The sushi joint is a hidden secret of dusty Cuppage Terrace
We would like to think the realm of Japanese cuisine exhibits two extremes.
On one end, you have the spirited and laidback entities of izakayas and roadside ramen stalls, where table manners are optional, and meals are served as quickly as highballs flying off the bar.
Then there’s the split personality of fine-r restaurants, such as Kaiseki, Omakase and your whatnots, that warrant fancy pants and covered shoes. Here, conversations are exchanged in whispers, and mixing a wad of wasabi in shoyu sauce is unforgivable. With that being said, these polished restaurants more than make up for the formalities with offers of the best from their homeland.
Settling for a balance may be uncommon, but Sushi Chiharu manages to do so with its slew of Edo-sushi, served in its cosy 12-seater abode. The sushi bar’s postal code, in fact, is unexpectedly in the nitty-gritty stretch of Cuppage Terrace, a place known for a mishmash of eats, nicotine fumes and drunkard stupors.
Sushi Chiharu isn’t as new as one would think. Truth to be told, the sushi joint is a well over a year and is said to be frequented by Japanese expats.
So will these Japanese be okay when the rowdy bunch of locals catch wind of their secret haunt?
We do not ask the walled-up sushi chefs Issei Taba and Nakahara Saya, who only obliged with the common pleasantries, before remaining tight-lipped during the 18-course Omakase meal ($140 per pax). Light banter would’ve been nice, but it’s fine – the reserved twenty-something chefs did all the talking with their hands.
And oh, what talented hands they have, which were subject to vigorous training in Insyokujin College in Japan, a lauded training academy for sushi chefs. The duo were then hired by three-time Michelin recommended Bib Gourmand Sushi Chiharu in Osaka, before posted in the offshoot outlet in Singapore.
Seated by the bar, we watch intently to the hand jive that procured the range of edo-sushi. The thoughtful moulding of vinegared rice, the thin slicing of Maguro, the donning of delicate seaweed – the Japanese duo display true culinary finesse that proves their Insokujin graduation.
The course starts off by soothing the tummy with a sweet pumpkin soup, adorned with caviar and gold leaves, before moving on to the appetisers of daggertooth pike conger paired with a slice of tomato and sweet vinegar jelly, and a sashimi assortment of scabbard fish and tuna. A scene-stealing dish is the abalone offering, where the shellfish is brought out in its massive form, sliced up and served for a taste of the ocean.
The edo-sushi leg of the meal is nothing short of illustrious. All paired with Haenuki rice, the parade of sushi items begins strong with the first squid variant, topped with black squid ink salt. We suspect that the intriguing salt aspect is what injected the makeup with umami flavours. Further down the line, you’ll be gifted the likes of tilefish cured with kombu kelp, tuna, horse mackerel. alongside the uncommon Pacific saury and saltwater eel. All oceanic treasures are a true testament of the fresh produce Japan is known for.
A special shout-out goes out to the uni sushi, consisting of both bafun uni and muraski uni. It is handmade on the spot and served by placing directly on the palm.
There’s the Kerayaki to look forward to at the end of the meal. Made as a unique take on tamagoyaki, the Kerayaki is essentially a fluffy sponge cake made mostly out of eggs. Egg whites are whipped up into a meringue and the yolks are folded in.
Address: 45A Cuppage Road, Singapore 229464
Contact No.: 6835 3639
Operating Hours: 6pm to 11.30pm (Monday to Saturday); 6pm to 10.30pm (Sundays and Public Holiday)