Is there Kaiseki in Shanghai? The purists will frown but tonight we got the answers at Sushi Takumi.
Sushi Takumi is one of the best venues to celebrate Japan’s finest cuisine. Omakase, which loosely translates to “I will leave it up to you,” is an elaborate multi-course meal that may be considered to be the ultimate Japanese dining experience. Besides the sushi omakase, they do a Kaiseki-style set menu that offered the same meticulous courses as a Kaiseki.
シェフ特選おまかせコース Chef’s Special Selection Course
The full omakase experience will take 2 and half hours to complete, the waitress warned us as we ordered.
前菜 Amuse bouche
The zensai course (also known as Sakizuke 先附) is like amuse bouche in French fine dining, a little teaser of what’s to come. The little appetiser was hotate (scallop) and uni (sea urchin) dressed with a simple ponzu, like a ceviche. The ingredients were very fresh, so we would expect a very high quality dinner tonight. Decorated with shiso flowers, the peppery herb gave it some dimension together with the freshly grated wasabi.
The hassun course consisted of 5 different appetisers.
お椀 Lidded Course
The o-wan course (also known as the Futamono 蓋物) consisted traditionally of a dish in a covered lacquered bowl which is a simmered dish of fish or something special. Tonight, we were served the conger eel (hamo).
The best season for conger eel is from July to August. It looks like an eel, but tastes not so greasy as a freshwater eel (unagi). It is rich in flavour and worth many steps of preparation to make the many soft bones manageable. The eel is prepared in the shimofuri-style — a brisk dip in boiling water before an immediate plunge in iced water to create the trademark curling of the meat. Watershield ジュンサイ (蓴菜) was added for that crunch and special slimy texture.
特選造り Special Sashimi
The next course is the sashimi course. Called tsukuri, it usually highlights the seasonal catch of the day. Chef has included the otoro cut of the bluefin tuna, botanebi (botan shrimp), uni-ika (sea urchin and squid) roll, and several cuts of white fish typical of summer like kinmedai and kanpachi.
焼き物 Grilled Course
For the yakimono course, a piece of medai with its scales still intact was used. The fatty fish was grilled, and the scales were deep fried to give that crispy texture.
You can eat the whole thing, which tasted like crispy fried chicken skin.
酢の物 Vinegared Course
Next the sunomono course which served as the palate cleanser before we moved into the main courses.
King crab and watershield with sweet vinegar gelee, very refreshing. Hokkaido king crab legs were used. The sweetness of the kani went well with the slimy, crunchy texture of the watershield.
蒸し物 Steamed Course
For the mushimono course, a steamed Hokkaido oyster with ponzu dressing and spicy grated radish as condiment. The cold sea around Akkeshi Bay in the northernmost part of Hokkaido is rich in the phytoplankton that oysters feed on, and provides optimum temperatures even in the summertime, making it possible to grow and harvest Pacific oysters year-round.
強肴 Main Course
The shiizakana course (also known as Dai no mono 台の物 or “things on a plate”) is usually the highlight of the evening. For the Chef’s special, this was abalone rice with liver sauce. A whole abalone was cooked perfectly tender and placed on shari rice and poured on a sauce made with the abalone’s innards. Delicious, especially the sauce, even though it looked like vomit.
揚げ物 Fried Course
This was not mentioned in the menu, but they provided a deep fried item (agemono) on their Kaiseki course.
The menacing little crab had been deep fried to a crisp. I once snacked on these red crabs for a bar snack in Hong Kong and went into hospital for allergy in the middle of the night, so I gave it a miss. But the deep fried sea urchin wrapped in shiso leaf was rarely found in Shanghai.
握りおまかせ五貫 5 Pieces of Nigiri Sushi
From left – Tamago, otoro, hachibiki, akagai, akami zuke and hiramasa.
The sushi were served at room temperature, which was what we would get at a sushiya in Japan. The akagai (ark shell) was washed in vinegared water, then carefully butterflied and sliced as pictured above, a technique used only with Japan sourced shellfish. Hiramasa (yellowtail amberjack) is a fairly rare and expensive fish, so while it is pretty well known in Japan, it tends to only be served in high-end sushi shops outside of the country.
赤味噌 Red Miso
Tome-wan (止椀) served together with sushi omakase. Red miso, also known as aka miso, is a fermented soybean paste with a dark red or reddish-brown hue. It is stronger in taste than the normal white miso.
自家製甘物盛り House dessert
The dessert course included a portion of the homemade almond pudding, and several pieces of fruits, including the in-season lychee. While the Muscat grape and husk melon were not exactly from Japan, it was a far cry from fruits produced in China 10 years ago.
紅楓おまかせコース Red Maple Selections
The hassun, o-wan, and yakimono courses were similar to the Chef’s Selection, so I would not repeat them here. But this was a cheaper version, so there were some variations on the tsukuri, shiizakana, agemono, and nigiri sushi courses.
Instead of botan ebi, otoro, the sashimi selection had chutoro, akagai (cockle, my favourite), and hamachi. Very fresh, definitely one of the best sashimi assortment in Shanghai.
強肴 Main Course
The main course was a fillet of kinmedai simmered in seaweed broth. Not really exciting compared with the other course, it was a beautiful piece of fish nevertheless.
揚げ物 Fried Course
The agemono course was a piece of hamo tempura.
握りおまかせ七貫 7 pieces of Nigiri Sushi
From left : aji, akami zuke, kinmedai, tai
From left : shima ebi, chutoro, tamago
For this selection, the tamago was considered one of the 7 pieces. The chutoro was a veiny cut, which made the shima ebi the best tasting of the seven.
The Japanese word 匠 Takumi represents the mastery, the artisan spirit of someone who is on top of his/her art. It is reflected in every aspect of Japanese life, and one can only claim takumi if you get recognise from your peers.
Located next to Le Verre à Vin (No 1221 Changle Lu), you would have missed the entrance if you have not looked hard enough. It only had a six-seater sushi counter, and three private dining rooms. But out of this small little outfit is mastery and perfection in the art of sushi omakase. It is not exactly Kyoto-style Kaiseki in terms of elaborate technique and flavours, or Osaka-style in terms of variety and value. It is by far the best Kaiseki I have had in China.
鮨たくみ Sushi Takumi
1221-2 Changle Rd, Shanghai
Tel : +86 (021) 5403-5521
Date Visited : Jul 2021