Chirashizushi, a dish of succulent slivers of raw seafood which is artfully configured on a bed of vinegared Japanese rice, is, in our opinion, one of Japan's most delectable culinary creations. It's a lively expression of seasonal goodness; a glorification of the ocean's bounty; sushi manifested in a substantial portion. We eat our way through the best Japanese restaurants in town to find the best chirashizushi.
Where: Tatsuya (22 Scotts Rd., Goodwood Park Hotel, 6887-4598)
Tatsuya, a stalwart in Singapore's sushi scene, offers one of the most inventive chirashi dishes that we've seen on the island. It's raw-fish-be-gone as the restaurant's longtime Singaporean chef, Ronnie Chia, puts his torch to work on slices of seafood to create the Aburi Chirashi (market price). It's a lovely flash-flamed mixed bag of the day's freshest fish. Usually reserved for nigiri sushi, this technique seals in the moisture of the fish and creates a slightly charred, flavourful exterior. As if that's not enough, there are luxurious dollops of luscious ikura and creamy uni spooned on as well.
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Assorted sashimi on sushi rice (top)
Where: Sushi Kuu (#01-07, 390 Orchard Rd., Palais Renaissance, 6736-0100)
Happening Hong Kong-born sushi restaurant, Sushi Kuu, won us over with the sight of their Assorted Sashimi on Sushi Rice ($65). This order comes in an oversized (you'll need two hands to hold it) ceramic bowl and the contents of the bowl nearly runneth over. The glistening morsels of raw seafood found in this dish are flown into Singapore directly from the land of the rising sun. You'll get a taste of Tsukiji Market's best as there's a considerable selection of seafood here. You can expect generous portions of toro, maguro, botan ebi, scallop, uni, ikura, kinmedai, crab, salmon and ebiko. But if you're watching your wallet, enjoy this dish during the lunch hour when it's available for $52. Added bonus? At no extra cost, you'll get extra goodies like miso soup, udon and ice cream thrown into the mix too.
Where: Hanare (99B Tanjong Pagar Rd., 6222-1976)
In our expensive city, a bowl of chirashi going for less than $18 would be considered a steal to many. But if that low price included a small buffet of appetizers and tea, that would be unbeatable, unbelievable even. This is exactly what's for offer at Hanare, a spin-off of affordable Tanjong Pagar Japanese eatery, Teppei. The Bara Chirashi ($17.90) is the star dish at this popular lunch-time place. It's constituted of roughly cut chunks of various raw seafood marinated in a soy and wasabi sauce, plus ikura, spring onion, nori, sesame seeds and sushi rice. Word of caution: Hanare is largely self-service and the buffet reads more “cafeteria” than “restaurant”, so come with the right expectations to avoid disappointment.
Where: Aoki (#02-17, 1 Scotts Rd., Shaw Centre, 6333-8015)
Aoki's entrance won't be decipherable to anyone that doesn't read Kanji. But it's a place for moneyed regulars and sushi snobs anyways, so perhaps that's appropriate. If you're not dining in groups, the only seats available are at the counter, in front of a dramatically lit stage for sushi making. Behind this counter are two wooden boxes which hold the day's gifts of the sea: various colours and cuts of of fresh seafood. Have a taste of the various seafood in the Mazechirashi ($40), which is only available during lunch. In it, there's sweet and spongy tamago, slices of baby cucumber and a medley of cubed seafood which is dressed lightly in a soy-based sauce. The sushi rice is seasoned with fragrant white sesame and umami nori. It's a delicious and delicate affair complete with dainty dishes of salad, miso soup, pickles and a small assortment of bite-sized desserts.
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Where: Fat Cow (#01-01/02, 1 Orchard Blvd., Camden Medical Centre, 6735-0308)
Fat Cow is a restaurant known for its top-of-the-line selection of wagyu beef. But only a few know that they also whip up one of the best Negitoro Dons ($34) in town. The hand-chopped fatty tuna belly in this dish is sensational and the pink flesh quite literally melts down in your mouth. The rich dish is topped with sesame seeds, freshly-grated wasabi, pickled ginger, shiso sprouts and the obligatory sliced spring onions. Fat Cow's Negitoro Don is only available during lunch and is value for money as it comes with small portions of salad, chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert of the day.