Located along Bukit Pasoh Road, MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya launches a new Sushi & Dashi Omakase ($88++ per person) which consists of two appetisers, sashimi (three kinds), Japanese omelette, a seasonal fish dish, a meat dish, sunomono (vinegar-based salad or side dish), sushi (seven kinds), miso soup and dessert.
The Marusaya Group began as a katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) wholesaler. Their katsuobushi takes two years to process and it is all-natural without MSG or any artificial seasoning.
Occasionally, Chef Hiroyuki Ono (formerly from TEPPAN and NAMI Restaurant & Bar) would amble to the corner of the counter where the wooden kezuriki (bonito shaver) is and he would shave a fresh supply of katsuobushi in the midst of food preparation. Chef Hiroyuki has 19 years of Japanese culinary experience and almost half of it is spent on perfecting the art of sushi making.
To welcome the season of spring, the first appetiser is Hotaru Ika with Japanese Kai Lan and Katsuobushi that comprises of two succulent firefly squids nestle on a bed of blanched kai lan and freshly shaved bonito flakes. The squids are juicy and tantalising, not rubbery at all.
Served chilled, White Sesame Tofu topped with Ikura and Caviar in Dashi Stock is presented in a cube of dense tofu that is made of ground sesame paste instead of the usual soy milk. The consistency is somewhat like panna cotta. Eaten with beads of ikura (salmon roe) and caviar, the saltiness of the roe complements the nutty flavour perfectly.
The Sashimi set consists of three types of fish; Sawara (Spanish Mackerel), Tai (Red Snapper) with Tai Liver, Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna), and a side of Bonito Jerky and Shiso Flower. Both Sawara and Chutoro are buttery and sweet. Very delectable.
Compared with the other two sashimi, the red snapper tastes rather mild on its own but with a tiny dab of red snapper liver paste, it tastes a lot richer.
Tamago (Japanese Omelette) in Dashi Stock topped with Katsuobushi is great for people like me who do not like the sweet version of tamago. Freshly shaved katsuobushi makes a reappearance to heighten the umami flavour of the dish.
The crispy Whitebait Kakiage (seafood/vegetable fritter) with Matcha Salt and Japanese Lime breaks apart easily with some probing of the chopsticks and yet it does not crumble. The light batter is superb in holding the ingredients together. The matcha salt adds to the savoury and fragrance while a dash of lime gives a light hint of bitterness. It is absolutely delicious and not oleaginous at all.
Mackerel with Vinegar Sauce with Momiji Oroshi topped with Ginger Flower comes with two slices of mackerel sashimi, shredded cucumber, radish and seaweed well drizzled with tantalising vinegar sauce. The fish slices are topped off with a small dollop of momiji oroshi, an eye-watering spicy grated daikon radish made with ginger, yuzu, sesame oil, shiso leaf, chilli padi and ground radish. This is one of the more interesting dishes to try from the list.
Oden with Iwate Beef Neck, Chikuwa (Japanese Fish Cake) and Bamboo Shoot is a warm and comforting stew brewed with mala leaf, peppercorn, soy sauce, mirin, sake and bonito. The mala leaf and peppercorn add some zing to the oden but not so overwhelming that it masks the natural taste of the tender wagyu beef cuts.
The seven kinds of sushi:
1. Aburi Otoro (Flame Seared Tuna Belly) ‘Japanese Sandwich’ – Chef Hiroyuki sears the fatty tuna, tucks it in with rice on a sheet of seaweed and hands it over to you personally. It is a straightforward ‘open jacket’ sushi that does not disappoint. Otoro can do no wrong.
2. Ika (Squid) with Yuzu Nigiri – A smidgeon of yuzu sauce goes a long way in elevating the status of an otherwise, regular ika nigiri.
3. Marinated Akami Maguro (leaner part along the fish’s spine) and Aburi Otoro Nigiri – A rare ‘two-in-one’ kind of sushi whereby a leaner, meaty part of tuna is paired with the fattiest and flavourful part of the tuna. It is possible to get the best of both worlds.
4. Kinmedai (Golden Eye Snapper) with Shiso Flower Nigiri – A light-flavoured fish is accentuated by the ever-useful Shiso flower.
5. Kuruma Ebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn) Sushi – The firm, succulent tiger prawn is cut into two for eating with ease. All other sushi can be popped into the mouth easily.
6. Unagi (Eel) Nigiri – Soft, oily and melt-in-your-mouth quality eel.
7. Aburi Otoro, Chopped Tuna and Takuan (Daikon Radish) Maki topped with Uni (Sea Urchin) and Ikura – Saving the best for last, the maki is thickly wrapped with aburi otoro, tuna and daikon but if that is not decadent enough, Chef Hiroyuki spoons a generous heap of uni and ikura on each slice of maki. I was a bit hesitant about the uni but it is an undue worry for it turns out to be extremely fresh and delicious. Everything is excessive about this dish but I am kind of glad that it is.
A piping bowl of Miso Soup with Tofu Skin and Cabbage is very satisfying after a heavy round of sushi. The Azuki Bean Crepe Roll with Matcha Ice Cream is good, the crepe roll is moist and soft and the ice cream has a rich green tea flavour that is not entirely too sweet.
Every dish is well-crafted and created to fulfil the omakase experience. Chef Hiroyuki’s jovial demeanour and witty comebacks during dinner conversations are just as inviting as his dishes.
MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya
46 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089858
12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 11pm, closed Sun
T: +65 6327 8414
You may be interested in…
–Monte Risaia, Duxton: New Itameshi (Japanese-Italian) Omakase by Marusaya group
–TEN Sushi by Marusaya, Robertson Quay: For Late-night Sushi Cravings
–BOTAN Japanese Restaurant, Far East Square: 20-year-old Restaurant Gets a New Chef with 40 Years of Experience
–Naga Imo, Club Street: Omakase on the First Storey, Izakaya on the Second
Written by Cheang Shwu Peng.