Our managing editor sinks her teeth into some seriously good sushi at IFC’s new Japanese restaurant Sushi Sei, and learns from the Sushi Master that she’s been eating it incorrectly the whole time!
It’s a well know fact (apparently) that the heart of sushi is the rice. If that’s the case, then Sushi Sei has a great, big, beating ticker, because this is one restaurant that takes its rice very, very seriously.
This is hardly surprising given that the Master Sushi Chef behind the restaurant is Tokyo born Kaoru Mitsuhashi, a man who not only spent six years learning how to cook rice in Japan, but who also taught cocky celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay how to make sushi – properly (scroll down to see the clip).
Sushi Sei prides itself on its unique rice which is undoubtedly the star of the show, because unlike other Japanese restaurants which create sticky blocks of tightly squashed grains, this place makes it less glutinous and looser so that it crumbles in your mouth. This results in a completely different tasting experience as the sushi is much easier to eat and the flavour of the fish can linger longer on your palate.
Mitsuhashi’s style is based around the traditional Edomae Nigiri Sushi which reflects the taste of old Tokyo, when a lack of refrigeration meant that all sushi fish had to be eaten as soon as it was made. This perhaps explains why he served me a sushi platter at room temperature and only gave me three minutes to wolf down all five pieces; Flambe Fatty Belly Sushi ($120), Yellow Tail Amberjack ($50), Sea Urchin Sushi ($60), Kuruma Prawn Sushi ($90), and Sea Eel Sushi ($80).
I accepted the challenge and enjoyed each bite which was fresh, full of interesting flavours, and beautifully presented. All pieces can be ordered individually from the à la carte menu, but as the prices are pretty hefty, the more reasonable option would be to choose one of the Edomae Nigiri Sushi Lunch Sets; $250 (for 8 kinds), $300 (for 10 kinds), and $360 (for 12), all served with salad and Miso soup. Whatever you choose, I wouldn’t recommend scoffing them down fast – savour every bite!
Make sure you leave leave room for dessert, because these are equally as impressive in flavour and appearance. The Green Tea Blancmange ($45), otherwise known as the “Japanese Tiramisu”, is the perfect combination of bittersweet green tea and creamy, coconut milk jelly and is surprisingly refreshing. Of course, the black bean sprinkled with gold leaf is the cherry on the cake – after all, presentation is everything!
The modern zen décor of this restaurant, complete with its timber zone and charming simplicity, provide a relaxing and elegant ambience to enjoy an authentic Japanese dining experience. Half the enjoyment of eating here comes from sitting at the open sushi bar and watching the Master himself prepare each bite with military precision, whilst listening to the story behind every ingredient.
In fact, Mitsuhashi encourages customers to do just this, because how else would they learn that the rice is picked from the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture, where his wife grew up, or that the fish is imported daily from Japan, or and that every sauce on the table is homemade by him using his family’s ancient recipe?
And where else would they learn that they’ve been eating sushi incorrectly for years? Turns out that instead of picking up each piece and placing it in our mouths, we should actually turn it on its side so that the fish, rather than the rice, touches the tongue first. This way, we can appreciate the subtle flavours of the fish before the rice dominates the taste buds. I bet Gordon Ramsay didn’t know that!
Given the quality of the ingredients and the amount of love and dedication that goes into each and every bite at Sushi Sei, it’s hardly surprising that this Japanese cuisine comes with a relatively high price range.
It may seem a little steep, but you certainly get treated to a unique Japanese dining experience and learn a lot about the food along the way. So when Park-N-Shop’s $40 sushi assortment box just ain’t cutting it, and you fancy treating yourself to some seriously good sushi, then Kaoru’s your man – or Master!
Sushi Sei, Shop 2016, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, (+852) 2387 3377
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