Ishi (Singapore), the sushi-ya with a difference

 

Open-concept kitchen at Ishi

Perhaps Singapore is at the golden age of sushi dining. Not only do we have an already flourishing sushi dining scene, new sushi-ya openings continue unabated to cater to Singaporeans’ never-ending love for sushi.

The latest to debut is Ishi. Located next to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse at InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, Ishi is currently presided by head chef, Masaaki Sakashita, an alum of Hashida Sushi and a Kyoto native who spent two decades working in both Kyoto and Tokyo and a further two years in Seattle before he settled down in Singapore. In time to come, the restaurant’s executive chef, Hideki li, will arrive in Singapore to helm both Ishi and soon-to-open Plum and Toro in the same neighbourhood.

At Ishi, Masaaki prepares food in a minimally embellished open kitchen that is double or even triple the size of the food preparation area in a typical sushi-ya. The best seats in the house are therefore at the 12-seat hinoki wood counter that abuts the kitchen but those who prefer to dine in privacy are advised to book one of three private dining rooms that offer a total of 16 seats.

With five lunch sets priced from $48 (7 pieces) to $180 (omakase) and three dinner sets priced from $180 (7 pcs) to an omakase that starts from $300, the menu here is not unlike that of other upscale sushi-yas. But Masaaki makes an effort to set Ishi apart from the rest with a handful of distinct cooked courses.

Buri

From the $300 dinner omakase, Masaaki opens the meal with buri (yellowtail) from Toyama that he cooks ever so lightly shabu-shabu style before it arrives at the table with spinach, daikon and shimeji in an exhilarating ponzu sauce.

Charcoal grilled Miyazaki wagyu roll

Before the commencement of the sushi course, he serves what he considers to be Ishi’s signature – Miyazaki A5 wagyu rib rolled up and cooked briefly over the charcoal grill so that the meat is meltingly tender to the bite. To be eaten with crisp yet pungent garlic chips and freshly grated wasabi, the beef course is unusual for a sushi-ya but it sure is a highlight of the meal.

Goma tofu

Punctuating the two standout courses, Masaaki serves a tiny parcel of deep-fried homemade goma (sesame seeds) tofu in dashi topped with uni and wasabi. There is also a sashimi course comprising chutoro, torched four day-aged kinmedai (splendid alfonsino), hokkigai (surf clam) and shima aji (striped horse mackerel).

The sushi course, at about seven to eight pieces, is well paced with several items worthy of a mention because of their unique preparation.

Spanish mackerel with Tasmanian mustard sushi
Chef Masaaki dabbing home-made fermented Japanese green chilli on nodoguro sushi

Spanish mackerel is smoked, dabbed with Tasmanian mustard to cut the robust flavour of the fish and served atop a parcel of warm sushi rice. Masaaki also ferments his own Japanese green chilli with koji for three months and serves a dollop of it atop the nodoguro sushi for a dose of umami.

 

Hokkaido hairy crab bowl with uni and ikura

To finish,Masaaki serves a Hokkaido kegani (Hokkaido hairy crab) bowl topped with uni dusted with yuzu zest. Flanking it is a bowl of intensely savoury miso soup flavoured with the head of a botan ebi that appears earlier as sushi.

Instead of tamagoyaki, Masaaki serves negi toro maki to signal the completion of the meal, this perfectly complemented by the pickled stem of a mustard green as palate cleanser alongside some pickled daikon.

On your return trip, there are some items from the a la carte menu, available for both lunch and dinner for your consideration – tempura mori (S$25), wagyu beef steak (S$35), special rice bowl (S$68) and toro roll (S$60).

As for me, I’m quite happy to stay with the well executed dinner omakase.

1 Nanson Road, 02-06 InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay | +65-9828 8238 | robertsonquay.intercontinental.com/ishi

 

© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.
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