Sushi Masaaki by Masaaki Sakashita

Chef Masaaki Sakashita

Decadence knows no bounds in Singapore’s now-competitive sushi-dining scene and each new opening brings something a little more luxe to the hinoki wood table. But from $120++ at lunch and $280++ at dinner (two seatings), you could have a slice of these luxuries and then some – sushi – by Kyoto-born chef Masaaki Sakashita, formerly of Ishi and Hashida Sushi.

Gucci wallpaper-clad murals of dancing cranes
Semi-octagonal hinoki wood counter

Enter the recently-opened Sushi Masaaki, Sakashita’s airy Takenouchi Webb-designed sushi-ya with Gucci wallpaper-clad pink murals of dancing cranes in the lobby and an okudo – a rustic stone charcoal hearth – taking centrestage in an open kitchen that abuts, unusually enough, a semi-octagonal hinoki wood counter.

At dinner, the $280++ menu is your ticket to nigiri epiphany, this is particularly for hardcore sushi aficionados who prefer no distractions from cooked food and sashimi. But for a more complete omakase experience, Sakashita prescribes the $380++ dinner omakase.

Grilled Hokkaido scallop nori “sandwich”
Abalone with liver sauce
Hokkaido hairy crab, eggplant, uni

Opening with two snacks, one a thick chunk of bincho-grilled Hokkaido scallop sandwiched in nori, the $380++ menu is substantial and also comes with a sashimi platter as well as cooked items like the sake and kombu-cooked Nagasaki abalone served with the mollusk’s own liver sauce as well as Hokkaido hairy crab with eggplant and uni in thick dashi gravy craddled in a beautiful Japanese-crafted vessel.

The sushi course is no pushover, itself a parade of 9 pieces of nigiri, each showcasing skilfully-sliced neta on warm (some warmer than others) hand-pressed shari tempered with a blend of three types of vinegar including the akazu red vinegar.

Sakashita’s opening nigiri is a triumph of triple-decked slivers of shima aji for an elevated play of textures. His kawahagi (leatherjacket fish) nigiri, served with the fish’s own liver within, arrives on shari that still exudes intense warmth, nudging the liver into a melty, creamy submission. As far as the neta goes, his hokigai (surf clams), blanched for 3 to 5 seconds then bincho-aburi, delivers the most intense of textures, soft to the bite yet with an immense crunch. His smoked Spanish mackerel nigiri delivers a long finish transcendental smokiness, rightly tempered with a dose of mildly flavoured mustard seeds.

Uni cake

But as far as uni goes, a tongue is never going to be enough to satiate the appetite of Singapore’s sea urchin-loving crowd. To that end, Sakashita presents the uni cake – a tray of sea urchin cut into towering rectangular blocks, served balancing precariously over wasabi-smeared shari and crowned with caviar, a winning act that is sure to accord the course its signature status.

Some sushiyas get away with no desserts, others serve a tamagoyaki as the concluding course. Sakashita makes sure you end his omakase dinner on a carefully-calibrated sugary high. Not one but three sweets – muskmelon and shine muscat, warabi mochi with Okinawa brown sugar and a finale of Hokkaido milk ice-cream. All excellent as it should be.

In the cut-throat world of upscale sushi omakase, Sushi Masaaki’s $380++ dinner omakse surely ranks amongst one of the best value-for-money options. No?

26 Beach Road, #B1-17 South Beach Avenue, Singapore 189768; +65 6388 1555;

© Evelyn Chen 2020

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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