The new Hashida at Amoy Street reveals a new chapter for chef Kenjiro 'Hatch' beyond Kappo cuisine
Return of the maestro
It's a new chapter on a beloved classic, which happens to be Hashida. An unstoppable force in the dining scene, chef Kenjiro Hashida, better known as his cheeky moniker, Hatch, unveils his new eponymous restaurant on the throng of F&B hotspots that is Amoy Street. But there's hardly any competition, especially with arrival of the sushi maestro. His previous endeavours have never disappointed, and now, his newest — armed with a new partner OUE Restaurants — was bound to only take off, yet again.
There's intent to how the entire space is fitted out — in a mantra that is dubbed as 'Shu Ha Ri', which means to adhere to tradition, innovate, and to transcend. Which epitomises chef Hashida's culinary philosophy. The new Hashida opens to a serene hallway hallowed with torii (a shrine gate) at the entrance, in our opinion, always a symbol to higher ground, where you're led to the three dining rooms, each varying in seating capacity. They each hold their own in chef Hashida's ode to Japanese tradition through its interiors. In the eight-seater, you'll notice a traditional detached roof while in the seven-seater space, the walls are flanked with a 200-year-old sakura wood. The biggest of all rooms — is the 12-seater space — has its countertops to mimic wood from hiba trees, a common sighting from Hashida's old house in the Aomori Prefecture. A slightly modern touch is overhead, a hovering ceiling to resemble clouds or even mountains, or a cave, or as chef Hashida muses: "whatever you want it to be."
The chef typically fronts an unpredictable demeanour, and it's tricky trying to speculate what goes on inside his head as he's delicately and nonchalantly slicing up your next dish. There are steel glances then seconds later, he's making a joke about people staring too much at him.
A simple chawanmushi is livened with the brininess of ice fish, shiitake mushrooms and plum sauce, with the dollop of red smearing tang into every spoonful. After that, it's evident you'll find something sorely missing in your next chawanmushi — not at Hashida. Our sashimi platter for the day landed: plump chutoro cubes, seabream, and soft octopus hailing from Hokkaido. And while those are the archetypal stars, the cooked seaweed that was plated with the octopus circled to be the quite the underdog, doubling up the fresh burst alongside the crystal chew of the octopus, complete with suckers. The seaweed was first simmered with sake before seasoning to taste — leaving on a slushy sweet brine. Other textures were found on the plate, the crunch of the fresh seaweed, cucumber salad, and wasabi, that is coarser than the usual. It's less pungent, as the paste incorporates the skin of the root after it's been cleaned and doused in soya space.
A delicate sakura ebi tofu arrived in a tempura dish, sitting atop of a cauliflower puree sauce, and while it was quite the perfect batter-ingredient ratio, the finishing touch of sakura shrimp oil brought the entire dish to life. Again, another one of chef Hashida's virtues — a twist to surprise his diners at the end. Because just when you think a dish is good as it is, it's well, better here.
The onslaught of sushi courses follow next and they are the exclamation points in this winning chapter. And it's a process — from eagerly watching chef Hashida work his magic with the wasabi fold, deft kneading of the rice, then finishing with a brush of soya sauce, before he drops the resulting sushi on your plate. From yellow jack to botan ebi, to golden eye snapper (grilled skin side over the binchotan), it's a party of textures and euphonious flavours to chomp on. More importantly, plenty of credit falls on Hashida's sushi rice, which eschews the excessive vinegar, that tends to overpower any self-respecting produce laden over. Because God forbid, his signature hand-carved Toro loses its place to shine, because it was the masterpiece, worthy enough to cap off the meal.
77 Amoy St, #01-01, Tel: 8129 5336
Opening hours: (Tues) 7pm-10.30pm (Wed-Sun) 12pm-3pm, 7pm-10.30pm