Chirashi craze

Chirashi craze
Kaisen don from Teppei restaurant chain. Kaisen don refers to rice bowls topped with sliced raw seafood only

Do not underestimate the draw of raw seafood on rice, commonly known as chirashi don or kaisen don.

From being an overlooked rice option on restaurant menus, it has become one of the most popular items for sushi lovers. After all, the one-bowl wonder marries both sushi and sashimi in a healthy, satisfying meal and makes for a convenient takeaway option too.

What started out as a quick way for sushi chefs to minimise wastage - by placing the pieces of fish left over from making nigiri sushi over rice - has now gone luxe with thick slices or marinated chunks of raw fish, along with ingredients such as uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe).

And chefs are trying to edge out the competition with variations featuring premium fish depending on the season as well as flavoured rice.

Mr Teppei Yamashita, chef-owner of the Teppei chain of restaurants, says he sells up to 600 bowls of kaisen don a day across his five outlets.

He says: "The kaisen don can be a surprise bowl. There are no fixed kinds of raw fish that we add. We cube our fish so it doesn't absorb too much sauce and become too salty."

Over at Sushi Jin, head chef Raymond Tan flavours his rice with shiitake mushrooms. The three-month-old restaurant at One Farrer Hotel & Spa sells up to 70 bowls a week at lunchtime.

Sushi Jin is owned by the Les Amis Group, which also runs Japanese restaurant Aoki at Shaw Centre, popular for its mazechirashi lunch set, priced at $40++.

At Sushi Mitsuya in Tras Street, the Japanese rice is flavoured with mushrooms, kanpyo (a type of gourd) and sesame seeds.

Its head chef Ryosuke Harada, 34, says: "Like sushi, both the fish and sushi rice are equally important in the final presentation. The bara chirashi also gives diners a good preview of the fish we serve in the restaurant."

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