There’s a growing trend in the restaurant industry today, and that’s eating out to have more meaningful experiences, rather than eating for the sake of eating. You’ll find this as lower mid range restaurants struggle to make ends meet, to differentiate themselves from everyone else, and as the crowd trims down their budget for eating outside due to inflation. Sure, why eat in a restaurant and shell out $20 for a meal that’s pretty mid, nothing to Instagram about, when you can save it and cook at home? Beware restaurants, the only ones who’ll survive are those who can carve a specific need in the people. People nowadays are learning to enjoy life, and they’re going to be more deliberate about it.
I’ve been wanting to eat at KOMA, no matter how touristy it looks from the outside. It’s not like I haven’t been to the Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, been there and climbed 10,000 steps all the way to Mount Inari. But you have to admit that those vermillion Torii gates make you curious what it looks like inside. A quick scan at its Google Maps listing will show you the place screams vibe with a Bonsho right in the heart of the restaurant, complete with a soribashi. If you’re longing for Kyoto but can’t fly, KOMA is for you.
Despite it’s elaborate interiors, much of it, you’ll pay by way of its exorbitant prices for standard Japanese maki rolls, KOMA is simple. Nigiri, sushi, robatayaki, miso cod, and cocktails. I encourage you to skip ordering individually, unless you’re here for a quick bite. Their lunch sets are slightly expensive, but you’ll get more bang for your buck at SGD 68 for a 3-course meal.
Lunch sets include starters that range from vegetable tempura, mini chirashi, snow crab croquette (+SGD 10) to a simple salmon carpaccio. The salmon is fresh, drizzled with sesame sauce and topped arugula. Great with a glass of Sunset of Osaka (SGD 24).
Umiki Whisky, Sweet Potato Shochu, Antica Formula Vermouth, Umami Bitters. Slightly sweet and leaning towards sour.
Mains. The Barbecued Beef Shortrib is wildly popular, but try out the Pan-Seared Barramundi atop a bed of beansprouts and green dragon vegetable (Long Zai). I thought this was another simple dish, one I can almost eat on repeat. 10/10 for the sweet potato chips. They were addicting and I can easily eat a whole pack.
I had a huge dilemma when it came to desserts, because I dislike eating Japanese cheesecake after a heavy meal with rice, not so keen in paying for fruits, and hate chocolate through and through. I settled for the Lemon Yuzu, a default choice for someone like me who likes sour things (you can kind of guess my favorite dessert of all time is Tarte au Citron Meringee from my Instagram stories.)
Lo and behold, welcome to KOMA. Cheesy presentation, but appreciate the gesture for showing how much they value you as a first time customer. But this was one extremely sour dessert with the yuzu jam inside lemon mousse. The only salvation to balance it was the cacao crumble.
Perhaps skipping dessert next time. I can honestly go for a second cocktail. That’s how much I enjoyed KOMA.
I’d say we’re going back to the olden times, when restaurants are not for everyday cuisines and more to celebrate special occasions. (1) Vibes, (2) decent food and (3) excellent customer service that isn’t over the top (Noa Lounge at Mondrian Duxton is the perfect example of this.) — I’d say this one is good for repeat, even though its food is not the best of all Japanese restaurants. I’ll pay for a great restaurant experience.