The lockdown has different effect on different people. For me, it’s the fact that I cannot travel and enjoy the different cuisine of different places. I have really missed sushi in Japan. And finally in Phase 2, we can dine a fine sushi bar.
Our favourite Japanese restaurant in Raffles City has always been Mikuni. Because of the Feed at Raffles card, we can enjoy a very outstanding Japanese fine dining at half price. However, the dining benefits is no more, so we started to look for others.
Located at where the bakery used to be, Koji Sushi Bar now stands. We decided to give it a try.
Nigiri Sushi Omakase
The omakase is a 10-piece nigiri sushi dinner decided by the chef. Omakase is short for “omakase shimasu,” which roughly means “I trust you, [chef].” For an experience built on trust, the customer must feel comfortable and open to new experiences, but be vocal about the foods they cannot or will not eat.
The sushi plate is placed on the counter, the pickled ginger is in place, and off we go into a journey of the familiar yet unknown.
1/10 Akami (本鮪) marinated tuna from Nagasaki aged for 9 days
True to the traditional style, Koji serves the maguro sushi in the akami zuke form, i.e. the tuna has been marinated with shoyu and aged over a period of time, intensifying the flavour and texture of the fish while keeping it visually appealing. There’s not need to dab it with more sauce, it is really to eat on its own. The shari is slightly warm, and the fish is extremely smooth from the marinating. Great first piece.
2/10 Tai (鯛) sea bream with lime and Himalayan salt
There are many types of fish that are considered tai, but the true Japanese sea bream is quite rare in Singapore. This is however not my lucky night. The tai was quite ordinary. Most likely my least favourite piece of nigiri tonight.
3/10 Hirame (平目) Japanese flounder
Hirame is a pretty tasteless white fish in my own opinion. It is often included for the texture as the taste is rather subtle. Winter is considered the best time to serve hirame in Japan, and the lean, delicate flavor of winter hirame is the epitome of white-fleshed fish. Hirame harvested in the summer is mushy and fattier.
4/10 Shima-aji (縞鯵) striped jack
Shima-aji is a warm water fish and the season that it is found is between June to August. Only very high-end sushi-ya serve wild-caught shima-aji. The fish is aged for a couple of days and it develops a buttery flavour. Delicious.
5/10 Isaki (伊佐木) chicken grunt
It is served aburi to give a smoky flavour to the fats under the skin, but it totally crushed the delicate taste of the fish. Destroyed the tane (red band) under skin and the translucent white lower layer that was supposed to be sweet and delicate.
6/10 Kinmedai (金目鯛) golden eye snapper
This deep- water fish offers a balanced texture that is not too soft or too crunchy. Also known as the splendid alfonsino in Japan, this fish is served with some of its shiny red skin on.
7/10 Shime saba (鯖) marinated mackerel
Saba is almost always served marinated. I only had it served nama (fresh) in Japan. Koji has only lightly salted it, retaining most of the fish original taste, and slightly marinated in vinegar, which is delightful. So it can be served with just a simple smear of nikiri and scallions.
8/10 Uni (ウニ) sea urchin
Uni has always been my favourite part of the omakase. The edible part of the sea urchin is its reproductive system (ovaries / gonads) which is creamy, briny and deliciously sweet. Served as gunkanmaki. this particular specimen is the famed Bafun uni from Hokkaido.
9/10 Otoro (大トロ) fatty tuna
This is a fancy nigiri sushi that one would seldom see in Japan’s sushi-ya.
The cut of otoro used is not the top cut, I reckon it is towards the belly and veiny part of the bluefin tuna. Nevertheless it is fatty and full of the toro flavour, just not a top premium cut.
A piece of Wakayama binchotan has been placed on a gas stove, glowing red like a torturer’s tool reading to be branded on the flesh of the prisoner.
And then the piece of otoro is branded with the amber red charcoal to cause an instant sear on the fish. You can hear the hissing sound, you can smell the caramelising of fats from the otoro, you can see the charred marks on the pink flesh of the fish. How barbaric, how painful, how exciting.
Has it enhanced the flavour? Yes and no. Yes, because of the cut, the veiny parts are made more crunchy with the searing. No, it has not enhanced the taste.
10/10 Hotate (帆立) scallops with truffle pearl
Hokkaido scallop is topped with Italian truffle pearl. The juice of the fine Italian black truffles are processed into fine caviar-like jet black pearls that glisten and provide the beauty of fine caviar and maintain an outstanding and bold aroma and flavour of the finest fresh Italian truffles. Wow, the burst of truffle and sweetness from the scallops when you put the whole thing in your mouth.
Encore – shime-saba with Himalayan salt
I asked for a single order of the saba, but this time with salt instead of shoyu. I regretted it.
The omakase came with a choice of black sesame or matcha ice cream topped with sweetened red bean paste.
OK, the omakase wasn’t filling enough for us so we added a chirashi-don to end the evening with. It came with bits of fish, I was surprised to see that they threw in some hotate, uni and chutoro, and complete the surprise with an onsen egg.
The don came with a salad and a miso soup. I was surprised that the omakase did not include a miso soup or maki to mark the end of the meal.
Koji Sushi Bar
The place included a sushi counter that sits around 20 on a normal day. Now, it can take 10. This would be the best seat of the house, but it is reserved for those that ordered omakase. So if you want to seat at the counter and see all the action, call in advance and reserve – there are seatings and limited portions everyday.
Once you are seated, the drinks order are taken, and then you wait for the meal. No small talk, no excess interaction like a sushi-ya in Japan. And because we are in Phase 2, the chefs are not talkative too.
However I do recommend Koji – the sushi plates are reasonably priced for the quality of the fish served. Try other fish besides tuna and salmon, they serve really good choices at a fraction of the high-end prices. Two locations – the other is closer to the CBD.
Koji Sushi Bar (Raffles City)
252 North Bridge Road, #03-28A Raffles City Shopping Centre Singapore 179103
Tel : 6493 0122
Date Visited : Jul 2020
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