Dad has had the opportunity to travel to Singapore and Brunei in recent months for work and has gotten a few meals in. He was gracious enough to chronicle one of his awesome sushi experiences in Singapore in a guest post. Thanks Dad!!
The experience of Shiraishi Restaurant, Singapore, May 2009
It does seem odd that our family, that came from grandparents who were essentially meat-and-potatoes raised, has become such fans of the fin. Perhaps it started when Grandpa Podolny (William) became so engaged with the Japanese in his business relationships and it has blossomed ever since, being reinforced by my own travels to Asia, by my brother Richard’s many experiences in Japan and now our daughters’ various travels to China and further abroad.
Meat and Potatoes notwithstanding, there does always seem to be a compulsion for the search for perfection, and I admit that I succumb, especially when I am in Asia and have a free evening to myself. Unfortunately none of my traveling colleagues share the passion for poisson to the degree of our family, so it is not something that I can persuade, especially considering the price.
So when the planets aligned and I found myself with a free evening in Singapore, which has to be among the top foodie cities in the world, the pursuit was on. A little internet research and a recommendation from the concierge at the St. Regis, and I had a reservation at Shiraishi, a tiny sushi bar located in the Ritz Carlton Millennia Singapore. I hesitated at first, the restaurant being in a hotel, forgetting briefly that outside of the USA, the finer hotels also have the finer restaurants. I was also a little skeptical since the online reviews for all of the top-end sushi/sashimi places were only mediocre. But I don’t really trust other reviewers of sushi restaurants, since the absence of a California roll, for me, is a plus.
Shiraishi has sixteen seats and tables for ten. It is small. There were four sushi chefs upfront and four wait-staff. A very good ratio so the service was perfect.
Minimalist setting to go with the minimalist presentation
My goal was to try the very best and most unusual sushi/sashimi in the house. Shiraishi is a “fugu” rated restaurant, but alas, the poison poisson was out of season. I left the menu up to the chef along with a budget (what a distortion of terms). What followed was an interesting, unusual and delicious presentation of about twelve different courses – most of which focused on a single fish.
A first course on-the-house “amuse bouche” did make me worry a little bit though. It was a dark tuna in small pieces with several flavorings including onion, soy, and sesame. But I was tasting “tuna fish salad.” Things got much better in a hurry. As an alternative to edamame, there was dadachamame (maybe), a sort of cross between lima beans and soy beans, boiled and salted edamame style. This had a lot more substance than the edamame, with almost a sweet potato flavor.
The next course was a mixed sashimi. The presentation included a white fish, very thinly sliced, almost transparent, with ponzu sauce, and then four or five other types including amebi, Kampachi (like hamachi), and what was to be the star of the evening: an absolutely luscious Ohtoro (very fatty tuna). These other fishes enjoyed freshly made wasabi and two kinds of fresh herbs that first decorated the plate and then under the chef’s direction were added to the soya mix.
Annoyed that the amebi was missing a very crucial part, I calmed down when the tempura battered shrimp head and tail appeared as a separate course on a teeny-tiny plate of its own.
Then came the parade of sushi. One piece per serving – a size just perfect to fill the mouth, a minimum of sushi rice – and advice on each piece ("no soya on this one").
Here’s the round-up:
Ohtoro – Awesome
Kampachi – A perennial favorite (same as “hamachi?)
Uni and Ikura – From Hokaido. A very interesting juxtaposition
Kohada – “…no soy on this one…”
Anago– Perhaps the only real disappointment. Too bland and mushy.
Akami (tuna) with oshinko
There were three more, but I’m sorry I can’t recall what they were!
The finale was a nigiri sushi combo. Three pieces each: back for an encore the Negitoromaki – Fatty tuna & welsh onion roll and then a riff on Kappamaki, a delicious miniature cucumber with Umeshiso spicy pickled plum sauce.
Green tea, the house sake, and three bite-size pieces of a perfect “honeydew” melon rounded out the meal.
This was a strictly minimalist approach to the fish. At other ‘high-end’ sushi shops, there is typically, and I quite enjoy, the artistry of the presentation. Here, this was kept to a minimum – no reproduction of the Imperial Palace done in daikon and wasabi. Aside from this minor observation, it was a very pleasurable meal which could only have been better if shared with my sushi afficionado family.
Thanks Dad! Great post. Now when are we going out for sushi??
X & E