Lesser known is the Japanese way of cooking rice in a metal pot, or kamameshi, which is just as delicious.
Not to be confused with donabe, or Japanese claypot rice, kamameshi is an amalgamation of the words for metal pot (kama) and cooked rice (meshi). Other ingredients such as meat and vegetables are prepared together – in a style similar to pilaf – and simmered in a stock typically made from soy, sake, dashi and mirin.
The dish is believed to have been invented by a Tokyo restaurant to feed people quickly and easily after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Traditionally eaten communally from the pot, individual servings are also popular today.
In Singapore, kamameshi is uncommon in most Japanese restaurants, but one chef is making it the centre of his new eatery. Better known for his eponymous kappo fine dining temple, Taro Takayama is branching out with Hanare by Takayama, a casual venue at Ngee Ann City serving kamameshi with uni and abalone.
Besides Hanare, kamameshi is also a speciality at Sun With Moon, which fills their bowls with beef, chicken and seafood. Over on Telok Ayer Street, Jin Fine Dining presents an unagi kamameshi as a set. Alternatively, you can find premixes and equipment online to try it out at home. Read on to discover where to eat kamameshi in Singapore.
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Kappo chef Taro Takayama is expanding into casual dining with his new restaurant called Hanare. Kamameshi is the focus here, which is cooked with koshihikari rice from Niigata and a specially brewed dashi stock.
Unagi kamameshi, for instance, features silky Kagoshima eel with seasonal vegetables, and the awabi (abalone) kamameshi is slow-cooked for four hours in sake. Uni ikura kamameshi presents sea urchin in an aromatic dashi soup, while kinmedai kamameshi offers grilled, smoky kinmedai alfonsino fish.
Mondays to Sundays, 12pm to 10pm
Sun with Moon is a popular Japanese eatery and cafe by executive chef Toshio Sawai. They offer a mixed seafood kamameshi of eel, salmon, scallop, and salmon roe, and sliced yakiniku beef topped with soft boiled egg.
Other options include grilled salmon and chicken with sweet soy sauce, three kinds of meat, and a flame-seared mix of salmon, scallop, prawn, eel, salmon roe and flying fish roe.
All kamameshi comes with mushroom, chestnut, konjak, carrot, lotus root and shredded egg. Lunch is available as a set including tempura and miso soup, while dinner comes with miso soup. Call to book.
Mondays to Sundays, 11am to 9.30pm
Jin Fine Dining is a Japanese restaurant inside Amoy Hotel. Run by chef Thomas Kok, the eatery offers popular dishes including sashimi, sushi, nabe, noodles, bento boxes and bar bites.
Many diners also come for the salmon belly shioyaki and unagi kamameshi (S$35++). Tender eel and seaweed strips are layered on top of fragrant rice, with sides of chawanmushi, salad, miso soup, fruit and your choice of tempura or sashimi.
Mondays to Saturdays, 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm
Recreate the comforts of kamameshi at home with these essentials. Seasonings giant Marumiya offers a premix of two different flavours, either an umami kick of chicken, bamboo shoots, carrots and mushrooms, or the hearty gomoku (carrot, burdock, bamboo shoot, lotus root, chicken, konjac, fried tofu, shiitake mushroom).
All that’s left to do is pick up a pot, buy some meat and vegetables, and let it simmer until soft.