Taking over the space that was formerly occupied by Hashida Sushi on the fourth floor of Mandarin Gallery is Sushi Ayumu.
Ayumu, which means ‘a new start’, is helmed by Ryoichi Nakatani, who was the head chef of Hashida Sushi. Prior to coming to Singapore, the industry veteran worked at several top Tokyo-style sushi restaurants in Japan including Roku Roku edo-mae sushi restaurant in Grand Hyatt Tokyo.
Although owner Simon Wong has changed the concept—the 36-seater establishment now focuses on serving edomae sushi—the interiors remain largely the same. We like that they kept the cosy counter seats, which allowed us to watch Nakatani at work. To have a better idea of what you can expect during the meal, take a peek into the fish box, placed right beside the chef. In it you’ll see all the fresh produce that will be served, and whatever you have on that day depends on the season and availability.
During our visit, we had close to 10 different kinds of sushi and some of our favourites include the chutoro (fatty tuna), the bafun uni, the akami zuke (shoyu-marinated red meat tuna), and the kohada. The kohada, also known as gizzard shad, is one of the most, if not the most unique sushi we have ever tasted. The fish is first sliced into very thin strips and then beautifully braided and served atop warm sushi rice. Chef explains that kohada is usually not very popular with diners due to its rough and tough texture; hence he slices it very thinly to make it more palatable. Although we were filling up fast after having seven different types of sushi, we couldn’t resist the perfectly cooked and seasoned sushi rice, made using Nanatsuboshi grains from Hokkaido, and seasoned with the restaurant’s unique blend of three types of red vinegar.
Another notable highlight from our meal was the hon-maguro (Japanese wild bluefin tuna), which is prepared a few ways to bring out the best flavours. The ootoro bincho was a hit with everyone at the table—the fish, boasting excellent marbling, is torched to perfection over binchotan, and offers lots of flavour and a melt-in-the-mouth texture.
We highly recommend trying the dinner omakase (starting from $280), offering sashimi, sushi and a handful of cooked dishes. For those looking for a more affordable option to experience Nakatani’s creations, the lunch menu (12-piece nigiri; starting from $120) is a great place to start.
#04-16, Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road. Tel: 6733 2114. Visit website.