Dinner @ Sushi Kondo

September 15, 2017 in Japanese

Except for reading that Kondo Masayuki was the head chef at Nogawa from 2005 to 2012, there was not much information of Sushi Kondo on the internet. Being curious, I got my my friend to check out Sushi Kondo with me.

Located in Sentosa Golf Club, my friend and I arrived punctually at 7.30pm. So while I know it isn’t easy to get to the restaurant, I was still surprised to see we were the only diners at Sushi Kondo that night. Actually… There were golfers but they chose to sit at the alfresco area.

And from the dinner menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), my friend and I ordered:-

1) Omakase course, $130 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Appetiser.

(B) Dish #2 (above) – Sushi assortment of yellowtail, smoked big eye snapper (kinmedia), sweet shrimp (ama-ebi) and scallop.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Clam (hamaguri) soup.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Grilled belt fish. This was tricky to eat because the fish had way too many bones.

(E) Dish #5 (above) – Braised octopus and yam.

  
  
  

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Sushi assortment of horse mackerel (aji), medium fatty tuna (chutoro), seaweed-marinated kish fish, salmon roe, tuna hand roll and rolled egg omelette (tamago).

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Fig and grape.

2) Omakase course, $200 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Appetiser.

(B) Dish #2 (above) – Sushi assortment of sea bream, squid, geoduck and medium fatty tuna (chutoro).


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Soup with tuna belly.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Braised golden eye snapper.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Radish served with foie gras, fungus, salmon roe and water shield.

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Seaweed-clam tempura.

  
  
  

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Sushi assortment of horse mackerel (aji), premium fatty tuna (otoro), seaweed-marinated kish fish, sea urchin, hand roll of premium fatty tuna and pickled radish, and rolled egg omelette (tamago).

(H) Dish #8 (above) – Peach and melon.

Our meal at Sushi Kondo wasn’t a fanciful one with the restaurant’s interior being pretty dated. But we were satisfied with our dinner nonetheless. My friend and I happened to dine at Sushi Kondo a week after a disastrous Japanese meal elsewhere. So yes, we were happy we could enjoy decent Japanese food at reasonable prices.

Head chef Kondo Masayuki was like a caring father as he would dearly watch over us whenever we took the first few bites of our dishes. When I was having my radish with foie gras dish, he must have realised I was struggling with just a pair of chopsticks because he silently passed me a spoon. So sweet.

And if one’s interested, Sushi Konda has lunch menu (pages 1, 2) too.

SUSHI KONDO
27 Bukit Manis Road, Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore
6373 7120, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 11:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 6
Tues – Sun : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
* Closed on Mon
Service: 7

Lunch @ Sushi Arai 鮨 あらい (Tokyo, Japan)

August 30, 2017 in Japanese

With all the ongoing raves about Michelin-starred Sushi Arai by the Japanese instagrammers that I follow on social media, coupled with the fact that Sushi Arai was one of the few sushi-yas which could use Yamayuki (a specialty shop dedicated to tuna located in Tsukiji Market and a time-honored brand in the market)’s top cut, I got really keen in checking out Sushi Arai.

However, the real challenge was making the reservation. With rumours that Sushi Arai don’t accept reservation from hotel concierge, I decided to play it safe by using a reliable external booking agent. And having previously used Tableall’s service for 1 of my booking during my November 2016 trip and seeing that Sushi Arai was a Tableall’s listed restaurant, I contacted Tableall.

But to make reservation for February 2016, I was actually too early with my November 2015′s request since reservation is only taken up to two months ahead. Keke.

Located at basement 1 of RUAN Building, I arrived punctually at 12pm for a weekday lunch. I was fortunate to be given the best seat at the counter where I could watch chef-owner Yuichi Arai up close. And what caught my eye was the ice box refrigerator built into the rear wall. I read it’s an old tradition in the art of sushi-making where the fridge was cooled by ice blocks on the upper level instead of electricity to keep the sashimi at the right temperature. But it was unfortunate that my grasp of Japanese language was zero because the row of handwritten wooden plates hung on the wall wrote the fishes that’s offered for the day.

