Omakase has been the discipline du jour for Japanese restaurants these past few years, topped only by the prolific opening of ramen restaurants that have become a relentless obsession in this city. For the uninitiated, omakase translates into “I’ll leave it up to you” – the practice of entrusting the chef to serve the best courses to your table. The allure lies in the the experience of the chef to source unique seasonal ingredients and their expertise to dish out the best bites for their select clients.
Located in a new building on Ashley Road, a couple of blocks behind Nathan Road, Sushi Taki is a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle around TST. The sushi bar has a particular charm as it offers panoramic views of the rooftops of the vibrant shopping area below.
Depending on how hungry you are, the dinner menu starts at Ume ($800) and goes up to Matsu ($1,580), where you get starters, five pieces of sashimi, seven pieces of sushi and various grilled and soup items. Lunch is quite reasonable given the quality, with lunch bento boxes starting at $280.
Usually, traditional omakase menus have a rigid procession, where you start with raw fish when your palate is fresh, then graduate to the heavier grilled and fried items. Here at Sushi Taki, the chef mixes this up by serving soups and grilled items in between the courses of raw fish. It certainly helps with the palate fatigue, especially if you’re going all out with the Matsu menu.
As mentioned above, what the chef serves is highly dependent on seasonality, so make sure to communicate with the restaurant about preferences and allergies before you dig in. We were treated to the Matsu menu, and highlights of the multi-course menu included the tuna loin from Nagasaki. The chef told us counter-side that the fatty cut was chilled instead of frozen, and because of this, every bite was tendon free. We thoroughly enjoyed this; the sashimi was the perfect balance of fragrance and tenderness.
We also liked the rosy sea bass, where a light char on the exterior brought out the oiliness of the fish and the accompaniment of soy and spring onion enhanced the the briny flavours of the sea. Our sashimi courses were broken up by the grilled belt fish. After five dishes of decadent – but cold – raw fish, a cooked dish was a welcome change. Served with fresh lime, the skin was crispy. This small portion was enough to whet our appetite for the sushi to come.
Among the whopping number of sushi courses, we really liked the fresh mackerel, with the fish sliced thinly into three. Mackerel is known for its strong flavour, and the layering subtly dispersed the punch of the fish and let the perilla leaf garnish add a hint of freshness to the bite.
Next up was the shirahige sea urchin, which is known for its soft, sweet taste. The chef felt that a conventional piece of sushi rice is too dense to showcase the delicate flavours of the shellfish and instead served it generously in a bowl of loosely packed rice. This was a joy to eat, with the grains of rice adding just enough interest to complement the almost runny-textured uni.
We took a break and were served sakura shrimp tempura, which was like an eggless fritter with tiny dots of prawn. The batter was also infused with bay leaf, and the result was a medley that tasted like a crunchy lobster bisque – again, a nice detour before we tackled more sushi. Amongst the remaining courses was the late autumn salmon roe. The whole roe – in its membrane and all – was marinated by the chef two days in advance, leaving us with a divinely sweet little parcel of roe that burst with eat bite: absolute fun on the palate.
There were definitely many, many courses, so we can’t mention them all in this one review. We really enjoy this new wave of omakase that intersperses the sushi and sashimi courses with tempura, grilled items and soups to keep our appetite going and excited for more. The ingredients at Sushi Taki are good and the chef clearly puts a lot of thought into each course. It’s worth forging a relationship with the chef here to keep in the loop for the interesting and special ingredients to come.
17/F, 17–19 Ashley Road, TST, 2706 2028
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.