[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]t is rather difficult to pinpoint what makes dining at Hashida Sushi such an exceptional experience. It may be the gorgeous cypress wood sushi counter and bespoke Japanese furniture that set the tone for an understated yet luxurious meal. Or perhaps it is the draw of family tradition being handed down from father to son: Chef-owner Kenjiro “Hatch” Hashida trained in Tokyo under his father, Tokio Hashida, a renowned sushi chef, for over 20 years, and they have a prized soya-based sushi sauce that is based on a family recipe that’s over 135 years old.
Certainly, our chef for the evening, Hokkaido native Yuji Sato, and the lovely service staff have an indispensable part to play. Despite the restaurant being full this night and some patrons getting a little rowdy, the chef remains a picture of calm and poise. It is a joy watching him work – his knife glides and dances across the counter, slicing the seafood with grace and precision. Service is polished, unobtrusive and earnest; our teacups are always full and empty plates disappear as if by magic.
(RELATED: What does a day in Hashida’s life look like?)
As with most fine sushi establishments, the menu at Hashida Sushi echoes the seasons. Fleshy Japanese crabs may grace your plate during winter, and, come spring, you may be presented with orange- fleshed sakura masu (cherry trout). Signature dishes at Hashida – such as the delicate cubes of ankimo (monkfish liver) encrusted with a thin shell of caramelised sugar, served with crunchy bamboo shoots and a juicy hamaguri clam slathered in a golden-coloured yuzu miso sauce – are enjoyable.
But it is the sushi that hits home this evening. Unlike some establishments, which favour more robustly seasoned sushi rice, the plump grains here have only hints of vinegar to allow the flavours of the neta (sushi topping) to shine.
Fresh squid, blanketing a sliver of sea urchin, can be flavoured with rice salt for a pleasant surprise. You may also be charmed by the full-flavoured maguro aged for 20 days and marinated in one of many specially concocted sauces for five minutes before it is served. Then come the smokey torched surf clam, and meaty saba (mackerel) – each mouthful more mesmerising than the last.
The rich and creamy uni and ikura rice bowl and signature otoro sushi, carved right in front of us from a magnificent slab of tuna, signal the end of the meal. As we savour our dessert of Japanese melon and strawberries, we cannot help but wonder when we should return.