There’s 3 menus during lunch service; 10 pieces priced at ¥8000, 14 pieces ¥10,000 and dinner menu for ¥15,000. Having pre-selected my menu, I commenced my lunch with:-

1) 14 pieces, ¥10,000 comprised of:-

(A) Sushi #1 (above) – Flounder.

(B) Sushi #2 (above) – Snapper.

(C) Sushi #3 (above) – Big-eye snapper (kinmedai).

(D) Sushi #4 (above) – Squid.

(E) Sushi #5 (above) – Lean tuna (akami).

  

(F) Sushi #6 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro).

(G) Sushi #7 (above) – Gizzard shad (kohada).

(H) Sushi #8 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro).

(I) Sushi #9 (above) – Kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn).

(J) Sushi #10 (above) – Halfbeak (sayori).

(K) Sushi #11 (above) – Surf claim adductor muscles (kobashira).

(L) Sushi #12 (above) – Saba (mackerel)

(M) Sushi #13 (above) – Saba (mackerel). I was surprised to be served a second sushi with the same topping (neta). Thinking that head chef Arai san might have made a mistake by placing it in front of me instead of the lady on my left, I left this particular sushi sitting on the counter instead of putting it into my mouth within 3 seconds from the time it’s served. Head chef Arai san who was busy talking to the pair of regulars on my right, caught on a bit later and went “Saba.” Oh. Okie. I guessed it was for me afterall Hmm…

(N) Sushi #14 (above) – Sea urchin.

(O) Maki roll (above) – Hand roll with hard clam and cucumber.

(P) Soup (above) – Clam soup.

I have heard read much about head chef Arai san prior to my visit. But to witness head chef Arai san reject a batch of sushi rice (shari) was a seal of confidence that head chef Arai san takes a lot of pride in his food; Red vinegared sushi rice (shari) was prepared in the kitchen and brought out in small batches to head chef Arai san. And at one point, after trying to knead the first ball of sushi rice with a fresh batch, the rice must have felt wrong because he immediately called his sous chef to replace the batch of rice.

With lunch starting at 12pm, my meal lasted 1 hour 15 minutes. Would I recommend Sushi Arai? Well… I honestly loved his sushi which were on the bigger size and with stronger seasoning. It was an interesting observation that head chef Arai san would wet his hands (both sides) before he commenced with each sushi making. But as one know, good food alone doesn’t make a wonderful overall dining experience. Chemistry between the chef and customers is equally important. Especially at sushi-yas when the 2 parties are within close proximity. Unfortunately for me, head chef Arai came across as slightly aloof. And that was made more noticeable cause I was dining alone.

Head chef Arai san focused a lot on his regulars, which I understand from a business point of view. But not too extreme lah. I noticed the Japanese couple, who came in together with me and sat on my far right, was equally neglected as me. Unsure if we came to the end of our meal with the bowl of soup since most sushi-yas would end the sushi course with a rolled egg omelette (tamago), the Japanese couple and I must have waited for almost 15 minutes before they decided to enquire with the staff. So following their cue, I also called for my bill.

So…. Would I still recommend Sushi Arai which was awarded their first Michelin star by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2017? Well… I would. Instead, to make the meal more enjoyable, perhaps come with a partner. =) Or better still, be able to speak some Japanese. Keke. And opt for their dinner menu if one is going during their lunch service. I was very much drooling over what was served to the regulars on my immediate right.

And because I made my reservation through Tableall, I had to pay a middleman fee which included 8% tax, 3.6% handling fee (used for credit card settlement) and ¥3000 booking fee (per head). Of which total figure was further rounded up to every ¥500.

