THIS. The pièce de résistance of my entire trip – two Michelin starred Sushi Kanesaka. I had wanted to try the Singapore outpost (Shinji at St Regis) for ages but the hefty price tag always put me off. However, now that I was in Japan, there was nothing that was going to stop me. My reservation had been made months in advance, the anticipation made all the worse by my random googling of reviews and ogling of pictures. It’s not uncommon to feel that all the hype kills the outcome and I was afraid that I was going to bitterly let down.
Let me just say upfront, Sushi Kanesaka was AMAZING and well deserving of its two Michelin stars.
Omakase at Sushi Kanesaka
Omakase, which literally means chef’s choice, doesn’t come cheap. That’s the only thing they serve and lunch sets go at 8000, 10,000 & 15,000 yen each. When I went, I was told those sets were sushi only and if I wanted a sashimi mix as well, there was an option for 20,000 and 30,000 yen. Not wanting to miss out, I went for the 20,000 yen set (around $250SGD).
When the sushi chef behind the counter found out I was Singaporean, he asked if I had heard of Shinji at the St Regis (which of course I have!!), He then proceeded to utter the following words,”Hi, I am Shinji Kanesaka, nice to meet you.” I was in a state of disbelief. I knew Kanesaka-San owned the restaurant but for some reason I never expected to be served by him. For the next few minutes, I kept poking a rather bemused C (my dining partner) and muttering,”OMG, we were being served by the man himself.”
There were a total of 21 courses served but the 10 mentioned below were the highlights of my meal.
With a knowing grin and flourish of Kanesaka-San’s knife, we got started.
I absolutely adore hairy crab. This was served cold with all the goodness of the roe at the bottom of the shell. I started out daintily with my chopsticks but by the end I was this close to licking the shell clean. I looked over at c and he nodded with approval. This was a sign of good things to come.
There was texture to this fish that I wasn’t expecting. Slightly crunchy, it had a subtle, sweet flavour. I was instructed to have one piece with wasabi and sauce, and the other with wasabi and salt. After I tried both, Kanesaka-San asked which I preferred. When I replied with the salt option, he let out a laugh and said, “You, you are Japanese!”
Divine. Perfectly marbled, I didn’t really have to chew at all.
I watched wide-eyed as Kanesaka-San pulled out a whole piece of abalone. He deftly sliced it into half, then into quarters and served two of those quarters to me. This was absolute heaven. I’ve never tasted abalone like this before. Compared to the usual canned stuff I usually get, this was incredibly sweet and tasted of the sea. The two pieces were gone before I knew it.
I didn’t manage to catch the name of this fish. All I know is that it starts with O and sounds something like “Odedoro?” No matter, it was to die for. I’ve never liked having skin with my fish but this was something else. The skin was light and crisp. It disappeared in my mouth. The meat of the fish was oily, delicious and I can taste it now while typing this. Ahhhh.
This was the start of the sushi courses and the end of sashimi. There were a total of 14 sushi courses that came fast and furious. Everything was so good but the few below were the ones that really made an impression. I was anxious to try the rice that Sushi Kanesaka was famous for. Boy was I in for a treat. Using a wet cloth at the side to wipe my fingers, I picked up my sushi by hand. The rice was amazing. It held its shape perfectly and yet, in my mouth, each grain was delicate, perfect, a gem.
Otoro (the fattiest part of the tuna)
This piece melted in my mouth. No chewing needed. Creaminess balanced out perfectly by the rice, I rolled it over my tongue and let it slowly dissolve. It was bliss.
I managed to fit the whole sushi into my mouth which was no mean feat because the prawn was huge. The tip of the head where all the lovely prawn juices are was included, which gave a nice umami flavour.
Truthfully I thought I would hate this but I am now a convert! No fishiness at all. A little slit made in the fish which allows the garnish to poke its head out was a nice touch.
This was THE BOMB. I had seen Kanesaka-San pull out the uni box for other customers and couldn’t wait till it was my turn. Uni is my absolute favourite and I made a point of ordering it everywhere I could in Japan. I’ve never tasted bad uni, how could you, when it’s just an explosion in your mouth? Nothing comes close to this piece though. Crisp seaweed paired with the creaminess of the uni that had a very clean, rich, briny flavour.
With some miso soup, we were served maki and tamago.I was incredibly sad to see the tamago make an appearance, a clear sign that the omakase is coming to an end. But that disappointment quickly turned into awe when I bit into the tamago. It was nothing like I tasted before – dense with a custard texture. I savoured every bite. Next to me, a Japanese couple was conversing with Kanesaka-San, gesturing to their own tamago. I was kicking myself for not being more diligent in Japanese class as Kanesaka-San was clearly describing the process of how he made the tamago.
So that concluded my omakase experience. I had just gotten the bill and was about to keep my camera when Kanesaka-san leaned over and gestured to himself, “picture?” And that, was the perfect end to a perfect meal.
B/F, Misuzu Building, 8-10-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku,Tokyo
T: + 81 3 5568 4411
Images provided by Kerri Teo. Sashimi courses not pictured were baby octopus and bamboo shoots. Sushi courses not pictured included red snapper, maguro ( tuna ), chutoro ( medium fatty tuna) clam, octopus, kohada (sardine), anago (eel), ika (squid),and bonito.
Sushi Kanesaka at Tokyo Ginza was our winner for Week 3 of the Be a Food Writer competition.