Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sushi of Good Value

I thought Sushi Ching has a slight resemblance of those hidden sushi-ya in Tokyo when we stepped out of the elevator in a random commercial building in a random neighborhood of Fortress Hill, with nothing but a small sign with the name hanging next to the non-descript wooden door entrance.

The zen-like decor extended to inside with the same light wood color scheme and the dining area was a L-Shaped counter table of 10, with the husband-wife team handling everything from behind the counter. The restaurant operates with a single seating at night with only the omakase menu - so we had to wait a little before everyone else arrived and settled before chef began serving. 

We began with a couple otsumami dishes. The tiny Shirouo (ice fish) was served with soy dressing and topped with toasted sesame, and the Hokkaido Mizu Tako (octopus) was served two ways, with the body thinly sliced and served with a dab of charcoal salt, and the slightly crunchy suction cup served with wasabi and soy sauce. Not often I had octopus in the form of sashimi but I quite like the delicate flavor especially the suction cups.  

Hokkigai (surf clams) was prepared in advance so all the chef needed to do was to take them out from the box that kept them, cut and serve. It was fresh with a good slightly crunchy texture. Our first piece of nigiri sushi was kasugo-dai (baby sea bream), served with shari seasoned with dark vinegar giving it a tinted color and rich flavor.  Another piece of sushi was served (Shiro-ebi, or baby white shrimps) before steamed tai shirako (sea bream milt) was served in a small bowl warm and dressed with soy sauce, scallions and grated daikon. 

I wasn't so much a fan of both the sakura masu (cherry salmon) and chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) sushi, both lacked flavor even with the brush of soy sauce on top. But the grilled hotaru-ika served on a bamboo skewer was lovely with the rich and creamy roes inside. Awabi (abalone) served with the liver sauce has become a common item at sushi meal these days, and this version was fine, with a slightly milder liver sauce and served with udon well mixed with the sauce and braised daikon on the side. 

We then worked towards the richer pieces, including the seasonal sawara (Spanish Mackerel), slightly grilled and smoked in straw, shimaji (yellowjack) and shime saba (cured mackerel) served in maki style topped with a piece of pickled daikon. Towards the end of the omakase course, a couple of grilled dishes were served - first, amadai (tilefish) was done uroko-yaki style served with deep-fried scallions, and then, noten, the tuna cut near to the head, was served with shoyuzuke ranou (soy-cured yolk). Both were delicious with rich flavor. The uni (sea urchins) probably didn't get any photogenic award but it tasted fine, with the blob of Hokkaido bafun uni piled on top of the rice and served in a small plate. And to finish, egg, soup and ice-cream as dessert. 

The restaurant got a nice sake list but we opted for something we brought in. We started with something unusual, an off-dry sparkling mead from Italy's Trentino region, then the classic Kokuryu Daiginjo served cold. Dry, aromatic with a pleasant floral fragrance, refreshingly light at first but with a rich and long after-taste. Overall, for this price and for the ambiance and the friendly service, the place is fine for something nice and easy. 

When? May 10 2021
Where? Sushi Ching, Room 1201-02 Jupiter Tower, 9 Jupiter Street, Fortress Hill
Idromiele l'esuberante Sparkling Mead, Trentino, Italy
Kokuryo Daiginjo, Kokuryu Brewery, Fukui Prefecture ( 黑龍大吟釀- 福井縣黑龍酒造)
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