Chef Luke Mangan has just blackberry-ed me, “Could do a quick sushi at 1pm, Orchard Parade Hotel?” He’s jetted in from LA for Salt at ION’s first birthday and but only has 48 hours in Singapore.
I assumed Orchard Parade Hotel meant Akashi, the uber-popular sushi and sashimi bar hidden in the side entrance to the hotels car park. This is where wealthy locals congregate at lunch, or anytime of the day for that matter and getting a table here or even a seat at the bar may well be influenced by your regular patronage.
Japanese restaurants are prolific here in Singapore however at the top end it’s much more selective and actually there is a top three that interestingly gravitates around the Chef owners themselves and it pays to strike up a good relationship with them and their team, to ensure you can get in the door.
That top three is Chef Thomas at Hokkaido Sushi, M Hotel – Chef Chia at Tatsuya – Chef Mervyn at Akashi, Orchard Parade Hotel.
Compared to Tatsuya, Akashi maybe down one rung down on this elite status and Hokkaido Sushi perhaps not as fashionable but all three have one thing in common, Omakase “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese is the order of the day and you are well advised to leave the selection of sushi and sashimi to the chef, rather than chose from the a la carte menu.
That of course means you don’t have a budget and there is no question, sushi is expensive, that is if you want the very best, piping fresh fish that is handled with perfection.
Mangan said he would book us for the sushi bar, Akashi’s being most impressive and I believe the biggest sushi bar in Singapore.
I arrived ahead of him, to find there was no booking and the place jammed packed and humming; it was after all Friday lunch. Thankfully, two seats had just come free at the far end of the bar, which I secured promptly.
When Mangan appeared the Chef instantly recognised he and things took a definite change of pace and with the formality of greetings and acknowledgements of mutual respect completed we told the Chef to do his best.
I should mention at this stage, the service at Akashi is impeccable and staff super-friendly, if you are known. Not that they are hostile to the unknown as I dined here recently with another friend and our daughters, and they looked after us superbly.
However, there is a certain hierarchy to guest relations and with the whole sushi bar full of well-healed regulars that staff and chefs miraculously seem to camouflage the pecking order and everyone gets subtle special treatment.
Our special treatment was most definitely the size of our sushi slices, which were unusually thick, in fact the thickest I have ever had.
We did not complain, both Mangan and I twigging that this was the full chef treatment as dish after dish of beautifully presented, melt-in-your-mouth sushi and sashimi flowed, to the point where I totally lost track of all the names of the fish and where they came from.
This was not intended to be a review of the restaurant, rather a casual bite with a mate; however the experience was so good I felt compelled to write something.
I do however remember the Flounder Fin sashimi, exquisitely delicate and Toru that melted in the mouth, and the tiny cubes of Wagyu beef cubes tossed with rice.
We split the bill, which worked out at S$140 per head, with no drinks, that is we drank tea. Not an inexpensive lunch however worth every cent.
Akashi is certainly one of the best Japanese restaurants in Singapore and has a distinctly Japanese decor-ambience and highly polished, super-efficient service.
It come highly recommended however you need to have deep pockets and work up to being a regular, to get the full benefit out of the place.
Akashi, Orchard Parade Hotel, 1 Tanglin Road, Tel: 67324438