Thursday, February 4, 2016

Decent Edomae Sushi

With only a short weekend stay and so many new places to try in Macau, I was debating whether we should spend more time for local, casual meals or the more upscale, fine-dining outlets. But with every weather forecast warning against a weekend thunderstorm, I played safe and made a Sunday lunch booking at Shinji by Kanesaka, the new sushi joint just right across the street from our hotel. At least we didn't have to walk too far in case weather turned bad (which it turned out did for a good part in the morning)

The restaurant is located on the ground level of Crown Towers, one of the 3 hotels at the City of Dreams complex. After walking in through the rather discrete entrance behind the bamboo "wall", we were led into the seats reserved for us at the U-shaped sushi bar in front of Chef Satoshi. We opted for a late lunch (so can spare more time for our morning food crawl) so by the time we arrived, a few group of customers were already either in the middle of their meal or finishing up.

The young chef-owner Shinji Kanesaka is probably one most aggressive in expanding its restaurant "empire", branching out from his Ginza "flagship" restaurant into a second branch in Tokyo's Marunochi district, a summer pop-up in Karuizawa and a couple outposts in Singapore, one of which earned him on the map as one of the Asia's Best Restaurants. This one in Macau is his latest overseas venture and within one year of opening, received the first Michelin star (his second - in addition to the one he kept at the original Sushi Kanesaka in Ginza)

We had the pleasure of having lunch at his Ginza restaurant a few years ago and this time we opted for a similar menu of the basic 10-pcs sushi course set. This time we were served by Chef Satoshi Udo at the counter. Overall I thought the food was decent - right on par with places of similar caliber in Hong Kong - and it was an enjoyable meal in a cozy atmosphere and setting, something I couldn't say too often for places in Macau, and the service was excellent.

We began with a small bowl of chawanmushi with shirako (steamed egg custard with fish sperm milt - creamy and good fish taste from the broth) and then the sushi pieces served were in order: Sayori (needlefish), Shimaji (striped jack), Kinmedai (Goldeneye Snapper), Akami-zuke (marinated lean tuna), Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), Akura (salmon roes), Aji (Horse Mackeral), Kasugodai (Baby Sea Bream), Hamaguri (Giant Clam), Sawara (Spanish Mackerel) and Anago (sea eel). Finishing up was the kanpyo-maki (dried gourd roll), egg castella, seasonal fruits and dessert. My favorite piece was the hamaguri towards the end of the service order - it has great texture and flavor. Both tuna pieces were lovely too; so was the anago, which was steamed and served with only a gentle brush of sauce on top - slightly different than the one we are more used to.

But I did feel the selection was a bit unbalanced. It's (somewhat) understandable that the basic set didn't come with premium ingredients like uni (sea urchin) or o-toro (fatty tuna), but I was surprised we only had one shellfish piece and no shrimp in our course - a bit dissappointed as I remembered their karuma-ebi (at their Ginza restaurant) was tasty. The Ikura (salmon roes) served in a bowl represented the only other course that's not fish, but that I thought was too heavily-flavored with soy sauce and the portion was a bit small. I also thought the rice was a tad bit too strong with seasonings, and in many cases, hid the fresh taste from the "neta". But in all fairness, for some reasons at the end we were given a bonus piece, a sawara (Spanish mackeral) which has been slightly smoked, giving it excellent aroma.

So I thought this is a decent meal with a few standout courses, just not blown-away great as I hoped it would be. Plus at this price point (plus the travel distance) it's not exactly one I would be too eager to dash back for. But still, the restaurant is easily Macau's best and among the better ones in the region.

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When? January 24 2016
Where? Shinji by Kanesaka, Level 1, Crown Towers at City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Macau
Drink? Kamoizumi Enjyu Junmai Daiginjo 賀茂泉延寿純米大吟釀 - 広島県 賀茂泉酒造

(Macau Food Crawl Part 5)

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