[dropcap size=small]C[/dropcap]hef Kenjiro Hashida could serve you a plain-looking knob of steamed onion and you would enjoy it. The magic the 37-year-old chef possesses is a masterful ability to draw out exciting flavours from the simplest produce. Steaming the Japanese bulb, for instance, brings out all of its natural sweetness which he then enhances with a light, comforting broth.
Hashida opened the eponymous restaurant here in 2013, an off-shoot of his father’s sushi joint that’s held court in Tokyo since 1967. But he has put his own spin to the Edomae-style his father practises religiously.
Take a Thai snapper fish, for instance. Hashida serves this fresh as sashimi, together with a selection of botan ebi, octopus and a playful “prawn oil snow” on the side. It’s lovely as it is, but Hashida smartly demonstrates there’s more than one way to enjoy the fish – in his hands, that is. It appears twice more – as a jelly that’s an intriguing mix of firm and wobble, and another time baked in a salt crust, served with monkfish liver that’s torched for a light caramelised layer.
A team of highly talented and skilled chefs serve the guests, but consider it a double treat if the man himself serves you for the night, for he is a born entertainer. While serving a three day-aged botan ebi, he jokes about how it is a clever name for leftovers he can’t sell. Pay him no mind, because the jumbo shrimp has a deep, rich sweetness that lends it an added complexity.
But all jokes are set aside when Hashida crafts the piece de resistance of the meal: a hulking slab of tuna belly that makes up the last piece of sushi he will serve for the night. He slowly shaves off a thin slice of ootoro which he drapes over his two fingers; he then carves another bit of belly, dabs fresh wasabi on both pieces, and teases out a third sliver of fish. Finally, the marbled layers are wrapped over a nugget of sushi rice. This is one technique Hashida has kept from his father, and it is art at its finest. Crowds would come back for this dish alone.
#04-16 Mandarin Gallery