I don't know about you, but if I were given a choice, I would always choose to dine at the counter. Not only do I get to eat, but I also get to be mesmerized when ingredients get magically transformed into tasty tidbits in hands of the chef. It's alimentary alchemy that gets even better when the pyrotechnics get thrown in.
Japanese food used to be so exclusive. This was certainly the case when Shima opened its doors in 1980. At that time, it was the only Japanese restaurant in town, which is quite hard to believe, seeing today's vibrant Japanese food scene. But there was a time when the average Singaporean would balk at eating a slice of raw fish, not to mention paying a premium for food that doesn't even require any cooking! Those were the days when "chashoba" (green tea soba) could be mistaken for "cha siu bak" (roast pork)!
For those of you who have yet to experience uni, the most important tip I can give you is this: Good uni tastes like heaven, bad uni, like week old swill. So, unless you are a gustatory masochist, make sure you get your first taste of uni at a reputable Japanese sushi bar. It's really not worth gagging over bad uni, no matter what price you pay for it!
The California roll was created over five decades ago in Los Angeles by Chef Ichiro Mashita who substituted tuna with avocado during the tuna off-season. He thus started the American sushi revolution which soon gave rise to sushi rolls named after the other states. In Seattle, they made their rolls out of smoked salmon and called it, surprise surpise, the Seattle roll. The Philadelphia roll had cream cheese in it and in New Mexico the sushi roll gets spiced up with chillies!
It has been 8 years since I started eating sushi. Like most Teochew Ah Hia, the thought of laying aside a nice hot bowl of porridge for expensive slices of raw fish was a bit of a mental hurdle. But since I was a budding food blogger then, I thought that I better start learning how to eat sushi since it was starting to get really popular.
I first met Kenjiro "Hatch" Hashida back in 2013 when he had just opened Hashida Sushi at level two of the Mandarin Gallery. I was at once smitten by his vintage anago tsume (sauce) which has an unbroken lineage of over 135 years!
With its harsh winters, remote location and pristine waters, Hokkaido has gained quite a reputation as a treasure trove of fresh food and ingredients. If you are talking milk, simply add the "Hokkaido" tag in front of it and it becomes super-excellent milk. Same goes with uni, potatoes, corn, rice, wagyu and many other ingredients!
It wasn't so long ago that a photo of well marbled Wagyu beef would have caused ooohhhs and ahhhs and at least a few hundred LIKES on Facebook. In fact, when I started writing in 2006, we didn't even have Japanese Wagyu. In those days, Australian Wagyu was just making its debut in Singapore and it was already causing quite a stir amongst the local gastronomes.
Hoshino coffee is one of the few cafes which I frequent quite regularly. The dark wood decor and wait staff dressed in black and white has that touch old school quirkiness about it which I really like. My usual order is a portion of the pot baked curry rice followed by the vanilla souffle and a pot of tea.
Dashi Master Marusaya is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Singapore. It’s one of the few places I know which uses only natural ingredients to cook their food. So their dashi doesn’t just come out of a pack. It is made the traditional way using Rishiri kombu (regarded as the best in Japan) and aged katsuobushi (of which they are the distributor) which they shave at their premises. That is why they dare to call themselves “Dashi Master”!
Sushi can be divided into five different categories. They are shiromi-dane (white meat), akami-dane (red meat), hikari-mono (shiny skin), ni-mono (braised) and hokano-mono which is all the other stuff like squid, crabs, uni and our topic for today, kai 貝 (shellfish).
Ozaki Wagyu is bred in a small farm and the beef is sold direct to restaurants. As such, Ozaki-san is not constrained to use a standardized feeding regime. Instead, he has his own special formula for maximizing beef flavour which includes seaweed and charcoal which he has developed through years of experimentation!