The sushi scene here in the past few years has been marked by the opening of a few high-end sushi restaurants such as Shinji and Hashida. They serve excellent sushi but dinner at these restaurants easily costs more than $200 a person.
That makes them inaccessible to diners who do not wish to pay such high prices yet want something better than mass-market sushi. That is where a restaurant such as Sushi Jin comes in.
The two-week-old restaurant at the new One Farrer Hotel & Spa near Serangoon Road offers pretty good sashimi and sushi at prices that, while not cheap, are more palatable at slightly more than $100 a person.
That puts the restaurant, which is owned by the Les Amis Group, in a category slightly below other locally run sushi restaurants such as Tatsuya in Goodwood Park and Akashi in Orchard Parade Hotel.
It is helmed by Penang-born chef Raymond Tan, who learnt his craft in Japan and has worked in Singapore restaurants such as Kinki and Fat Cow, where he was sous chef.
The fish is flown in from Tsukiji market in Tokyo thrice a week. The sashimi is pretty good, with the raw seafood expertly sliced and boasting clean, fresh flavours. An assorted platter for two costs $60, but you can also have a la carte orders such as salmon ($16), sea bream ($24) and scallop ($26). Each order has five slices.
For sushi, I am more impressed by the aburi sushi, which is slightly torched on top so that the heat melts the fat in the fish and makes it more aromatic.
Try the ootoro aburi sushi ($32 for two pieces), where the fatty bluefin tuna belly's aromatic oils become really pronounced after half a minute under the flame and the fish turns melt-in-the-mouth soft.
But some of the raw sushi are less impressive. The ootoro (bluefin tuna belly, $32 for two) and uni (sea urchin, $30 for two) both come across a bit flat, as the rich flavours one expects from the seafood are lacking.
I am also disappointed with the wagyu asupara maki ($38), as too little beef is used to wrap the rice and asparagus. You can just taste the meat but it is quickly overwhelmed by the other ingredients.
The tempura moriawase ($18), comprising three prawns and various vegetables deep-fried in batter, is decent but not outstanding.
Save your money instead for the appetisers. The tai carpaccio ($32) is good, with thin slices of raw sea bream dressed in aromatic oils, and slices of black truffles shaved over them. Mix everything together to enjoy the delicious flavours and the firm texture of the fish.
Another dish I enjoy also contains the prized fungus - truffle seafood chawanmushi ($15). The soft and smooth egg custard is packed with pieces of prawn, scallop and crab meat, under a thin layer of sweet stock. On top are freshly shaved slices of black truffle, its aroma wafting up with the steam from the hot custard. It is an original creation and one that is well thought out.
The restaurant looks small from the entrance, as all you see is a long sushi counter with 14 seats. But there is an inner room with five tables for small groups that seat about another 20, and behind a door is a private sushi bar that seats five.
Dining here is not a jaw-dropping experience like in the high-end sushi restaurants, but you do get a decent deal.
Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
SundayLife! paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.
This article was first published on Nov 23, 2014.
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