Now more than a year old, this is not a new place. What’s more, its location at Cuppage Terrace puts it in company with several other choices for Japanese fare. Nonetheless, Sushi Chiharu, nestled within Tamaya Dining, offers an unpretentious school in the art of Edomae sushi. This is the style that emphasises cooking methods such as boiling, and curing with salt, vinegar or soya sauce.
Expect your teachers to be youthful chefs. Chef Issei Taba (21) and Chef Nakahara Saya (28), top graduates of respected culinary school Insyokujin College, are the latest chefs from Sushi Chiharu Osaka to be handpicked to helm the Singapore outpost. Notably, the mothership has maintained a Michelin Bib Gourmand award for the last three years, awarded to restaurants with good food at good prices.
Over an unassuming 12-seat counter, two dinner menus are proffered, the 10-piece Nigiri Sushi Course ($90) or the 18-course omakase menu ($140) comprising three appetisers, two seasonal sashimi, a seasonal dish, their 10-piece nigiri sushi, a soup and a dessert.
If you have the 18-course meal, which is filling but doesn’t leave you heaving out the door, you’d get to sample what’s best in season. When we were there a few weeks ago, we had dishes that brought summer to a close such as komochi ayu, or sweetfish filled with fish roe, salted and grilled over the charcoal. We also enjoyed the hotate or scallops tinged with smokiness and sweetness, prepared by simmering in dashi and soya sauce for a day then lighted grilled just before serving.
Among the nigiri sushi served up, a few highlights were the ika (squid) nigiri, topped with squid ink salt, and the anago or saltwater eel nigiri, first boiled then grilled on a bamboo leaf, and finished with a dash of sansho pepper and a reduction of soya sauce and its own juices. The break-apart texture of the anago is definitely quite different from that of the unagi or freshwater eel you might be more familiar with. We were also charmed by the light, pillowy texture of the kerayaki, a take on tamagoyaki with a little sushi rice wrapped within. Made with locally sourced eggs by whipping egg whites into a meringue and folding the yolk in, the restaurant tells us this dish is one that draws on of the longest queues at their Osaka flagship. A final sweet ending to the meal was a lovely matcha pudding made with kuromitsu, a sugar syrup derived from Okinawa dark brown sugar.