Sushi Hashida at Mandarin Gallery has its roots in Tokyo, and its Tokyo restaurant was opened in 1966 by Master Sushi Chef, Tokio Hashida. Tokio in Tokyo. Heh. The Singapore outlet is run by his son, Kenjiro Hashida, affectionately known as Hatch, who started his apprenticeship at 14, and has more than 25 years of experience.
There is a dinner set at $280 or omakase from $350. So it’s more worth coming for lunch with sets that are priced $80, $120, $180, $250 (omakase). It’s best to get the $120 set or more expensive ones because the $80 set didn’t have their signature, ikura uni don.
I planned on getting the $120 but when I was there, my instincts said what the heck, let’s go for the $180. And I thanked my instincts; I was extremely pleased over my decision.
But before I talked about the food, which as you already know from the subject of this post that it is marvellous, I want to give due to Chef Yuji Sato who served me. His skills are consummate and the food that passes his hands is delightful. It’s a joy to watch him work. He paces the food nicely to give patrons some rest but not make us restless. But not only so, the pleasant and friendly personality of this Hokkaido native chef, who speaks good English, has brightened my visit immensely.
Ok, onto my $180 lunch set. I wasn’t quite impressed by the cooked appetisers. The beancurd skin with ikura and dashi jelly is delicate as a Japanese dish can be–good–but the chawanmushi with burdock root, cod fish, and lotus root mochi, seems to be overcrowded, overkill, overburdened.
When the beautifully plated sashimi arrived, I was so excited I forgot to take photo at first. The photo you see here is missing a piece of octopus. The items come in pairs: hirame, seared kinmedai, octopus in two ways (sucker and tentacle), and mackerel. Really delicious. They are delicate with a gorgeous clean, firm bite.
Next comes the 7 pieces of sushi (8 if you count the block of tamago that rounds the end of the course). The sushi course starts with Tai seabream which I’ve always felt is a filler. But not here. Here, it is full of the flavour of fat and umami; absolute bliss.
Yet the flavour of Tai is light enough so that the course proceeds from light to heavy flavours, as any thoughtful and circumspect sushi restaurant would have done. After the tai follow yellowtail buri, marinated bonito, and seared barracuda (pictured below). This barracuda is aburi/seared to such an extent that there is no subtlety; the fire gives a heavy smokiness and educes the fats to ooze, giving it an intense flavour. I love the treatment of it, I love strong, bold, daring flavours, but I can also see how some people–perhaps the more traditional ones?–can argue that the sushi course wouldn’t be balanced.
After the intense sushi, one would think that having squid sushi to follow isn’t a good idea. But strangely, it is. The burnt of the barracuda enhances the sweetness of the squid. But unfortunately, this is my least favourite sushi because it is slightly crunchy. I know people who like it slightly crunchy so it’s my personal taste.
The penultimate sushi, Hokkaido crab, bonded the chef and me. I said, “I just returned from Hokkaido,” and he said, “I am from Hokkaido!” The crab is sweet with a tinge of sealike saltiness. Not bad but it is more of a novelty than for taste.
The signature, ikura uni don, is mind-blowing. They use my favourite variety of uni, the one that tastes like peanut butter from the ocean.
I thought it was the end of the course when the chef plonked the biggest slice of tessellated chutoro sushi on my slab. OMG 😱😱😱I say this without exaggeration but I ate it with so much bliss that I think customers sitting around me wanted to laugh. This is how inner peace and war peace and equality and all the nice things in the world would taste like if they could be distilled to a bite-sized morsel.
I also want to talk about the shari. Usually I prefer a sticky, slightly soft rice, but here, their rice is almost al dente and, to my pleasant surprise, it works very well with the softness of the ingredients, giving a nice contrast.
The meal ended with fruits, which is the best way to end at a traditional sushi restaurant. Traditionally, Japanese didn’t really eat desserts. Of course, if the dessert is like Sushi Mitsuya’s, I wouldn’t mind. Barring that, I’d very much prefer fruits.
I paid $212 for the meal. Thoroughly enjoyed the meal. This, along with Ashino, is my favourite sushi-ya in Singapore. It’s a travesty that it didn’t get at least a Michelin star. It’s head and shoulders above Shinji.
333A Orchard Road, #04-16 Mandarin Gallery, Singapore 238897
Tue 12.30pm–3pm, 7pm–10pm, W-Sun 12pm–3pm, 7pm–10pm
Tel: +65 6733 2114
You may be interested in…
–Shiraishi, Ritz Carlton: Strangely, Tempura is Better Than Edomae Sushi
–Kappou Japanese Sushi Tapas Bar, Fortune Centre: 23 Year-Old Female Chef Serves Excellent Modern Japanese Food
–Sushi Kimura, Palais Renaissance: Better Than Michelin-Starred Sushi Restaurants
–Southpaw Bar & Sushi, Jalan Besar: Cali-Styled Sushi Bar with Whiskey Pairing
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.