Monday, February 26, 2018

Hashida Sushi Singapore

Hashida Sushi in Kachidoki Tokyo was the original branch of Hashida Sushi Singapore, now located on the 4th floor of Mandarin Gallery. It might be lesser known in Tokyo when compared to Jiro, Saito or Sawada, but Hashida was supposedly a good sushi-ya too and Tokio Hashida was a senior and respectable (master) chef. Established in 2013, Hashida Sushi quickly rose as one of the prominent sushi-yas in Singapore. I was invited for a business lunch before and it did not disappoint indeed. I had planned to come for dinner, but often I found that Kenjiro Hashida (the son of Tokio-san and often called 'Hatch') was not present on my preferred date. He travels to Japan every 1-2 months, in particular to visit his suppliers. He wanted to make sure that his Singapore restaurant would consistently receive ingredients having high quality and good variety. His menu truly was dependent on the produce he received that week. In early Summer 2017, finally all stars were aligned and I managed to have a dinner and be seated in front of Kenjiro Hashida himself. The restaurant was bigger than many sushi-ya you would normally find in the island. The decor had some mixtures of modern and heritage elements; it was Zen-like with bright light and the counter made of fine cypress wood. Hashida was quite known for its secret sauce. The nikiri and nitsume used the special family recipe dated back to more than 100 years ago ... they were indeed very good. The omakase menu here had a very clear sequence: one would start with an array of appetizers followed by numerous sushi and a small / simple dessert in the end. Here what I had for my dinner:  


Tofu, Uni and Okra - The first course at most gastronomy restaurants usually was something refreshing and easy on the palate to whet our appetite. At Hashida, the chef created green bean tofu (whose texture was balanced between silky and slightly dense) served with creamy uni, sticky lady fingers as well as light tomato 'soup'. Only at the start ... yet the uni already appeared :)
Flatfish maki with gluten-free tofu - The fish 'roll' was mild with fine texture. It was in contrast to the firmer tofu. The sesame miso sauce was delicate and nicely absorbed by the watery winter melon. A good dish with clean flavor

Sashimi - The sashimi for the night consisted of:
Clean & light Hirame (Flounder), tender Mizu Tako (Water Octopus), delicious Chutoro (Medium fatty Tuna) and a bit firm yet sweet Hotate (Scallop) - satisfying selection
Uni with Shiro Ebi - the Uni was actually one of the strength of Hashida Sushi. Hatch-san served the moist and flavorful Murasaki uni (purple Sea urchin) in the whole shell. It was served and enhanced with the sweet white shrimp and balanced by the soup stock jelly. A harmonious dish & full of umami flavors - scrumptious!

Katsuo - The bottom one, the Bonito was smoked and more cooked inside (fragrant and flavorful) while the top piece, the bonito was skin-torched / seared on the outside and still raw inside (fresher but a bit bitter). The Katsuo was balanced by thinly sliced cucumbers, enhanced by garlic and shoyu sauce and accompanied by green yuzu to give a round taste. The fish was really meaty & satisfying
Kinmedai - The Golden eye Snapper, in sashimi form, was warm and served with its rich liver inside chef's special sauce (prepared with sake, mirin, etc.). The texture was neither too soft nor firm. The wasabi and sweet sauce 'improved' the already flavorful Kinmedai

Ayu with Ankimo - There were actually a few things here: the signature Monkfish liver was delicate in texture but robust in taste; the tako was very tender yet light in flavor. The Sweetfish was deboned and wrapped inside deep fried yuba - unusual preparation for ayu, it was decent but a bit 'fishy'. The dish was also served with okahijiki (land seaweed), kinda crispy and peppery. There was also a green sauce made of rhubarb, avocado, buttery dill, and pine nut. Have fun to try and mix a few things together!
Tsubugai - The Whelk, served with its liver sauce, was crunchy and naturally sweet. It was served with fresh eggplant tempura, battered sweet corn and fermented shitake mushroom ice cream (smooth texture but not too keen on its taste)

