With a new business partner and a bold new look, Hashida Singapore on Amoy Street is well primed to garner even more fans
News of a restaurant opening tend to be met with cautious optimism, especially in a city this spoilt for choice. But when diners learned of Hashida Singapore’s comeback on Amoy Street (after moving from previous addresses at the Mandarin Gallery and Mohamed Sultan Road), the excitement was irrefutable, even expected.
Chef Kenjiro ‘Hatch’ Hashida, the maestro at the helm, has after all made quite an impression on the island’s most discerning diners, since he opened his first eponymous restaurant here in 2013. This time, though, he has partnered with the OUE Restaurants (the food and lifestyle division of global property developer OUE Limited) and subsequently managed to secure a space within one of Singapore’s hottest dining enclave.
Hatch—as he is affectionally known—is an atypical Japanese chef whose innovative spirit has quickly outgrown expectations one might have placed on the son of a renowned master sushi chef. But it pays to keep in mind that woven into his exploration of the global influences on the modern sushi omakase is a reverence for his culinary heritage.
Evidence of this is set in the restaurant’s updated design, and they are subtle, intelligent and in some areas artfully quirky. Like the use of Hiba wood—a species native to Aomori where Hatch’s father is from—for the countertops in two of the three dining rooms, and even recycled 200-year-old wood beams from an old house in Kyoto that are used as decorative panels in the third and smallest room. In contrast are more modern accents, such as a cloud-like lighting fixture in the largest (12-seater) dining room that Hatch had helped design. This, he suggested, could also be seen as “mountains” or “waves”—open in fact to interpretation—noting how the idea is meant to reflect his uninhibited culinary imaginations as well.
We then learned that the dining room walls’ gradient shades of grey not only presents returning diners with a slight change of scenery (if they sat in a different seat, that is) but more significantly, alludes to “the transition from day to night”. He explained that it’s a conceptual nod to the importance of the fishermen, farmers and those in the logistics industry who work tirelessly to provide him with the season’s best even while he is resting for the night. It is certainly a timely reminder of the ties that bind, and one that made the experience that much more immersive.
To be sure, the elevated cuisine championed here transcends the customary. Hatch assured us when we visited on the second night of the opening that signatures such as his artful presentation of creamy monkfish liver served with a sugary crown are still available albeit on a different menu. The point is that the new menu we savoured that evening was just as much the elegant embodiment of the chef’s imaginative cuisine that we were expecting.
He also made time to highlight how one of the new dishes is a take on a New Year dish and an apt addition to mark new beginnings. At its heart is handmade ozoni (mochi rice cake) in the style that’s unique to Kyoto, which he prefers.
Tradition calls for it to be served simply in white miso soup base, but Hatch had added a twist, incorporating gobo (burdock) that is first confit and then simmered with white miso to make the broth. The more defining tweak we felt was the decision to complement an already flavourful yet comforting dish with a nugget of apple (also from Aomori) for a surprising but welcome hint of natural sweetness. Even the humble chawanmushi that was served as a prelude to the sushi course was given a much-appreciated upgrade, laden with shrimp and lotus root, and topped with a delicate splotch of cauliflower puree dusted with roasted shichimi (seven spice). Who knew that a mildly spicy hit was what the ubiquitous steamed egg custard needed?
More immediately indulgent items from the sushi course include a serving of belt fish that’s lightly grilled skin-side only over binchotan and served with fresh bafun uni and sushi rice on a sheet of nori. It can be a bit of a mouthful but a necessary one to be able to appreciate the harmonious dance of textures and deep ocean flavours that culminate in a lingering hint of sweetness, aided no doubt by the fact that Hashida Singapore’s sushi rice remains less tart than most.
Another skilfully controlled explosion of umami was found close to the end of the meal—a fitting exclamation point that combined a savoury-sweet miso soup enhanced with a rich fish stock and served with some of the most delicate fish cakes to boot.
Fans will no doubt appreciate how the cuisine has evolved to match the new interior’s somewhat playful but strategic designs—from the torii (shrine gate) at the entrance of the hallway to the dining rooms, to a tiny toy astronaut hidden in plain sight. You’d be right to anticipate a refined dining experience but expect it to be laced with a fair amount of the unexpected.
Hashida Singapore is at 77 Amoy Street, tel: 8129 5336 to make a reservation.