Thursday, November 2, 2023

New on the Block

We saw a series of sushi restaurant openings since COVID and that trend continues with Sushi Kanesaka being the latest entry. This Ginza-based Sushi-ya has grown into quite an empire now with multiple branches in Japan and elsewhere (some under the name Shinji by Kanesaka), and in Hong Kong, they have taken up the space that used to be Masa in CCB Tower. 

This time we opted for an early dinner at the private room served by Chef Kento Omine – love this cozy space which can seat only 4 with undivided attention from the chef working right in front of us behind the wooden counter. The omakase menu followed the most traditional style with otsumame followed by nigiri sushi. The recent Japanese seafood ban didn’t seem to affect them much, with the ingredients now sourced from prefecture not impacted by the (stupid) government restriction. 

We began with the series of appetizers – the seasonal kegani from Hokkaido was served with a generous dollop of caviar on top and ponsu jelly underneath, then it’s the sliced Hirame served as sashimi with mild sea flavor and nice bouncy texture. The few pieces of Aka-uni (Red Sea Uchins) from Awajishima had a rich flavor, with just sprinkle of salt being the only seasoning before it’s being served to us by the chef. The octopus was on par, tender and flavorful, and I thought it worked well with a tiny bit of mustard served on the side. Many places now serve abalones with the liver sauce, but this time chef decided to present the thick slices in the simplest form just by slow-poached in dashi broth so we could focus on the soft, tender texture and clean flavor. 

We then moved on to the sushi courses. We followed the traditional order of starting with the lighter pieces with progressing flavor. We began with the buri, or yellowtail, which was in its prime during colder months – still early in the season but I loved the fatty texture. The couple of tuna sushi came from the same fish with two different parts – first the akami-zuke briefly marinated before serving followed by the otoro (fatty tuna). The kohada (gizzard shad) was on the lean side but got nice subtle flavor. Aji, or horse mackerel, which came after the Sumi-ika piece, was my favorite this evening – beautifully presented by Chef Omine with great flavor. Akagai (arc shell) was another beauty – felt like I didn’t see this often in local sushi restaurants and this one was brilliant with good, bouncy texture. 

Compared to the aka-uni we had earlier, the Bafun Uni, this time from Hokkaido, had a slightly lighter flavor but creamier texture – perfect as sushi. The piece of Anago was soft like I remembered at the other Sushi Kanesaka restaurants I have tried, served with a gentle brush of tare sauce, also lighter flavored then the usual. Thought we have approached the end of our sushi course but Chef Omine brought out more tuna from the wooden cabinet and made us the final course of Tekka-maki roll with three different parts (akami, chu-toro and otoro) rolled with bits of Takuan (pickled daikon) for the crunchy texture. 

A couple of drinks were poured as the dinner progressed. The barrel-aged artisanal beer was the interesting one, with hint of wooden from the aging and balanced wheaty taste. We finished with a sweet sake not served in a cup but in the bowl with our dessert, with the kutumitsu-like flavor and texture (from the long aging process) working just well with the sea salt ice-cream. 

When? September 25 2023
Where? Sushi Kanesaka, Level 5 CCB Tower, 3 Connaught Road Central, Central
2022 Ippaku Suisei Premium Junmai Daiginjo, Fukurokuuju Shuzo, Aomori Prefecture
一白水成 Premium純米大吟醸 - 秋田県福禄寿酒造
Manrei Nomirinko, Komatsu Shuzo, Saga Prefecture
万齢 純米蜜酒 「プレミアムのみりんこ」- 佐賀県 小松酒造

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