International Plaza has been en bloc and its fate will be in the hands of the new owners. Last chance to go and try out some good eats in the building.
Kan Sushi 寛寿司 was one the first shops to open in International Plaza. The first time I ate the Kan was in the earlier part of this century when my office was just above. Hidden in a corner of the second floor (alongside a sleazy massage parlour and many tailor shops), the restaurant came across as a little secret gem. It was packed with a mainly Japanese clientele eating their lunch sets, and then in the evening, the mood change and they served omakase style sushis and meals.
Since then they have expanded into the next shop and renovated the place. Chef Kan has also gone to their Robertson Quay shop, and this shop is now helmed by another Japanese chef.
Springtime in Toyama
Toyama Bay is dubbed “nature’s fish tank” for the short distance between fishing grounds and port. This treasure trove of marine resources is home to both warm-water and cool-water fish, which are hauled to shore fresh.
The Mystery of Toyoma Bay
Hotaru ika or firefly squids are found on the shores of Japan in springtime during spawning season, but spend most of their life in deeper waters between 200 and 400 metres. These bioluminescent molluscs emit blue light from photophores, hence the nickname “fireflies”. Before you nature lovers start leaving comments that we should not harm these cute creatures, please note that the lifespan of a firefly squid is about one year. At the end of their lives females return close to shore to release their eggs, and then die shortly thereafter.
This mass migration of firefly squid to the shore is a lucrative business for Japanese fishermen, and during spawning season many go out to the bays to collect the dying squid. Many more also visit Japan during spawning season to see the bright blue light created from the firefly squid’s bioluminescence light up the bay, making their spawning season not only a fishing opportunity but also a tourist attraction.
The Jewels of Toyoma Bay
The broad velvet shrimp is dubbed the “jewel of Toyama” for the beauty of its transparent pink coloring. Only in Toyama is this crustacean caught in larger volumes as fishing techniques advance. Shiro ebi are in season beginning in the springtime. Young shiro ebi are quite small, so many of them are used to form a single piece of nigiri or gunkanmaki.
Lunch Sushi Omakase 9 Pieces 寿司 おまかせ ９貫
All ingredients are freshly shipped from Japan weekly.
The omakase is different from the regular 9 piece set menu as it draws from the daily specials to form the selection. And there’s the 12 piece and 15 piece choices as well.
Among the daily specials, the Matsukawa garei (barfin flouder), tachiuo (beltfish) and shiro ebi (white baby shrimps) stood out to be the finer, less popular selections. Besides the daily specials, chutoro (medium fatty tuna belly) and ikura (salmon roe) sushis were all part of the repertoire. Ended with a beautifully done tamagoyaki (rolled egg omelette) as the perfect tenth piece.
Come with a miso soup and, of course, cut watermelon. No exactly the exquisite end to a sushi-ya omakase meal, but for the price ($60++) this would do.
A la Carte Sushi
Added a few extra items from the daily specials.
A signal for springtime, Hotaru Ika ホタルイカ Firefly Squid from Toyama 富山 is sought after throughout Japan for its seasonality. The bioluminescent creature will make its appearance for a brief period before disappearing against to wait for the next spring. I love it for the intense squid taste condensed into such a small size.
Akagai 赤貝 Ark Shell is the giant cousin of our local cockle, also known as the blood clam 血蚶. It has the same sweetness and shellfish taste but has a crunchier texture.
Uni 雲丹 Sea Urchin is my favourite sushi, even more than otoro. Hakkaido Bafun uni was used here, and the creaminess and umami simply overwhelmed my mouth as I put the whole thing in one go.
Ayu 鮎 Sweetfish is one of my favourite Japanese native fish. Ayu is a freshwater fish and a cousin of the trout. It is seasonal and only those caught in summer are primed for consumption. So in Japan, grilled ayu is a sign of summertime. 鮎の塩焼き Grilled sweetfish with salt is the best way to eat these beautiful tasting fish, which has a very light taste and a sweet aftertaste. Many would gut the innards, but I love them intact even though they are bittersweet. These days you can get farmed ones from Taiwan, but the wild caught ones are still the best.
And to finish the meal, Tekka Maki 鉄火巻 Tuna Roll was my usual choice. In Japanese tekka-ba 鉄火場 means a place for a gamble, and it is said that the word derives from players becoming heated up like heated steel. The name of tekka-maki 鉄火巻 is derived from rice rolls being eaten in places for gambles.
The place is still value for money after all these years. The 9 piece omakase has only raised $5 in price since I last ate here in 2016. The freshness of the seafood was outstanding for this meal I had, and the grilled ayu was the best I had in Singapore. But it was still breaking at the seam, the service staff forgot my order, did not give me shoyu for the sushi, and took away the serving plate even though I had a la carte orders of sushis.
Food wise, they are outstanding and offer a lot of variety that one would only find in top sushi-ya. They are still shipping fresh fish every week from Japan’s Toyosu Market, so the best time to visit is the next day when the shipment arrives. They refused to tell me when.
Kan Sushi Tanjong Pagar 寛寿司 ダンジョンパガー
10 Anson Road #02-54 International Plaza
Tel : +65 6221 3678
Visited in Apr 2022