as well as Kinmedai or Red Alfonsino. I enjoyed this combination, with the fatty flesh of the Amberjack contrasting well with the lightly seared Bonito and the rich umami flavor of the Red Alfonsino.
As a nod to uni’s popularity in Singapore’s Japanese restaurant scene, of course there had to be a sea urchin course as well. In Ren Lounge, this takes the form of sweet delicate shrimp with sea urchin, ikura and caviar. It’s a delicate balance of flavors here with the natural saltiness of the caviar and ikura providing a contrast to the sweetness of the shrimp and the creamy texture of the sea urchin.
The Yakimono course came in the form of Tachiuo Shioyaki or grilled belt fish. One of the dishes that go extremely well during the summer, my piece came lightly salted and I enjoyed how flaky the skin was.
The sushi course comprised of 5 different nigiri, depending on what’s available for the season. Chef Samuel selects tsuyahime Japanese rice as the base of his nigiri. Tsuya means shiny and hime means princess, which is apt as this rice is very white, uniformly polished, and is naturally sweet. No further seasoning aside from fresh ground wasabi is provided as each nigiri is already carefully balanced.
During my dinner, these 5 nigiri included Hirame (flounder), Shima aji (striped jack), Akami (lean tuna), Chutoro (tuna) and Otoro (tuna belly). All five fish came highly fresh with their respective colors glistening despite only freshly ground wasabi used as seasoning.
The final rice dish or donburi featured a combination of chopped fatty tuna (negitoro), topped with ikura and fresh ground wasabi. It wasn’t a full portion which was just right given the amount of rice we already had with the preceding courses. There was also a serving of miso soup that came after.
We had seasonal melon and sea salt ice cream for dessert. The latter was quite addictive and seemed to have taro that went well with the sea salt flavor.
Ren Lounge can be thought of as a modern omakase restaurant. While the extensive sake collection as well as well-curated menu are in keeping with a good omakase experience, the metallic interiors, modern ambiance and a separate beverage / bar bites menu also suggests a duality that other omakase places don’t offer.
30 Beach Road
+65 6983 4825
Daily except Sunday, 11:30AM to 2:30PM / 4:30PM to 10:30PM