Official Website: http://www.facebook.com/thesushibar.sg (with delicate pictures of their delicious sushi; do also check their Fb page for updates of their opening hours)
Address: 14 Scotts Road, Far East Plaza, #03-89, Singapore 228213
Tel: +65 9625 0861
Opening Hours: 12-9.30pm daily
Budget: $20-$30 per person; we spent $110.10 for 5 people.
Recommendation: Salmon or Soft Shell crab Aburi roll, Chirashi don
Probably the best aburi roll in Singapore?
Yes, you are not hallucinating. You just stumbled upon a “hidden gem“, which probably isn’t hidden anymore. The Sushi Bar at Far East Plaza, a humble yet delightful Japanese dining eatery which brought us many pleasant surprises, probably serves the best aburi rolls in Singapore. Please do not be mistaken by its looks – it may look like a fledgling enterprise, but it already has a devoted fan base. The Sushi Bar was recommended by London Gal and did not fail to impress the gang (SG Boy, the fussy Mr Mushroom, Muscle Man, 阿莲 and Mr Handsome). There are also seats in the eatery, because 阿莲 thought that it was a standing sushi bar (pun unintended). Ok serious business now.
Chirashi don ($24.90)
After reading the various fan raves about the Sushi Bar, SG Boy decided to play it safe and begin with the Chirashi don (small: $18.90; medium: $24.90). According to Mr Mushroom, the self-professed Japanese and Luna Sea addict, chirashi means “mixed platter” or “scattered sushi“, which in our cases equates to a plethora of fresh sashimi served on cold Japanese vinegared rice – raw salmon, aburi salmon belly, seared tuna, raw yellowtail, raw scallop, salmon roe and tamago (egg omelette). Personally, I thought that the sashimi could have been served at a lower temperature (like at Wasabi Tei), which would have made the experience more gratifying. Nevertheless, the seared tuna was very unique and I almost thought that it was medium-rare beef! The scallop sashimi was also very fresh and chewy. We however thought the rice serving was a tad too little, so perhaps more rice could be ordered for big eaters. Overall, a value-for-money dish with generous servings of quality sashimi.
Salmon Ikura don ($16.90)
阿莲 and Mr Mushroom ordered the Salmon Ikura don ($16.90), which was served with more than 15 slices of fresh salmon sashimi. It was not spectacular and did not leave a sufficient sweet after-taste in our palette. The juicy salmon roe, however, exploded in my mouth like tiny fire crackers. Overall, a dish which was fairly average and thus we would recommend the Chirashi don instead.
Soft Shell Crab Aburi Roll ($15.90)
The highlight of the day arrived on a Japanese wooden boat plate with 8 slices of Soft Shell Crab Aburi Roll ($15.90). Aburi style means partially cooked (usually by a torch) sushi. In this case, avocado and crispy fried soft shell crab were wrapped in vinegared rice, topped with seared or aburi salmon and some mayonaisse-like puree. The aburi salmon meat was soft inside and melts in the mouth, yet partially torched to retain that semi-burnt fragrance. The soft-shell crab remained warm and crispy inside, so it was soft on the outside and crispy in the inside. This is definitely one of the few orgasmic food I have had in 2013. The gang was so delighted, we ordered a second round.
Salmon Aburi Roll ($13.90)
The Salmon Aburi Roll ($13.90) did not disappoint as well. It came with raw salmon instead of fried soft shell crab enclosed in the roll. The raw salmon was thick but not overpowering, firm but not tough, so you could taste the unique interaction between the seared salmon and raw salmon in your mouth. The seared salmon was warm, soft and tender while the raw salmon was a little chilled and chewy. So the aburi rolls play on the seemingly paradoxical interplay between the soft and crispy (for Soft Shell Aburi Roll) and warm and cold (for Salmon Aburi Roll), to give that tantalising and fulfilling dining experience. I am definitely not exaggerating. We, however, caution against ordering both rolls at the same time, as the table behind us did just that and had to wait for about 20min or so. (It was nicely presented on a big white ceramic plate with European-style plating and garnish) We were lucky that we ordered the aburi rolls one by one, so that we could savour the first roll while waiting for the second roll.
Ebi Fry Temaki ($3.90)
Muscle Man ordered the Ebi Fry Temaki ($3.90) for himself and this came a while after we finished the Chirashi don. According to Muscle Man, the fried prawn was crispy but not fantastic. Nevertheless, it was still a well-presented hand-roll on the whole.
