Singaporeans’ love for sushi knows no bounds. Just scroll through your Instagram feed and the flood of sushi-related posts, particularly at impossible-to-get-into sushi-yas in Tokyo, is guaranteed to trigger major “foodporn” envy.
But why go the distance when we have access to great sushi-yas in our own backyard?
How do we define “great”, you ask.
Consider a particular chef’s eye for detail at the 12-seat Sushi Kimura. Mineral-rich water bottled from Daisetsu Asahidake Spring for the sushi and cooked dishes. Grade A Tsuya-hime organic rice from Yamagata Prefecture for that mild sweetness and umami in your shari (sushi rice). To cut the richness of the neta (the ingredient that tops the sushi), organic Fujisu vinegar imported from Iio Jozo, arguably the best rice vinegar maker in Japan and the only one to have its own local farmers growing organic rice for them. That’s not to mention the number one-rated seaweed in Japan from the Ariake sea in Kumamoto Prefecture to go with your degustation of uni.
Welcome to the eponymous sushi-ya of chef-owner, Tomoo Kimura. The former opening executive chef of Sushi Ichi and Hashida has a smiley, almost boyish charm that belies his 22 years of solid experience in edomae sushi-making craft. But make no mistake, this chef has a way with his sushi.
For OCBC Gastronomic Adventures, Kimura has created an OCBC tasting menu for lunch and dinner, each showcasing two special OCBC dishes.
The star of the show is Kimura’s nigiri course (four kinds at lunch and six at dinner), crafted with organic white rice and artisan Japanese rice vinegar. During your visit, the sushi master may serve you in-season kasugodai (spring baby snapper, available until May) salted and marinated in sweet vinegar, or an unusually fatty-in-spring wild-caught kuromutsu (black sea perch), each draped over a parcel of warm, hand-pressed rice.
But for the OCBC menu, Kimura will field two additional pieces of sushi using brown rice from the same organic farmer as neta. The first is topped with a layer of lean but umami-rich Akami Tzuke (soy sauce marinated red meat of tuna) and then, bincho-torched Otoro (fattiest part of the tuna) with a richness underscored by a smoky tang. According to the Yokohama native who is a traditionalist and purist at heart, he decided to explore making sushi with brown rice after his rice farmer developed this high quality brown rice that does not have its characteristic rice-germ flavour and fibrous texture. True enough, the brown rice does not overwhelm the nigiri sushi and provides a perfect foil for the meaty akami cut and omega 3 fatty acids-rich otoro.
For the second OCBC special dish, Kimura serves nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) marinated in shoyu-koji miso (soy sauce with miso and rice malt) alongside slabs of in-season charcoal-grilled bamboo shoots from Fukuoka. Compared to soy sauce, shoyu-koji miso is decidedly milder but richer in umami. Not only does it elevate the savouriness of the nodoguro but tenderises its flesh so that it cuts easily, almost like butter.
For OCBC guests, Kimura also makes an effort to serve his opening fixture a little differently – folds of Kyoto yuba (crafted with Fushimi water) with globs of dashi jelly arrives with an extra touch of luxe by way of caviar pearls and gold flakes.
The best season for Hokkaido hairy crab starts in summer but that does not mean that the spring offering is sub-par. Kimura chooses to serve his Oita egg chawanmushi in the gigantic shell of the critter with an intoxicating homemade broth of sweet vinegar and onion. To top it off, the white and luscious flesh of the crab with streaks of coral headlines the dish.
More luxury ingredients follow at dinner.
A highlight is black abalone from Nagasaki, Kyushu, that Kimura simmers in junmai sake for seven to eight hours. The plump mollusc is served in a pool of abalone cooking liquid flanked by slices of foraged wild shiitake, from the chef’s hometown of Hayama Zushi, a rare sighting even in Japan.
It does not stop there, a degustation of seasonal uni (sea urchin) follows – bafun from Rishiri (available whole year round), murasaki from Aomori (season just started and will last all the way to August) and ensui murasaki from Funkawan Bay (ensui uni is usually available as bafun but there are exceptions like this). The trio of uni is served in a bowl alongside what Kimura considers to be the best nori in Japan -toasted sheets of nori harvested from the Ariake sea in Kumamoto Prefecture. Uni lovers should not miss this.
Sushi Kimura serves a special OCBC Gastronomic Adventures menu at lunch ($250++ for an eight-course tasting menu comprising a sushi course with six kinds of sushi) and dinner ($400++ for a ten-course tasting menu comprising a sushi course with eight kinds of sushi). VOYAGE Cardmembers are entitled to a special sake pairing of $70++ per person for four glasses (usual price $150++). Find out more about OCBC’s exclusively curated menus at ocbc.com/gastronomy.
390 Orchard Road #01-01 Palais Renaissance, Singapore 238 871; +65-8428 0073; sushikimura.com.sg
This post is presented to you in partnership with OCBC.