Sushi Ayumu is worth saving up for
In June, right after the shock closure of Japanese restaurant Hashida Sushi, it reopened as Sushi Ayumu with head chef Ryoichi Nakatani and senior sushi chef Yusuke Kawana at the helm.
Both men have more than 20 years of experience.
The restaurant serves Edo-style sushi (with vinegared rice), with fresh catch flown in from Japan daily.
The rice is seasoned with three types of red vinegar, a blend concocted here.
The fresh produce you will be consuming is displayed in the fish box that sits next to the chef.
Peep in and what you see can really whet your appetite.
Whatever you get to eat here depends on the season and availability.
I had the Kohada Sushi. This stayed on my mind because of its beauty.
The fish - gizzard shad - is sliced into very thin strips, then braided. This is because the fish has a tougher texture, and braiding it gives it lightness. It is also pretty to look it.
The touch of yuzu zest also brightens the taste.
The dish Aki Shake tastes heavenly.
My mouth started watering when chef Nakatani took out the trout roe from his fish box.
It is the special touch that makes the piece of fresh trout even more exciting. I wish there was more roe on top, but I guess he knew how to give enough to make you want more.
Another outstanding dish is the Nodoguro Sushi.
Nodoguro is black-throat sea perch, and the flesh is loved for its tenderness and fattiness. This is torched under smoking binchotan, and you eat it with a squeeze of lime.
Part of the enjoyment is watching Nakatani at work.
He speaks little English but his eyes speak volumes.
There is intense concentration when he is prepping the food, slicing with finesse and delicately dripping sauces and oils onto the fish.
But when he is done, the entertainer returns. Point a camera at him and he is ready with a smile and a thumbs up.
When he speaks about his food, the passion is evident so even if you understand nothing, it is compelling.
He is skilful with the progression of the meal - varying the texture, heft and tempo of each course so that you are engaged in a constant cycle of anticipation, eating and chatting.
However, let us not pretend that eating at Sushi Ayumu is an affordable event.
Even if you factor in the freshness of the produce and the service, value for money is more a concept than reality here.
For $280, you get the basic dinner set. And if you happened to win the lottery the night before, there is the Ayumu Special Omakase, which starts from $450.
Opt for lunch instead, from $120. While that is hardly cheap, it is the best deal there.
Save Ayumu for a very special occasion. If you do not know what to do with your bonus, unload some money there.
It will be an event, and if you can afford it, you will not regret it.
#04-16 Mandarin Gallery
Opens Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 3pm, 7pm to 10pm