Hashida Sushi, while a relative young 'un in the Japanese fine-dining scene, quickly became a firm favourite amongst the discerning of palate. Hailing from Tokyo, the teeny-tiny (it's got a grand total of 19 seats!) galley of a restaurant made waves when it launched its first-ever overseas offshoot in Mandarin Gallery. Frequently featured on 'best of' lists, and consistently lauded with culinary awards, Hashida Sushi is known for its decidedly-limited, omakase-only menus that showcase the very best of the season.
Despite the apparent lack of variety, the food here is exceptional, finessed by chefs who are knowledgeable and utterly charming. There are just 3 menus for lunch, the $80 Tsubaki, $120 Ayame and $250 Hiiragi Omakase. The Tsubaki and Ayame menus are nigiri-centric, the Ayame being the premium option with an additional chawanmushi and uni.
Service is typically Japanese - gracious, intuitive and obliging to a fault. Most of all, I love that the staff aren't pushy: the waitress discouraged us from ordering the full omakase, informing that we'd be too stuffed otherwise. And when we were deliberating over the Tsubaki and Ayame (we like chawanmushi, but aren't fans of uni), recommended that we get the $120 Ayame, but swop the uni out for some chopped tuna, because it'd be more expensive to order a chawanmushi on top of the $80 Tsubaki. How's that for service! I'm always impressed when a restaurant shows integrity like that.
First up was a chilled starter of Steamed Japanese Yuba (beancurd skin) layered with ikura, bonito jelly and freshly grated wasabi. This was clear, mild and refreshing.
The Chawanmushi was next, baby-bottom smooth and contrasted with sweet corn, grilled scallop, baby lady's fingers and caviar.
The 1st of 6 nigiri was the Shima Aji (yellow jack), simply brushed with shoyu to highlight its rich fattiness.
The Kamasu (barracuda) was aburi-ed to flesh out its mild flavour.
The Aji (horse mackerel), also burnished lightly with shoyu, was wonderfully springy and umami.
The Tai (seabream), marinated in ponzu and sprinkled with yuzu zest for a fruity finish, was my favourite, a lovely balance of meltingly fatty and chewy textures.
The Tairagigai (penshell), a cousin of scallop, was torched to counter its distinctive bitterness.
To fill you up, there's the chopped tuna mini Donburi, laden with briny ikura pearls, seaweed slivers, and a dollop of grated wasabi for heat. Absolutely sumptuous and scrumptious.
The Asari Clam Miso Soup was next, which helped to clear the palate with its comforting broth.
The Chu-Toro (medium fatty tuna) was a smash hit. Then again, you can't go wrong with melt-in-your-mouth fish like that.
The Tamago was more akin to an eggilicious cake, having achieved amazingly fluffy and airy textures.
The dessert offerings made for brilliant palate cleansers, a peeled sour grape (yes, there's actually such a thing!), regular green grape, and tart strawberry.
Our adorably dimpled chef, Hitoshi-san, who masterfully sliced into the humongous tuna slab. We could have been happy eating this alone. How gorgeous is that slab of fish??
#02-37 Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road
Tel: 6733 2114
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 7pm to 10pm for dinner;
Closed on Mondays