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Autumn signals the harvest of two gourmet ingredients, truffles and hairy crab, both of which are featured in the exquisite 20-course menu ($2,980/person) by Chef Hiroki Nakanoue and Chef Tatsumi Sugawara of Sushiyoshi at The OTTO Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. As the first overseas outpost of Chef Nakanoue’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Osaka, the menu features the same alchemy of Edomae-style cuisine with contemporary techniques and flavours that have won so many accolades for the original restaurant.
The hairy crab omakase menu is available from now until mid-December and features premium crustaceans from Jiangsu province, judged by the chefs to be the finest of the season.
A festive tower of auburn hairy crab greeted us as we took our seats around the wrap-around counter of the restaurant, with a grinning Chef Sugarawa standing proudly behind.
First to arrive was the beautifully plated akagai (ark shell) sashimi with mozuku seaweed, topped with passion fruit foam. The foam perfumed the sweet clam meat with a fruity aroma, while the tosa vinegar dressing added balance to the briny strands of seaweed.
Steamed hairy crabmeat, teased carefully out of the tiny crustaceans, was soaked in traditional Hua Diao wine, rose wine, goji berries and sake before being carefully draped in a Hua Diao gelatin. The sweet depth of the Hua Diao perfectly complemented the delicate crabmeat, showcasing why this flavour combination has worked for centuries.
Slow-cooked lobster topped with hairy crab roe arrived next, crowned with a disc of pressed black caviar. An import from France, the caviar added to the umami-laced notes of the overall dish. The bouncy, succulent lobster was marinated in shrimp roe to further enhance the umami factor.
An exemplary showcase of mastery knife work, both the ika (squid) and sanma sushi were expertly sliced to give the best texture upon first chew.
Almost too pretty to eat, the botan shrimp carpaccio featured a hairy crab “crystal ball” reminiscent of an egg yolk. We poked through the yolk and creamy hairy crab roe oozed across the sweet shrimp carpaccio, creating an indulgent spoonful.
In our view, these are best sort of cones! On the left, we indulged in sweet shrimp and Hokkaido uni, whilst on the right is the full decadence of creamy hairy crab roe atop sweet crabmeat. Superb bites!
On the comfort-food front, there’s hairy crab ravioli topped with white truffle. Each perfect ravioli is filled with hairy crab as well as white fish, served in a soothing kombu dashi.
Most commonly, fish roe is soaked in a brine before being served, but we veered on the side of freshness and savoured ikura (salmon roe) straight from the egg sac. The ruby eggs were sweeter and stickier than the brined variation.
Umami in a cup, the hairy crab miso cappuccino is a soothing bisque of the crustacean, perfect for cool autumn temperatures.
A beautifully marbled slab of bluefin toro tuna, dry-aged for seven days, was the key ingredient for the next two items on the menu. A slice of luscious, melt-in-the-mouth otoro made for mouth-watering sushi, while four different cuts of tuna were used to make Sushiyoshi’s signature toro maki.
The signature maki, comprised of otoro, chutoro, akami and grilled tuna, was so huge that we had to use our hand for comparison! The textural and flavour contrast between the various cuts of tuna meant that each bite came with a different taste experience.
It was our first time tasting crab roe in dessert form, and the hairy crab roe mochi was a sweet-and-savoury surprise. It reminded us of a salted egg dessert, although with more umami-like undertones.
What an epic crab feast! For hairy crab lovers, this would be a gold-standard meal, veering from the traditionalism of Chinese cuisine but an indulgent example of how a predominately Chinese ingredient can be adapted for use in other regional cuisines. Diners can also experience the most coveted part of the crab, the roe, without getting their hands dirty, albeit at a mind-boggling price.
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.
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