Published on Monday, 08 January 2018 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Koji Sushi Bar is a homely yet sophisticated little Japanese restaurant set within walking distance from the offices in the Central Business District (CBD) along Pickering Street, which has amassed a loyal cult following of enamored white-collared customers for its affordable premium culinary offerings kissed by a touch of luxury.
The tiny space is furnished with a central island kitchen where up to 20 diners can sit around the bar and watch their meals being prepared fresh from scratch right infront of their very eyes. The nondescript interior is done up in warm earth tones and illuminated by warm yellow spot lights which give off a comfortable and laidback ambiance.
The word Koji (糀) symbolizes a place to wine, dine and enjoy, which the little restaurant perfectly encapsulates. It is helmed by owner and chef Benny Cheong who picked up the tricks of the trade right here in Singapore, so his Japanese dishes are very intricate and complex with multi-dimensional flavors and textures just like what local food is like. He also possesses a flair for plating, and presented some of the most aesthetically pleasing Japanese dishes we have ever seen, adorned with a glittering 24-karat gold leaf.
We had a taste of Koji Sushi Bar’s famous omakase, priced at $98++/pax for 8 courses and $128++/pax for 12 courses. Do take note to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance for Koji’s omakase as seating is limited and the team will have to prepare the appropriate quantity of produce.
This sneak peek that we tasted is not fully representative of what you will get when you order the omakase at the restaurant as ours had limited portions just for the sake of a media sampling. So if you think that the following dishes we sampled are a lot, be prepared to be lavished with an extravagant feast that will distend your belly beyond belief.
Drenched in a thick and gooey century egg yolk sauce infused with sukiyaki sauce, the block of tofu is topped with tobiko roe and century egg jelly. The sauce is rich and creamy with a tinge of acidity from the century egg yolk which complements the mild tasting soft and silky tofu. The century egg jelly adds a bouncy and springy texture while the tobiko roe provides a crunchy and juicy contrast to the pulpous appetizer.
Shirako is a special Japanese delicacy that can only be enjoyed at choice seasons. This dish is not for the conservative as it is essentially, cod fish sperm, but if you pluck up the courage and gather up your sense of adventure to plop this in your mouth, you will be wholly rewarded by its uniquely creamy texture.
The soft cluster of white, creamy lobes burst with a perfunctory bite and inundated the mouth with a rich and creamy custard-like wash of delicately sweet flavors with a faint whisper of its oceanic origin. The ponzu sauce that it was served in, added a salty and citrusy tang that helped balance out the heaviness of the shirako’s creamy texture, while the wakame seaweed and cucumber gave a refreshing crunch to this dish.
Dashi jelly was served in a shot glass and loaded with tomato, uni, botan ebi and alaskan crab. The dashi jelly was refreshing and light but carried a strong savory smoky finish of bonito, while the uni was sweet and creamy, the botan ebi was sweet, sparkling and sticky, and the alaskan crab was sweet, malty with a bouncy texture. The tomato cut through the savory ingredients with its sweet and fruity tang. It was an interesting appetizer that overflowed with umami thanks to the amazing seafood piled within.
The sashimi platter we had at Koji Sushi Bar consisted of otoro, kanpaichi, aburi barracuda and engawa.
The extensively marbled slice of otoro was imbued with so much of the lovely belly fat that it verged on being pure white. It was sweet, succulent, rich, creamy, and so tender that it rapidly melted like snow as soon as it touched the tongue.
Topped with caviar and gold flake, this slice of kanpaichi was a little piece of luxury. The kanpaichi was buttery with a firm bite that after a couple of chews yielded and melted in the mouth with a bright and clean after taste. The caviar added little bursts of saltiness to the fish.
The outside of the aburi barracuda was oily, firm and smoky with a soft and slightly mushy interior which created different layers of sensory pleasure in the process of mastication.
The engawa is the flesh derived from the area around a flounder’s fin, and it is prized for its limited quantity (only eight servings in the entire fish) and its uniquely crunchy texture. It was thick and buttery in the mouth but quickly melted into a rich, oily and smoky combination of viscous juices with every chew.
This giant Japanese oyster exploded in the mouth with its lovely creamy and briny juices. The oyster meat was plump, meaty, juicy and buttery with fresh and clean cucumber-like burst of flavors released in each bite. The initial brininess that hit my palate slowly evolved into a sweet and mellow finish packed with juices, followed by a clean and crisp aftertaste.
A4 Wagyu Beef Sukiyaki
The sukiyaki dashi broth infused the creamy and intricately marbled wagyu beef with a delicious sweet and salty flavor that wonderfully complemented the tender, melt-in-the-mouth buttery beef slices. This piping hot bowl was a rather hearty dish that melted the cockles of our heart, and would be the perfect comfort food for any rainy day.
Shiro Ebi Sushi
This pure white species of shrimps are called the “jewels of Toyama Bay”. They are extremely small so it takes a lot of painstaking deshelling of several shiro ebi to construct a shiro ebi sushi. The shiro ebi had a very clean and crisp flavor with a subtle hint of sweetness, the mildness of its flesh can be compared to squid, except that the shiro ebi’s texture is a lot softer with a buttery viscosity.
This was one of the most indulgent sushis we have ever had. A slice of otoro was torched with a flame so that the fats within melted ever so slightly and coated the entire sushi with it oily richness before it was topped with a heaping of negitoro. The entire sushi was a pure bite of heaven - fatty, oily, creamy, sweet, smoky and rich which immediately disintegrated on the tongue into a gooey viscosity.
A4 Wagyu Beef Uni Sushi
Varying levels of creaminess from the elaborate webbing of fat within the wagyu beef and the velvety uni gave rise to a morsel of staggered layers of decadent tastes and textures. The savoriness of the fatty beef beautifully complemented the sweet and umami uni, with the little spheres of caviar bursting with a salty taste of the sea.
Soft and custardy soy bean panna cotta was topped with okinawa black sugar. This dessert marked the sweet end to a fulfilling meal and was heavy with the sugary goodness of the black syrup which coated the light and refreshing milky soy bean panna cotta.
Koji Sushi Bar
Address: 3 Pickering Street, China Square Central #01-42, Singapore 048660
Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm (Closed Sun & Public Holiday)
Tel.: +65 6225 6125
Hi, I'm Cheryl. I possess a joie de vivre spirit unique to my character, my expressions of euphoria are wild in nature and I approach life like one colossal party. I love venturing into the unknown and exploring all that is possible; from exotic foods to cliff-diving. When I am not seeking out something extraordinary to check off my bucket list, I love curling up on a comfy couch with a glass of wine and a book in hand. Follow my personal adventures in my blog here where I let loose of all inhibitions, voice my inner-most emotions, exult in all that is wonderful, unleash the monsters within, lose myself in beautiful reveries, reminisce treasured memories and curate recherché experiences.