SUSHI ARAI 鮨 あらい
Ruan Building, 8-10-2 Ginza, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 中央区 銀座 8-10-2 ルアンビル B1F)
+81 3 6264 5855, Tablelog
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Thu – Tues : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Thu – Tues : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Wed

Dinner @ Sushi Sabu-Roku

August 19, 2017 in Japanese

Months back, I learnt that the sushi chef at Tamaya Dining left to open his own sushi restaurant. And I immediately shared the news with my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) so that we could check out the place together. However, she got a little too anxious and went ahead without me as she couldn’t wait for me to be back from my holidays. Sob.

So when my IGGF raved about Sushi Sabu-Roku, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed because she and I share the same taste. So yes, my IGGF said she could return and have dinner with me. However, that didn’t materialize because 1 week before our scheduled dinner, the restaurant called my IGGF (who assisted with the reservation) and asked us to change our timing from 7pm to 6pm as they received reservation for a big group for 8pm. And do note that the restaurant asked us to change and not if we could change. Like what!?!

And since my IGGF was very disappointed with the way they handled the booking, I decided to check them out with another friend as I was still very much curious about their food.


So 4 months later, I called to make reservation for a weekday dinner as I was interested to have baby gizzard shad (shinko) which I knew was in the season from their instagram.

Reaching at 7.30pm, we were the last pair of customers to arrive at the restaurant for dinner. And for that, we were seated at the end of the counter, furthest away from owner-chef Koji Koike.

And from the dinner menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my friend and I ordered:-

1) Omakase, $250 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above) – Flat greenling, egg plant and seaweed.


(B) Dish #1 (above) – Threeline grunt (isaki). And it being grilled on skewer, the fish was oily with a nice smokey aroma.

(C) Dish #2 (above) – Mackerel.


(D) Dish #3 (above) – Shellfish (ishigakigai) from Hokkaido, served with raw eggplant.

(E) Dish #4 (above) – Corn from Hokkaido.

(F) Dish #5 (above) – Big eye snapper (kinmedai). The skin was unfortunately grilled till burnt.


(G) Dish #6 (above) – Tempura assortment of shrimp (ebi) and onion, and green chili.

(H) Dish #7 (above) – Grilled white asparagus.


  

(I) Dish #8 (above) – Soup with tuna belly and fish cake.

  
  
  

(J) Dish #9 (above) – Sushi assortment of striped jack (shima-aji), squid, medium fatty tuna (chutoro), big eye snapper (kinmedai), marinated tuna (maguro zuke), sea eel (anago) and sea urchin. Somehow, from the fourth piece, the rice in our sushi became smaller. Not sure if it was because we enquired how many more pieces there was. And the only reason we asked that was because dinner was painfully draggy. Definitely not because we were full.


(K) Dish #10 (above) – Honeydew and grapes.

Unfortunately, dinner was a huge let down. Ingredients weren’t worth the price tag and the interval between the dishes were painfully long. My friend and I got pretty impatient towards the end of our dinner because we would be waiting for our dish but head chef Koji san was deeply engrossed talking to his regulars; Waiting for 5 minutes is understandable if he needs to go one round when making everyone’s sushi. But we were waiting for more than 10 minutes with head chef Koji San not doing anything related to food preparation. It seemed that they have not adapted to what’s needed with the increased capacity. Was talking to the staff, and she happened to mention they recently added more chairs to increase capacity from 8 to 10.

And it was a great disappointment that I specially came for baby gizzard shad (shinko) after seeing many post pictures of theirs on Instagram and we were served none.

Why I recommend Sushi Sabu-Roku? I won’t totally cross them out yet. I am still trying to believe that it was an one-off incident that my friend and I had a bad dining experience. Instead of coming for their dinner menu, I would encourage one to try their lunch menu instead. Which I would return to try. Not anytime soon though. Maybe next year, same time. And I’ll be sure to state clearly in my reservation that I want to try the baby gizzard shad. Yes, by hook or crook.

SUSHI SABU-ROKU
36 Circular Road, Singapore
6532 0050
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Fri : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 5
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7