Nigiri Sushi, comprising Kinmedai, Aji and Mekajiki
Mr Mushroom ordered 3 nigiri sushi (Kinmedai, Aji and Mekajiki; $5, $3, $3.20) for himself, because he could not join in the Aburi Roll mania (Avocado Allergy). Nigiri sushi refers to hand-formed sushi, which is usually served raw. Unlike sashimi which is eaten with chopsticks, it is part of Japanese etiquette to eat these hand-made sushi with your bare hands, even in formal setting. Aji refers to Japanese jack mackerel, typically with shiny scales. Mekajiki refers to swordfish and kinmedai refers to Splendid alfonsino. For HK drama potatoes who have watched 鱼跃在花见, you would know that tai (sea bream or snapper) is also known as “Japan’s King of fish”. In that episode, the superior Madai lost to the second-grade chidai due to clever understanding of the spawning period of the 2 fishes. Madai is also known as “genuine tai”, and is traditionally served at traditional or celebratory occasions. Madai spawns in late spring (April) and summer (June), and is regarded as a winter fish. On the other hand, chidai or crimson sea bream, spawns in the fall and tastes best in summer. This is because spawning exhausts the fish of its nutrients and leaves the flesh considerably drained and less sweet. The episode was probably set in late spring or summer, such that the superior madai had drained its nutrients, while the second-grade chidai was at its fittest time of the year, preparing for spawning. This was how chidai “defeated” the high and mighty madai. So if you’re in a Japanese restaurant, such knowledge will come in handy – consume madai in winter and chidai in summer.
As for Mr Mushroom, these nigiri sushi were worth the wait. Mr Mushroom was initially very grumpy because he finished his Salmon Ikura don and had to wait for another 15-20min for these 3 pieces of nigiri sushi. “How long must they take to make just 3 pieces of sushi?” (Presumably, they were pre-occupied with the massive aburi rolls for the table behind us) But the wait was worthwhile. When it arrived, all eyes were glued at Mr Mushroom’s expression.
“It is…(wait for 5 seconds)….NOT BAD.”
For a fussy and impatient eater, that should mean something. The raw sashimi which laid lazily on top those sushi rice definitely lived up to his expectations. However, Mr Mushroom’s only grouse was that the sushi rice could have stayed together more firmly, so that it didn’t fall apart that easily.
Tofu Cheesecake ($4.50)
Our dessert was the Tofu Cheesecake ($4.50), which was highly recommended by other bloggers as well. The tofu was nicely infused with the cream cheese – smooth, silky and not too thick or sweet. Again, our only grouse was that the biscuit crumb base was a little too tough, and we were so afraid that while slicing it we would make a fool out of ourselves. Nevertheless, we finished the tofu cheesecake before we knew it. (If possible, I would very much like to try this green tea tofu cheesecake recipe).
We must admit that we have been difficult customers. The servers were very young (including Chef Eugene Heng) and endeavoured to answer our queries, such as what fishes there were in the chirashi or premium chirashi don, how many slices were there in each don etc. One of the young bosses (probably!) was all smiles and tried his best to keep us happy. Perhaps we were too paisei to retrieve the water dispenser just two steps at the bar counter and obtain some cold water for ourselves, but if they were served, it would be perfect!
Like our fellow blogger, we believe that the sashimi at Sushi Bar may not be as spectacular as the nearby Wasabi Tei, but the aburi rolls here are probably the best we have had in Singapore. The earnesty and sincerity (in the words of Mr Handsome) encapsulated in the dishes served had left a deep impression in us. Also worth mentioning is the thoughtful and helpful service. Other recommendations (by other bloggers) include the Scallop Mentaiyaki ($13.90) and Sirloin Steak ($14.90 for 100 g). We probably would be popping by this place very soon anyway! (Mr Handsome would be most pleased because he loved everything here)
P.S. We are just wondering if the aburi rolls are available without avocado, because Mr Mushroom is allergic to avocado and therefore could not savour the aburi salmon.
Rating: 3.91 / 5 Ah Boy Sushi
*Postnote by LG
I visited this place sometime in April and was slightly disappointed. While the food was indeed above average, I found their service to be a little too overenthusiastic, to the point of being pushy. For example, the server promoted their homemade chawanmushi to us before we even had time to browse through the menu. When we ordered the Salmon Aburi Roll, he kept trying to convince us to try the Soft Shell Crab Aburi roll instead. Even after we rejected him, he continued to promote their soft shell crab roll by saying how it’s so crunchy and delicious bla bla bla… until I told him that I don’t eat soft shell crabs. When we enquired about the portion size of the chirashi don, he kept promoting the larger one which contained sea urchin, even after we said we didn’t like sea urchin. I also found their menu to be lacking in variety compared to other Japanese restaurants, especially in terms of “healthier food” choices. Hence, sad to say, I doubt I’ll be returning anytime soon… :(