Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hakumai - Inexpensive Sushi Omakase in Tanjong Pagar

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Omakase in Singapore definitely doesn't come cheap. We are talking about the ones which have perfected the sushi rice, the ones that use premium and fresh ingredients, and the ones who know how best to highlight the pristine flavours of each type of fish. Sushi omakase has long been stereotyped as a meal that will burn a deep hole in your pocket. Shinji, Hashida, and Tatsuya are some of the big names that most frequently pop into our minds when the word 'omakase' is mentioned. Dinner at any of these dining establishments will set you back at least $300 - $500. Hence, people always think that a good omakase meal is out of their reach, and budget. However, that is certainly not the case.

Hakumai offers both omakase and kaiseki. There are two types of omakase available — sushi omakase($68.80), and omakase course(market price)

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Hakumai, which is helmed by Chef Gary Ng who underwent ten years of training under two renowned Japanese chefs, claims that every ingredient used here is imported from Japan.

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We had the sushi omakase (12pieces/$108) on 2nd January 2018, but it seems like this menu is no longer available, according to their website.

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Grilled Kawahagi
Paired with mayonnaise and tobiko, the sailfish was pretty addictive.

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Truffle Chawanmushi

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Hirame, Otoro
I was surprised by the generous portion of fish given. This is definitely the most generous I've seen in an omakase meal!

The first thing that I noticed after taking a bite of the sushi was that the rice grains were pretty hard, and the rice grains didn't quite stick together. Also, the rice was lacking in taste. 

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Amberjack, Snapper
When Chef Gary served the amberjack, he said "amberjack, shima aji". I was a little confused because I always thought that shima aji is horse mackerel and amberjack is kanpachi. 

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Kinmedai, Aburi Salmon Belly
The aburi salmon belly was yum!

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The Oysters from Hiroshima were fresh and plump.

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Flounder fin — this melts in your mouth, but it's super oily.

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Angel hair pasta with sakura ebi, uni and negitoro. You can choose to have this in the rice version.

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Mentaiko Scallop, Kagoshima Wagyu
The wagyu was one of the highlights for me.

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Chef Gary's signature — goose liver and botan ebi.
Chef Gary paired two  extravagant ingredients together. Unfortunately, as expected, the strong taste of foie gras overwhelmed the light-tasting ebi. You can definitely feel the crunch of the prawn but you can hardly taste it.

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The soup was comforting and carried a subtle, lingering sweetness.

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Yuzu sorbet, black sesame icecream.

Hakumai vs Ryo Sushi 
Ryo Sushi, which is another affordable sushi haunt in Tanjong Pagar, has an 18-course omakase for $98 nett. Although the ingredients offered at Hakumai are definitely way more premium than the ones on offer at Ryo (foie gras, botan ebi, Kagoshima wagyu etc), the rice at Ryo Sushi is, unquestionably, nicer in terms of both texture and taste. The portions at Hakumai are alot more generous though — I've dined at Ryo Sushi twice, but I had never left with a full tummy. However, I was stuffed at Hakumai.

The service at both restaurants are equally good. Chef Gary is really entertaining and friendly!

With all that said, I still prefer Ryo Sushi because I just love the rice so much! Hakumai is still a pretty great option for omakase though! It's close to impossible to find a legit Japanese restaurant that serves up a mean omakase with such portions, and expensive ingredients, at such an affordable price tag.

International Plaza
10 Anson Road, #01-50A
Singapore 079903
Monday - Saturday : 1130am - 3pm, 6pm - 1030pm


Love, K

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