This is the most expensive sushi-ya in Shanghai. Sometime you wonder if it is worthwhile. You will never know if you never try.
割烹 (かっぽう) Kappa simply means ‘to cut and to cook’ and focuses a lot on the season’s highlights, and offers a dining experience that is much more casual, an open kitchen rooted in the chef-patron relationship.
The 板前 (いたまえ) Itamae must go through many years of experience of perennial cooked food, from the selection of fish, ingredients, seasoning. By taking seasonal ingredients and integrating the various cooking methods of Japanese cuisine to highlight the characteristics of ingredient, the omakase meal can be tailored for different guests. Such an impromptu performance is the highest level of Japanese cuisine.
The ingredients are mostly flown to Shanghai from Toyosu Market, Tokyo and directly from Hokkaido and Nagasaki.
ズワイガニのカニ肉団子 | Snow Crab with Crab Meat Ball
The meal started atypically with a clear soup. A single piece of snow crab leg delicately balanced on a crab meat ball in a clear dashi.
I was starting to get worried about the rest of the meal, as it was the most expensive omakase I have been to in Shanghai.
金目鯛 刺生 | Kinmedai Sashimi
Kinmedai (Splendid alfonsino) served as sashimi, the fish is perfect at this time of the year. Served with 海ぶどう sea grapes and a really spicy chilli sauce.
ぼたんえび うにソース | Botanebi with Sea Urchin Sauce
I have always loved the botan prawn for its delectable texture and incredibly sweet flavour. It was coupled with sea urchin sauce and topped with blue caviar of the wild scampi and Oscietra caviar. Also known as ‘Sapphires of the Ocean’, the Blue Caviar is the roe of Wild Scampi harvested in the waters of Australia. The naturally blue roe season is only between November to March, during which the scampi are hand-harvested, their roe hand-sorted and collected with no additives other than salt.
中トロ サバ ズワイガニ 太巻き | Tuna Belly Mackerel Snow Crab Futomaki Roll
This futomaki has no rice in it! It was filled cured saba, chutoro, zuwaikani legs and finely cut cucumber strips all wrapped in nori with oboro. Nothing else.
Futomaki 太巻きis a thick and fat sushi roll with colorful fillings. On February 3rd, the day of Setsubun (節分, the day before the beginning of spring in Japan), the same sushi roll is called ehō-maki 恵方巻, which is basically an uncut futomaki roll.
のれそれポン酢 花穗 | Noresore with Ponzu Sauce, Perilla Flower
Noresore, or baby conger eels, are one of the world’s rarest delicacies as they are only available for two weeks a year during the Japanese spring. The noresore was served as an appetiser where the smooth and silky texture of the noresore was almost akin to noodles. Perilla flowers added for good measure for their peppery taste.
ホタテ焼き 生雲丹 | Grilled Hokkaido Scallop with Sea Urchin
This next appetiser was a flavour bomb – sweetness from a whole aburi Hokkaido scallop combined with the umami from fresh Bafun sea urchin wrapped with a piece of nori.
牡蠣のトリュフポン酢和え | Oyster with truffle ponzu glaze
Huge Iwagaki oyster 岩牡蠣 was used for this dish. Iwagaki oysters are wild giant oysters that come from the deep cold water of the Japan Sea. Served with a jelly infused with truffle and ponzu sauce.
子持ちの槍烏賊 | Pregnant Spear Squid
Komochi yari-ika 子持ちの槍烏賊 is pregnant spear squid filled with its own eggs. It is deliciously creamy, rich, and tender. Served with a piece of stewed Yodo daikon and freshly grated wasabi.
淀大根 | Yodo Daikon
Yodo daikon 淀大根 is named after the place it is cultivated in the Yodo area located in the southern part of Kyoto. It is also called Seigoin daikon 聖護院大根 after the monastery that it was found cultivated. This variety of daikon is sweet and does not have the bitter after taste and is perfect for oden and can be eaten raw like a fruit. Seasonal ingredients are known not only for being delicious but also for their high nutritional value; the season of Yodo daikon radish is now in season from November to mid-February.
タチウオ 塩焼き | Grilled Beltfish with Salt Seasoning
Tachiuo (silver belt ﬁsh) finished with salt, myoga ginger, lime and pickled plum. The great thing about this you taste the sweetness of the fish as well as the smokiness of the grilled side and skin. Delicious.
白子のから揚げ | Deep Fried Cod Milt
If eating fish semen is not something you would do, look away now. But this is a delicacy typically in season from October to February. Shirako 白子 is the male equivalent to caviar. It comes from wild caught fish like cod (tara in Japanese), whose testes are harvested from the belly, cleaned and portioned for consumption. Deep fried with a light sprinkling karaage powder, the shirako was creamy and a strangely good eat.
