Meii Sushi is as famous for it’s top quality sushi as it is for its infamously strait-laced boss, Chef Hong. The legendary Chef Hong is well-known for turning down overly demanding and/or unannounced guests (even food guru KF Seetoh!) Before he settled at this cosy sushi bar, Chef Hong ran a hawker store and hotel restaurants.
When we met Chef Hong, we were a little wary, due to his reputation, but were pleasantly surprised to find that he has mellowed out over the years. A warm, welcoming man with quiet smiles, the camera shy owner-chef still manages to keep his prim ways in his new outlet. A good example of this is that guests under 16 are not allowed at his diner. Chef Hong explains that it’s a little difficult to enjoy food with children around. He established this rule to maintain a calmer atmosphere during dinner, to help create an environment where guests can appreciate his food.
Chef Hong really loves his seafood and it’s evident in his dishes. A great way to sample a wide variety of seafood carefully chosen by him is to try his Chirashizushi. Not only is the fish fresh, flavourful and creamy, his rice is fluffy and slightly sweeter than normal vinegar sushi rice. It is so good that you could just eat it on its own with no toppings and it still feel satisfied.
Chef Hong uses a special type of shoyu sushi dipping sauce. It’s a little lighter and sweeter than the normal dipping sauce. It complements the fish and rice very well despite not being as salty as the regular sauce. I’m told that it’s taste harkens to the Osaka-style rather than the more common Tokyo-style sauce.
The sushi served is well-balanced. There is a generous cut of fish laid overly firmly packed rice. The fish is fresh and flavourful. And while Chef Hong does serve up salmon sushi and sashimi, unlike most other sushi joints, he uses king salmon which has a richer taste than the usual salmon.
Chef Hong tells us that he prefers to import his fish from Kyushu instead of Tsukiji because Kyushu only sells fish caught in their local waters. These fish tend to be wild rather than farmed fish; unlike Tsukiji which brings in seafood from all over the world. This is also the same reason why he prefers to use king salmon over the regular salmon.
For our tasting (including the ones below) we got to try seafood such as uni (海胆, sea urchin), hirame (平目, fluke), kanpachi (間八, greater amberjack), shima-aji (しま鯵, white trevally), hon maguro (本鮪, bluefin tuna), chuutoro (中とろ, medium-fat bluefin tuna belly), ootoro (大とろ, fatty bluefin, ikura (イクラ, salmon roe), aji (鯵, jack mackerel), akagai (赤貝, ark shell), tuna belly), tai (鯛, seabream snappper), hotate (海扇, scallop), kohada (コハダ,gizzard shard), and aka ebi (赤海老, red prawn).
Chef Hong then decided to up his game by offering us 5 pieces of sushi served in the style of his omakase. These pieces of sushi had slices of fish that were thicker and longer than the ones offer earlier (from his lunch set). These pieces of sushi really allowed you to savour the flavours of the different fish. It’s this size of serving that makes his omakase set truly worthwhile. During Chef Hong’s omakase dinner, you’ll be served anywhere between 13-18 pieces of sushi or sashimi, along with an appetizer and dessert.
You can be certain that you’ll walk away full and satisfied with such portions.
Meii Sushi is heaven for uni lovers because Chef Hong’s omakase is famous for the use of uni. Depending on the season you may get to experience more than one kind of uni in one seating. For our tasting, we got to taste the crème de la crème of the uni world, Hokkaido bafun uni (馬ふんうに, horse apple sea urchin).
The uni we were served was like ice cream. It was cold, fresh, smooth and creamy. It had a slightly nutty, briny flavour. It had a beautiful bright yellow colour, a colourful indication of the uni’s grade A quality.
Chef Hong takes pride in being a traditional sushi chef. He’ll entertain requests for more unconventional sushi if he’s in the mood but will turn you away if you ask for dishes such as tempura or garlic fried rice.
If you’re looking for a true Japanese sushi bar experience in Singapore, Meii Sushi is as close as you’ll get. The restaurant often has a long waiting list, upwards of two months and Chef Hong is not inclined to entertain walk-in guests, so call to make a reservation before going down.
The Scarlet hotel
33 Erskine Road #01-01
Mon-Fri 11.30-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10pm
Closed Sun and PH