The “stubborn” sushi chain finally landed in Singapore in Sep 2021, taking the corner shop at the refurbished Park Lane shopping centre in Dhoby Ghaut. And after two years since it opened, I finally got to try this Osaka washoku restaurant.
Ganko Sushi started as a small 15-square-meter shop in Juso, Osaka in 1963 by sushi chef Atsushi Kojima. Kojima chose the name ‘Ganko’ がんこ which translates to “stubborn” to emphasise the devotion and spirit of Ganko Sushi. Ganko was also a nickname given to Kojima when he was a student. The name was true to his character, and it stuck. Through his care over many aspects of his business, that character is manifested in every Ganko restaurant.
Navy blue, charcoal grey and wooden accents dominate the chic 40-seater dining room. 13 of those seats are dedicated to counter seating for omakase service, behind which the chef dishes out morsels of seafood a la minute. The decor is so different from their honten in Osaka which I visited in Nov 2019.
Chef Kuwahara Toshiyuki joined Ganko Sushi at the age of 22. He spent 26 years of training, started from bottom ranks as a sushi apprentice to a top class Itamae today. Now Kuwahara-san has been entrusted by HQ to oversee the company 100th branch oversea with the theme of traditional “Kansai sushi” and “Kaiseki Ryori” in Singapore.
As the sushi components sound simple just a combination of rice and fresh fish. people don’t realize that it can take upwards of 10 years of training to be an expert sushi chef. It was precisely because of sushi without any fancy disguise, it has become Kuwahara endless pursuit of “simplicity.” This elegant art of transforming food ingredients into amazing art pieces
Instead of Toyosu Wholesale Market in Tokyo, they procure their seafood air-flown daily from Osaka Central market, along with other imported ingredients like Chidori Murayama Zosu vinegar that’s brewed with a 200-year-old recipe; and Marunaka Shoyu, a soya-sauce brewed in a two-century-old storehouse that’s been registered as a Tangible Cultural Property in Japan.
One of my favourite sushi is the negitoro 鮪のたたき minced fatty tuna. Usually made as a gunkan (in this instance) or a maki, the chopped tuna was creamy and deliciously transformed to a different texture.
I didn’t know that pickles can also be made into a nigiri sushi. Princess had grown a liking to pickles recently, and we ordered this ala carte sushi to observe how it was made. It’s very refreshing and followed the tradition of having tsukemono with rice.
We ordered a 10-piece deluxe sushi platter to save the trouble of ordering them individually. The selection included sea bream (tai), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), japanese amberjack (buri), scallop (hotate), salmon roe (ikura), sweet shrimp (amaebi), sea urchin (uni), eel (unagi) and minced fatty bluefin tuna (negitoro maki). Of course, a thick grilled egg (tamago) which to me has a castella cake-like texture is included to complete the selection.
Ganko uses only Murasaki Uni from Hokkaido, a purple uni that’s widely regarded as of higher quality than common Bafun.
In addition to the set sushi meal, we ordered some sashimi to share. The moriawase sets wasn’t very exciting so we decided to pick from the ala carte menu instead.
The first three items were seasonal items like 白エビ White Shrimp from Toyama Bay which is available only between Apr-Nov, 赤貝 Ark Shell available from autumn to end spring, and 縞鯵 (シマアジ) Striped Jack, a summer fish.
And the best way to enjoy the maguro 鮪 bluefin tuna was to order all three cuts; (L to R) Akami 赤み lean tuna, Chutoro 中トロ medium fatty tuna and Otoro 大トロ fatty tuna. The flavours and textures of the different parts make this fish a very enjoyable eat. While many only go for the melt-in-mouth cut of otoro, it does not have the interesting flavour profile of the akami, especially if you let them aged a bit in controlled conditions.
And to wash down everything, a bowl of steaming hot miso soup sold separately if this wasn’t the lunch time set menu.
You must be wondering where do all the fish bones and heads go to? The cheeks are sold separately as grilled fish cheeks, which are delicious eats if they are fatty type of fish, like the buri. All you need is a rubbing of salt and let the grill do the rest of the work.
The meal was delicious, and the service was really good. This was a much bigger notch better than their honten in Osaka. Will come again to try their omakase.
Ganko Sushi 頑固壽司
9 Penang Road #01-01, Singapore 238459
Tel : +65 8828 2280
Visited Apr 2023
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