Inconspicuously tucked away on the 9th level of M Hotel on Anson Road sits the first Japanese restaurant that introduced the concept of omakase to Singapore years back. Importing fresh seafood directly from Tsukiji and Sapporo, diners can be assured about the quality of Japanese cuisine served at Hokkaido Sushi.
While the regulars would be familiar with their omakase and ala-carte items, their recently launched buffet experience is a real steal. Priced at $38++ for lunch and $43++ for dinner, I could hardly find any reasons not to give it a shot. Unlike the usual buffet that has all the items on display, Hokkaido Sushi offers free flow ordering of selected items from their ala carte menu off a chit.
Fresh and generously thick slices of sashimi is no doubt a crowd drawer. With every order serving up three slices of the selected sashimi, expect the usual suspects such as tuna (maguro), swordfish (mekajiki), yellowtail (hamachi), octopus (tako) and salmon (sake).
Even though it is a buffet meal but as the orders are ala carte, it helps to ensure the freshness of the sashimi as they are prepared upon order. Also, presentation looks grand if you are planning to host some business associates.
With each diner entitled to one special sashimi order, expect to be impressed with delights such as scallop (hotate), sea bream and king-sized prawn! The sea bream was treated with utmost respect by the chef who cleverly littered truffle onto the finely sliced delicacy. This not only introduced an added dimension of fragrance to the dish but delivered an element of exclusivity to the meal.
No Japanese meal is complete without some sushi and maki. Top picks include Aburi Salmon Mentaiko where the fresh salmon slice sits beautifully on the mildly sweet premium grade Nanatsuboshi rice before a blow-torch sear that leaves a light char. Other than that, we also enjoyed the classic Hokkaido Maki - roll sushi topped with ebiko, homemade special sauce and mayonnaise with a bite of salmon in the centre. Flavours and textures, checked.
While I skipped the appetisers and went straight to the sashimi and sushi, those were the real highlights of the buffet. Also, quite frankly, nobody visits a buffet with appetisers in mind. That being said, be sure to check out some of the interesting signature dishes such as Pitan Tofu. The silken tofu was drenched in a savoury century egg dressing, imparting rich flavours and creamy consistency on the otherwise plain protein-laden dish.
For the egg-lovers, rejoice. The classic omelette (tamagoyaki) was a delight, bearing a hint of sweetness and just the right density for it to be an indulgence on its own. The Ikura Chawanmushi is a must-try in my opinion as the salinity from the salmon roe cut through the richness of the steam egg custard perfectly to leave a refined finishing on the after-taste.
When it comes to the grill, go for the salt-grilled halibut, a white fish similar to cod which left a nice layer of natural oil. Give that wedge of lemon a gentle squeeze to marry acidity to the fish and anyone would be smitten.
The prawn tempura received mixed critique from the diners at the table. While the batter left a nice golden tan and crispy coating on the prawns, it would have made all the difference if it was taken out from the fryer just a minute earlier. It was slightly overcooked which dehydrated the fresh prawn, depleting it of the much needed moisture to juxtapose the crisp batter.
If sashimi, sushi, grills and tempura are not your thing, go with the stir-fries such as this Wagyu Mushroom. With Australian Wagyu beef slices tossed amidst a medley of mushrooms before topping it off with fried garlic bits for the crunch, a fragrant bowl of rice is needed. Just one suggestion, toss in an egg to make it smoother and for that added oomph.
With a capacity big enough to house 120 diners, there are also private rooms which would make it particularly appropriate if you are looking to hold intimate discussions with your dining companions. Apart from the buffet set meals, there are also lunch sets ranging from mid $20 to $38 for the monthly seasonal special. For the quality of the sashimi and sushi, it would be hard to barter for a better deal in the CBD area!
Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant
M Hotel Singapore, Level 9
81 Anson Road
Tel: (65) 6221 3075
P.S: Special thanks to Francesca for the invite and Hokkaido Sushi for having us!
, by cy