Being much of a tourist, especially when it comes to places in town—I have lost count of the times I had to check my phone to ensure I was headed the correct direction on Orchard Road—I’d wondered if my friend, who first introduced me to this Japanese restaurant at an ‘International Building’, was trying to pull a fast one.
It was only after much confirmation, and that it was the building with the 24-hour TCC at the front, that I’d managed to escape the sad fate of getting lost and found four days later, half-eaten by hungry wild dogs – or foreign workers.
Thinking that it was the lunch hour on a Monday, I didn’t bother with reservations. Boy, was I wrong to assume that this hidden find would be desolated and most welcoming to a rare Monday guest.
I walked into a full restaurant, and the snappy Chinese waitress gave me a look of disdain when I said I didn’t have a reservation. I couldn’t have been more thankful to people with small appetites, when two diners foot the bill and vacated their seats for my monstrous appetite and me.
Stepping into Sushi Kanazawa (formerly Sushi Kikuzawa), it felt both relaxed and busy at the same time; diners talked animatedly among themselves, while the two chefs behind the counter expertly, and continuously, whipped up sushi of all sorts.
Space is a tad tight in the restaurant though. There was only just enough space for an average-sized person to walk behind the row of seated diners – I had no problems obviously, but I worry for the more horizontally-challenged patrons.
If seating at the counter intimates you, like me – I have dined here three times, but have only spoken directly to the chef twice – there is only one solution: come in a large group. There is a private room at the back of the restaurant reserved for larger groups, though I’d also imagine that puts you at a disadvantage when trying to get the waitress’ attention.
I love buffets as much as I love desserts, so it was only natural that I opted for the ala carte buffet. The buffet here works with the chefs showcasing up their freshest selections of seafood, though you can interject with anything you fancy.
If it’s one thing I learnt from my multiple visits, it is that wastage is not tolerated—and will be charged as per ala carte pricing—so expect to guilt trip yourself into visiting the gym after chowing down every grain of rice.
The buffet started off with two starters. The Shake no Ponzu (salmon cooked in a mix of ponzu and soy sauce) looked almost like a dish of braised lean pork, but this nicely marinated, savoury salmon appetizer gets my vote over the former.
The chicken in the Nikujyaga (stewed chicken & vegetables) was a bit tough, but the soup is amazing light and delicious. While the chewy jelly cubes were something I’ve experienced elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of gingko nuts, something usually found in Chinese soups instead.
The Sashimi Moriawase—a platter of fresh tuna, salmon, white fish and squid—is delicately presented. I’m not usually a fan of squid sashimi as it can be a bit too chewy for my liking, but Sushi Kanazawa manages to achieve that fine balance of size and chewiness. My only qualm is that the restaurant only offers a single serving of sashimi per guest for the buffet.
Expertly seared with a blowtorch right before being served, the Nihotategai (cooked scallop) is elevated to a different level with an added smoky touch, and the Unagi (river eel) has a slightly crisp top layer that goes fantastically well with the sweet fish – it almost reminds me of the layer of caramel atop a crème brûlée.
The Aburi Shake (seared salmon) was also a demonstration of the chef’s perfect control of a blowtorch. Cooked only just on the surface, it provides the different tastes and textures of the fish—cooked and raw—in one sushi.
Not the first time I’ve enjoyed Aji (horse mackerel), but definitely the first time it was served with a topping of ginger. Usually used in Chinese cuisine, the ginger is to tame the gamey taste of seafood or lamb, and definitely something more Japanese establishments should pick up on.
While many restaurants concentrate on appearance or marketing, Sushi Kanazawa focuses on the little details that really make a difference to one’s meal. My Kajiki (sword fish) sushi came with a small slice of mint leaf underneath, which brought the simple sushi to an entirely new level – it was like having a mouthwash while eating sushi!
Fans of tuna will not be disappointed with the Maguro (not pictured) sushi served here. Seasoned with a special sauce and topped with fragrant sesame seeds, it brings out a different characteristic of the classic raw tuna fish.
Also included in the buffet are some Hot & Cold dishes, Dons (mini rice bowls), as well as Temaki (handrolls). I wasn’t impressed with the Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), primarily because of its appearance. Call me superficial, but a good chawanmushi should have both flawless surface and a smooth texture, so the teenager-like pockmarked surface really turned me off.
While I usually do not consume mayonnaise – one of the most calorie-dense condiments you can squirt over food – I would willingly put in the extra miles on the treadmill for the 3 servings of Takoyaki I stuffed my face with. Served piping hot, with generous chunks of octopus, and insides that seem to melt in your mouth, I only regret I was too embarrassed to order more for myself.
All in all, Sushi Kanazawa is an excellent and definitely value-for-money choice to enjoy a decent variety of sushi – where else can you find Uni (sea urchin) included in a buffet listing? Admittedly, service can be improved—namely from the waitress—but that is easily overlooked with the quality and standard of food served at this price. Definitely better than any conveyor belt chain.
Lunch Buffet (12pm-3pm):
Mon – Fri: $29.90 (Adult), $19.00 (Child)
Sat, Sun & PH: $39.90 (Adult), $22.00 (Child)
Dinner Buffet (6pm-10pm):
Mon – Fri: $39.90 (Adult), $22.00 (Child)
Sat, Sun & PH: $48.00 (Adult), $25.00 (Child)
International Building, #02-13
360 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6738 3833
Reservations not necessary, but advisable.
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