Nihon Brunch at High Yaki The Sea & Singapore Hawker Eats at ØSP

By Sophie Steiner, May 26, 2023

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High Yaki The Sea

Chef Carlos Sotomayor (previously of elEfante and UP Shanghai) is the man behind the menu at owner Justin Xu’s High Yaki The Sea, a blend of Western cooking techniques with splashes of Japanese, Thai and Southeast Asian flavors.

READ MORE: High Yaki The Sea: Popular Yakiniku Explores the Oceans

Recently, the team launched their Nihon Brunch menu – a playful Japanese-inspired roster of dishes using common brunch ingredients. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Take a Japanese convenience store egg salad sandwich, make it gourmet, and you get the Tamago Sando (RMB68).

Pillowy clouds of Japanese milk bread are stuffed to the brim with egg salad tossed in smoked chili mayonnaise.

Juxtaposing the welcome addition of crunchy potato chips, a perfectly runny, six-minute soft-boiled egg sits in the middle, glowing with that sunshine orange, jammy yolk.

It oozes under even the slightest pressure, leaving a glossy, unctuous coating across the roof of your mouth. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory egg pancake loaded with toppings, is offered in three varieties at High Yaki The Sea.

First up, there’s the Classic Okonomiyaki (RMB118) with Sichuan smoked pork belly larou instead of the conventional bacon, as well as chopped squid, mixed purple and green cabbage, nori seaweed powder, and fluttering bonito flakes that wave back at you, urging another bite. 

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But the real kicker is in the saccharine, sticky balsamic glaze that pools on the plate, a housemade reduction used in place of the customary 'Bull-Dog' sauce – one made mainly from high fructose corn syrup, apple, apricot and prune puree, tomato and carrot paste – a common okonomiyaki condiment. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Next up, there’s the Twisted Okonomiyaki (RMB115), an amalgamation of Western brunch – with smoked salmon, a wave of sliced avocado and chopped pickles – atop an eggy Japanese crepe.

The fluffy folded layers are interspersed with mixed cabbage, and dribbled with a smoked chili mayo and pleats of watermelon radish.

There’s also a seafood okonomiyaki option with oysters, wasabi cream, radish and nori. 

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An indulgent palate cleanser, the Futomaki Sashimi Roll (RMB238) still qualifies as brunch, as a cylindrical tube of tamago – or rolled omelet – sits between chunks of fatty tuna belly, chopped prawns, scallions and pickled burdock.

The roll's name comically translates to “fat rolled sushi.” Yes, it’s fat – thick with two ‘c’s’ – and a must on every brunch table. 

DSC02364.jpgSalmon Ochasuke (RMB88), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Prawns and assorted veggies are enveloped in expertly textured, lace-like tempura batter in the Tempura Udon (RMB98), balanced atop squiggly rope-like noodles that give way with their signature QQ chew.

An umami-rich shoyu broth makes it damn near impossible to put down your spoon. 

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Onto the sweeter side of things, the Strawberries and Cream (RMB68) is just as the name suggests – with mascarpone folded in for added velvetiness, studded with chopped blueberries and strawberries. 

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French toast meets a Japanese matcha bomb as the Matcha Toast (RMB88). A thick slice of brioche toast is dusted with Uji matcha powder and toasted macadamia notes, while a giant sphere of matcha ice creams slowly melts in the center.

A waterfall of treacly matcha milk cream cascades across the plate, soaking into the brioche like a creamy French toast batter, robust matcha flavor permeating every flaky nook and cranny of the toast.

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And if at this point your matcha tolerance still hasn't been surpassed, there's a Matcha Latte (RMB45) – espresso, whisked matcha powder and frothed milk – to pair with it. 

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Or for a more classic flavor combination, the Berry Toast (RMB98) sees assorted fresh berries and mint leaves atop cocoa powder-sprinkled brioche.

Chocolate ice cream studded with cacao nibs is surrounded by a smattering of graham crumble, finished with a milk cream sauce that seeps into the bread’s layered folds. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The menu also showcases a handful of brunch cocktails, plus coffee drinks, tea and fresh juice.  

High Yaki The Sea, #113, Bldg 5, 8 Hengshan Lu, by Wulumuqi Lu, 衡山路8号锦和越界5号楼113单元, 近乌鲁木齐路.


Chef Joey Cheong (previous owner of Umamiii) has taken residence in the Ø and S parts of Boris Yu’s ØSP restaurant, a three-prong concept composed of the Ømakase dining room; the Savøur cocktail lounge; and the upstairs Pøp-up kitchen with a rotating chef’s set menu – which is currently housing Chef Chang Liu, formerly of Yongfoo Elite Fine Dining.

READ MORE: ØSP: Restaurant & Bar Meets Avant-Garde Art Gallery Experience

Taking the menu back to his Singaporean and Malaysian roots, the menu is all about presenting elevated alternatives of hawker center classics.