ほたるいかの煮物 | Boiled Firefly Squid
This is one of my favourite snack from Japan. Hotaruika ほたるいか (Firefly Squid) usually 2-3 inches long, is found in the deep sea of Japan and only comes up to the surface to spawn. The taste is bold and briny, but not too “fishy”; extremely umami, with some bite that is similar to that of squid.
12貫握壽司 | 12 Pieces Nigiri Sushi
Next up the main attraction of tonight’s omakase dinner – 12 pieces of specially selected Nigiri sushi that feature the freshest and seasonal fish for the time of the year. This nigiri sushi selection was definitely detrimental to my carbon footprint.
The supply chain for the high-coveted bluefin tuna is highly regulated. From the auction in Toyosu Wholesale Market in Tokyo to the wholesales to the individual resellers, thousands depend on this prized fish for their livelihood. Tonight we were having 三宅島 中トロ Chutoro from Miyakejima sourced from マグロ仲卸「石司」Tuna Wholesaler “Ishiji”. This tuna was caught off an island just off the coast of Tokyo Bay.
鉄火巻き・かっぱ巻き | Tekka Maki • Kappa Maki
This course came as complimentary of the chef as he was afraid that we were not full. He asked what I would like. Without missing a heartbeat I asked for tekka and kappa maki.
I always finished my sushi meals with the tekka maki 鉄火巻き, literally named “iron fire roll” because it resembles a hot iron rod in the middle. This maki has a similar origin like the sandwich but it was a Baron, but the working class on the docks of Tokyo. And the kappa maki かっぱ巻き was a great refreshing maki to fill you up. This sushi is originally named after the Japanese ‘kappa’ monster, a river imp, who adores cucumbers.
Pinkglow Pineapple from Costa Rica
“OMG where did you find this!?” “It’s soooo pink!” Yep, pink pineapple – genetically modified from the normal pineapple by Del Monte scientists to lower the enzymes that convert lycopene to beta carotene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed and it exists naturally in pineapples as well, but pineapples also contain enzymes that convert the lycopene into another molecule, beta carotene, which is gives them their yellow colour. So lower levels of this enzyme let the pineapple stays pink.
The pink pineapples were slightly juicier and less bitter than their yellow counterparts. Del Monte describes the pink-hued fruit as “extra-sweet”, but tonight it was not going to be.
Fukuoka muskmelon 福岡マスクメロン
Out of a variety of muskmelons, the Fukuoka muskmelon 福岡マスクメロン that’s currently being harvested in Hamamatsu is the highest quality known as the Crown Melon. It combines an elegant, delicate sweetness with juicy, mouth-watering texture, and exhibits rich and refreshing aroma that resembles that of “musk” (flavour of a secretion fluid of a musk deer).
Japan Saga Hizen Awayuki Strawberry
Awayuki strawberries have a distinct coloring, often marketed as cherry-blossom pink. It emits a robust fragrance filled with sweet and fruity notes, while the flesh contains moderate acidity mixed with a high sugar content, creating a candy-like sweetness and a subtly tangy, fruity taste.
Matcha Ice Cream, Awayuki Strawberry, Daifuku 大福, Yokan 羊羹, Kinako Powder
Finally, a proper dessert instead of a series of exotic cut fruits. But still it was assembled from a quartet of off-the-shelf items. Harmonious but nothing to spectacular to round of an evening of good food. And then the chef pull out his private collection for an after-meal aperitif.
Most whisky drinkers these days have Taiwanese whisky on their radar. Kavalan is undoubtedly the biggest name in Taiwan and has won some big awards over the last decade but their whisky was nothing short of commercial.
Produced at the Nantou distillery in the mountainous central interior of Taiwan, Omar whiskies experience that intense tropical aging that produced an incredibly intense and concentrated flavour in just a few short years. Their long ferments (72 hours in steel washbacks) produce a clear and vibrant fruity distillate before aging for 4-5 harsh and humid years for their standard bottlings. The Virgin Oak cask expression is laden with dried fruits, roasted and candied nuts, and tons of spice. The whisky is non-chill filtered and bottled without additives of any kind. This special edition with only 226 bottles was at 58% ABV, almost like drinking Chinese gaoliang.
What you never try, you will never miss. And now that I had, I still would not miss it. Chef Chang was very solid as a sushi master, with a couple of very innovative nigiri sushi. The cooked items were also delightful. The service was attentive. But the price was a put-off.
The amount of social engineering around the brand was amazing, so I was one of the suckers that came. But you can get the same quality and flavours from another sushi-ya or kappo restaurants in Shanghai at a much lower price point. Good eat, but not worth the price. Not coming back anytime soon.
Visited Feb 2023