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Devour Dashi-based Delights at MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya

Dashi is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine, and MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya takes appreciation of the soup base to a higher level with its delicious and affordable sets and omakase meals.

Marusaya is best known as an established wholesaler of Japanese katsuobushi, or dried bonito, and it has recently launched its latest dining concept – MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya. The restaurant and company focuses on its two-year-aged dried bonito – a rarity given that most bonitos are fermented over a year or less. This extended period of fermentation draws out almost all moisture, resulting in an especially concentrated and strong umami flavour of the bonito – perfect for making dashi with!

Photo: MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya

Here at MAI, the dashi is cooked with specially imported Rishiri kelp – which is one of the best categories of kelp, harvested around Hokkaido – for over an hour, resulting in a flavourful broth that is infused into every dish. We love this concept – given how dashi is a common, yet often overlooked ingredient in Japanese cooking; an important base of soups, stews, sauces and even rice, that can add much flavour to a dish.

Here, savour an array of delectable dishes such as shabu-shabu, tobanyaki, donabe, as well as omakase (from $88++).

We highly recommend the delicious and value-for-money set lunches, which start from $29++ and include a variety of sides: chawanmushi, miso soup with seasonal toppings, bonito flakes, and a bowl of umami-packed claypot rice cooked with dashi. Condiments for the rice include wasabi-flavoured konbu, premium ikura, and Japanese pickles.

To fully enjoy the flavours of the carefully-cooked dashi, we suggest ordering a shabu-shabu sets: MAI offers sumptuous US Black Angus Beef ($29++) and Hokkaido Pork Loin ($29++) sets! Served with fresh seasonal vegetables as well as two house dips – dashi ponzu and sesame; these sets are wholesome and filling, with the tender slices of meat seeped through with umami.

Prefer your meats saucy and sizzling? Get the A4 Japanese Wagyu Beef Toban Yaki Set ($49++), served with moreish miso sauce and delightfully seared vegetables; or the Prawn, Scallop & Oyster Toban Yaki Set ($32++), where the seafood is seasoned with a blend of shoyu, sake, mirin and yuzu juice, bringing out the sweet freshness of the sea.

Carb-lovers, don’t miss out on the donabe, where Hokkaido Yumepirika rice is steamed in a large claypot with dashi, soy sauce, Japanese sake; along with ingredients such as unagi or salmon. It takes approximately 40 minutes for each donabe to be prepared, so do pre-order these if you would like to try them! Each donabe serves around 3-4 hungry diners.

If you’d like to treat yourself, go for the omakase lunch menu (from $68++), or omakase dinner menu (from $88++), where you can expect dashi-centred courses such as the unique Dashi Jelly.

Heads up: the a la carte menu also offers amazing specialty sides perfect for pairing with sake, such as Half Dried Bonito Fish Jerky and Bonito Stock Flavour Deep Fried Chicken (our favourite – and wonderfully addictive).

Photo: MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya

MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya
46 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089858
Opening hours: 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm (Monday to Saturday). Closed on Sundays.