While we’re all for slurping laksa streetside, digging in hands first to seafood slick with salted egg yolk glaze, and ripping monster crabs limb from limb – tangy Singapore chili crab sauce splattering in eggy puddles – Joey’s exacting precision translates to the same punchy flavors with a presentation befitting ØSP’s elegant, contemporary atmosphere. 

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Beginning with a nod to the mixed population makeup of Malaysia and Singapore, Chef Joey adds an Indian twist on Kueh Pie Tee (RMB52/four) – a Peranakan savory pastry of sorts, filled with sautéed root veggies – stuffed inside a crisp pani puri puff with shrimp and fiery sambal belacan instead of the traditional tartlet cup. 

And on the 2.0 menu, there’s also bite-size Scotch Quail Eggs (RMB40/two), served in sets of two. Instead of pork, the egg is encased in minced shrimp with more of that potent sambal belacan

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A Singapore hawker center classic, Cereal Prawns (RMB60) – peeled, snappy and sweet shrimp coated in cereal flakes – are crowned with fried curry leaves.

We suggest saving any fallen crispies for topping dishes to come for an added salty crunch. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Chef Joey takes the hassle out of Singapore’s national dish, chili crab, with the Crab Cake Royale (RMB98).

Instead of cracking the claws and shell yourself, scraping out the fleshy bits to dunk in the zippy tomato and chili-based gravy, this refined version offers the same flavors without the work, showcasing the Chinese crabs’ natural sweetness.

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Treated with the utmost care, the Josper Cauliflower with Satay Sauce (RMB58) is humbly seasoned with just salt and pepper, imbued with the Josper oven’s smoky char.

The edges crackle, while a knife slices through the center like butter, cooked just like a pleasant medium rare slab of beef.

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Inky pools of syrupy Aik Cheong and Nescafe Gold coffee sludge forms the viscous glaze on the Coffee Ribs (RMB68), sticking to your fingers like glue, destroying your lipstick, and transforming diners into Neanderthals – tearing fatty flesh from bone in a carnivorous, caffeine-fueled rage.

Blistering cili padi – similar to Thai bird’s eye chilis – add zippy heat to the deep-fried-from-raw pork. 

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USDA beef ribs are slowly braised in a Combi oven with rich coconut milk, palm sugar, and a smattering of aromatics for a spiced – but not spicy – Short Rib Rendang with Roti Jala (RMB168).

The warming aroma of cinnamon comes through first, followed by cardamom, nutmeg and the citrusy tang of fresh kaffir leaves.

Sprinkled with toasted desiccated coconut, we can openly admit that this is Shanghai’s boldest rendang. 

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An equal headliner, the roti jala – or net bread – a popular Malaysian savory crepe made from flour, coconut milk and egg batter, blended with an earthy hit of turmeric, and commonly served with curries.

It’s a labor of love to get that unswervingly chewy yet toasted edge balance, one that Chef Joey consistently nails. 

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Twice fried juicy hunks of chicken are doused in an umami-forward, salted egg yolk gravy as the Salted Duck Egg Sauce Fried Chicken (RMB68).

A higher ratio of actual salted egg to milk powder can be noted in the homemade mix, resulting in the lush and slightly sandy texture of the sauce, enhanced by flaky, fried curry leaves and more cili padi, all balancing on a bed of charred cabbage. 

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“We are southeast Asian brothers, which gives me the right to make a Thai-inspired dish,” declares Chef Joey, popping a fleshy chunk of 300-gram southern China Tiger prawn into his mouth.

The Josper-baptized Grilled XXXL Prawn (RMB298) is flanked by a Nam Prik Thai dipping sauce made from imported Thai limes – for that sawadika feeling – and percik nenas, or Malay pineapple pickles.

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Making a mega salad sexy, the Indonesian Gado-Gado (RMB68) is a hefty vegetarian-friendly option with the likes of quail eggs, spongy fried tofu, beans, cabbage, fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and purple carrots.

Smothered in a skinned peanut sauce, this plate is both indulgent yet clean.

Katong Laksa (RMB108), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Desserts culminates in Pandan Crème Brûlée (RMB58), sheathed by a crackly crust of scorched gula melaka – or palm sugar.

It shatters open into lace-patterned flakes to reveal a teal-hued custardy cream below, owed to the addition of pandan extract. 

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Dihuangjiao bananas are deep-fried in a tempura-esque, nutmeg spiced rice flour batter as the Goreng Pisang (RMB58).

A drizzle of gula melaka, an ooze of warm banana, a crunch from a fried shell: it’s a 10. 

ØSPSuite 101, Block 13, No. 30, Jiazhou Lu 319, by Xinzha Lu 胶州路9弄30号13幢101室,近新闸路. 

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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