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Shinji by Kanaseka, Macau: Sushi nirvana


  15.10.15    Macau     Michelin Star


I’ll cut to the chase. This was by far the best sushi I’ve ever had outside of Tokyo. The absolute highest quality ingredients, faultless in presentation and execution, underpinned by the most charming service from chef Toro Osumi.  Bear in mind that the original Shinji by Kanaseka in Kyoto has two Michelin stars, while the one here is more than deserved. City of Dreams has its owner, one Mr Lawrence Ho, to thank for convincing Kanaseka to open a branch overseas.

At lunch there are 3 menus at either $688, $988 or $1,688. Now I know this is a fair chunk of change, but in my estimation it’s one of those experiences that you’ll never regret. I’d be most surprised if anyone can fail to be wowed by the food or charmed by the experience. Think of it as one very special meal instead of two underwhelming ones at a generic Hong Kong sushi joint. You know the ones.

I’m not going to try and pretend to describe the intricacies of every fish. Instead, with approximately 20 dishes, I’ll run through them as best as I can recall. All the fish is flown in daily from Tsukiji Market – and none of it is kept in the fridge because naturally that impacts the taste. It’s served either at the sushi counter or in one of the four private rooms. I don’t understand why you’d go somewhere like this and not enjoy the interaction of the counter, but anyway.

Herring roe and tuna marinated in soy sauce was the first of many. I asked how  the roe stick together and was told that it comes like that from the fish. Oops. Sushi faux pas. Shinji by Kanaseka MacauBut that’s the beauty here – there’s no standing on parade, no freaking out if you break some unknown rule of sushi etiquette. Many are to be eaten with the fingers and are passed straight from chef’s nimble digits. The staff are friendly and chef Osumi even has a range of dictionaries tucked under the counter. Japanese service knows no bounds. The only time he stopped smiling was for this photo:Shinji by Kanaseka MacauAs with any sushi omakase, you start lighter and get heavier, so fish like eel come at the end of the meal. Golden eyed snapper:Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Before hairy crab on tofu skin. Wayyyy better than it looks.

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

‘Medium tuna’ bought two thin pink folds which I can only liken to eating tuna air. Utterly extraordinary how they disappeared when touched by a tongue.Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Lean tuna marinated with soya sauce and yuzu skin was mind-bendingly good. Just look at the colour and shine. This was a very happy and healthy fish, until very recently.

Shinji by Kanaseka MacauThen there was the tuna belly. Neptune and other gods of the sea were truly smiling on us.Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Swordfish obviously had more bite, in a tiny package of joy:

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Steamed octopus was cut with ridges to let the marinade penetrate it before being steamed for an hour and then marinated again. Forget any notions you had about octopus being rubbery. This was a revelation.

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Amazing sweet custard – the wonderfully-named chawanmushi – with fish.

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

I was clueless – until Osumi-San showed and told me – that wasabi is impressively ugly and takes at least two years to grow. The upper parts are less spicy, while the real heat is towards the root:Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Saury bought crisp skin to contrast with soft flesh:

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

At this point I’m told that the impossibly beautiful counter we’re sitting at is a piece of 220 yr old hinoki wood –  the same as used by Shinji by Kanaseka in Tokyo.  So don’t even think about staining it with soy sauce.

Different knives are used for different fish, while the ultimate bad boy – that wouldn’t look out of place in the hands of a samurai – took a year to make. Here’s the proof:

Each dish also meant a succession of beautiful porcelain, all different and all handmade. Their rice – the key to the greatest sushi, sometimes more so than the fish – is cooked in spring water imported from Japan. Japanese eggs are used, kept between 38 and 40 degrees, the same as a human’s body temperature, so they taste and feel familiar. Amazing.

Back to it with horse mackerel topped by green shiso leaf:

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Japanese sardine – think of it as the king of boquerones.

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Salmon roe, just as vibrant on the palate as to the eyes:

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Sea urchin. Some people don’t like sea urchin. They are mad.

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Especially when it is passed directly from chef to diner’s hand.

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A perfect egg square with baby shrimp inside – creamy texture like a soft brûlée. No word if it needed 200 attempts to get it exactly right, as in Jiro dreams of Sushi.

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

Thereafter came three kinds of miso mixed in soup, the last savoury hurrah:

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To crown the meal in the Crown Towers, orange jelly in grapefruit skin, Shizoka melon-from Honshu’s Fujiyama province with sake ice:

Shinji by Kanaseka Macau

And then everyone’s favourite – except mine, oddly – dorayaki:

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This was truly a triumphant meal, a sushi masterclass. Next time you think about going for mid range sushi in Hong Kong, don’t. Save yourself for a hop over to Macau and some of the very best available outside of Japan.

Level 1, Crown Towers, City of Dreams https://www.cityofdreamsmacau.com/dining/asian/kanesaka