Mushi Awabi with Seaweed sauce - The Abalone was slowly steamed until they became tender and juicy - pure, simple, delicious. The healthy seaweed sauce could be intense if you put too much of it
Zuwai-gani and Nodoguro - Both the Snow Crab and Black throat Seaperch were carefully steamed in bamboo leaves. The texture was delicate and the taste was clean - quite nice
Saba - The Mackerel was lightly grilled and served with yuzu as well as chef's specialty sauce. The flesh was rare, meaty and fragrant; the secret sauce made the saba tastier


Ika (pristine Cuttlefish with lime) - A bit crunchy; the sudachi highlighted the ika's flavor
Tai (Seabream marinated with Kombu seaweed) - Hashida-san used 2 slices of Tai to create this morsel; umami and fatty with good texture
Botan Ebi (Botan prawn) - The large shrimp was glistening with a bit of wasabi inside and brushed with the chef's sauce. It was delicious and almost soft yet held itself well

Kampachi (Amberjack) - clean and rather chewy (Chef cut kampachi into a few thin slices). The neta + shari were not too compact; this made the rice 'sweeter'
Tairagai (Torched Pen Shell with uni-mixed shari) - It was a bit firm, having a light taste, distinctly bitter with subtle sweetness
Akami-zuke (marinated Tuna) - fresh, tasty but a bit acidic due to the 'extra' squeezed sudachi

Kamasu (Aburi baby Barracuda) - a smoky and juicy fish with bold flavors; one of the unique sushi served at Hashida and it looked beautiful .. check out the picture
Nodoguro (Cooked Seaperch) - tender, rich in taste and oil with some smoky flavor; enjoyable
Soup - served with scallop and fish cake; good and rather unexpected to be served at this point
Ikura Uni don - Instead of sushi, Hashida-san preferred to present the heavenly Sea urchin and juicy Salmon roes with rice this way. The portion was generous and I could eat this rice bowl again and again ... easily
Anago (Saltwater Eel) - soft & crumble in the mouth, moreover it's pleasantly sweet due to the vintage tsume from the Hashida-san's family

Otoro (very fatty Tuna) - Kenjiro-san prepared this nigiri differently .. he sliced several layers thinly across the grain, this made the amount of Otoro was much more than what one would normally eat. It was really marbled, sublime and very umami. As soon as I chewed it, I would straight find the shari - super smooth, soft and 'oily' otoro. The best piece and the chef saved it for (nearly) last
Kama Toro (Fatty Tuna cheek) - Hashida-san partially grilled the toro, then he put some horseradish (to clean any intense flavor) and bonito flake (to intensify the taste) inside the neta. Again, the amount of Kama Toro was overwhelming, which I didn't mind. This nigiri was so sumptuous that I hardly 'recognized' the shari - divine

Dessert - There were 3 kinds:
Musk melon (sweet but a bit firm), Milk ice cream with honey and Mochi (it had chocolate, strawberry and red bean inside; the outer texture was good and the taste was alright)

It was not a busy evening. I was in the main dining room with 6 other diners.The meal was well-paced and Kenjiro Hashida was quite chatty, funny and sometimes a bit sarcastic, so there's hardly any dull moment despite eating alone and had minimal interaction with other guests. I only had hot ocha for my drink and the waitress was never late to re-fill it. The service staffs were warm, gracious and polished. I heard that Hashida-san trained both the kitchen and the front staffs to ensure a seamless dining experience. Although the core of his sushi was Edomae style, the food here, especially the otsumami, was more contemporary. The chef put extra attention to the presentation yet he still carefully balanced the traditional cooking with some artistic flair; in addition to being delicious. This was the kind of freedom that Hatch did not have when he was working at his father's restaurant in Tokyo. While I may like my meal slightly better at Shoukouwa (under chef Masa), I was puzzled that Hashida Sushi received no Michelin star. In my opinion, it's deserved at least 1-star ... based on my past meals, Hashida was certainly better than Sushi Ichi and on par with Shinji by Kanesaka. Here are the pictures: Hashida Jun '17  

Food: 94 pts

Service: 93 pts

Overall: 93.5/100

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