Interview with Hal Yamashita, the brains behind Syun

Japanese food made from quality ingredients found in various provinces in Japan – this is what Chef Hal Yamashita’s restaurants are known for and is what you can expect at Syun.

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Syun, the Japanese word for spring and one of the characters in Yamashita’s name, is his first restaurant outside Japan and it offers the same level of attention to detail and quality of food that you would find in his other restaurants.

Yamashita grew up in the city of Kobe, where due to the presence of many foreigners, he was exposed to a variety of cultures and cuisines. This and a cooking stint in the US have influenced his “Nouvelle Japanese” style, which is a fusion of Japanese and Western contemporary cooking techniques.

However, it is his grandmother, who looked after him when he was young, that has had the greatest impact on his culinary philosophy. She placed an importance on using quality produce and allowing their natural flavours to shine in a dish. This explains Yamashita’s penchant for steamed and simmered dishes.

His signature dishes at Syun are sea urchin and Kuroge wagyu beef roll topped with caviar; grilled gindara (cod) saikyo marinated in premium miso and dried mullet roe with a yuzu miso sauce; and Kuroge Wagyu beef sukiyaki. For the last dish, the staff will cook your meat to perfection at your table and; instead of egg yolk, you can dip your beef in sea urchin before  eating it.

Syun Wagyu Uni Roll
Syun Wagyu Uni Roll

Chef Yamashita plans to incorporate flavours from Singapore into his Japanese menu in the future to make dining at Syun a truly unique experience.

What is inspiring you now?

Miso. Most people think of soy sauce for flavouring food, but not miso when rice miso is actually the raw form of soy sauce. There are many types of miso too, which allows for endless possibilities in tastes and flavours.

What cuisine do you hope to explore more of?

I want to learn more about traditional Japanese cuisine and cooking techniques from the old days as I have barely scratched the surface. This will allow me
to widen my fusion approach to cooking.

SYUN shabushabu
Syun shabushabu

What would your last meal be?

I would have rice porridge with salt. This is the first meal most Japanese have, and it is fitting that it be my last meal too.

This article first appeared on INVITES January 2015, a magazine for RWS Invites members.


SYUN Wagyu uni Sukiyaki
Syun Wagyu uni Sukiyaki

Syun is located at Festive Walk. Call 6577 6688 or email to make reservations.

Check out our review of Syun.


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