I had the honour of being treated to an Omakase sushi lunch at Hakumai and…it has been a very long time since I’ve eaten sushi that is handmade. Let me tell you, once you’ve eaten sushi prepared from scratch by a proper sushi chef, the rice will break away the minute you chew and the taste of the rice together with the topping will fill your whole mouth.

Interior of Hakumai at the sushi bar counter

I was a bit surprised that Hakumai is nestled at a corner at International Plaza (IP), as IP is not known to be the place for fine dining, but it has obviously done well for itself over the years as seen from the several bottles of guests’ alcohol on the shelves. There is a private dining room as well, but do make your reservations early. The set up is very typical of a sushi bar that you’d see in Japan, especially if you’ve gone to Tsukiji for sushi breakfast. Sitting at the bar counter is always fun as you get to see the chef(s) at work while also talking to them as they introduce each dish to you.

For lunch, diners have the option to choose from 8, 10 and 12 pieces of sushi. The recommendation for ladies is 8 pieces, unless you’re feeling a bit more hungry than usual, and that’s the option that we chose that day.

For starters, we had these dried fish strips and chawanmushi. Chef Gary explained that he wanted something warm to start the meal. For us locals, the dried fish strips was definitely something very familiar and I would’ve preferred it as a snack (with drinks) rather than a starter. However, I loved the chawanmushi as it had bits of truffle and yuzu. Hence, it had a perfume that was both savoury and refreshing at the same time!

If I’m not wrong, the first fish was jackfish (left) and it set on top of a Shiso leaf and sprinkled with bits of black truffle. It was really a good start to the meal as it carried on the refreshing but savoury flavours from the chawanmushi. The next sushi was the snapper (right) and I was pleasantly surprised that it was a bit more tender and less chewy that other snapper sushis that I’ve eaten so far. I also appreciated the slight yuzu or lime grating that was dusted over (yes, it was that fine).

Third sushi was wild salmon from Hokkaido, which was topped with a silver leaf. I honestly didn’t care for the silver leaf but I wouldn’t mind a thicker slice of the salmon! The wild salmon wasn’t too oily but yet it still melts in your mouth and does not leave a fishy after taste. This is 1000x better than Norwegian salmon!!

I was very excited when I saw chef busting out the torch for our first aburi sushi! It was Scallop sushi topped with mentaiko mayo that was lightly torched. Sounds like everything I like in a sushi! However, I must say that this was the only slight disappointment in the meal. The mayo was very soft so it was sliding down while I was taking the photo and continued to slide while I was picking it up. But…texture wasn’t the issue. The mentaiko flavour was a bit lacking and the mayo was surprisingly very salty. As such, I couldn’t really appreciate the subtle sweetness from the raw scallop. By the way, yours truly has made mentaiko mayo before and it doesn’t require much techniques. It’s all about the ratio of ingredients.

“Taste of the ocean” was how Chef described the next sushi (left). I cannot remember what fish was used but the grey topping is kani miso, which is snow crab roe that has been made into a paste. The umami from this sushi is AHMAZING…and Chef was right. It really does taste like the ocean. It was slightly fishy without it being overpowering while reminding one of seaweed and clams. If Chef wanted to make this more chi-chi, he might as well have given us seashells to put against our ears while eating this piece of sushi to get the full ocean experience.

And if that sushi couldn’t get any better, Chef presented us with Ootoro sushi that was lightly torched. How I love you, dear fatty tuna belly. You were not as melt-in-the-mouth as those that I’ve eaten in Japan but close enough. Can’t blame you because you were chilled and took a plane down to Singapore. But you’re near perfection and I could eat 10 more pieces of you and not care about calories until the next day.

The next dish isn’t a sushi but it is Chef’s signature – angel hair pasta with uni. There was sakura ebi and I also noted the apprentice finishing it off with a bit of truffle oil. The result? Perfect fusion of East and West. The uni was fresh so it had that delicious creaminess without any fishy aftertaste. This was a good dish to lead to the star of the day: foie gras sushi!!

Chef told us to try and eat it in one bite so that the flavour would just burst out. I was a good girl and tried my best to stuff the whole piece and chew it. I fully understood what Chef meant. It’s not a burst like popping the salmon roe, but rather an oozing of the foie gras all over the palette so that you get the rich, creamy flavour together with the hint of sauce as well as char from the blowtorch. I didn’t think that I would be full from 8 pieces of sushi but this foie gras sushi really made me feel satiated and any more sushi after this would just be gluttony on my part (hehe).

We started the meal with something warm, so we kinda ended the meal with something warm – miso soup. It’s a nice touch and the miso taste isn’t very strong and it resembles more like an egg drop soup that was cooked with prawn shells and probably other discarded seafood parts. Nice!

Then for dessert, we had a choice of black sesame or matcha ice cream. Someone who saw my photos on my Instagram Stories commented that the scoop of ice cream was very small…and I agree!! But then, considering all the calories consumed, let’s continue with the ‘just nice’ portion rather than over indulging oneself.

On the way out, I spied my little eye on some umeshu and I asked Chef whether this was brewed by him and whether I could try. OMG…this homebrew (or is it restaurant brew?) can fight with Choya. Chef explained that he only uses plums that are from Japan and are about two weeks old. The waitress further explained that plums used for umeshu has to be unripened plums in order to impart the flavour while still looking nice and plump (all puns intended!), instead of wrinkly, after fermentation. Chef also said that he uses a lot more plum per litre of alcohol, which is why his umeshu is more flavourful than Choya’s. MMm….I’m not complaining.

Thanks Chef for the delicious sushi lunch, as well as the fun bits of conversation!!

If you’re feeling like treating yourself to some real sushi and celebrate, I would recommend heading over to Hakumai for a meal that you’ll definitely enjoy!

Hakumai Sushi & Omakase

10 Anson Road
#01-50A International Plaza
Singapore 079903

Tel: +65 6224 4790
Website: www.hakumai.com.sg


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